After two jam-packed days of sightseeing I was due for a more relaxed day in the Kyoto area. That morning I didn’t get up as early and I wasn’t rushing out the door to see all that the city had to offer. Once I left my hostel I spent a while wandering around the Higashiyama and Gion Districts. These two districts in the eastern part of Kyoto are right next to each other and are full of preserved buildings that give them a very traditional feel. I started off in the northern section of the Higashiyama District. Tourists frequently pass through here on their way up to Kiyomizudera Temple and the streets are lined with shops catering to the thousands of visitors that pass through each day.
Within Higashiyama is the Yasaka Pagoda, which might be the most famous landmark in the district. This pagoda is the last surviving structure of Hokanji Temple and one of the roads leading up to it is extremely photogenic. This is one of the most popular photo spots in Kyoto and unless you go there really early or really late you should expect lots of people to be there.
A couple minutes after I arrived at Yasaka Pagoda it started pouring rain and I had to take cover near the pagoda. I stayed there for about ten minutes until the rain lightened up.
Since I wasn’t that far from my hostel I went back to it and grabbed an umbrella, which I would need because soon afterwards the rain began coming down hard again. I walked around the area where the Higashiyama and Gion districts merge and the rain had driven most of the tourist crowds indoors.
To get out of the rain I hiked up the stairs to Kodaiji Temple and dried off inside one of the temple buildings. One of the rooms had artwork covering the walls that depicted the Buddha’s death.
When I came out of Kodaiji the rain had stopped and I went down into the Gion District and walked through Hanamikoji Street. Although Hanamikoji’s businesses are closed during much of the day, in the evening this street comes alive and becomes flooded with visitors. At the more expensive restaurants and teahouses you can be entertained by the geishas that Kyoto is famous for.
At the southern end of Hanamikoji Street is Kenniji Temple, the oldest Zen temple in Kyoto. One temple building that is normally open to visitors had been closed and there was a sign outside it that indicated some sort of special event was being held there. I don’t know exactly what was going on but I soon learned that it had something to do with geishas. While photographing one of Kenniji’s other buildings a geisha walked into my frame and I ended up getting two photos of her. For the third image above I’ve cropped and zoomed-in on the geisha. Normally geishas don’t walk around in broad daylight and this one entered the building that had been closed to the public, so she must have been part of whatever was going on at the temple that day. This was actually my second geisha sighting in Kyoto—the first had been on my arrival night when I came around a corner and saw two geishas boarding their respective taxis.
I left Kenniji Temple soon afterwards and headed to Kyoto Station where I caught a train going south. My destination was the town of Uji, which will be the subject of the remainder of this week’s posts.