Sunday, February 05, 2006

京都 2005 - 22 Tetsugakunomichi - Gion - Kyouen

[221105] 哲学の道 Tetsugakunomichi (Path of Philosophy) runs alongside a canal, linking Eikando temple (southern end) & Ginkakuji temple (northern end). e path is lined with cherry blossom trees (botak in autumn), private homes with little gardens, restaurants, cafes, traditional craft shops, shrines, temples, e occasional stone bench & jizo statues.


[1] 弁当 bento = catfood [2] Otoyo shrine: towels for devotees who wash their hands & rinse their mouths at e fountain? [3] doggie #1 [4] Otoyo shrine: ema showing e two guardian mice of this shrine [5, 7] Ginkakujimichi end of Tetsugakunomichi [6] creepers on a wall [8, 11] many of e little shops & cafes use these guys to bait customers [9] guardian mouse #1 of Otoyo shrine [12] e canal beside e path lined with bald sakura trees


[1, 2] Ginakujimichi end of Tetsugakunomichi [3] guardian mouse #2 of Otoyo shrine [5] one of e many little bridges over e canal [6, 10] Otoyo shrine [8] e blue ears + yellow nose pink Nova language school bunny mascot with headphones & E.T. [9] ate too much at this cafe? [11] doggie #2


[1] Otoyo shrine [2] washi paper craft shop [3] jizo statues - jizo supposedly help e souls of children who have died or been miscarried or aborted into e next world, & e (usually red) bibs are supposedly placed around their necks by bereaved mothers [4] some of e many many tour coaches crammed into e Ginkakuji carpark [5] fishing in e canal

法然院 Honen-in, a temple along Tetsugakunomichi known for e two 白沙壇 byakusadan - white mounds of white sand (gravel?) that have pictures raked on them by e monks:


[1, 5] right byakusadan that had a picture of maple leaves that day [3, 4, 6] left byakusadan with picture of a maple leaf & a ginkgo leaf [3-5] moss-covered thatched-roof gate at e entrance [6] small temple building where there was an ongoing exhibition of modern ceramics

not sure how often e pictures are changed (daily?). Honen-in is small, quiet & full of atmosphere, a world removed from e bustle in e far more famous Nanzenji, Eikando & Ginkakuji temples & e crowds trampling e Tetsugakunomichi flat outside =)

Daimonjiyama from e Ginkakuji end of Tetsugakunomichi:


first time noticing e daimonji above Ginkakuji =P somehow e cat didn't see it while walking along this path on e day it climbed up there!

picked up honeydew melon ice cream from a Korean supermarket near e Ginkakujimichi bus stop along Shirakawa-dori. is this one of e areas within Kyoto city where Koreans are concentrated in? first e North Korean high school somewhere behind Ginkakuji (passed by on e way up to Daimonjiyama), & now e Korean supermarket....Koreans (descended from those forcibly moved to Japan long ago?) supposedly do not have an easy time living in Japan (see this)? & why are there North Korean schools in Japan?

hopped off e bus at Chion-in-mae & walked in e chilly wind along e 白川 Shirakawa eastwards into 祇園 Gion, a place synonymous with e geisha that Kyoto is famous for. ended up on a bridge along 新橋通 Shinbashi-dori, facing 辰己大明神神社 Tatsumi Daimyojin shrine:


[1] posing for photos along Shinbashi-dori in maiko costume [2] watercolours on a noticeboard near Tatsumi Daimyojin shrine [3] doggie #3 [4, 6, 9] behind e rather plain & muted facades are super expensive ochaya (teahouses), antique shops & fine dining restaurants like Wazan [5] a few of e geiko of Gion, on a 'directory' in Gion Corner [7] 一力亭茶屋 Ichiriki-chaya, e most famous ochaya in Gion easily recognised by its red walls, at e corner of Shijo-dori & 花見小路 Hanami-koji [8] what is this 笑門 thingy found above many doorways?


