Tag Archives: kyoto

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.

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“Kyoto Indigo Blue Bikes” by Bryan Cole

Kyoto Indigo Blue Bikes
Kyoto Indigo Blue Bikes

This particular shade of blue can be found throughout Japan and is one of my favorites. The traditional color is used for dyeing kimono material as well as Noren curtains used in entrance ways to traditional businesses/restaurants and a denim type of material used for everything from pants to festival wear and cloth shoes (tabi) worn by construction workers. “Ai” or indigo is a natural dye made of fermented leaves of indigo mixed with water. Dyeing thread or cloth with indigo is called “aizome” in Japanese. In the Edo period (1603-1868), just about everyone from common folk to samurai used indigo dyed clothes. Today we can also see it being used for the traditional HAPPI coat at many festivals in Japan.
There is an incredible BLOG about Indigo Blue The Ardent Thread, and the writer also fell in love with Kyoto and the culture that is so vibrant in the historical city.

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

Continue reading “Kyoto Indigo Blue Bikes” by Bryan Cole

The Buddhist Monks’ Robes (and other stories)

There are 1,600 Buddhist temples scattered throughout the prefecture of Kyoto. Known as “the city of a thousand temples,” you’ll also find 400 Shinto shrines, a trio of palaces, and dozens of gardens and museums! According to Wikipedia, Kyoto boasts more World Heritage Sites per square inch than any other city.

For me while living in Japan, I viewed Kyoto as a special place I could escape to by SHINKANSEN/ Bullet Train from Tokyo for a magical weekend of impressive cuisine served in monasteries, gardens and alongside rivers as well as a chance to learn more about Japan’s history. Kyoto was the capital of Japan and the residence of the emperor from 794 to 1868, when the capital was moved to Tokyo. Kyoto thus spent a millennium as the center of Japanese power, culture, tradition, and religion. During this time Kyoto accumulated an unparalleled collection of palaces, temples and shrines, built for emperors, shoguns, geishas and monks. And Kyoto was one of the very few Japanese cities to escape Allied bombings during World War II. Buddhist monks in Japan are quite friendly and have always been willing to stop and talk to me as well as pose for my camera. If you are a little adventurous, head over to a small bar ran by some Kyoto Monks, Bozu Bar 京都坊主BAR. But getting back to the Monks, there are many styles and colors of Buddhist monks’ robes you’ll notice in Japan, and they don’t all resemble the ensembles worn by the monks in these photos, however, the robes in the photograph do illustrate how the Chinese style seen in Photo 6 was adapted in Japan. These were taken in Kamakura and Kyoto recently.

The practice of wearing a shorter outer robe over a longer white or gray kimono is distinctively Japanese.

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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 !

Kyoto and Temples & Monks

The images of Kyoto for me are draped in temples and zen gardens, coffee shops and ramen stands and beautiful maiko in their kimono next to the tourist snapping away with their cameras. But I still love a quiet walk in neighborhoods away from  crowds and the ordinary chaos of the city.

Kyoto temples
Kyoto temples 1
Kyoto temples
Kyoto temples 2
Kyoto temples
Kyoto temples 3