After 4 days in Tokyo, we bade the eclectic capital city farewell and made our way to Kyoto. We were initially anxious about securing train tickets from Tokyo to Kyoto but there was really no need to worry as the frequency of trains plying between the two cities is very high.
A train departs Tokyo for Kyoto once every about 20 minutes so it wasn't necessary to pre-book tickets online. But being kiasu, we bought the tickets a day in advance at one of the ticketing outlets at Shinjuku Station where our hotel is near. During peak tourist season in Japan such as during the sakura season, it is advisable to buy tickets earlier in case tickets get sold out on the intended day of travel.
As Japan's train network is notoriously confusing, one trick I've learnt is to always look for a station's control booth next to the entry / exit gantries or information counters to ask and confirm details before making a ticket purchase. They are very helpful and most of them speak decent English so there's really no reason to get lost. When in doubt, just ask.
We left Tokyo at about 11:50am and arrived in Kyoto at 1:10pm. The trains are very punctual for departure and arrival which made the whole travelling experience so definite and predictable. Love the Japanese for that!
|I come in two pieces... my luggage and me. Lesson here is not to play matchy-matchy with the luggage as it's hard to discern which is which.|
Down the Way of Bygone Days
After dropping off my dressed-alike luggage at the hotel, we headed straight for Gion, the heritage district of Kyoto. It was just a shot train ride from Yamashina Station where our hotel was to Gion and we were instantly transported to a time-yellowed era of Japan's yesteryears.
|Kyoto is so very different from Tokyo. The streets are quieter and pace of life slower with countless remnants of the old world beautifully aged in place.|
|Antiques within an antique... Passed by this vintage toy shop that is itself a piece of history. I had a hunch that early sex toys were disguised as elephants.|
|This roadside lavatory that resembled a slice of Swiss Roll Cake cracked me up! Guess many would be doing some baking inside.|
|Wood you still love me tomorrow?|
|First bloom of a sakura tree reaching towards Kamo River taken on Sanjo Ohashi Bridge.|
|Pulling back a little more, this is the same sakura tree as the one above in black-and-white with Kamo River to the left. The river is near the Gion old quarters.|
|Crossing Sanjo Ohashi Bridge over Kamo River from Gion, I was brought to a very quaint neighbourhood of restaurants and cafes along Kiyamachi Street. With a canal lined on one side with old shophouses and the other with cherry blossom trees, the street is a natural lens pleaser. But this place is not to be confused with the Shirakawa Area which is the most scenic old streetscape in Kyoto.|
|Double flower power! A pink magnolia tree held its ground to attract eyeballs amongst the crowd of sakura blooms along Kiyamachi Street. I think the 2 flowers complement each other wondrously.|
|Pink magnolias typically bloom in spring on a bald tree.|
|It is always such a joy to discover sakuras in bloom. This is the pink variety of the five-petaled Yamazakura. This species sprouts leaves the same time as its flowers bud and bloom.|
|Having a Little Red Riding Hood moment in the enchanted sakura forest. LOL|
|I wood always love you... Yup, I'm smitten by the classic wooded facade of olden day Jap architecture.|
|Doing my best interpretation of Spirited Away.|
|Getting in on the minimalist chic-Zen movement of Japan by cam-whoring with an uncluttered backdrop.|
|The bench needed company so I decided to let it feel better by sharing the weight of my loneliness.|
|A scenic setting for great snaps, Kiyamachi Street and its surrounding grid of streets and tidy back alleys provide a unique backdrop to indulge in narcissism.|
We didn't find much things to do here as we did not venture to the nearby market and shopping area and decided to head back to the Gion old quarters to catch the coveted cultural performances by maiko. Exploring Gion and its photogenic nearby districts of Kiyamachi Street and Shirakawa Area is definitely a time opportunity in Japan not to be missed!