[1] modern concrete apartments designed to blend in with e wooden buildings in e neighbourhood [2] Shirakawaminami-dori, lined with willows (another of e cat's favourite trees) [3] Shinbashi-dori, lined with traditional wooden buildings [4] geisha hair accessories that reflect e changing seasons - yellow narcissus for March, pale pink cherry blossoms for April & light purple irises for May [5] e fako maiko again =P [6] e little Tatsumi Daimyojin shrine [7] Shirakawa [8] fugu restaurant [9] entrance to another restaurant


[1] Shirakawa [2] taking a rest - a reminder that e Kamogawa river & its resident waterfowl aren't far from here [3] geisha hairstyles [4] part of e 'directory' in Gion Corner [5] posing under e magnificent willow on Tatsumi-bashi, probably e most-photographed-&-videocam-ed bridge in Gion [6] timeless - if not for e aircon compressor unit ;) [7] walking down e narrow streets of Gion [8] 一力 logo of Ichiriki-chaya [9] tanuki

got rather cold & dark as e cat found its way down Nawate-dori in e direction of Sanjo Keihan station to get to Kyouen:



beautiful, no? when you look into e pools reflecting e bamboo & lighting above, everything appears to float....e way e place is lit up at night is magical =) chanced upon this shop+restaurant complex while surfing for info on interesting modern architecture to hunt down in Kyoto. e central space is something like a modern take on e traditional Japanese garden.

from Kyouen it was a short walk across e Kamogawa to Sanjo-Kawaramachi to test out e 三条本店 Sanjo main branch outlet of Sushi no Musashi, e other kaiten sushi restaurant at e intersection (across from e hyakyu yen one). it's e one with e conveyor belt display at e entrance, which specialises in unagi nigiri that is made as a huge 'block' & later sliced into 'cubes' - see e pictures near e bottom of their webpage.

this restaurant has hooks & hangers on e walls for customers to hang up their heavy jackets, shelving beneath e tables for stowing bags (something that e cat wishes e kaiten sushi chains in Singapore would adopt), & a second conveyor belt for plates & teacups running above e main one for food. & e unagi is GOOD =) & e bill came up to just 500 yen (~SGD7.50) for 4 plates of nigiri sushi (wasn't very hungry after e ice cream) including unagi & ikura =))

back to e Shinkyogoku shopping arcade to pick up breakfast + lunch for tomorrow's hike & more omiyage, & look at more strange stuff:


e milk 'tea' that turned out to be coffee + honeydew melon ice cream (empty container) + ten-don bento from Sakae supermarket (tomorrow's lunch) + matcha cream puff from LAWSON konbini:


back in K's House, e Japanese who 'studies stones' had left for Sonobe to 'meditate in e forest' with friends, & she & e Australian were replaced by two Japanese girls, Miho & Megumi. e day before, e American from Minnesota had bagged a secondhand kimono from e Toji temple flea market, & successfully 'hijacked' a geisha in a hotel lobby for photos. today she was eager to show us her discovery of e day - Neoprint machines - & e hilarious 'act cute' photos she had posed for with e 'wind machine' making her long blond curls defy gravity....Miho, Megumi & e cat will never look at Neoprint machines (something we take for granted given e ubiquity of them in Japan & Singapore) e same way again =P

like many of e Westerners at K's House, e American had come to Kyoto with a well-thumbed copy of Arthur Golden's Memoirs of a Geisha in her backpack, raring to go geisha-hunting in e streets of Gion & Pontocho, take part in a tea ceremony (e Japanese kind, not e Chinese wedding sort =P), & get portrait photos taken at one of those 'geisha makeover' studios....

these studios will dress female customers up in full geisha (usually maiko, as e kimono, accessories & hairstyles are far more elaborate & colourful?) attire complete with make-up & wig for upwards of 10,000 yen (~SGD150). for an extra charge customers can then totter around e streets of Gion in full costume, balancing on e skyhigh wooden clogs & probably scaring e heck out of e real geisha, while providing entertainment for tourists (like e one whom e cat photographed - see above). & guys don't get left out - for slightly less (no make-up nor wig included) they can get dressed up as samurai & pose with a katana (something e man-maid would like to try?) =P

according to e American, this makeover thingy is quite popular with e Japanese too, going by e other customers she met at e studio. & with e impending release of Sayuri (e Japanese version of e Memoirs of a Geisha movie), geisha-fever was probably at its peak. there were multiple requests to borrow e cat's copy of e Nov 2005 edition of Kyoto Visitor's Guide magazine - because it had an advert (complete with map) for one such makeover studio. part of e fun of e hostel experience is sharing e info, brochures, guidebooks & tips we have & opinions on e different places that we have already been to, & watching Miho's eyes pop when showing her e pamphlet from e museum 'named after her' =P

1 comment:

Kat said...


Interesting! I stumble upon your blog while researching on Kyoto. I'm planning a trip to Japan with a friend next year. I will sure read all of your posts on Kyoto!