Wandering The Streets of Kyoto
Kyoto is a good city for walking. This is particularly true in the historic district of Higashiyama on the east side of the city.
The streets are narrow and often steep. Higashiyama nestles against the mountains that ring this side of Kyoto.
This area contains many of Kyoto’s most famous temples, and the streets are full of tourists, both Japanese and foreign.
There are plenty of shops and restaurants, but the kitsch is mostly kept to a minimum. We went into this spice store to buy a gift for our son David. We got talking to the owner, who told us the store had been run by his family in this location since the 1600s.
David likes to cook and he loves hot pepper – the hotter the better. We got him different ground spice mixes and a little pot for serving spices at the table.
If you keep walking around you will find even narrower streets, more like alleys.
Here there are homes and members-only clubs.
Signs admonish visitors to be quiet and also not to take pictures. Oops. The sign is in Japanese, Korean, Chinese, and English.
I thought this miniature torii gate set over a street drain was kind of funny. Torii are used as entrances to sacred places such as temples. We were told this little one is meant to discourage people from urinating into the drain.
Beyond the historic districts, the ordinary neighborhoods of Kyoto are also worth exploring. I’m always impressed by how the Japanese do urban gardening with containers.
A quiet street.
A house with a garden, apparently owned by a rose fancier.
A bridge over one of the smaller rivers that flow through Kyoto.
Statue of the unknown schoolboy.
A store for Buddhist religious goods. Judy and I bought a small brass lotus flower.
There was one day where we paid a guide to walk with us. We thought it was more than worth the cost to have someone who could explain what we were seeing and guide us to spots of particular interest. We found our guide through this website.
If you ever find yourself in Kyoto, don’t spend all your time seeing famous sites. Allow yourself some freedom to wander the city.