22 December 2013

Kyoto day 1

Here, finally, are some photos from my trip to Kyoto in November. This was my second trip to Japan (I'd been there on a tour in 2006) and my first holiday as a truly solo traveler (although I'd gone on holiday alone before it had always been on an escorted tour so I wasn't really on my own).

Saturday 16th November

When I arrived in Kyoto it was lunchtime, so I had all afternoon to begin exploring. I started by heading to Yasaka Shrine, but it was difficult not to get sidetracked by all the pretty shops along the way! As I got closer to the shrine I got my camera out. There were lots of people walking around wearing kimono, and one of the first photos I took was of what might be two off-duty maikos (apprentice geishas).

When I arrived at the shrine it was bustling with people, and I was immediately aware of the aromas coming from all the food stalls. This was something I'd forgotten about Japan - the smells of food cooking and of incense burning. I was pleased to see what I'd come there for on that day - lots of children dressed in kimono for the Shichi-Go-San festival. But then I realised there were also weddings taking place, and I was quite moved by watching a wedding procession.

The weather was stunningly good, and I was walking about wearing just a cardigan and worrying I might get sunburnt! I continued up to Maruyama Park behind the shrine, where there were some lovely autumn colours beginning to develop on the trees.

On my way back to the hotel I walked around Gion, and was pleased to see two maikos - I couldn't believe my luck at seeing some on my very first day there. Later I had a walk around Pontocho. It was lovely seeing all the lanterns lit up.

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