Our dear friends Tomo and Brian, who live in Tokyo, joined us for our only full day in Kyoto, which was nothing short of spectacular. The streets of Gion the night before were gorgeous, but the best was yet to come.
Brian absolutely LOVES Kyoto and has visited six times. With him as guide along with wonderful Tomoko, who grew up in Chiba near Tokyo, the scene was set for a very special day. We took cabs to two main sights, and getting the inside scoop from the cab driver through Tomo’s mother tongue was the cherry on top.
First we visited the very striking Ginkaku-ji temple, which is also known as the “Silver Palace”. The temple was originally the mountain retreat of Shogun Yoshimasa, and is home to one of the most well designed and manicured gardens in Japan. I could not believe that the sculptures and terraces in the gardens were made of loose sand, all immaculately maintained and free standing as if they were textured concrete. We actually saw a gentleman manicuring the mossy greens with the greatest precision and care. He was removing foreign plant growths with what looked like wooden tweezers, and meticulously removing the mess afterwards with a brush and pan.
Tomoko and I share a love for tea, so after strolling through the grounds of the temple, admiring the structures and foliage, it was time to rest and refresh. We shared a tray of matcha, which is a powdered bitter green tea. It came with delicate sweet treats that melted in your mouth. I just loved how the green of the tea complemented the bright red felt covers on the benches. So, so beautiful.
Seeing young Japanese ladies in traditional kimonos throughout Kyoto is not uncommon. Their kimonos reflected the colours of the cherry blossoms and they often had pictures taken of themselves with the blossoming trees. As a tourist, I found the visual very soothing and beautiful.
After much appreciation of gorgeous cherry blossoms, streams of moving petals and koi fish, it was time to have lunch. Lucky for us, with Japanese speaking Tomoko at our side, we were able to lunch in a quaint little noodle restaurant near the Silver Palace. Many restaurants in Japan are identifiable by the curtains that hang in front of the sliding doors. Greg had curry flavoured soba with tofu, while I I had shrimp tempura with soba. Very, very delicious.
Our second sight seeing stop for the day was Kiyomizu-dera, the most famous temple in Kyoto. It was AMAZINGLY beautiful and my words can’t possibly do it justice. The scale of the temple was huge, the design detailing so subtly ornate and grand. It was set on a hillside so with the Spring foliage in full force, and the views were breathtaking.
My outfit for that day was comfortably casual. Yellow tartan skinny trousers with a denim shirt, cropped black jacket and black and white oxfords. Our days here are filled with hours of walking so I need to wear shoes that will go the distance. So far, my feet have been extremely happy. No blisters and no pain.
I’ve noticed that the dress code at these Japanese sights is extremely varied. You see it all. From super casual looks, formal outfits, traditional kimonos and school uniforms, to conservative, modern classic and very fashion forward and edgy ensembles. It’s impossible to feel out of place in your outfit.
We finished off the day by walking down the exquisite streets of old Kyoto. The wooden houses, stone stairways and craftsmanship of the architectural detailing are things that I will always remember about this beautiful city.