Where Diego stretches his legs, visits three very different parts of Kyōto, and samples three very different kinds of tea.
First part of four.
Diego’s last day in Kyōto. My original plans called for an out-of-the-city day trip, but I wasn’t too confident about the transport connections so I shelved those almost at the last minute (add them to my travel options for the next time I’m here). The alternative I settled on was a relaxing walk through various parts of the city, including a long stroll through the winding hilly streets of the Higashiyama and Gion districts in eastern Kyōto.
A word of caution in advance: I won’t have pictures here of some of the area’s most prominent features, such as the famous hillside platform of Kiyomizu-dera. I’ve been to this part of the city (more than once) during my previous journeys in Japan, and I’ve already made the obligatory visits to the usual major landmarks (also more than once for certain places, Kiyomizu-dera included). Needless to say, I’m not too keen on digging into my pockets for entrance fees again, even if they’re only in the region of a few hundred yen. Perhaps a repeat may be due in several years’ time, after my original memories have faded away – for now all I’m after is a nice walk through familiar neighbourhoods before moving on to my next destination.
But prior to hitting the east, let’s ride the rails to the centre of town for an invigorating morning constitutional around the Emperor’s main Kyōto residence.
Kyōto-gosho – the principal imperial palace in Japan’s former capital – sits within a tightly guarded walled compound that, in turn, is surrounded by a much larger enclosure of lush parkland known as Kyōto-gyoen. The secured area of the palace itself can only be visited by joining an official tour, which I did back in 2009, whereas the park around it can be visited freely by the public. I didn’t bother with the palace tour on this occasion, contenting myself with a soothingly aimless stroll through the wide gravel-strewn pathways of the surrounding parkland.
In the following image, the wall with the tiled roof on the left-hand side marks the perimeter of the Imperial Palace compound. We won’t go in there today, but if you’re curious to know what’s inside, check out this post describing my visit a few years ago.
The park has a number of lovely sakura trees mixed in with the evergreens and other species planted along the broad streets.
A group of high school students starts assembling near the palace gate, no doubt in preparation for one of the official guided tours.
All wide awake now? Good. Time for a brief shopping detour at a splendid traditional paper shop in downtown Kyōto . . .
. . . before we head east for hilly streets, scenic vistas, and a spot of tea.
To be continued.