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Asia » Japan » Kyoto » Kyoto June 19th 2019

We spent 10 days in Kyoto. On our first day, we strolled around Nishiki market before checking into our ryokan (traditional Japanese accomodation). The sparse nature of the furnishings, the sumptuous Japanese dinner and breakfast the following morning and even a somewhat uncomfortable night’s sleep on futons on the tatami mats made for an experience not to be missed! On the second day, we moved to our hotel Hotel Mystays Kyoto Shijo, a bit out of the way but otherwise quite good. We spent the day exploring the Imperial Palace and its park on foot and later by bike. We also rode northwards along the river to explore Shimogamo-jinja temple and the Botanical Gardens. Wednesday was a hot day but we still did a leisurely and sometimes vertically challenging walk in the southern section of Higashimaya. ... read more
Me at the Imperial Palace
Riding through the park around the Imperial Palace
En route to the  Botanical Gardens

Asia » Japan » Kyoto » Kyoto May 27th 2019

SC writes: When we first came to Kyoto nearly 5 years ago, on an Exodus trip, we rattled round and I always felt we missed lot, through being jet lagged and disoriented. The plan this time was to cover Kyoto thoroughly, revisiting some places but focusing on the new. Kyoto is a large city and it can take 30 minutes to get across town by bus, and you need buses because the city is poorly covered by Japan Rail (JR) lines, where our passes are good. Yesterday we bussed out to the East of the city for a long walk around numerous temples, exotic old Edo period shopping streets and ended at the garden for one of the temples. The walk was good and interesting but it soon got really rather hot. In the end we ... read more
Edo period buildings make for a great shopping and strolling experience.
Temples temples everywhere
Sunday’s garden

Asia » Japan » Kyoto » Kyoto » Gion May 16th 2019

We were up early and after breakfast went down to meet our guide for the day, Hiroko Inaba. 'Hiro' had spent two years in Finchley, north London and Lesley and she swapped stories. Hiro said that she misses London. However, the friendship could have become rivalry when she said that her sons support Arsenal Football Club - great rivals to Lesley’s team Tottenham Hotspur. However, that was not the reason Hiro immediately told us that she changed our guided tour schedule. Rather it was that the Imperial Palace was closed because of the Aoi festival (see yesterday’s blog). But as we had at least seen part of the palace grounds already, we were happy to adopt Hiro's amended tour plan. We caught the local train to our first stop Fushimi Inari Taisha Shrine. This is the ... read more
New Car space for Safe Driving blessing
Tofukuji temple of Zen Buddhism
Zen garden of Constellation stars

Asia » Japan » Kyoto » Kyoto » Kamigyo May 14th 2019

We said goodbye to Takayama and took the train to Nagoya, the change point for our destination Kyoto. After a while it started to rain and suddenly the train ground to a halt. The loudspeaker announcement said that due to a thunderstorm the train would not proceed for a while. We sat for about half an hour wondering about our transfer and reserved seats on the shinkansen to Kyoto. We eventually arrived at Nagoya about 30 minutes after our scheduled bullet-train had left. There was a ticket office as we got off the train and we explained about the thunderstorm and showed our tickets. With no fuss the booking clerk issued new tickets with reserved seats for the next train which was about ten minutes later. We arrived in Kyoto just eleven minutes after the time ... read more
Lady bow in back
Tea Master seriously busy
Ayako explains the Tea Ceremony

Asia » Japan » Kyoto » Kyoto March 20th 2019

Off to Kyoto on the Shinkansen (Bullet) train passing Mount Fuji as we hurtle by - strangely given this is the land of technology it was a surprise there was no WiFi on the train. First full day in Kyoto we spent in the company of Fumo and Mari Ono - two old friends of Mie my brothers wife. They kindly took us to Arashiyama and the bamboo forest which we walked through towards the Tenryu-ji Temple. This was a sprawling Zen temple with one of the finest gardens in Kyoto and wonderful mountain views. Above there we went to another set of gardens this time developed by a Japanese samurai movie star from the silent era - Oh-kohchi Denjiro. As you had to pay to get in we left the crowds behind and it was ... read more
bamboo forest
Poets house at the Tenryu-ji Temple
Mari and Sue

