Our first day in Kyoto we decided to head to the Higashiyama district to wander a temple or two and enjoy the historical streets. Our hotel was very close to Kyoto Station, but we took the easy option and jumped in a taxi. We’d heard taxis could be quite expensive in Japan, so were happy to find that in Kyoto this was not really the case, at least not compared to the UK!
We got dropped off at Kodai-ji, a Buddhist temple at the edge of district, tucked up against a forested hillside. We wandered the complex stunned by the serenity and beauty. I’m little ashamed to admit that while I have photos of the gardens, I don’t feel I really captured the true atmosphere of the place at all… Though, in a way I do feel this might be a good thing in that I was shooting less than normal because I was simply enjoying the experience. Perhaps an apt reaction to a Zen Buddhist temple.
After leaving the temple we explored the old streets of Higashiyama. It is a popular tourist area, but somehow that enhances rather than spoils the experience because so many of the tourists are Japanese and are enjoying the day out in traditional clothing. This is such a popular activity in Kyoto that most of the hotels have a ‘hire a yukata’ package where one can rent an outfit to wander around in for a day!
The weather that day was interesting to say the least; it started out bright, but in a short time became blustery and dark. It turned out that a typhoon was approaching far to the south and while we were lucky it didn’t reach Kyoto, its effects were felt. We were very glad to reach our hotel before the rain hit that evening as when it did, it was torrential. The last image in this post was taken in our hotel courtyard bar that evening; you can see the rain.
As a small side note before I get to the images, the hotel we stayed at was fabulous. It was Sakura Terrace The Gallery and while the rooms were smallish, the whole place was stylish and the amenities were fantastic; every evening you could have a free ‘welcome’ drink at the bar, the communal areas also had ‘cafes’ where you could make yourself a tea or coffee, and they also had a laundry room that was free to use – they even provided the detergent! Because of all these things, the place had a friendly community atmosphere about it that we really enjoyed. We stayed at the hotel for our first two nights in Kyoto, then again for five nights once we returned from Koyasan and were super happy it was our Kyoto home.
Day 3 in Japan: Higashiyama, Kyoto