Today was another Kyoto day. We had a pre-Shinkensan adventure even before we left Ikebukuro station as the trains were delayed. A few of the trains were delayed because of high winds. However, our train and the one that runs parallel to it were delayed because of a passenger injury. This was the first time that we’ve experienced this type of delay. We did get on a train right away and soon enough we were on our way to Tokyo station…along with a hundred other people in the same cart as us. I think someone grabbed my butt but it was so packed I’m not really sure. LOL
The day was clear and sunny and Monkey got more awesome pictures of Mt. Fuji on the way into Kyoto. Our destinations today were the Gion area, one of the oldest areas of Kyoto. First on the list was Yasaka Shrine (http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e3903.html). According to our guide book, Yasaka Shrine ‘exists as a symbol in Gion. Famoulsy known to offer a protective charm and prosperous business to to visitors.’ The shrine is amazingly beautiful. We each made an offering, rang the prayer bell, and made a silent prayer. When Mom was busy with the bell ritual, Monkey patted my arm frantically. I turned around and was no more than 10 feet away from the most beautiful Geisha that I’ve ever seen. There was nothing about her that was out of place. I snapped a quick picture of her before she walked past me. The Gion are is where the Meiko (Geisha’s in training) and Geishas primarily reside. There was no mistaking this woman as anything but a Geisha.
After we strolled the grounds and took about 40 pictures we decided to go to Ninenzaka, Sanneizaka streets. This is the area where the majority of souvenir stores are located. We poked about but didn’t find much of anything. I did see a very pretty kimono kit that I would have bought…if it wasn’t made in China!!! Oh, the horror LOL The streets are very pretty but also very hilly. Mom could only go part way up one street because it was so steep and ended with stairs going even farther up. We went up and down so many streets that I almost got lost.
Every turn of a corner was a new surprise….a view of a bamboo forest, a buddha temple, a GYNORMOUS five story pagoda, and so many Meikos and Geishas! The views just kept getting better and better! With all the walking that we were doing we worked up an appetite. There was a very pretty little cafe/restaurant that was close to the rock garden/bamboo forest that we decided to try. Mom and Monkey ordered the tempura ramen and I have no idea what I ordered…but I think it was thick slabs of bacon with a super soft cooked egg and rice. Regardless, the food was delicious even if I have no idea what I ate LOL
Eventually we decided that we wanted to see Kiyomizudera Temple…a World Heritage site. We hailed a taxi, all climbed in, the driver put Mom’s walker in the trunk, and then got back in. I said, in my very broken Japanese, that we wanted to go to Kiyomizudera and he looked at me, looked through the back window, and pointed. Yup. We did that. We got into a cab and asked to be taken to a site that directly behind us. Wow…I felt a doof…but we all had a good laugh and another person jumped into the cab as soon as we got out. Quickest cab ride EVER! LOL
After we looked at the hill that led up to the Temple, we decided to walk around a little more. The hill was so steep that Mom would have never made it to the top, let along the middle. Walking around Kyoto is amazing. I know that we will be back there again and again and again LOL
The train ride back was nice and uneventful and soon we were back in our room comfy and shoeless! And now I need to sleep because can!