Thursday, September 11, 2014

More Kyoto Strolling...

If you have been following this blog you will know that a) it can be a little bit random at times and b) I like to stroll and snap my way through Kyoto. I've shared various walks and wanderings via my images and will continue to do so as the mood strikes me. Today I'm returning back to a walk I have done many times and each time I find new things to share. 

When exiting the main gates of  Kiyomizu Dera you will walk down a very busy cobbled street lined with souvenir shops and the like - if you bypass all this and keep walking straight ahead you will find a set of stairs to your right that lead down to another street - Sannenzaka -which, if you follow it all the way around turns into Ninenzaka - there are plenty of shops, cafes etc to stop in and you could spend the whole day here if you really liked to shop. 
Recently I noticed this new soap shop and its unique sales strategy.  There are sinks with running water for you to try the soap - which feels like jelly in your hands - the girls above are checking it out. It was a pretty strange sensation but the soap was very nice on my skin and came in a variety of pleasant scents. I was particularly taken with the packaging. Either in bamboo leaf or cloth - like mini versions of the traditional Furoshiki cloth which people used to take to the onsen to wrap their belongings in when they stripped off for the bath. Furoshiki are now commonly used to wrap gifts. 
Instead of turning right onto Ninenzaka from Sannenzaka - you can choose to walk straight ahead - in a westerly direction.  This area has been having a bit of a refurb in the last couple of years and one of the  most bizarre things I have seen in some time is this Kiwi Pie shop. Of course as an Aussie we think we own the meat pie but my Kiwi friends tell me differently.  I  met the owner - he isn't Kiwi, Aussie or Japanese. I think perhaps South African judging by the accent. Close enough to Kiwi/Aussie I guess!
ok so we have a meat pie, a meat and cream cheese pie and a shepherd's pie (Shiepaado pai). The cream cheese must be a Kiwi thing??
Look right and you will see this charming tea house - which looks more like  a temple to me and in fact may well have once been one? I need to do some more investigation here. 
Just after the tea house is this ceramic artists studio - there's always a pretty eclectic collection of items on sale  - sometimes a little, how should I put this? indelicate? Keep an eye out for it if you are in the area -you really can't miss it.  These are some of the more PG items. 
A little further south and you'll walk past the tiered Yasaka pagoda (seen in the first picture of this post) and then come to a small temple on your left - Yasaka Koshindo (above) - a very popular place for  brides and grooms or 'Maiko dress up' peeps to have their photos taken. Yes, you too can dress up as a Maiko (trainee geisha) and parade around Kyoto for the day having your photo professionally taken - however selfies seem to be flavour of the moment... yes even in Kyoto.
Kukurizaru are the colourful climbing monkey dolls that protect the temple guardian Koshin san. If you look carefully below at the strings of 'monkeys' you will notice their hands and feet are tied so as not to succumb to earthy desires and enable one to keep focused on achieving your goal - no cheeky monkey business here. These monkey's also hang outside some homes and businesses to protect the inhabitants as monkeys are believed to be kind spirits who can ward off evil. The three wise monkey's mantra of hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil comes into play here and you can even see carvings of the wise three in the temple grounds. 
If you do an about face from the temple you will see a street heading north - it leads you in the direction of Yasaka Jinja (shrine). There are a few new cafes and shops here which so far are much less crowded than other areas... but I'm sure it won't be long until they are discovered. 
I love the look of these two below but haven't stopped in either so will report back when I do so!
This one is a Gallery Cafe - note the faded monkey's to your left.
The menu offers just a few hot and cold drinks,  few cakes and desserts
Now I believe the building below used to be a function centre/wedding reception place but now boasts  the AKAGANE cafe with a limited menu - and  a more expensive restaurant. 
                        I love the combination of the modern aesthetic with the older building.
Nearby is Ishibe koji - apparently the most beautiful street in Kyoto and indeed it is handsome (see below) but Kyoto town is not short on beautiful streets, places and spaces - I don't know how you would pick really...
Nearing Maruyama Kooen (park) I  snapped this young lady... looking a little annoyed that I was pointing in her direction but I love the serenity surrounding her.
This Teahouse is an oldie but a goodie - just a few minutes walk south of the south exit of Maruyama park  - they have a gorgeous Japanese garden and Koi pond to gaze onto as you sip.
And just a couple of doors north of this place is the Kyoto offshoot of the gorgeous Patisserie Des Reves.
If your feet are too tired from walking you can always hire a rickshaw - although I would never do that to one of these poor fellows. They are completely ripped but even so I'd hate to see them struggling to get my bottom up one of Kyoto's hills!
The beautiful Maruyama Kooen - known for it's famous Cherry blossoms it is also gorgeous at any time of the year for various reasons. The perfect spot for a picnic.
Walk west through the park and you hit the Yasaka Shrine. The people below are waking up the gods by ringing the bells attached to the ropes  - hopefully he will hear their wishes and prayers. 
                                                           South exit of Yasaka Shrine
Just west of the south exit is the spot to buy your ema (wooden plaques) for writing down your thoughts - further ensuring your wishes and prayers are heard.  To the right is one of several sub shrines within Yasaka Jinja.
If you exit through the main gate to at the western edge of  Yasaka jinja (shrine) you will hit Shijo dori (street) which runs from the eastern side of the city right through to Arashiyama in the west. Just a few minutes walk from the west gate is Gion - the most famous geisha quarter in Kyoto.
Turn left (south) at Hanamikoji street (by the way there is a large Yojiya store on the corner here (with a giant Yojiya lady's head in a shop sign on top of the building so you can't miss it) and you will find yourself in a very atmospheric part of town. 

Oku is a great little cafe/lunch stop if you are in the area. And they now have a bar and dinner service.  The lunch set is around $30 - so not the cheapest place in town for a bite but it has such a lovely calm, modern zen atmosphere.
Around the corner from here is a serene little spot for a cuppa - Zen cafe. Kagizen confectionery offers a delightfully quiet area for tasting their famous Wagashi (Japanese confectionery) with your brew of choice.
                                                   I love this mini courtyard garden.
Walk complete.

If you'd fancy touring around Kyoto with me 
you might like to take a peek at my 

And here are a few links to some more of my Kyoto Meanderings.....

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