Sep 5, 2010

A Walk Through Southern Higashimya and the Gion District, Kyoto.

Arriving in Kyoto marked the start of the hardcore sightseeing leg of our trip.  Tokyo for me was a city to absorb.  Everywhere I went provided amply opportunity to just observe a totally foreign culture and way of life for me.

Kyoto is noticeably quieter and has a stronger sense of the past co-existing with the present.  It is a city that holds considerable amounts of Japan's history in its buildings and remains a centre of the arts in the present day.

These are some of my favourite photos from the first day Mr SSG and I just walked around Southern Higashimya.  Lonely Planet describes it as a great area to 'sample several of Kyoto's most important sights and neighbourhoods'.  Very well put.

We started our walk down Higashioji Street and arrived at the Kyoto Gion Lamp Museum.

Entrance to the Kyoto Gion Lamp Museum

There were lots of shrines (and lamps) within the park behind the striking entrance.



Behind the museum area is Maruyama park.

Maruyama-koen

Then it was a short walk down some beautifully restored streets in the Ninen-zaka - Sanen-saka area (Two Year Hill and Three Year Hill).  It was incredibly peaceful walking down the cobbled streets.

Bundled branches forming part of the fence around one restored tea house.

Whenever you cared to look upwards, there would be temples reaching heavenward above traditionally ornate rooves.



Dotted around the district are roadside Buddhist statues that visitors can touch for good luck.  For small statues, touch with either your right hand or both hands.  For larger statues, touch the pedestal.

Statues of Hideyoshi and Nene, symbols of a happy marriage.




The Wishing Ball.

Your wish will be granted if you walk as many times as the number of your wishes around the ball while touching it with your right hand.



We visited Ryozen Kannon, which is a war memorial built in 1955.  It commemorates all the Japanese soldiers who died in World War II.  Memorial services are held several time a day.

Incense sticks.





The 24m high Kannon statue.


The shrine beneath Kannon contains images of the gods of wind and thunder.

There are some beautiful streets of shops near Kodai-ji park.


It was like stepping back in time, all the shop facades have been faithfully maintained.

There is a service available for tourists where you can be dressed a geisha and remain in costume for a few hours as you walk around the area.

I'm pretty sure I saw a tourist dressed as a geisha and not a professional geisha.






There were a few visitors who wore traditional dress.



Traditional transport was also available.

I pitied the poor man pulling this rickshaw uphill.  It was so hot and humid that day.

I'm still not quite sure of the names of all the temples and shrines we visited that day, I got so confused reading Lonely Planet, negotiating the maps and trying to find icy cold drinks every half an hour.  However, it was fun exploring Kyoto with eager eyes and no preconceptions.


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