I can’t believe that I still haven’t shared any photos from my trip to Kyoto! It was definitely my favourite part of my holiday to Japan. Tokyo was great, but the historic charm of Kyoto is so special. Once Japan’s capital city (from 794 to 1868) Kyoto was spared from the air raids of World War II. As such Kyoto is a wonderful mix of the old and the new. The main bustling shopping strip, Shijo-Dori, is full of designer shops, souvenirs, restaurants and laneways full of historic buildings. Kyoto is best known for three things: quiet and colourful temples and shrines, lush gardens and geisha secretly hurrying to appointments at dusk. No trip to Japan is complete without visiting Kyoto- I can’t wait to go back!
I hopped off the bullet train from Tokyo to Kyoto just as the sun began to set. During the 5 minute taxi ride to my apartment I fell in love. A love that grew on a late night walk around town.
The next day I ventured out early, wandering along Shijo-Dori and stopping into various shops to cool off in the air-conditioning (it was 34 degrees at 9.30am!) At the end of Shijo-Dori stands the Yasaka Shrine. This shrine is a burst of colour! Sitting just behind the shrine is the Maruyama Park (where people normally flock for cherry blossom season) which leads to the Chion-in Temple, which is a beautiful place to stop and reflect in the peacefulness. As much as I wanted to continue exploring it was so hot by 2pm I headed back to my Airbnb apartment to escape the mid-day sun.
After a couple of hours I made my way to Gion, exploring the cute little side streets and alleys, hoping to spot geisha. Unfortunately, there was not a geisha to be seen. In all honesty I felt rather conflicted about going ‘geisha hunting’. Walking through Gion and seeing flocks of tourists with their cameras poised, ready to pounce and snap away like paparazzi, I couldn’t help but think how hard (and how annoying) it must be for the geisha who are just trying to do their job while being treated as a major tourist attraction. So I decided not to actively go searching for geisha but rather to explore the beauty of Kyoto at night- and if I happened to see a geisha, well that would be a very special treat! I loved exploring the Gion, particularly Pontocho Dori, and walking along the Kamo River. And of course stopping for a yummy bowl of buckwheat noodles!