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Saturday, June 17, 2023

Kyoto—time travel to the past (for old souls). Part II

Arrived at Arashiyama, west of Kyoto. They say that this area is touristy, but the scenery made it a well worth visit. If you want to avoid the crowds, kameyama-koen Park is in the area, and supposed to be prettier. Had I known, I would have skipped the temple visit and opted for the park instead.

Togetsu-kyo BridgeA long bridge that crosses the Katsura river. As I walked from the train station to here, I was pleasantly surprised to find the stunning views. My picture doesn’t do it justice.

Tenryu-ji TempleZen temple in Arashiyama.
The Sogenchi garden here is lovely, especially in fall and spring.
A painting of Bodhidharma –The legendary Buddhist monk who established the Zen branch of Buddhism.
Arashiyama Bamboo Grove.
Moving through here is mesmerizing. Even among tourists, there’s an earthy and solitude aura about this place as you stay in your own personal space while strolling and getting inspired.
Tea break with my tour guide
. Hojicha is a roasted green tea. It does not look green and has a pleasant mild flavor. I prefer the taste of this to the green tea we drink in the U.S. 

The tea ceremony. Even though the hostess was friendly and polite, I thought this was meh… There is no talking. You basically sit in a silent room where you can hear a pin drop. There are a series of rigid steps and rituals your host will go through and you have to watch her carefully because she will ask you to repeat what she did. I kind of zoned out at some point and failed my exam! I’m a fidgety person by nature and this did not work well for me. Couple of things: show up at least 15 min early. Don’t tip your hostess or she will be insulted. I would have to say if your time in Kyoto is limited, skip this. You will not be missing much.


I took a free public tour in the Gion district which happened to be one of the best tours I had. Gion is historic with a lot of character, narrow streets and old architecture. This is the area where Tessa meets up with her fellow activists to prepare for the Dolphin protest for the next day.

A Maiko, an apprentice Geiko (Geisha) in the picture moves about at a fast pace. They don’t like it when you run after them for a photo opportunity. I filmed this from far away.
Shinkyogoku shopping district, in case you need that kitschy souvenir. And then on to Osaka. Taking the train form Kyoto to Osaka was overwhelming. It was crowded. I was tired. People were walking back and forth quickly. I moved to the side, to get out of their way. Between the crowd, the Japanese signs, and feeling lost, I was starting to get an anxiety attack. But at the end, I figured my way around and was off to Osaka.


Some advice: Don’t get caught up in too many touristy things, and don’t try to see everything. There’s so much history and background information that you will not remember everything. My best times in Kyoto were spent walking around the river, the Gion district, and hanging around with the locals. There are simply too many temples in Japan and after awhile they all blend in together to a point where when you come home, and look at your photos, you forget what you did, and have to look things up. Pick a few things that are important to you, and enjoy the rest of your time checking out the local areas.

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