The Thousand-Year Capital, That’s how Kyoto known as.
Just a brief intro, The meaning of Kyoto name is not The Thousand-Year Capital 😛 Kyoto is know for The Thousand-Year Capital, probably due to it’s history as formerly Imperial capital of Japan for more than one thousand years. (However that’s all my thought so please don’t use this as your references tho :D)
Kyoto or capital city (Yup, that’s what the real name of Kyoto) was formerly the Capital of Japan before it was moved to Tokyo. So, as the city with a lot of historic event Kyoto is one of the main tourist destination every year in Japan. You will find Kyoto as an exciting city if you were a fond of culture or history like I do. Well, they still have a big shopping mall like most of the big city, but it’s not the main attraction of Kyoto. The city of Kyoto very much remind me as an old beautiful city of Japan (at least that’s how I get informed thru movie or books). By the time you take a stroll thru the Sanjo Bridge you will see all the houses was so well preserved along the Kamo River. Even the Starbucks building itself! You can imagined it by take a look at my picture above. I do really enjoy my nice relaxing strolling around the centre of Kyoto. You can see a lot of beautiful architecture and the cityspace as well. If you were really love photography then you need to get off the main road and stroll by alley to alley to find some real inspiration.
My ‘off from main road’ thing took me into finding this treasure above. Place such as Pontocho Alley or Gion Shirakawa hold such a lot of beautiful treasure, which will take you back to the beautiful old Japanese era. All you need to do just your fully charged camera/smartphone, off the main road and get lost! That’s how you will uncovered the beauty of this beautiful city.
Apart from their beautiful heritage, Kyoto was also a well developed city in Japan. So you will also find a metropolitan life here (if you want to get back to your so-called civilization) such as a big shopping mall or department store such as Takashimaya. Getting around Kyoto is also very convenient and easy as they have metro/subway there, so there’s nothing to worry that you will get lost in the old Japanese era without ever going back to see civilization 😛
You will probably (or not) know the movie called ‘Memoirs of Geisha’. Yup, one of the box office hit and won numerous prestigious award that starring Chinese actress as Japanese woman….. Seems like those in Hollywood did not really care after all. The movie screened out in US and Kyoto as well. So you can see a lot of beautiful place in that movie (which now became the main tourist attraction) here in Kyoto. Well, you can say that Kyoto is the center of Geisha in Japan and Gion is the centre of Geisha in Kyoto. So if you want to catch a glimpse of Geisha just head to Gion district. Nowdays we as a foreigner could also experienced how it feels to be served by Geisha. There’s a lot of travel company that offers you that tour experience. They also have Geisha school around Gion area as well.
Just to be noted It was so common for Geisha to wander around Gion area. If you want to take a picture of Geisha please do it with some respect and manner! There’s a lot of reports nowdays when there’s a Geisha passing by it suddenly became a red carpet moment where everyone take their mobile phone or camera. Please be respectful as this Geisha is a human being and as we all know those who choose to be a Geisha, They need to keep the image of Geisha which was formed during Japan’s feudal past. So this is now the image they must keep in order to remain Geisha. I didn’t took any picture of Geisha (eventho I was lucky enough to meet them a couple of time during my wandering time in Gion and believe me they were really beautiful!) in order to respect their privacy and their choice to value their heritage.
Well, I really loved Kyoto during night time it was a joy to photo hunting that beautiful city during night time, but it was something for day time. Since Kyoto was the first capital city during Japan’s feudal past, it will offer you a lot of cultural or architecture as their main tourist attraction. They have a lot of temple or shrine in Kyoto. Kiyomizu-dera is one of many famous temple in Kyoto. Personally I really loved their architecture and everything (if it more less crowded then it will be perfect!). Also when you start to hike to go there (Kiyomizu-dera located in the high area so in order to get there you can either take an uphill walk or you can use taxi as well) and as usual I take a walk 😀 When you approached the entrance of Kiyomizu-dera you will take a walk thru the shopping street which have a lot of souvenir and local delicacy as well! Just for your information Kyoto was really famous for their Uji Matcha (Green Tea), so make sure to try or at least bought it home since it was really expensive at your home country doesn’t it? and one more thing since it’s Japan so they product did not contained any preserved so it was so natural and be sure to check on their expire date since they did not contained any preserved material so it usually did not last up to a year.
You can also see the city of Kyoto from Kiyomizu-dera, so eventho you said you were so fed up to go to another shrine/temple during your time in Japan make sure you did not forget to check on Kiyomizu-dera if you happened to be in Kyoto.
