History and geishas in Kyoto

Trip Start Nov 17, 2007
Trip End Mar 26, 2008

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Wednesday, March 5, 2008

We arrived in Kyoto by train this evening.  First impressions of our accommodation are good and I think we`ll have plenty to keep us occupied over the next couple of days.  We`ve got 3 nights here and are planning on spending tomorrow wandering around the old streets and temples and spending our second day riding bikes through the town but we`ll see how we go.

Updated 5/3/08:

We`ve now been here for a couple of days, and have really enjoyed Kyoto - For a city with 1.5m people it has a lot of character, and doesn`t really feel so big. The first full day we had here, we spent walking from one temple to the next shrine etc, via the laneways, back streets, parks and footpaths around the city, which was a really good way of seeing the `real Kyoto`. Around some sights there are a lot of tourists (apparently 50m Japanese alone visit Kyoto every year!), but they seem to disappear as soon as you walk 5 minutes away from it (not sure where they go?) so it didn`t feel to busy most of the time. Sadly we seem to be a few weeks too early for the famous Kyoto cherry blossoms to be in full bloom (and it`s too cold - it snowed here today!).

Today we hired bikes from our Ryokan hostel and went up to the north of Kyoto to see, you guessed it, pagodas, temples etc! One place in particular was the site of a (alledgedly world famous) Zen garden - i.e. some rocks with raked gravel around it. After spending 15 minutes or so looking at it and pondering the meaning of life, we concluded that it is definitely rocks and raked gravel. You can judge for yourselves from the picture.

[Oh, and we saw some Geishas yesterday too!]

The bike route we took took us through many of the city`s back streets with traditional style ryokans and Japanese buildings which again added to the experience of seeing the very `Japanese looking ` Kyoto.

Tonight we plan to head into the city centre, of which we have actually seen very little so far, to see what Kyoto has to offer at night.

Tomorrow we lead off on another super fast train to one more destination before we head back to Tokyo on Friday evening.
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