It was absolutely beautiful! We got there pretty early in the morning so the crowds weren't too heavy and it was pretty easy to get to the front to take good photos. The only thing I would have changed is the color of the leaves. We were just a few weeks early for the fall season to really set in. Can you imagine this place with all the beautiful colors of fall behind it?!
"It is designated as a National Special Historic Site and a National Special Landscape, and it is one of 17 locations comprising the Historic Monuments of Ancient Kyoto World Heritage Site," (here). Another awesome aspect of The Golden Pavilion is that it's FREE! We walked away with some awesome snacks… Can you say wasabi covered peanuts?!… and really enjoyed our time here!
We headed to see the toriis next and the site itself was pretty incredible. Before we reached them, we came to the temizuya, where worshippers wash their hands and mouth before entering the main shrine. Once you purify yourself you are good to go and can enter. We didn't enter, but Chris did teach us about omikuji (lucky charms) that you can purchase here - I'll go over that more later.
I'm not even sure how I was able to get so many photos without people in them because it was definitely a task! People walk through all of these, in both directions, to get up the other parts of the shrine and worship areas. Our cab driver told us that there were 8,000 toriis! It was really cool to see and walk through them.
Christa teaching Chris some camera tricks!
Between the shrine and the train there is a really cool area full of shops and restaurants. We stopped for lunch where they, surprisingly, had an English translated menu. I wouldn't expect that at all of these restaurants… we just got lucky! Some of the ladies needed a pick-me-up at this point and, wouldn't you know, they were selling coffee ice cream floats. Score!
We hopped on the train and headed home so we had a little time to rest up. We had an evening full of geisha searching (for photo purposes only - hehe) and restaurant hunting, of course.
Gion is one of the most exclusive areas in Kyoto and is best known for being geisha district. It's very, very beautiful. This was a highlight of our trip for me. We got there pretty early because we didn't want to miss seeing any geisha going to work and weren't sure when that was. So, we just walked up and down the narrow side streets where there were a ton of restaurants and bars. I loved it.
Thanks Christa for the photo!
A little blurry (totally my fault because I took it) but thanks Chris for the photo!!
We finally found the place where we ate and I was pumped that I put up a fight about the other place. We ended up with a private room and a decent priced Kaiseki meal, which is slightly unheard of in the area! The dinner was a set menu and a lot of courses. I think most of us had 6 or 7 and others had as many as 9. We luckily had Chris with us so we knew a little bit about what was on the menu, but for the most part it was a surprise. It was really good! I tried some things I wouldn't normally try and was able to enjoy some things that I knew I enjoyed. I did, however, draw the line at some kind of baby fish thing that looked like little worms. Overall: success!
By the end of the dinner (and after fighting over a serious service fee) we had kind of given up on seeing any geisha. Then, this happened! Patti casually walked out the restaurant to see a maiko walk by! Maikos are geishas under 21 years old. You can tell by their hair and different kimonos. We, obviously, aren't experts but the restaurant hostess verified.
It was incredible and, despite the fact that she was super angry that we were taking pictures of her, we were so excited!! We headed happily home after this and were blessed enough to see a happier geisha who was bustling through the streets on her way to work. What a great day!