We had finally made it to Kyoto, and as much as I remain fascinated by Tokyo, I was excited to visit another place in Japan that is somewhat less hectic than what is the world’s most populous city. (At least according to some measures).
a finely manicured zen garden in Kyoto
It is definitely a tourist (-y) place, and I doubt late December is prime season, but we were days from the New Years holiday, so I got the sense that there were other folks taking this time to visit as we did. The hotel seemed pretty busy, and some more prime tourist spots were busy, but I don’t think anyplace was particularly crowded.
Historic Temples in Kyoto
The weather was nice for touring. Cool, but only a light jacket was needed while we were out exploring. We started by visiting the Kiyumizu-Dera complex, part of the UNESCO World heritage site. It is at the end of a long pedestrian street of mostly tourist-oriented shops. We took a bus from the hotel to a stop at the base of this street, then made the walk up hill towards the temple.
The approach to the temple
Pagoda within Kiyomizu-dera
Within the temple complex, there were various areas of old pagodas and shrines. There was a beautiful areas of natural trees, and even some views back towards the city.
Looking back on Kyoto from the temple
Trail within Bamboo forest
Giant bell within temple complex
From here we walked back towards the city, eventually starting to get hungry for lunch. There is a large market where we were tempted by various fresh items, but somehow we settled on a sushi shop on a side street. I was trying to find recommendations using various social media. I’m not positive this is the place we were looking for, but it turned out well. They had minimal English skills, but with a partial English menu and some hand gestures, we made it work.
Mixed Chirashi bowl
We continued to explore the area, and eventually returned to our hotel to refresh before going back out for a while.
We also visited Gion, an area well known as a Geisha district, and while it seems to be more popular in the evening, it was fine to talk through when we did during the day. Nightlife is probably more interesting in the various teahouses and bars of this area.
A few rules while in Gion
Final thoughts on Kyoto
We had parts of 2 days in Kyoto, and while it was pretty short, we tried to make the most of our time there. There are many more temples and other sites that could be explored. We did more in our time there as well, but these were the highlights.
From here we returned to Tokyo, where we rung in the new year and had a few more days. But first, I’ll discuss our experience riding high speed trains in Japan. Stay tuned.
For an introduction and index of posts for this series, please click here.