2021. In our Grand Scheme of Travels, Danny and I had planned to be in Japan with Michel. Quod non. So let’s go back to March and April 2013, when my sister Florence, her husband Kenneth, my nephew Leo and my niece Isaline travelled to Tokyo, Hakone and Kyoto. The classic intro to Nippon and a golden opportunity. I grew up with anime such as ‘Dragon Ball‘ and ‘Saint Seiya‘ on television and Japan had been on my wish list since I was little. There’s a lot I don’t remember. But thanks to photos on Facebook, my guidebook and check-ins on Swarm (Foursquare), I can reconstruct parts of that trip.
Obviously Kyoto is more than its many temples and shrines
- Ginkaku-ji or Temple of the Silver Pavilion;
- Fushimi Inari;
- Kinkaku-ji or Temple of the Golden Pavilion;
- Eikando Zenrin-ji Temple, Nanzen-ji Temple, Chion-in; Shoren-in, Ninna-ji, Tenryū-ji.
Kyoto is also ‘just’ a city.
A main attraction is Gion in Kyoto. Gion is a district originally developed in the Sengoku period, in front of Yasaka Shrine (Gion Shrine). The district was built to accommodate the needs of travelers and visitors to the shrine.
It eventually evolved to become one of the most exclusive and well-known geisha districts in all of Japan. The term Gion is related to Jetavana.
The geisha in Kyoto do not refer to themselves as geisha; instead, they use the local term geiko. While the term geisha means “artist” or “person of the arts”, the more direct term geiko means essentially “a woman of art”.
Pontocho Alley is another famous area of Kyoto. Pontoncho or Ponto-chō is a hanamachi district, known for its geisha and maiko, and is home to many of the city’s okiya and traditional tea houses. Like Gion, Ponto-chō is famous for the preservation of forms of traditional architecture and entertainment.
A hanamachi (literally “flower town”) refers to a district where geisha live and work in Japan. Each hanamachi typically has its own name, crest, and distinct geisha population, with geisha not typically working outside of their own district. Hanamachi usually contain okiya (geisha houses) and ochaya (teahouses where geisha entertain).
I remember Kyoyo to have a quieter vibe then Tokyo. Less high-rise buildings. We went to a ‘real’ sento or bathhouse, contrasting to the resort-linke onsen in Hakone.
I remember green tea foods such as KitKat and waffles. Our bed and breakfast was also very homely.
Public transport was quieter. Striking was the payment system. You pay as you disembark and there’s a trust people will be honest about the stop they embarked on the bus. There also trains, but no metro system.
Overall I enjoyed Kyoto much. It’s more graspable than Tokyo.
See you next time.
2013 Japan Family Trip
- JAPAN 2013 | Solo in Tokyo.
- JAPAN 2013 | Tokyo ft. Ueno Park and the Shibuya Crossing.
- JAPAN 2013 | Tokyo ft. Sensō-ji, Hamarikyu Gardens and the Imperial Palace East Gardens.
- JAPAN 2013 | Meiji Shrine and Harakuju in Tokyo.
- JAPAN 2013 | Tokyo ft. Tsukiji Fish Market, Ginza, Zōjō-ji Temple, Tokyo Tower and traditional restaurant Jomon in Roppongi.
- JAPAN 2013 | Tokyo – Hakone by train.
- JAPAN 2013 | Hakone Yumoto – Lake Ashi – Owakudani.
- JAPAN 2013 | Hakone Yumoto Onsen Tenseien.
- JAPAN 2013 | Kyoto’s Philosopher’s Path and Anraku-ji Temple.
- JAPAN 2013 | Kyoto’s Ginkaku-ji or Temple of the Silver Pavilion.
- JAPAN 2013 | Fushimi Inari Shrine in Kyoto.
- JAPAN 2013 | Kiyomizu-dera Temple in Kyoto.
- JAPAN 2013 | Kinkaku-ji or Temple of the Golden Pavilion in Kyoto.
- JAPAN 2013 | Kyoto’s other temples: Eikando Zenrin-ji, Nanzen-ji, Chion-in, Shoren-in, Ninna-ji, Tenryū-ji.
- JAPAN 2013 | Kyoto’s Arashiyama Bamboo Grove.