Gion Area

Trip Start Jun 16, 2012
Trip End Oct 14, 2012

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Flag of Japan  , Kinki,
Saturday, September 1, 2012

We planned on starting September by getting going early today and Al set an alarm for 7:30am but we both were very lazy and nobody offered to get up and make tea so we had a lazy morning and skyped Bron to have a nice chat and catch up so our breakfast ended up being at 11am! Hahaha so much for that idea! We went to the French Boulangerie next door to the hotel and had the most delicious breakfast then went walking up the road towards the Gion area to investigate. Well from the time we crossed the river we were oohing and aahing and loving Kyoto. We walked up busy streets and quiet residential streets and made our way through the tourist route past old tea houses all along the Shirakawa Canal that is suggested and as you will see in the pics its delightful!

In the searing heat of the day we wandered around and came out at a flagstone-paved shopping street which has such different small shops with any kind of tourist thingy you would want including antiques, ceramics, art etc and at the top of the road we came across a stairway up to the Yasaka-jinia Shrine which is so interesting.

From there we crossed the road and followed a stone walkway passed hundreds of traditional Japanese buildings filled with restaurants. At each intersection even if it was a narrow street, there was a points-man on duty showing the tourist when to cross and really controlling the the flow of traffic and people. This road led us to the Kennenji Temple. This is Japan's oldest Zen temple, has huge halls and sand and moss gardens.

The stone road then went uphill and we came out at a really touristy but beautiful streets of restored buildings with stairs at the end called Ninen-Zaka Path ("two-year-slope") leading to more streets of traditional buildings  and a another "stepped street" called Sannen-Zaka ("three-year-slope"), which also had shops. Both areas are gorgeous with such a lovely vibe and there are people everywhere! We had to be wide awake because legend has it that slipping & falling over on these streets brings three or two years' bad luck respectively.

We came across lots of Geishas through the day and Al enjoyed having his photo taken with a few of them.  This place is amazing and so different to Tokyo! It's much more colourful and quaint and we are just loving walking around and exploring all the touristy areas of Gion but then also  taking quiet streets into real residential areas and seeing the lives of these friendly, lovely people. Everybody smiles at us or greets us and offer to help if you are standing looking at your map. We are now sooo hot and our feet are sooo sore but we walk back towards town because we are scared to miss anything and as we cross the river we find an alley leading to hundreds of bars and restaurants all overlooking the river with great views so we stopped and had a drink at one of the bars. At the private restaurant next door to the bar we witnessed Geishas entertaining gentlemen at dinner and really saw how these girls pamper these men. We were amazed at how the men arrive, they then strip and put on kimonos and then the girls lead them to the dinner table. It was all very interesting!

Geisha (芸者) are traditional Japanese female entertainers who act as hostesses and whose skills were a combination of actress and prostitute. The geisha worked within pleasure quarters & were essentially imprisoned. By 1800, being a geisha was considered a female occupation and by the 1830s, the evolving geisha style was emulated by fashionable women throughout Japanese society with different classifications and ranks of geisha. Some women would have sex with their male customers, whereas others would entertain strictly with their art forms. After Japan lost the war, geisha dispersed and the profession was in shambles. In the 1960s during Japan's post war economic boom, the geisha world changed and in modern Japan, girls are not sold into indentured service and a geisha’s sex life is her private affair.

We then walked on and found this interesting looking restaurant for dinner. Oh my heavens alive did we choose well!, We have just had the best dinner since we left home and that's saying something as we have had some amazing meals! We had fried Kushikatsu, which is 8 skewers of a mixture of tempura jalapeņo, beef, chicken, prawn, eggplant and a mozzarella cheese ball and mussels and then grilled Yakitori  which had 6 skewers of chicken. Each skewer was different! One was the skin, one the livers, one minced, one was breast, one was a chicken ball and 2 were just pieces of chicken all grilled on a gas grill in front of us. We also ordered a skewer of mushrooms, one of onions, one of tempura pork and another one of cheese & eggplant. You get all of this with a bowl of dipping teriyaki sauce and a bowl of fresh cabbage leaves and you dip everything into the sauce and eat it. It's really the most amazing mix of flavours we have ever had!  The cook reminded us so of Paddy Smuts! He was a delightful, cheery full of fun, boisterous guy that had us laughing all through dinner!

We are now exhausted and in bed with very sore feet.

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Barbs on

Kyoto looks so lovely and clean and full of smiling people.Not sure about the green tea icecream!! very jealous of your lovely hot waether - stil cold and rainy here - does it ever stop raining!!! i needd a week of no rain to get my roof fixed - indoor water feature turning into an indoor waterfall!!

lots of love

Bev Witte on

Kyota looks great,I think I will put this on my bucket Bev.

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