Kyoto: A Step Back in Time

If Tokyo is the epicenter of the modern Orient, then Kyoto is like the #TBT (throwback Thursday) of Japan. Holding on to its distinct heritage, Kyoto is must see, with its cobblestone stone streets and temples galore, especially if you are on a educational cultural trek like I am.Surrounded by mountains on three sides, Kyoto was once the national capital of Japan until 1869 when the balance of power shifted, bringing the capital to an unimportant quiet village called Edo. The shogun renamed it Tokyo and trust me, it is no longer quiet.Walking the streets of Kyoto's Gion Corner placed me back into the film 'Memoirs of a Giesha'. Shayne and I even passed a few ladies in the appropriate garb accompanied by the click clack of the thick wooden sandals.

The streets of Kyoto's Gion Corner The streets of Kyoto's Gion Corner


We continued our discovery of 'Old Japan' at the Yasaka Shrine and Maruyama Park. The only thing that would have made these sights even more exquisite is if we had come in the spring to witness the cherry blossoms bloom.

IMG_0423 Sitting at the lake in Maruyama Park.

IMG_0441 Near the Yasaka Shrine at Gion Corner


We also visited the Philosopher's Path, located on the east side of town. This famous trail (that was supposedly walked every day by a philosopher from Kyoto University back in the 1800's ) borders the canal and is frequented by many patrons, locals and tourists alike, during the cherry blossom season. I sat and played my recorder (yes, I brought my recorder to Japan...don't you always travel with a woodwind instrument for moments of inspiration?) and I played 'Hambe No Uta' which is a Japanese song I teach to my younger students. Got some footage of it (as well as a few peculiar looks) and will hopefully be making a video project for my students this fall.

Oh....the path should be renamed 'The Feline's Philosopher's Path' because we ran into like eight or nine cats during the walk!

Philosopher's Path Philosopher's Path

We made it more than halfway! We made it more than halfway!

IMG_0099 The canal bordering the path

IMG_0073 Cats along the path thinking about philosophy!


I knew I wanted to stay in a Japanese style accommodations and what better place to do it than Kyoto? So we checked into a ryokan, where mats are laid, shoes come off and dining happens on the floor. There was only one thing we didn't partake in and those of you who have been to a ryokan know what I am referring to (public bath houses????).


Our ryokan (Japanese style hotel room) Our ryokan (Japanese style hotel room)


Our ryokan was located across from city hall which also seemed to be the unofficial training spot where jump rope lessons are given. I almost asked to jump in and showcase my amazing skills but I haven't jumped since the 6th grade, so it was probably better that I just watched.


Like McDonald's and Coke, double dutch is everywhere too! Like McDonald's and Coke, double dutch is everywhere too!


IMG_0482 A wonderful street performer

On to Hiroshima!