K is for Kyoto

Like you didn’t already predict my K word 😉

Kyoto was one of my favorite places in Japan. I’m glad I decided to extend my stay from three days to six before even setting foot in the country. Totally worth it, and I could have stayed longer. I didn’t have a chance to see Kiyomizu-Dera or Gion or Kinkakuji, but I thoroughly enjoyed what I did visit. Two of my must-see places were Fushimi Inari and Arashiyama Bamboo Forest, and I’m happy to be able to cross those off my bucketlist 🙂

DSC02572cropbtbwFushimi Inari fox guardian

I was a bit disappointed with my photography results in the Bamboo Forest, but that’s normal according to Lonely Planet (see link above). It was an overcast day with moisture lingering in the air. I arrived before sundown, and the lighting inside the groves wasn’t spectacular. But, I have plenty of photos of other interesting attractions in Kyoto! I probably shot the most footage of my trip there. Everything felt like eye-candy to me, from the arcade malls to the random temples sitting on ordinary urban streets. I had difficulty saying goodbye when the time finally came to move onto Akasaka (Tokyo).

Fushimi Inari

Fushimi Inari scrollsLots of things are aligned in rows at Fushimi Inari

I loved that Kyoto has an almost 50/50 split between modern and ancient buildings, culture and activities. It wasn’t uncommon to stumble into a shrine or temple while strolling past concrete structures such as condos or office buildings.

Charms and Wishes

I found myself sucked in by a shrine near my ryoukan (Japanese style inn). A man was praying at the altar, but otherwise I was nearly alone to wander through the grounds.

Kyoto candles

Closeup of Bell

Baby Shrine

These baby statues were paradoxical to me. Though I didn’t understand the info placard (all written in complex Japanese), this seemed to be a shrine to deceased children. Yet the statues looked so cute and happy!

 

I shall conclude my musings about Kyoto with my favorite photo from the visit. It has an air of solitude even with those scattered figures walking into the distance. It implies damp, ugly winter weather, yet it was a relatively sunny and pleasant day. I like how the low tide turned the ground into some surreal-looking alien territory. The pic was taken while I got lost crossing a small bridge between the metro and local train systems. The path was in fact extremely simple, but without explicit instructions it took an encounter with a friendly elderly man to set me on my way. He noticed me staring at a map, and approached with heavily accented English. “Can I help you find something?” he asked. I wasn’t so much ‘lost’ as simply confused.

Going to Gion

In the end, my train station was just beyond this bridge. All I had to do was continue crossing over, and the entrance to the station was RIGHT. THERE. Being confused in a foreign country is one thing. Not seeing the station entrance because my eyesight didn’t reach that far, is another! But if low vision was a hindrance on my trip, it certainly wasn’t an absolute.

I blow raspberries at crummy eyesight trying to ruin my fun! Despite the occasional confusion, Kyoto was just a lovely place to spend six days!

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