There is a lot of Japan I have yet to explore. Kyoto was towards the top of the “must see” list for a while now and the itinerary for our recent trip included time in town. Alas, due to a few other things that time got trimmed to only a long afternoon and evening which, while a lot of fun, left me wondering if I really need more time there or if it is just not for me.
Okay, so Kyoto is all about history and the temples and tradition. I can handle that, though like with many trips I do tire a bit of the temples by day 4 or so and this was day 9 or 10 of the trip. So probably just exploring the temples was not going to lead me to a happy place at the end of the day. Which is not to say that I was disappointed by the Yasaka Shrine as such, but after a while the nuance and detail of them all starts to blur together.
Kyoto does have the allure of the kimono-wearing geisha culture, which I guess I just really do not understand. I respect the performance part of it and I guess the crowd of 40 people waiting for women to come out of one of the theaters isn’t all that bizarre compared to people in NYC waiting for Broadway performers after a show, but something about this version of that scene left me with a bit of a bad taste in my mouth.
Then again, seeing some of the women dressed up in the traditional garb but behaving every bit the modern citizen did make me laugh a bit. I assume some of the newer kimonos will eventually have a special pocket sewn in to store that selfie stick.
The small side streets and paths around the Gion area were mostly what I expected of them – lots of tourists and a bit of the classic style. Way more crowded than our prior “traditional” experience in Tsumago and even more crowded than Tokyo, though, which left me just a bit frazzled.
And then we left. We were up early to catch a flight on to Hong Kong and finish up the trip. Maybe it takes more time to find the parts of town where I’d have more fun, see things I find more interesting and get a snack which is not neon green.
I’m sure there is more to Kyoto than what we experienced and maybe some of that would hold my attention better. But after this introduction I think it might get knocked down a few notches on my list of places to explore in Japan. At least I picked up an awesome souvenir at one of the tchotchke shops in town.
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