Speaking of ‘Memoirs of Geisha’ then it’s time for Fushimi Inari Taisha (Fushimi Inari Shrine). Yup you just right the most famous tourist attraction here in Kyoto! The Shrine that was so famous for it’s beautiful torii path. For those who did not know about torri These are the yellow pillar that make Fushimi Inari so famous. Btw that was not pillar actually it’s a Japanese gate most commonly found at the entrance of Shinto Shrine.
Since Fushimi Inari always super crowded with tourist, so I decided to go there during night time. It turns out to be beautiful (well some of you might say it’s creepy during night time since it was so dark and surrounded by trees) but for me it was so peaceful. There’s no sign of outcry tourist just you and the silence. You will still also find one or two local people perform worship here in Fushimi Inari during night time. Didn’t mean to disrespect towards Chinese people, but the thing is most Japanese tourist attraction will always packed with Chinese tourists and since most of you probably knew and hate their habit, so in order to avoid those unpleasant experienced you might need to plan your trip carefully. Usually most of them will visit most of the main tourist attraction before lunch time so it was probably best to avoid during the peak hour of each attraction. Google maps will also help you to know their peak hour so like I said from my first post it always good to have your mobile data on whenever you travel 🙂
I really love strolling around temple area in Kyoto during night time, it was so peaceful yet beautiful. Beside it’s great for photo hunting as well (as long as you bring your own tripod :D). Gion area once again is a great choice for this. After you finished wandering around the bar area and the ‘Geisha’ district you can start your strolling to the south from Yasaka Shrine up to Kiyomizu-dera. (just for your information eventho they were saying there was a light show in Kiyomizu-dera you still need to double check the schedule of it) Kiyomizu-dera close at 6 pm. We were informed they have a light show so it will close late at night, but we found out it was close sooner. (at 6 pm, based on what they wrote at the board in front of the entrance)
Enough with my night strolling photos, let’s head up Arashiyama (well for this one I do suggest you to do it during day time :D) To reach Arashimaya there are many ways (of course!!) I preferred the more ‘local’ way which you will stop at Uzumasa-Tenjingawa Station and changed to Randen-Tenjingawa Station; which you will take a tram up to the Arashiyama Station. The tram will travel more slower and it will pass by some local neighborhood which is I found it interesting things to experienced.
Once you arrived at Arashiyama Station you will found it more like a tourist market which packed with souvenir stalls, local delicacy and many more. But, wait! That’s not the main point to go to Arashiyama (eventho they’re Green Tea dessert taste really good tho :P) Once you arrived there (well it’s actually your choice either to chill out and try out some local snacks/dessert or find a way to go straight to where the beauty lies) you can start to find your way to get to the Arashiyama Bamboo Forest. Yup! That’s where those bamboo forest of Japan photo came from when you look thru social media or google.
You might probably expect it to be like in the photos! So relaxing, peaceful well it’s not!! Once you get there you will see it was packed with tourist! From tour guide whose waving their so annoying flag to blogger who try to find their way to get the best selfie ever 😛 It will be so crowded at the beginning but once you start to walk deeper and deeper it will be much more less crowded. Well, there will be still a lot of people but it will be much more less crowded. So just relax, and take your time to strolling around this relaxing bamboo forest of Arashiyama.
So, this is my highlighted journal of Kyoto. I will be continue my Journal to Osaka! Before we leave Kyoto, I will give you some highlighted about the famous shopping street, near our hotel. It’s Nakamise Street, it is easy to find as it was centrally located in Kyoto. It’s a big shopping street where you can try some local food or shop for souvenir or anything about Japan. So, remember to visit this if you want to find some local delicacy or buying some Kyoto authentic souvenir to bring back home. Also if you want to buy some green tea or matcha powder, which Kyoto famous for (they called it Uji Matcha) I will recommend you to buy it in the stall around the Arashiyama (you will find that stall on your way from Arashiyama Station to the Bamboo Forest it was on the right side of the road in front of some big gallery store). I was personally love matcha so much and that stall had a real authentic yet natural uji matcha powder and considered the quality of the products it was actually reasonably cheap. You can find a lot of matcha powder at Nakamise Street but it’s just some recommendation coz I bought one packed of the matcha powder from that stall in Arashiyama and it does taste really nice and I should really buy more 😦 Anyway thank you for keep following my Journal hope you still find it interesting, and you might (or might not) find this as useful for your reference on travel to Japan coz I didn’t share my complete itinerary or write about all the tourist attraction coz as I told you this is not that kind of blog. You can find those kind of blog by searching thru google or tripadvisor coz that’s what they made for! 😛 See you in OSAKA!