Travel

Kyoto Photo Walk 1

kyoto kiyomizu dera temple

Photos taken a while ago when I visited the Kansai region of Japan for a business/leisure trip. There is so much to do in Kansai and I ended up spending a couple of days in Kyoto alone. All photos in this post is taken within a day of walking trip in Kyoto – so if you’re looking for a one day visit guide in Kyoto then this is a great post to read :)

A list of places visited for this post:

  • Kiyomizu-dera Temple
  • Sannen-zaka and Ninen-zaka
  • Nene no Michi
  • Ishibei-koji
  • Maruyama-koen Park
  • Kodaiji Temple
  • Chion-in Temple
  • Shoren-in Temple
  • Teramachi and Shin-Kyogoku
  • Nishiki Market

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First up – I took the JR Haruka train from Kansai International Airport to Kyoto. While I was on this train I kept thinking of my previous Kyoto trip 12 years ago – I wondered how much of Kyoto has changed over the years?

 

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As a foreigner visiting Japan, you can get discount Haruka train tickets via booking online on the JR website. Also got myself the special Hello-Kitty ICOCA card – which is an electronic payment card that you can use to buy stuffs and pay for travel fares on trains & buses in the Kansai region.

 

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Managed to grab a snapshot of JR Train conductor-san while he’s checking on other passengers’ ticket.

 

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As for my photography gear, I brought my Sony RX100 II (nice compact camera with zoom lens) and the Full-frame Sony A7ii with only one fixed lens (Sony Carl Zeiss 35mm F2.8) – surprisingly I ended using the Sony A7ii for 95% of the shots for my entire trip.

For me there is something liberating and fun about using only just one focal length to shoot photos in an entire trip – will probably talk more about street/travel photography, camera reviews and other photography stuffs in a separate post :)

By the way, most photos posted here are color-graded in Adobe Lightroom to slightly emulate the color tones of picture films (namely the Kodak Potra 800 and Fuji 160C/400H). The processed photos just look much better than they were straight out of camera.

 

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JR Haruka takes about one and a half hour to reach Kyoto from Osaka. Good idea to bring a book or your portable gaming devices along the journey.

 

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Arrived in Kyoto Station and getting lost.

 

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Take the North exit from Kyoto station and you’ll see the Kyoto Tower and the bus station. From here you take the buses to pretty much any popular tourist attractions in Kyoto.

 

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Heading to Kiyomizu-dera Temple on foot so that I can take street photography shots like this. (I believe it takes about 30 minutes on foot from Kyoto station?)

 

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More street photography shots of random people doing random things :P

 

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Came across a little Shinto shrine on the way (松明殿稲荷神社).

 

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Shichi-jo Dori 七条大橋

 

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Getting a view of Kamo river (鴨川) that runs across Kyoto from north to south. The word ‘Kamo’ in Japanese literally means ‘Duck’ :D

 

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Found a Yamato Transport truck in the wild.

 

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I could have taken this bus heading to Kiyomizu-dera. Decided to continue on foot instead.

 

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Walking past Otani Hombyo 大谷本廟 – a Buddhist temple with a big graveyard of more than 15,000 tombstones. If you’re a Japanese Buddhist history buff then you might want to stop by for a visit.

 

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You know you’re getting closer to Kiyomizu-dera when you see rows of shops selling foods/souvenirs and streets jam-packed with tourists.

 

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Nothing but beautiful paper fans on sale here.

 

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I could still remember that my first visit to Kiyomizu-dera was about 12 years ago, back then the streets here were jam-packed with tourists. Now the streets here are packed with even more tourists @.@

 

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Moar shops, moar tourists.

 

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Danshi koukousei (high school boys) in the wild.

 

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Moar beautiful paper fans.