Asia » Japan » Kyoto » Kyoto November 25th 2018

I cant believe it's been a week since we arrived already where does the time go?? Anyway, as usual we have a full day of sightseeing planned and this time we are heading to South Kyoto. First on the itinerary is the Tofuku-ji temple, which is meant to be renowned for it's stunning temple and landscaped gardens, especially in Spring and Autumn. After a quick pit stop at the 7-11 for our usual breakfast of steamed pork buns and rice balls (the obvious breakfast choice for the discerning western traveller), we decide to walk back to the Gion district so we can get some pictures of the area in daylight. It's a good 25 minute walk and the sun has came out, so we are absolutely roasting hot. I've decided to wear my big boots again ... read more
Autumn foliage
DSCN1774
Temple gardens

Asia » Japan » Kyoto » Kyoto November 24th 2018

One of the great additional unexpected benefits of being here has been that my sleeping has been amazing. I'm falling asleep by 11pm, and (although a few toilet stops in the night) i'm not waking up again until about 8am, and waking up feeling refreshed. It's like my body clock has totally reset itself which is amazing! Anyway, I digress. As mentioned, we wake up at 8am and have a quick look at the itinerary to try and figure out our routes for the day as we are heading to North and West Kyoto today. We plan on stopping off first at the golden temple (Kinkaku-ji) which is the furthest away tourist spot we plan to visit on our trip here, so it seems sensible to start there first. First things first, we need some breakfast ... read more
Kinkaku-ji Temple
What a picture
Trying matcha green tea ice-cream

Asia » Japan » Kyoto » Kyoto October 11th 2018

Last night we looked through the guidebook to see if we had missed anything in Kyoto that we really wanted to see on this trip, since we only had today left (we are taking a day trip to Nara tomorrow). We had already planned to visit Nijo Castle in the afternoon. Looking at the book, we came across a temp!e that got rave reviews, but didn't sound familiar, so we set off to visit it this morning... We walked through now familiar neighborhoods, and decided to take a narrow road up towards the temple. This road became a path through the oldest cemetery in Kyoto...We wound our way up the mountain, arriving at Kiyomizu-dera Temp!e. We had to go slightly downhill to get to the ticket booth..... And found ourselves at the temple entrance where we ... read more
Garbage truck!
Nijo Castle
Ancient tree being kept alive

Asia » Japan » Kyoto » Kyoto October 10th 2018

To give you some context: there are over 16,000 temples in Kyoto. There are also hundreds of Shinto shrines... We have only seen a few dozen of each so far, and it is already hard to keep them straight! We had rain for the first time during this trip today... But not until after lunch. It is still quite warm, and the apartment has loaner umbrellas, so we were fine. We decided to stay in Kyoto until Saturday morning, so we have bit more time to explore this amazing city. We walked to the oldest part of Kyoto this morning, and found ourselves in the midst of thousands of school kids. It was apparently field trip week in Japan! The kids were buying large amounts regional treats... They were also visiting temples and museums. We followed ... read more
Konchi-in garden
Late afternoon mist on the mountains
It is apparently school field trip day!

Asia » Japan » Kyoto » Kyoto October 9th 2018

We again got an early start to our temple viewing today...we arrived at the first one just a few minutes after it opened at 8:00 am! This first temp!e is called Sanjusangen, and home to the 1000 gilded Buddha statues and their fierce guardians, all surrounding a beautiful large Buddha statue. The statues are made of wood, and were carved Tankei and others from 1192 to 1333. This a very popular tourist attraction, and we were fortunate to be there when the 400 foot long hall was nearly empty. I was moved by the calm beauty of the large Kannon statue. No photos were allowed, so I posted some Wikipedia. Next we walked a block to visit the Chishaku-in Temple, where renown screen paintings are displayed and there is an exquisite small garden and pond. We ... read more
Sanjusangen (photo from Wikipedia)
Sanjusangendo_Thousand-armed Kannon (photo from Wikipedia)
Sanjusangen




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