Wednesday, March 17, 2010

A Day in Kyoto: Part 1 & 2

"At Yasaka Shrine, Kyoto"

I've had a few people ask me "I'm going to Kyoto for a day, what should I see". Well
first of all, I'll tell you if you can try to go for at least 2 days in Kyoto you will not be sorry. Kyoto is why people go to Japan, you can experience a modern world with traditional culture mixed in and a city with a laid back attitude. And the other plus the countryside is literally minutes away. The first time I went we where in Kyoto for 3 days and we were so bummed we didn't have more time, the last time we went we made sure we went for at least 5 days.

Well let's say you really can't afford to be there for more than a day and when I say a day I mean from at least 9am til 9pm. You can potentially do this if you take the shinkansen from Tokyo early in the morning. So there are a few places you can visit and get a nice feeling of Kyoto. Grab a quick snack in the the Kyoto JR Station when you get off your train, to tie you over for a bit.

Kyoto Station Map page 1

Kyoto Station Map page 2

Your destinations mapped out.

PART 1-Nishiki Market

hours: varies by store, typically 9:00-1800
closed:varies by store, typically, wednesday or sunday

Jump on the subway (Karasuma subway line-to Shijo st./karasma st.) to the Nishiki Market, it's an amazing covered outdoor/indoor food market (and other traditional goods, great for souvenirs). Nishiki Market is a great adventure for all the senses, you can find delicious foods, snacks and teas. "Nishiki Market is a narrow, shopping street, lined by more than one hundred shops. Various kinds of fresh and processed foods including many Kyoto specialties, such as pickles, Japanese sweets, dried food, sushi, and fresh seafood and vegetables are sold." The smells can range from the alarming to the sublimely delicious, pick up some tasty treats for your day. Spend 45mins to 1 hour visiting and sampling the stalls.

Nishiki Market

Nishiki Market

Nishiki Market

MAP from subway station to Nishiki Market

Getting there: Take Karasuma subway line-to Shijo station/Karasma station
You'll be on the corner of Karasuma and Shijo when you get out, walk on Shijo towards the Kamo river, walk two blocks to Takakura-dori and hang a left, walk one block, hang a right at Nishiki-Dori (hence the name Nishiki Market) and you will see it.

PART 2- Yasaka Shrine (also known as Gion Shrine) and Maruyama Park

Yasaka Shrine
hours: always open
closed:no closing days

"Yasaka Shrine Entrance" view from street

You're done at the Nishiki Market
and you've bought some treats to eat, now head back over to Shijo-dori and jump on the bus to the Yasaka Shrine. Take the 206 or 100 bus to the Gion bus stop, it's about 10-15 mins depending on traffic. You will know you're there when you see a giant orange and white temple entrance in the middle of the street, there's no missing it! The great thing about this Shrine it's in the center of the Gion so you will get to see Geishas or Maikos in full regalia just walking around. Try to go on a Sunday, during Festival or National holiday when other Japanese tourist are visiting and they dress their daughters up in Geisha or Maiko costumes for pictures, it's amazing! The Yasaka Shrine is connected to Maruyama park and if you saw "Lost in Translation" you will remember Charlotte adding a wish to the wish trees in Maruyama Park, also, she's seen skipping stones in a pond that's in the Park also. If you go during Cherry Blossom Season it's the best place to see the trees. It's a beautiful Park and the walk across it will leave you at your next destination Chion-in Temple.

"Yasaka Shrine Vendor"

"Maruyama Park"

"Geisha Model at Maruyama Park"

"Family taking pictures at Yasaka shrine" (kids looked annoyed ;) )

"Delicious bean cake treats at Yasaka shrine"

Getting there:
Take number 100 and 206 and get off at Gion bus stop. The closest train stations are Gion Shijo Station on the Keihan Line and Kawaramachi Station on the Hankyu Line.

You could potentially walk there from the Nishiki Market it'll take you about 15-20mins

Kyoto Bus Route Map

Next to come on your day itinerary
PART 3-Chion-in Temple
PART 4- via the narrow lanes of the Higashiyama ("Eastern Mountain") district en route to Kiyomizudera Temple
PART 4- Kiyomizudera Temple
PART 5- Dinner in the Gion

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Zakka & Cafe FuFuFu

This is my absolutely favorite place in Kyoto, Zakka & Cafe FuFuFu. It's tiny and perfect, they serve coffee, tea and lovely tasty treats. They have a small handmade goods(zakka)store on one wall of the cafe, and the opposite wall acts as a gallery for some of their crafters' pieces. They have a little seating area where you can enjoy your beverage or snack and just wile the hours away reading or just lost in a daze of a crafter's dream. I highly recommend checking it out.

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