 

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Cute tiny plates for serving side dishes and/or pickled vegetables. I kinda regret that I didn’t get to buy one :P

 

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And there’s the front temple gate leading to Kiyomizu-dera (which means time to wrestle a good spot from all the other tourists to take pictures)

 

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Love this shot. (and yes the water are for washing your hands before praying)

 

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A gate with a brilliant view of Kyoto city. Unfortunately the area is sealed off so i can’t move closer to shoot ><

 

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Underside of temple roofs – coupled with blue sky. Love it.

 

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Blooming tea flower is pretty desu.

 

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Moving on to the main temple halls. Here’s a large wooden plaque with writings on the history of Kiyomizu-dera.

 

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In Japan, it’s very common for shrine and temple to sell these amulets/talismans: Omamori お守り – the word means “to guide” or “to protect”.

 

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All sorts of Omamori on sale here. A few standard ones you’re likely to see are success talisman, ‘Ward Away Evil’  amulet, Money tasliman, Education & learning talisman. They even have one for headaches >.<

 

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This is Omikuji – the traditional fortune telling in Japan which involves shaking (seriously) :D

So these wooden containers have tiny wooden/bamboo sticks in it. Give the container a bit of shake and a stick with numbers will pop out from the container. Give the stick to the attendant and they will give you a roll of paper with your fortune written on it.

If you got a good fortune, you should probably keep it with you. If you got a bad one, go find a small stand with many strips of bad fortunes paper tied on it. The idea is that you’re supposed to leave it there so the divine spirits can get rid of the bad fortune for you.

 

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Ema 絵馬 – wooden plagues where people wrote their wishes on. Sometimes you might find drawings on them too.

 

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And this is the stand where people tied up their bad fortune papers on. These folks got some bad fortune papers ^^;

 

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In Kiyomizu there is a Jishu shrine devoted to Okuninushino Mikoto – the god in charge of love, often regarded as the “Cupid of Japan”.

 

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This shrine is very crowded and you’ll probably see a lot of young girls here praying for luck/love.

 

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And of course there are many Ema here with the wishes of finding love or marriage.

 

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At this shrine there are two stones on the ground and these two stones are a meters apart. There is a belief that you will find your true love if  you find your way from one stone to the other with your eyes closed (which is quite difficult with all the crowd around you).

 

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More young women here praying at this shrine.

 

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Near the entrance there’s a board with names of couples who returned to donate to the shrine as a way of showing their gratitude after getting married.

 

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From Kiyomizedera’s pagoda you can get a pretty nice view of the city.

 

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The view of Kiyomizudera with the trees below is as beautiful as I remembered from 12 years ago.

 

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This Japanese lady and her son keeps telling me that this is the best viewing spot. Thanks :)

 

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The Otowa Waterfall – located at the base of Kiyomizudera’s main temple grounds. As you can see there are three water streams and drinking from each stream’s water is said to have a different benefit – longevity, success in education and love life. I was told that one should only drink from one water stream only as drinking from all three streams is considered greedy.

 

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On the way out of the temple grounds there was a group of turtles resting by a pond. Very cute.

 

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Taking a few more shots before leaving the temple.

 

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Tried out a Sake (Japanese rice wine) flavored ice-cream. nom nom nom.

 

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Heading off to Ninen-zaka and Sannen-zaka from Kiyomizu-dera.

 

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In Ninen-zaka and Sannen-zaka, there are rows of traditional shop-houses on sloping lanes. A great place to get a meal after visiting Kiyomizu as there are many restaurants and teahouses around here.

 

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Entrance to a western restaurant.

 

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The sign reads: Ninen-zaka

 

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Some very cute looking coin pouch.

 

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Caught a glimpse of Yasaka no To Pagoda.

 

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Came across Ishibei-koji 石塀小路 while traveling on Nene-no-Michi lane. This is an atmospheric walkway for pedestrians where the streets and houses here are preserved as important historical buildings.

 

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The word Ishibei means stone moat. As you can see the street here is covered with stones and the street is kinda narrow which makes it very traditional-looking.

