Day three in Kyoto (December 27). This was planned to be around Kiyomizudera and the Higashiyama area.
Kiyomizudera is a big temple complex, around a spring of holy water. It’s up the side of a hill, and I have a very specific route relating to visiting it.
So we caught the bus out there, and got off at the appropriate stop. Because it is near the top of a hill and the streets are morrow, buses don’t actually get that close. You have to walk up a steep hill. Some pictures from the walk.
An apartment building, a bit more decorative than usual.
This gives an idea of the steepness of the hill.
Old shop with kids stuff outside. Backyards are not a thing in old Japanese houses.
The area is known for its ceramics.
There were a lot of souvenir shops on this road, and there were even more on the road we went down the hill on.
The temple itself was quite busy, it was a Saturday and the end of the year. There were a lot of couples in kimonos, which was interesting. When I lived here it was rare to see men in kimono, and it would usually be in summer, where they wore yukata. It was also not so common to see younger women in kimono- yukata were common, and you would see kimono for the celebration of 20, or at New Years, but there were quite a few. Kimono are expensive- a proper one, with all the accoutrements will cost into the thousands. By contrast, Uniqlo sold a yukata set (yukata, obi and hand bag) for about $50 when I was here and you could buy a higher end one for about $100-$150. Yukata are cotton, they are summer only, and onsens. Proper kimono are silk, and need more accessories.
But we also saw a lot of ads for kimono rental and I suspect that is why we saw so many in kimono in Kyoto- rented as a couple for the day.
Kiyomizudera is a lovely temple, but part of it is undergoing reconstruction, and was covered in scaffolding and tarps. So I don’t have pictures of the bits I like. There are a number of different shrines around the temple grounds, including one to help you find love! There is also a place where you can drink the no longer holy water. The temple was founded for its access to its holy water, but at some point in the 20th century the government decided that declaring water to be holy was not to be done, so it is no longer holy.
Anyway, there is a spot where it falls over a ledge, and you can stick long handled cups out to drink it. We have one this in the past, and even bought the special plastic cups to commemorate (rather than use the shared metal ones). G was looking forward to new cups, but it was not to be. As we were coming down the steps we notified the line for the water was no longer as organised, and then we noticed no cup selling stall! No idea why. So the theme of this holiday “not quite what we were expecting” is well established.
So we have some pictures from the temple and grounds. And a comment on selfie sticks. Sure they sound silly, but there were so many people using them in japan- not to take a selfie of their new makeup or to pull duck face, but to capture a picture with a friend. Ten years ago, where I lived here, it was very common for strangers to ask you to take a photo, or to be able to easily grab a person to take a photo of you and your party. Not so much anymore- selfie sticks have replaced interaction.
The view out
Fire is a serious risk for Japanese buildings. Preparation ahoy!
After we had our fill, we headed down the hill. The road down is full of shops selling souvenirs. And also of people going to and coming from the temple.
We walked down about a block, then took a smaller street on the right, which starts as a flight of stairs.
Still lots of shops!
We wandered on, stopping for coffee at Inoda coffee. We bought incense, Japanese incense is different from other incense and I like it.
We also stopped at a famous Kyoto cosmetics store. Not for makeup but for their awesome Yuzu lip balm. Yuzu is a Japanese citrus.
Lots of shops, lots of old buildings and lots of people.
Eventually we came to Patisserie des reves, a bakery and cafe I had read about, we didn’t plan to end up there, but it looked very enticing. The cakes were little works of art- we had cake and matcha (me) and coffee (G).
Then through to the shrine at Gion, down the busy Main Street of Gion and onto the side streets and back streets of Gion- more old houses and stone streets. On the back streets, fewer shops and a water trough with fish!