All Over Kyoto

September 8, 2014

Yesterday was a very long day for us. It was our only full day in Kyoto so we wanted to pack as much in as we could.

We started out the day in Arashiyama which is on the west side of the city. First we went to Tenryū-ji, a lovely temple nestled into the hills. It was built in 1339 but due to several different fires, the current buildings date back only to the latter half of the Meiji Period (1868-1912). Tenryū-ji is a Rinzai Zen Buddhism temple and is quite important in that school. The temple has a beautiful garden behind the main hall and although there were still a lot of people we were able to break away and have the path to ourselves from time to time. Looking back, Tenryū-ji was my favorite temple that we visited in Kyoto. It was quiet and peaceful and we could walk around and take it all in.

Tenryū-ji

Tenryū-ji

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Gorgeous garden - I can tell it will be even more beautiful in the fall

Gorgeous garden – I can tell it will be even more beautiful in the fall

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A long wooden walkway led to another small hall

A long wooden walkway led to another small hall

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If you look closely you can see the buddha wayyy back there

If you look closely you can see the Buddha way back there

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Zach, in his natural habitat trying to capture the perfect Instagram

Zach, in his natural habitat trying to capture the perfect Instagram

Walking through the garden behind the temple

Walking through the garden behind the temple

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The big attraction in Arashiyama is the bamboo grove. You’ve probably seen photos of it without even realizing where it was. The bamboo grove would certainly be more magical if you had the path to yourself, but alas, that’s probably a fairly difficult thing to do. Even still, the path through the grove is very relaxing and the grove is stunning.

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We did a little shopping at some of the stores on our way back to the station and then hopped back on the train to go back into Kyoto.

On our way back to the station

On our way back to the station

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Buying ice cream

Buying ice cream

Green tea and soy bean swirl

Green tea and soy bean swirl

A couple in kimonos

A couple in kimonos

Beer vending machine!

Beer vending machine!

It was really good but we don't know what it was

It was really good but we don’t know what it was

Fish on a stick

Fish on a stick

Zach wanted to check out the Nishiki Market so we went there next. Nishiki has been a retail market since the end of the Edo Period (1868) and was a wholesale fish market before that (1600-1868). However, some even believe that stores were on the same site as early as the 14th century. Nishiki’s center walkway is extremely narrow and it was pretty difficult to leisurely walk through. There was definitely a little of everything!

Nishiki Market

Nishiki Market

Verrrry crowded

Verrrry crowded

Eating something

Eating something

After we finished walking through Nishiki, we grabbed some sushi and water from a Lawson (convenient store) and had to get moving to the other side of town. Before we left for Kyoto I had made a tea ceremony reservation and it was a little ways away from Nishiki. So we hopped on a subway and then had to walk a while. It was hot and then it was crowded and hot and it was just exhausting. But we made it!

Our tea ceremony was in a beautiful area of Southern Higashiyama, Ninen-zaka-Sannen-zaka. It’s a nice neighborhood of restored machiya (traditional wooden townhouses) and cobbled streets. The place I had chosen for our tea ceremony was Camellia and it was in a 100-year old geisha ryokan. Atsuko owns Camellia and she is truly delightful! First we watched her performance of the tea ceremony which makes one cup of tea and then she let us make our own cup! It was a great way to experience a tea ceremony without feeling awkward or uncertain. I highly recommend going there if you’re in Kyoto. Here is a video of Atsuko’s tea ceremony:

The tea ceremony is a beautiful and precise performance. Everything that is done has a particular placement or movement depending on the guest or the weather or even the type of material used. It’s about the aesthetics of making the tea and the outpouring of hospitality that comes when you offer a guest a cup of tea.

The machiya where Camellia is located

The machiya where Camellia is located

Atsuko performing the ceremony

Atsuko performing the ceremony

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A traditional sweet to accompany the tea

A traditional sweet to accompany the tea

Making my own cup

Making my own cup

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Matcha perfection

Matcha perfection

The simple set-up

The simple set-up

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me and Atsuko

me and Atsuko

After our ceremony we walked around and poked in the shops on Ninen-zaka and Sannen-zaka. We saw some girls dressed up as maiko (apprentice geisha) walking around and many, many, girls in kimonos.

Tourists dressed up as geisha

Tourists dressed up

This guy was really happy, but again they are only tourists dressed up

This guy was really happy, but again they were only tourists dressed up

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We went up to Kiyomizu-dera which was nearby. We probably shouldn’t have because we were tired and hot and hungry, but it was so close we thought we ought to visit. Kiyomizu-dera is a Hossō Buddhist temple that was built in 798. The current buildings are reconstructions from 1633. Unfortunately many of the buildings were under renovation so we could only see a little bit and that made the crowds even more unbearable. We decided to leave and do something else.

Walking up to many girls in kimonos

Walking up to many girls in kimonos

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I did enjoy the bright colors

I did enjoy the bright colors

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOne of the things I wanted to do was go to the Kyoto Handicraft Center and possibly do some shopping. So we hopped on the subway and went up there. It was nice and quiet in Northern Higashiyama and we enjoyed looking through the store. We happened to stumble on a jazz bar I had read about too! Lucky for us! Yamatoya is a small jazz bar run by the owner and his wife. They were the sweetest people we met in Kyoto. We decided to order drinks and hang out a while. There is one full wall lined with records and two turn tables offer a seamless change of tunes. We came in to Billie Holiday and left to Miles Davis. We really loved it and I wish we could have gone back one more time before leaving Kyoto.

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Two turn tables spinning out tunes

Two turn tables spinning out tunes

an impressive collection!

an impressive collection!

We were each given an origami!

We were each given an origami!

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Our day was winding down and we were pretty exhausted. We decided to go back to our hostel and re-group before going out for dinner and drinks. We ended up eating quite close to our hostel at a Thai/Cambodian place and then we went across town to try out a craft beer bar, Bungalow. It happened to be their 2nd anniversary and they were celebrating with a tap takeover of IPAs. We each had a nice IPA from two different breweries in Japan, munched on some fries, and wrote postcards. We called it a night and crashed into bed hoping our bodies would recover for the next day.

Dinner

Dinner

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Beer!

Beer!

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