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Kyoto Travel Blog

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Kyoto scene, taken from the cab.
A few days ago we went to Kyoto and reported on the crowds and traffic. It was crazy busy. Well, turns out that was nothing. That was a weekday. You should see it on a Saturday!

We decided to try out the Shinkansen bullet train, which smoothly whisked us from Osaka to Kyoto in less than 15 minutes. Nice! However, all speed gains were frittered away in the subsequent cab ride. Stop and go, stop and go ... all the way to Kiyomizu temple, which isn't that far but took a very long time to reach. The driver actually seemed angry with us for making him go thru this hell. He bitched along the way and glanced at his watch as if he was missing an important date.
The path to Kiyomizu temple.


He let us off to walk the path up to the temple. Masses, hoards, thousand of people had the same idea. And why not, it was a beautiful, sunny day, and the blossoms were in full bloom! So we visited Kiyomizu, one of the older and most beautiful temples in Japan. But the real marvel was that it didn't collapse under the weight of all the tourists!

It was easy to see why this place is such a draw. Built on a mountainside and surrounded by cherry trees and maples, it was like a postcard,  the quintessential Japanese temple. The irony is that the place was intended for quiet contemplation -- I wondered when was the last time it was quiet at Kiyomizu?

On the grounds, a geisha sighting! Everyone, look! Two geishas in extravagant kimonos, beautiful young faces, eyes turned down.
Geisha sighting, Kiyomizu temple.
They had "plain-clothes" female escorts, probably to keep the hoards away. The geishas were like celebrities. I was a reluctant member of the paparazzi.

We visited the grounds for as long as we could stand the jostel of the human traffic, then walked back to the station. I think the walk was shorter than the drive had been. Along the way, we stopped along the riverbank where groups of people were picnicking. There was a boy playing his guitar, girlfriend snapping photos. There was a huge group of Japanese camped out on a blue tarp, all wearing red shirts, chanting something about Kobe. Lots of dogwalkers, their pets well groomed and properly outfitted.

Kyoto has hundreds of historic sights and it's a truly beautiful place. But we are done here. Next we will try Nara -- we hear it's less popular. Maybe we will find some of that elusive quiet contemplation we have heard about.


abuglio says:
I love Kiyomizudera, but the crowds are always like that. Leave the map at home because if you alight at Kyoto station and just start following the crowds you will surely end up at Kiyomizudera. Rie and I went once and decided that was enough. It's funny, your picture "Me at Kiyomizu temple." is exactly the same as one of me there. Same angle, same lighting, same distance. We've stopped and snapped pictures at the same exact place!
Posted on: Apr 09, 2008
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Kyoto scene, taken from the cab.
Kyoto scene, taken from the cab.
The path to Kiyomizu temple.
The path to Kiyomizu temple.
Geisha sighting, Kiyomizu temple.
Geisha sighting, Kiyomizu temple.
Entry to Kiyomizu temple.
Entry to Kiyomizu temple.
Kiyomizu temple area.
Kiyomizu temple area.
Crowds at Kiyomizu temple.
Crowds at Kiyomizu temple.
Loads of tourists at Kiyomizu temp…
Loads of tourists at Kiyomizu tem…
Kiyomizu temple.
Kiyomizu temple.
Kiyomizu temple grounds.
Kiyomizu temple grounds.
Beautiful Kiyomizu temple.
Beautiful Kiyomizu temple.
A Japanese girl having her portrai…
A Japanese girl having her portra…
The first sign of trouble... dozen…
The first sign of trouble... doze…
Kiyomizu temple.
Kiyomizu temple.
Guards at Kiyomizu temple.
Guards at Kiyomizu temple.
Kiyomizu temple grounds.
Kiyomizu temple grounds.
Me at Kiyomizu temple.
Me at Kiyomizu temple.
Kiyomizu temple.
Kiyomizu temple.
Cherry blossoms, shot from the cab.
Cherry blossoms, shot from the cab.
Kyoto river banks.
Kyoto river banks.
Kyoto
photo by: ys484