On christmas morning we woke up early, checked out of the hotel and headed for Kyoto. Its about a 40 minute – 1 hour trip by train (depends on the train, line and destination). I was still coughing a lot, so i wore one of the face masks.
Once at kyoto we stuck our backpacks etc in a locker at the train station (suitcases were sent ahead from the hotel) and headed for the market. The 25th of the month is a flea market day at a particular buddhist sects temples across japan. The one in December tends to be big as people clear their houses in advance of New Year.
The market was pretty good. Last time round i found it a bit too touristy, this time it still had a lot to appeal to tourists but there was also a lot of interesting stuff. There were also a few stallholders i recognised from osaka!
We found a different drip coffee stall and had some freshly roasted coffee.
After wandering the market for a couple of hours we went to Kinkakuji- the golden temple. This is in the same area as the temple where the flea market was. Kinkakuji was originally a residence for a noble, then was turned into a temple. At some point the villa was covered in gold leaf.
I was still feeling not so great at this point, so we headed back to Kyoto Station to pick up the bags, have lunch and then to the hotel. It turned out the hotel was essentially next to a bus stop, so it was pretty easy. I crashed for the rest of the day while G and M went out exploring.
As i was so sick, we looked at the planned activities and rejigged. On the 26th G and M went to Kobe without me. Kobe had been a maybe day for the last few days in Kyoto, primarily to go to a Brazilian BBQ restaurant that we like. Thats pretty much what they did while i stayed at the hotel and slept.
On the 27th we went somewhere new! In all the times we have been to kyoto we have never gone to the the Fushimi Inari shrine. Thats the the one with all of the orange torii gates up the mountain. It was snowing when we got there, and very crowded with tourists. No serene pictures of torii gates!
M decided to walk along the path. I opted not to (still sick), so G and i looked at the stalls and shops in the area, and i ended up in a coffee shop.
Following the shrine we headed a couple of stops further and went to the Gekkeikan sake factory. The factory was interesting and offered some tastings as well.
Sake barrels at the local train station
Then we took a train back to Gion, had lunch and looked around the shops.
I then went to Misayubari- a tiny needle shop
Its down this passage
Sitting in a tiny garden is this tiny shop
As well as needles and scissors they also sold these handmade pins. They are tiny.
The next day we had a wander from Kiyomizudera down to Gion.
Kiyomizudera is another temple complex, this one was famous for holy water (its not officially holy anymore).its main temple is a wooden structure with a huge deck that is popular for photos as there is the wooded hillside below and the city of kyoto in the distance.
The temple was constructed without nails and is currently being rebuilt/repaired. The rebuilding of temples is very common in japan and is actually part of the process with some shinto shrines.
The covered over area is usually an open deck. There was only one section open this time.
Access to the temple is on foot- the bus stops at the bottom of the hill and we walked up the streets (cars still come up the streets, so i suppose we could have grabbed a taxi…)
The temple grounds are extensive and we wandered around on the paths
After we had our fill we walked down a different street, this one was lined with shops selling stuff to tourists (both japanese and overseas).
This we took a sharp right, down a flight of steps
A lot of shops along here too
There are a lot of shops and cafes along the way- we stopped at Inoda coffee which has a lovely garden outside. We also visited a couple of my favourite temples. These were noble residences that were then turned into temples.
One of these is kodai-ji which is my favourite temple, in part due to the garden, but i was feeling cold and not so well by this point, so i sat in the tea room and had matcha and a japanese sweet.
At this point we were pretty tired, so we headed back to the main shopping area for lunch and back to the hotel.
We did a lot of walking on these days, drank a lot of coffee. Some of our dinners were just convenience store food, heated up at the shop and taken to our room(s).
Stay tuned for part two!