Cats, Temples, and Geishas: KYOTO in a Nutshell

KYOTO: my first trip there and I’ve fallen in love. Japan’s old capital validated my high levels of anticipation, making a return trip the top of my travel to-do list. Two and a half (very) short days were crammed full of sight see-ing and (of course) food, more than I can fit into one post. I’ll be breaking Kyoto down into smaller stories, but first here it is: Kyoto in a nutshell.

Day one: An embarrassingly indulgent breakfast of pancakes and coffee and roaming around Kyoto station and its many levels of shopping. Kyoto station was a stunning example of functional but beautiful design. Large expanses of criss-crossing metal beams form walls- yet never enclose to form a building, allowing light and air to stream through.

Nishiki Market: It was easy to get disoriented in the bustling roads of shopping for everything from fish to wigs.

It was here that I also visited a temple to receive a fortune, after a few technical difficulties. Like most temples, a few hundred yen can be exchanged for a “fortune”, which you can take as lightly or as seriously as it suits you. I found a somewhat kitschy machine with an automated dragon(?) who fetched fortunes within an enclosed case.

It was here that I also ate a cat donut (adorable) burnt ramen (yes, burnt) and visited my first Cat Cafe.

The day culminated with a sensory overload at the Fushimi Inari Shrine. A series of hundreds of orange “Torii” gates leads up a mountain, called the Senbon Torii. We hit it just as the sun was going down, making the climb down treacherous but worth the view of the glowing orange shrines.

Day Two: Maiko Dress-Up in the Gion District, something I’ve been dreaming of doing and finally had the opportunity!

Kinkaku-ji, a stunning, golden temple which in the perfect weather absolutely glowed in against the blue sky and water.

This was followed by a return trip to the Gion District to explore the bustling nightlife and souvenir shops. In contrast to my other experiences in cities, Kyoto was surprisingly lively past 8 pm. Tokyo’s nightlife felt more hectic, and chaotic, especially in the Shibuya area. Kyoto, on the other hand was alive with excitement and yet entirely comfortable, like a spirited reunion with old friends.

Day Three: after a hasty breakfast and bus ride we spent an ethereal hour at Ginkaku-Ji, Kyoto’s silver temple (aka… the not so silver temple).

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6 comments

  1. Ah great pictures! It looks like you had fun dressing up as a Maiko ^^ I’ve heard that the regalia is quite tight and heavy to carry~ Did you get a chance to walk around Kyoto dressed up like that? Some studios allow their guests to do that~

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    1. It was very constricting, especially the head piece which is a lot heavier than it looks! I didn’t get the chance to walk around but I do plan on returning to Kyoto and dressing up again, so maybe next time!

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      1. Lol imagine wearing it just about every day for several hours while also entertaining, dancing, singing, playing games, so on and so forth and also having your natural hair worked into the complicated hair style~ There are a few studios that do a really amazing job and would be able to work your natural hair into the style as well, probably with a half wig since a Maiko’s hair is quite long, but it will still look very natural to the untrained eye ^^

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      2. Lol imagine wearing it just about every day for several hours while also entertaining, dancing, singing, playing games, so on and so forth and also having your natural hair worked into the complicated hair style and keeping it that way for about 5 days~ Kind of puts things into perspective of what it’s like for real Maiko ^^

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  2. Fushimi Inari Shrine is my favourite part of Kyoto. But when I went, I took my mum, so I couldn’t go all the way to the top. Those cats that patrol the place were great. There just something really special about that place – really otherworldly.

    Going to Nintendo’s Hyakuninisshu museum was a lot of fun too. Your blog makes me want to go again!

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