Tag Archives: culture

GION – Traditional Kyoto Now

Traditional architecture, Gion
Traditional architecture, Gion

Gion is a traditional district stretching from the Kamo-gawa River in the west, as far as Yasaka-jinja Shrine in the east. In the 17th year of Kyoho (1732), Kyoto received official permission from the goverment to begin construction of the teahouse quarters, which is the present day Gion area.

Later, as Kabuki drama became popular on the Gion district’s western edges, more sophisticated forms of entertainment were developed for the theater-goers, and so today Gion is known as Kyoto’s most famous Geisha/Maiko district. Packed with bars, restaurants and traditional teahouses, Gion is at its most atmospheric in the early evening, when the lanterns are lit and apprentice Geisha, known as Maiko in Kyoto, can be seen along the back streets on their way to dinner appointments.

Kyoto Geisha, Sunday Afternoon
Kyoto Geisha, Sunday Afternoon

Day or night, there is a lot to see here including shrines, numerous cafes, temples and historic sites which all add to the Gion’s picturesque streets.

Let’s Stay In Touch – I’d love to share my journey !

Kyoto’s Outdoor River Restaurants

Seeing all this rain we are getting here in Los Angeles and the freeways suddenly turning into rivers, my thoughts turned to the Kamogawa River in Kyoto. Summer is traditionally the month when eating and drinking places along the banks of the Kamo River build large wooden platforms, called “yuka”. This past summer I experienced it for the 2nd time and it is indeed an unforgettable and always relaxing experience.

 

Restaurants along the Kamogawa river in summer

Restaurants along the Kamogawa river in summer

Back alleys along Kamogawa in Kyoto
Back alleys along Kamogawa in Kyoto
Restaurants along the Kamogawa river
Restaurants along the Kamogawa river

Kyoto summers are said to be the hottest and most humid in all of Japan. This has a lot to do with the fact that the city is surrounded on three sides by mountains, which makes it hard for the heat and humidity to escape.   and so perfectly suited to relaxing at the end of a long, hot summer day.

Yuka extend east (facing the Kamo River) from many downtown restaurants and make for an unforgettable location for a relaxing, fine dinner. These open-air dining areas are unique to Kyoto and, though they have a reputation for being very expensive, I was really surprised at how reasonable the prices can be. In addition to the   and the eastern skyline and the excellent food, the lively, open setting makes for good company.

Let’s Stay In Touch – I’d love to share my journey !