After a couple of amazing days in Tokyo, we made our way to the Tokyo station to board the bullet train known as the Shinkansen. We both were expecting some kind of futuristic, ridiculously high speed train and were somewhat disappointed to find that it was just a pleasant and quick train ride. It was, however, the fastest and best way to get to our next destination – Kyoto.
|Many Japanese visitors to Kyoto opt to wear traditional attire.|
Our final stop of the morning was Nijo Castle – home to the last Shogun…
You aren’t allowed to take photos inside but my favorite part was the “nightingale floors” which were designed to squeak like a nightingale if anyone walked on them – this was to protect the shogun from ninjas trying to sneak into the castle.
|The stones are carefully placed – each one has a significance.|
After our lunch, we headed over to the Nishiki market – a covered arcade several blocks long offering every conceivable Japanese delicacy, including ONE mushroom selling for over $100 USD!
After a detour through a department store which sold gorgeous silk kimonos and cotton yukata (and Emi’s assistance in helping me pick out a yukata to bring home), we headed to Gion – the district made famous by the “geishas” who call it home. Emi explained that the work geisha is not used in Kyoto – rather they are called geikos – translated to mean “women of art” and the young apprentices are referred to as maikos. Gion is a gorgeous historic area filled with boarding houses where the geikos live and “party houses” where they entertain.
|The wooden plaques on the door represent each geiko who lives in the house.|
We didn’t see any actual geikos or maikos but we did see several weddings…
Sadly, all good things must end, and it was time for sweet Emi to head home to her family. It was so wonderful to have made a new friend in Kyoto!
|Our wonderful guide, Emi|
|This is a picture of a photograph of Emi dressed for her traditional Japanese wedding.|
I hoped you enjoyed this glimpse into Kyoto…It was the highlight of our trip to Asia. As jam packed as our day was, there was SO much that we didn’t have time to see. Oh well…that is the perfect excuse to return to Kyoto soon!
Tips for Kyoto:
Hire a guide who will help you get from sight to sight, translate when necessary and explain the historical significance of each location. We used Windows to Japan – a luxury tour company based in Kyoto – I can’t recommend them enough!
Be respectful of the residents of Gion (geikos and maikos) – while it might seem like a fascinating tourist attraction to you, it is their home and livelihood.
Be prepared to remove your shoes at temples and shrines. Make sure you do not walk on the “interior” areas with your shoes on.
Next stop…the “lion city” of Singapore…
Castles Crowns and Cottages says
What fond memories are coming up for me as I see your photos….it was magic for me to be in Japan, to be in a place where the language meant nothing to me, where I had to watch and observe carefully each gesture, each custom. Oh those gardens, DELIGHTFUL!!!
The enchanted home says
AMAZING! I LOVE your pictures, that new iPhone did you proud:) So interesting about the nightingale floors, love that kind of thing, and to think the last shogun lived there…how fascinating!
The hotel looks gorgeous with the breakfast being a big perk! And why does it not at all surprise me that even their chickens are healthier…..lol. The gardens are spectacular what a gem Kyoto is, thank you for taking us along.
Enjoy your day and stay warm!
Katie Clooney says
What incredible pics. Especially love the wedding pics. My old house creaks – wish it was of nightingales.
I Dream Of says
Wow, Sandy your photos are just gorgeous! Kyoto looks like a place that I would just love. I'm so glad you had a wonderful guide to explore it with – I'll have to follow your lead on that if we ever go, and would hope to get someone as good as Emi. Looks beautiful and fascinating – and I'm just talking about the breakfast at the Ritz 😉 The rest of the city is just beyond! Glad you had such an extraordinary experience! XOXO
The architecture is so beautiful! Thanks for sharing your trip.
What a gem you found in Emi! I am loving the stories of your travels and the great, location specific tips. And the photos…oh, the photos!
pve design says
I have some amazing memories of photos of my trip to Kyoto long ago. I was there working for Ralph Lauren to approve strike-off of silk prints in a factory in Osaka and then toured Kyoto. I loved Japan and working there.
The people, the food, the culture and the kindness.
So glad you were able to make that trip there.
inspiring, and a scrumptious feast for the senses this morning! what a treat to discover this part of the globe and be pampered with those awesome amenities. this hotel snob would appreciate all those mindful details! peace to you right where you are.
Vel Criste says
I've never been to Japan (except the airport stop overs) and my family and I are planning on going in 2020 for the olympics. I know its a long time from now, but I think we have to wait for little Sophia to be big enough to enjoy this enchanting country too! The gardens are just solo lovely and you took really great photos, thanks for the tips!
Pamela RG says
Wow, Pierre Hermé at the Ritz is just delicious and luxurious indeed. I want to visit Japan now. Kyoto is so beautiful. The book and movie "Memoirs of a Geisha" and "47" (about shoguns) are one of my favourite movies.
miss b says
I have been researching Japan and in particular Tokyo and Kyoto as it is on our 'list'. I found your post really helpful and Pierre Hermé pastries would definitely be a bonus for me too. The market looks fascinating and the gardens are stunngly beautiful. Great post and useful tips.
Shelley @ Calypso in the Country says
That really sounds like an amazing experience, Sandy! Your photos of the architecture are beautiful and the food! I love a good hotel breakfast as well. You have traveled to some incredible places! Great tips too!