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Day 4 Japan - Kyoto

JAPAN | Friday, 8 November 2019 | Views [22]

Did you ever wonder just how many steps you could get your gadget to read in one day? Well, I don’t have one but the tall people do 😊 Day 4 was a busy day and they tell me we took about 22000+. Now for my short legs I reckon I did about another 10k (at least 😊). Our free day in Kyoto was expected to be somewhat relaxed as we strolled the city between significant landmarks. Not quite the way it turned out though, but what a day!

Thanks to Insta we found a coffee shop that would rival any at home just a short walk from our hotel, so we made a bee line for it straight after breakfast. Lattes and americanos downed and we loaded Google Maps to follow the arrow to visit Fushimi Inari Shrine about an hour away. Across and along the river, through some winding backstreets, a startling stop at a level crossing and we found ourselves in a busy laneway, lined with food stalls and leading to the entrance torii of the shrine. A shrine is a Shinto space of prayer and reflection; each one dedicated to one of 8 million gods. Fushimi Inari is dedicated to the god of rice and is known for its thousands of torii gates leading a trail up and around the mountain. We made the walk to roughly the half way point along with many hundreds of other travellers, locals and school children on their autumn excursions. All of this before lunchtime. With walk weary feet and legs we treated ourselves to a taxi ride to our next stop for the day - Higashiyama-ku. This area of Kyoto is a historic quarter of narrow roadways lined with tea houses, craft stores, restaurants, shrines and temples.

We stopped first for some sustenance at, pretty much, the first café we saw. The perfect spot and we were all very satisfied with our choices. Reenergised, it was time to locate our next stop. Not far away was the Camellia Tea House. Down a laneway and around a corner and our hostess welcomed us for our traditional tea ceremony. The space was serene and quiet, but for the quiet simmering of the kettle sitting beside Kuzo (our hostess). After giving us some insight into the history and tradition of the tea ceremony she quietly showed us the process. Her focus and precision was artistic and beautiful. Every movement and action taken completely in the moment. This is what the tea ceremony is about. The hostess preparing each bowl of tea perfectly for each guest with every attention to detail. When she had made the Matcha tea and invited us to partake, we were each able to make our own bowl, as she had shown us. No, we didn’t get it exactly right but enjoyed our time at Camellia all the same.

Back in the fresh air, a little retail therapy was called for as we strolled around the area, soaking in the atmosphere. Another area filled with travellers, locals and school children, some who were dressed in beautiful kimonos as they too strolled the historic streets.

Our next stop wasn’t to start until 6.30pm and we had some time to fill. More strolling and a little more retails therapy and we found the perfect Japanese spot to rest our feet enjoy a beverage together – and Irish pub, of course.

Zen enhanced our knowledge of Shintoism; more of a belief system and way of living than a religion as such. Rod was able to clear his bad luck and bring in good luck by climbing through a hole in a statue at a shrine.

We walked through the locals’ bar street. This is where they go to do business or drink with their colleagues or boss to “get on” in their careers. One building of 6 floors houses 54 bars! Some of them might accommodate only up to a dozen seats. Many Japanese people are apparently lonely, so when they go to a bar they can “hire” a friend – someone who will sit and talk and drink with them.

Through more lanes and across a couple of busy roads and Zen brought us to our dinner venue. A small and unique café that specialises in only one dish – okonomiyaki. I love a Japanese pancake, but this was next level. And it was good to rest our feet and learn a little more of Japanese culture from our young host. This lane was connected with yet another, even more narrow laneway, that led to the much less expensive area and a party hotspot later in the evening. We finished our tour on a busy corner and took a cab to our hotel to rest our very travel weary bones.

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