 

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If you’re visiting the older districts of Kyoto, there’s a good chance that you will get to see these curved bamboo fence on the walls of traditional shops/houses. These are called Inu-yarai (which literally means “to keep the dogs away”). Inuyarai were designed to prevent dogs from peeing on the house wall, protect the walls against dirt during the rain and prevent people (especially those who were drunk) to lean against the walls.

 

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A walk way leading to Kodaiji Temple 高台寺. Built in year 1606 in memory of Toyotomi Hideyoshi by Hideyoshi wife’s Nene. If you are a Sengoku history buff then I do recommend you to visit this beautiful temple.

 

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Can’t exactly remember why – but the large kanji character for “Dream” is printed on these Ema.

 

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Entrance to Kodaiji temple grounds. Went into the temple to found it has a beautiful zen stone/rock garden and a bamboo grove walkway. Unfortunately the photos I took inside the temple grounds were corrupted. So sad ;-;

 

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Heading off to Maruyama-koen.

 

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A street performer playing the flute with a sleeping dog in Maruyama-koen.

 

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Enjoying some greenery scene in the park.

 

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Walked towards Chion-in Temple 知恩院 from Maruyama-koen. Honestly I didn’t stay here for long since the temple was undergoing some renovation.

 

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At the center of Chion-in there is a large stairway and stone paths connecting the temple’s main buildings.

 

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Some random shots around Chion-in temple.

 

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From Chion-in temple I continue on foot to Shoren-in temple. This temple has a beautiful tea garden and the place doesn’t look like a temple – feels more like a villa actually.

 

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I have been walking for the whole day and it feels good to just sit down while enjoying the view here ^^;

 

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Exploring the main halls of Shoren-in temple.

 

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After visiting Shoren-in temple, I decided to head off to Nishi Market by getting a train at Higashiyama Station and to KyotoShiyakushomae station.

 

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Also found out that the Kyoto subway system have their own anime mascots too: Moe Uzumasa (brown hair), Saki Matsuga (blonde hair) and Misa Ono (black hair/glasses). Cute.

 

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Getting off at KyotoShiyakushomae station and saw Honnoji temple located at the south exit of the station. *Honnoji was known for being the place where samurai warlord Oda Nobunaga ended his life.

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Heading to Nishiki market via Teramachi dori and Shin Kyogoku shotengai. Both streets run parallel together from north to south and there are lots of shops here to explore.

 

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安全第一 = “Safety First”

 

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Some of the T-shirts have….interesting kanji on them ><

 

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Nishiki Tenman-gū Shrine, a small shrine right in the middle of Nishiki market.

 

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Entrance leading to Nishiki Market – Kyoto’s largest traditional food market. Here you can find tsukemono (Japanese dried food/pickles), vegetables, wagashi (Japanese sweets/snack foods), tea and fresh seafood too.

 

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It was evening when I was visiting Nishi market and the market is still packed with lots of people ><

 

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A variety of tsukemono (Japanese pickles). Tsuke means “soaked” and mono means “things” – different tsukemono are served with different kinds of dishes.

For example, shibazuke (chopped cucumbers and eggplant) goes with plain rice, beni shoga goes with tonkotsu ramen, okonomiyaki, yakisoba, gari (thinly sliced ginger) goes with sashimi,sushi, fried rice etc etc etc…

 

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There are also all kinds of yakitori you can buy at Nishiki market too.

 

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Apparently, they also served Eel’s liver as yakitori. That’s…interesting.

 

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Exploring the streets around Daimaru department store.

 

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Was starving and got myself a Hakata-style Tonkotsu ramen (thick, white broth made with boiling pork bones and served with thinner noodles). 800 yen. Nom nom nom.

 

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Heading back to Kyoto station (as my place of accommodation was near the station). Beautiful sunset here.

 

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That pretty sums up my one day trip in Kyoto. I was planning to visit Fushimi-Inari Taisha Shrine after Nishiki market (from Nishiki market, take the Keihan Line to Fushimi-Inari Station), but I had a meeting with friends later that night so I decided to head back early and visit Fushimi-Inari on the other day.

Will try to post up Kyoto Photo Walk part 2 soon :)

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