Kyoto–it’s just like the pictures

I’ve done a fair amount of traveling, and obviously I enjoy it or I wouldn’t keep doing it. However, most places I’ve been usually have a moment of “well that’s not what it looks like in the the pictures…” or some other slightly disappointing element to it. However, my trip to Kyoto did not disappoint. I really feel the city lived up to all my expectations and more.

We took the shinkansen (bullet train) there and had a really nice view of Fuji-san (Mt. Fuji).

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Our first stop upon our arrival was Fushimi Inari. I was pretty impressed by the entryway, but it got even better once we went inside.

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The god/spirit of the shrine was a fox, which I liked a lot.

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At shrines you can buy various charms. In the entry way of Fushimi Inari you can buy a charm that looks like a Torii.

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You can also buy fortunes for usually about 100 yen (about equal to one US dollar). If the fortune is bad, you can tie it up at the shrine. The bad luck will then blow away in the wind.

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After a few minutes of walking, we came to the spot I had been waiting for, the seemingly endless path of Torii.

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This is one of the things I had wanted to see long before I knew I was moving to Japan, so I was really excited to see them.

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More charms, these ones were shaped as foxes and if you buy one you draw the face on yourself.

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The Fushimi Inari shrine is really beautiful, and if you want to see everything you would have to stay there for a few hours. You can hike up to the top of the Inari mountain as well. Since we had so many things we wanted to do in Kyoto, we didn’t spend too much time here. However, when I go back to Kyoto I definitely will go there again and hike to the top.

Until next time, Fushimi Inari!

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Next we headed to Nijo Castle.

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Here we entered part of the castle.

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Unfortunately, we couldn’t take pictures inside. One of the unique features of this castle is actually the floorboards. Throughout the building, the floorboards were specially designed to creak and make a lot of noise so that intruders could be easily heard.

After that we headed to the Gion area. This is the area where most Geisha (or Geiko, as they are called in the local Kyoto dialect) work and train. We were hoping to see some Geiko or Maiko (Maiko are apprentice Geiko). If you want to learn more about Geisha/Geiko/Maiko I suggest reading this.

We weren’t sure if we’d actually get to see any Geiko. I had heard about people going to Kyoto and never getting the opportunity to see them. They can be rather elusive. Thankfully because of the tips from this blog , we knew where to go and at about what time. After waiting about 15 minutes (in the SNOW!) we saw one!

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A few minutes later, we saw another.

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I like this picture because she’s smiling.

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I like this picture too because it shows what the back of her outfit looks like, as well as the white paint is very specifically done on the back of the neck. I also like the contrast between her appearance and the man’s appearance.

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The next day we headed to the Zen Buddhist temple Kinkakuji, known as the Golden Pavilion in English. This was another sight I had seen plenty of pictures of.

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I got my ticket! Ready to go!

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It completely lived up to my expectations. The pictures I had seen were absolutely stunning, but I didn’t expect the real thing to be as beautiful, but it really was.

DSC02910-001Here’s a panoramic shot.

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We even stopped and had matcha (special green tea used during tea ceremonies) during our visit.

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See the rest of our trip on my next post!

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