Memoirs of a Gaijin: Sights of Kyoto

Seeing as how we only had little time to enjoy Kyoto, I met up with my Japanese buddies and asked them for help. We met in Calgary when they came for foreign exchange and to learn English. Our friendship grew and here we are!

We met up in Sinsekai over dinner to catch up and laid down the things to go for:

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That’s a tall order for us.

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I’m just curious as to how far you got in such a small amount of time. 

Well, here it is, Kyoto at its finest hour!:

So we went to Gion district, where they’re famous for their geisha’s working the establishments.

So what’s a ‘geisha’? Is this another lap dance from Kyoto?

What?! No. They’re mainly female entertainers or hostesses as Wikipedia defines them,

Geisha (芸者?), geiko (芸子) or geigi (芸妓) are traditional Japanese female entertainers who act as hostesses and whose skills include performing various Japanese arts such as classical music, dance and games.

So they’re fancy waitresses? 

What? Did you even read the definition? Anyways, this district was lively with geishas walking amongst the townspeople and it’s where we had delicious all-you-can-eat hotpot or shabu-shabu.

Then we went to several shrines, including the To-ji Temple & Inari Shrine,

The To-ji Temple houses a five-story pagoda and has been rebuilt many times after lightning burnt it to the ground,

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“What do you mean it got hit by lightning?! Okay, just get the interns to build it again.”

The Inari shrine meanwhile, housed what seemed to be, an endless array of Japanese gates or torii,

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So what? What do these torii’s mean? What are they?

They’re entrance gates to a shrine and to inform you that a shrine is beyond these gates. We wanted to know just how many of these torii’s exist and so we went on an unexpected hike up the mountain or what they called, The Walk to Tranquility:

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That doesn’t look tranquil at all. That looks like ‘leg day’ to me.

Dang, that’s high. What’s up there?

So as you elevate up, you’ll see various places for you to meditate and worship and it’s just a collection of shrines for people to contemplate and worship in. It was quite a humbling and neat experience to do but be prepared, it’ll get hot.

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We did make it up successfully.

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But at what price?!

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In your face, leg day!

So you got a workout. Big deal. Was it worth it?

You look at the pictures above and think about what you said.

Next is my top spot in Kyoto, the Kinkaku-ji or the Golden Pavillion,

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It was a villa for a rich statesman, which is now one of Japan’s most treasured monuments.

With a Zen garden surrounding the area, it’s a peaceful and relaxing area that you need to see for yourself.

After that, we went to Arashiyama to check out the bamboo forest and the monkey park!:

Surrounded by all of this nature is a sight unseen because I’ve never seen so much mature bamboos flourishing so well. It was awe-inspiring and just another destination to collect yourself and absorb what Japan has to offer. Also, that monkey park is close to the bamboo forest.

We have monkeys here at the Zoo. What’s the big deal?!

Well for starters, their ‘park’ is 160m upwards so the hike up there to see the monkeys is rewarding on its own. Secondly, these monkeys just run around the peak and live life but they will kick your ass when intimidated. Fact.

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“Mummy, I’m bored…”

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“Look at me! I’m strong too!”

Sounds like fun. So how did you find Kyoto vs. Osaka?

Kyoto was a traditional place to go but with their destinations all over the city, I would either do two things:

– Stay there longer and use Kyoto as your ‘hub’ instead of Osaka
– Do what we did and rent a bike for the day. Ride riverside and enjoy the shade that compliments the breeze. Seriously. We were cooking in Kyoto.

Time for some deer in Nara!

– Don

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