Friday, January 13, 2012

Exploring Kyoto

My favorite part about exploring a new city is just walking around. I love feeling like I'm actually exploring a place. If I follow the guidebook to the hotspots, I feel like I didn't really see anything. I miss out on the journey, and we all know, it's the journey that really matters!
When we got to Kyoto, I knew Gion was the neighborhood to explore. Kyoto is known as the cultural capital of Japan and Gion is the geisha district filled with temples and tiny alleyways to discover. What is more Japanese-y than that??

We only had one full day in Kyoto so in the morning we woke up, ate breakfast, looked at the map in the lobby of the hostel and took off in the general direction on Gion.

There are maps posted throughout the city which helped us stay in the general area we wanted to be in. If we saw something cool we stopped. If we saw a temple we went in, walked around, made an offering, and bowed. When we hit a major intersection we would look both ways and go where it looked the most promising. We ended up finding tons of great stuff, including a few things I'm sure were not in the guidebook.

fire station


sticker street art

It's always good to look around carefully. You never know when a little treasure is hiding down a side street, like this little temple. 

construction bunnies

Japan is a beautiful blend of tradition and innovation. There are modern conveniences next door to temples that are hundreds of years old. It's amazing to me that a country so steeped in tradition can also be modern and fresh. It would be great to live here one day and explore their culture even more.


  1. I LOVED Gion! (And I'm so glad you guys did, too!)

    It was just so easy to get lost in the alleys, or go geisha-spotting, and see so much without even trying!

    Thanks for making me all Japan-nostalgic!

  2. You're welcome! :) I loved the random geisha spotting. I'd been looking for embroidery floss for a while in Korea but couldn't find any so when I stumbled upon a sewing store, I went right in. They had tons of colors to choose from and as I was deciding, I glace over and there are two geishas looking at fabrics! One was a woman and one was about an eight year old. She was so cute in her little kimono! It was really cool to be doing something so ordinary, something I've done countless times back home, and then look over and see a geisha and remember, "oh, yeah! I'm in JAPAN!"