Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Four days in Kyoto


Visiting temples, shrines and old homes. Typical features are the water basins to wash your hands and mouths before prayer, bells to ring in front of temples and shrines, and taking your shoes off every time you enter (a temple or a home).


This is my fourth time in Kyoto, but the first for the kids, we visited a dozen temples and shrines, the Nishiki market (twice!), old homes and neighborhoods, the famous Gion (and saw a couple of Maiko) and Kiyomizu-dera areas, and still, there are hundreds more places we could have gone to. Kyoto is so rich of history!


Small pleasures: Jizo statues, protectors of travelers, children and mothers. These three are lucky if you touch them  with the right hand or both hands (of course both my kids are left-handed...); drinking macha green tea; wagashi, Japanese cakes, these rabbits are filled with anko, sweet azuki bean paste.

This is a very quick reportage of our 4 days in Kyoto, but you can also find an old post here (the last time I visited was spring and cherry blossom time, much warmer!!) and some of Arantxa's photos here.

Ryoan-ji, a must see temple in Kyoto, especially if you are interested in Buddhism. The 15th century rock garden aids meditation, and the water from the rock basing purifies your soul, the symbols roughly translates as 'All you need you already have".


No photos were allowed, otherwise I would have included one of our favourite sites: Sanjusangen-do, the temple with a long hall housing 1001 golden statues of the beautiful female bodhisattha Kannon.
On the Tourist map, but ever so great: To-ji Temple, especially for its five-storey pagoda built 1200 years ago; Kinkaku-ji Temple, the most famous attraction for foreigners for its golden pavilion (kin means gold); my favourite: Ginkaku-ji Temple (gin means silver, although do not expect to see silver on the pavilion in the same way you saw gold in Kinkakuji!) with its beautiful gardens and atmosphere).


Eating and shopping in the city is also great. Kyoto cuisine is very refined and the ingredients, especially the pickles and the tofu, are amazing (but more in this article). Kyoto Japanese cakes and sweets are so beautiful, and you must try the green tea (especially if you can experience a proper tea ceremony). Shopping in Nishiki market is fun (we also had a good meal there at Kanematsu - number 108 on the Nishiki map), and so it is in the various shops around temples and shrines (for books, good luck charms and souvenirs). The department stores are unbeatable for cakes, and free tastings, we visited the food court of all the three "biggies": Takashimaya, Isetan and Daimaru (my favourite, if you only have time for only one choose this one!), plus a number of small cake shops, which can be found everywhere in the city. 


And yes, we will be visiting again, maybe in Autumn next time? It was really cold, so for a laugh I am adding a photo in the bus with our friend Shin, I am all covered up and with a mask (a must in Japan if you are coughing and sneezing).
And to make you laugh even more, when I was sitting by the Kamo river a small falcon circled over my head and then dived for my hat! It turned back as soon as it realized that it was not an animal (and fake fur too!) but it was quite a funny experience, and I didn't realize that there were so many falcons (and other birds) in the city centre! Must be all those temples and gardens :-).









Photos by Alessandra Zecchini ©

13 comments:

  1. I whole hearted approve of the bunny cake :)

    I love Kyoto. There's so much contrast between old and new.

    I'm laughing about your furry hat. I bet the falcon was annoyed that you cheated him of his dinner.

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  2. Eccomi qui di nuovo ad ammirare questi panorami e queste fotografie espressive: che luoghi stupendi.. paiono proprio quelli dipinti sulle porcellane e che fanno tanto sognare. Quei dolcetti con la pasta di azuki devono essere buonissimi.. per non parlare del té! Forte il falco che credeva che il tuo cappellino fosse un animale ahahah! :D Un abbraccio amica mia.. e grazie come sempre della bella visione. Ora posso andare a dormire felice.. :)

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  3. Looks like one more extraordinary experience! Wonderful post and amazing pictures!

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  6. Alessandra, che meraviglia i vostri viaggi, ci racconti di mondi così lontani e diversi dai nostri che sembrano quasi irreali.

    Molto divertente la storia del falco che aveva scambiato il tuo cappello per un animale!!! :)

    Un abbraccio

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  7. il giappone ha una di quelle culture che mi piacerebbe conoscere.
    purtroppo mio marito ha paura dell'aereo :(
    ma ho la ragazza di mio figlio che studia il giapponese e ogni tanto mi parla del loro modo di vivere.
    e adoro la cucina!!!!!!
    belle foto, non so perchè, ma danno un senso di pace!

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  8. Thanks for the comment on my blog! The snow stayed about a week!
    Anyway, this was your 4th visit in Kyoto? Wow! I've been there only twice even though I'm Japanese. I love to visit there too!
    That omanju is very cute. Hope you had a good time!

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  9. che meraviglia Ale....seguo il blog di una ragazza che vive ad Osaka e adora l'italia, ne narra sempre meraviglie del suo Oriente e mi lascia lì col naso in su.
    Come te.
    Grazie :D

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  11. Bellissime foto!

    http://thestyleattitude.blogspot.it/

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  12. I am SO jealous!
    Kyoto sounds and looks incredible. I am dying to go there myself one day...and get lots of sencha!

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