DAY 6 - OLD KYOTO
Day 6 marks the start of our stay in Kyoto. After taking the wrong train, we belatedly made it to a rental shop where we donned authentic kimonos and accessories. Ali embraced the kimono and found it to be more comfortable than her typical clothes. I, on the other hand, removed the kimono immediately after this photo was taken, finding the tight wrappings to be extremely uncomfortable.
Next we travelled to the Philosopher’s Path, and stopped for lunch before beginning our walk. This was one of the better and balanced meals we enjoyed. Most of the food in Japan that we could find was mainly noodles, fried foods, and rice, so this lunch set was a welcome change.
Ali sporting her sunbrella while walking on one of the many small bridges that crossed the Philosopher’s Path creek.
Ali looks like a Edo-era princess.
In spite of the numerous tourists, the atmosphere was serene and respectful. Cherry blossom petals fell continuously, and those that landed in the creek would float on the surface and drift lazily with the current.
Ali and I did not understand the significance of this monument, so we captured this photo to learn what it could mean. Even after some light research it remains a mystery.
Just off the path we found a small temple. Many (or perhaps all) temples in Japan include a basin with flowing water just outside. Before entering the temple grounds, one must purify oneself with a washing ritual, which includes rinsing your hands and mouth.
We were lucky to find the temple grounds deserted. It was silent except for the breeze, the birds, and our own footsteps, which all added to the sacred feeling of the place.
Offerings left outside the temple.
With our spirits refreshed, we took the bus to the Gion district, which is a part of Kyoto that strives to retain its classical architecture and vibe.
Ali remained quite comfortable in her kimono.
While looking at Google Maps, we noticed that Pontocho Alley was nearby, so we made the spontaneous decision to investigate. It’s a narrow alley lined with restaurants, bars, and eclectic shops. Like the Gion district, it has retained a traditional atmosphere.
While walking through the alley, we had the distinct feeling that the place really comes to life at night.
Along the alley we discovered a rabbit shop! The entire store was not more than 10 or 12 square feet of walking area, but it contained many bunny-themed items. It should go without saying that we made a small purchase here.
Yet more cherry blossoms were found in a small park at the end of the alley.
A candid photo of Ali as we made our way back to the Kyoto metro to return her kimono.