So we used my chopped list and planned a way to get round to the areas which were dotted all around Kyoto.
The philosopher’s path
(Deep thoughts along the philosopher’s path)
We started at the philosopher’s path. A path which apparently a philosophy professor would walk and think deeply. Well, it may look different in blossom season. I think we had missed most of the autumn leaves because the trees looked dead. Maybe the philosopher saw something we didn’t… because it was quite a depressing sight!
Arashiyama- the bamboo forest
After struggling to find a way back to Kyoto station we caught a train to Arashiyama to see the bamboo walkway. You might have thought this would be a peaceful walk, wikipedia describes it as a “nationally designated historic site and place of scenic beauty”. Perhaps if you get there at 2am when there’s no one about. It felt like the whole of Japan decided to go at the same time.
(Taken in the small temple along the bamboo path. I have no idea what this says)
One thing I’ve noticed is that people love to queue here! It seems like if a queue has formed… everyone else gets involved too. There was a very small temple by the bamboo forest and the queue was down the road to throw money in to a pot and ring a bell. There are hundreds of temples in Kyoto I don’t understand why this one was so important. I do think people just love a queue.
We headed to Tenryu-ji temple in Arashiyama. This had a beautiful zen garden and grounds, but it is hard to enjoy it when there are so many others. Thankfully we had sake cartons with us to help us feel slightly more relaxed.
Fushimi Inari temple
(red torii gates)
(the moment I’ve been waiting for, for many years)
We got out of Arashiyama it was too much. Next we went to Fushimi Inari the fox temple in Kyoto. It was the place I was most looking forward to in Kyoto. Its red torii gate passageway is featured in Memoirs of a geisha. When I was 17 I read the book… then I read it three more times. I later bought the film and its the only film I am happy to watch again and again. I am in the middle of reading the book again. From the moment of watching that film I was desperate to come to Japan and see these red torii gates. Fushimi Inari is a shinto temple and has thousands of these torii gates. Instantly I felt at peace in this place. Despite the hundreds of other people it is just stunning. Definitely my favourite place in Japan.
(Walking through Gion)
(more rules! No touching Geiko/Maiko, no loitering on stairs like a creep)
Once able to drag myself away from the fox temple we headed to gion. Historically the pleasure district of Kyoto and the place to see Geiko (as they are called in Kyoto) and Maiko. It is where they go to teahouses to entertain the rich. We were hoping to see one. We asked the tourist information lady where we might see one she laughed and said ‘if you are lucky, go to hanama-koji street’. We had hope!
(The Irish pub)
Gion is pretty busy! But there is something about it. It is very traditional, the buildings are very traditional and there’s a good vibe and a lot of tourists! There are many expensive restaurants and bars. Geisha hunting isn’t easy because so many people walk around in kimonos (most often they have hired them for the day). We were desperately looking for white faces, very ornate hair, no bag no mobile phone, and possibly alone.
We walked around for half an hour and were starting to give up. We decided to have a drink and continue our geisha hunting afterwards. We headed to an Irish pub- terrible! If you want to find other English people always head to an Irish pub. I always feel guilty doing it but it feels so homely.
(The magical moment! That’s her head/hair she’s getting into the rear driver’s side door)
We were struggling with the wifi connection (typical Japan) and my friend suddenly looked up and started yelling at me. Out the window finally we saw one!!! I stumbled for my phone camera and just caught her getting into her car. The bar man laughed at us as we high fived! Another thing ticked off the list!!!