Stroll Around Kyoto

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Although Andrew (10) and I missed a bunch of the major sights in Kyoto yesterday, he felt fine today so we joined in seeing some of the other lovely older parts of town. Unlike the rainy downpours yesterday, today was a lovely, sunny day. In addition to Barbi's nephew Jonathan, we were joined by her aunt Toshiko and her husband Tetsuo, who came up from Kobe to meet Barbi and us. They were super delightful and great tour guides.

We all first set out for Kiyomizu, a gorgeous temple set in the hills. The walk up to the temple area was through a cool pedestrian street lined with restaurants and shops. The area was clearly popular with student groups and tours since it was packed with kids in uniforms and throngs of older tourists. A pair of girls approached Michelle and Kellie to try out their English, asking their workbook questions like "where are you from?" and "do you like Japan?", dutifully writing down the answers as they went.

After we checked out the temple grounds, we walked through the streets nearby toward Gion, the traditionally geisha quarter. This was what we really expected Kyoto to be more like -- quaint Japan with narrow streets and little shops. We even ran into some maiko, apprentice geisha, headed to some assignment I suppose. They were up on their tall geta shoes, so when they went down a flight a stairs, they had to support one another to keep from falling. We then passed through the Yasaka Shrine (you really can't spit without hitting a shrine or temple in Kyoto -- they're as common as Starbucks in Seattle) and then were out onto into the downtown area again. The ladies went shopping; I took the boys to play video games and to grab a tasty sushi snack in the Teramachi Street market-- a series of covered alleys (kind of like the Fremont Street Experience in Las Vegas only much smaller in scale).

We had a great udon-suki dinner (thick, handmade udon noodles cooked in the style of sukiyaki) and then topped the evening off with some karaoke for a quintessential Japanese experience.


Street leading up to Kiyomizu

Kiyomizu gate

View at Kiyomizu

Maiko (apprentice geisha) in Gion, Kyoto

Maiko (apprentice geisha) in Gion, Kyoto

Lanterns in Yasaka Shrine in Kyoto

River view in Kyoto

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