Until today, most of my time here in Kyoto has been settling in at my dorm, getting ready for classes, and exploring Imadegawa, the area in which I live. Fortunately, this week is Silver Week, a near full week of holidays! This means we finally have a break from university orientation and paperwork, so a few friends and I decided to take a quick trip to Gion, an area of Kyoto well-known for its geiko and maiko!
It’s hard to believe that this is my city for the next year.
The large building to the right is apparently a Kabuki theater. We’re hoping to be able to come back some day and see a kabuki performance!
The main street was crowded to the point that just walking was difficult, so we broke off at the first side street we could find. It was much more mellow, and we found a row of restaurants over a stream.
Not even five minutes into meandering side and backstreets, we came across a wedding in progress. I didn’t want to interrupt the couple to take photos of them, so unfortunately I don’t have any photos to share of the bride’s beautiful kimono. But not a few seconds later did a pair of two women dressed as maiko-san round the corner! It would seem these were Henshin (tourists who visited a Henshin studio, which lets paying customers dress up in outfits similar to what authentic maiko wear). Despite the fact that they weren’t actual maiko, their beautiful kimono and hair adornments were a lovely sight regardless. Who knows – living in Kyoto for a year, maybe we’ll see real maiko and geiko in Gion someday!
Perhaps because we’re right in the middle of Silver Week, Yasaka Shrine was crowded with people. It’s hard to say though; maybe it’s always this crowded! The four of us bought matcha ice cream, and enjoyed it while listening to a busker playing acoustic guitar.
Definitely a nice way to end our afternoon in Gion.
After Gion, three of us headed to Fushimi Inari, where we were planning to meet a group of Doshisha exchange students to hike up the famous pathway of Fushimi Inari Shrine!
Fushimi Inari station. Finally, we got to ride a train that didn’t just travel in the dark, dank subways!
We arrived in Fushimi Inari about 40 minutes ahead of schedule, but while we had a wander around, we found…
A cat cafe!! I wasn’t able to visit any cat cafes last time I was in Japan, and with some extra time to spare, it was perfect timing. The cafe was quiet but full of customers (mostly women) who were relaxing in the air conditioned room, sipping drinks, and petting the sleepy cats.
I found a kitten who looks just like a miniature version of my cat, Oliver. Eventually, this little look-alike named Rai woke up and I got him to play with me a bit!
Despite Rai’s similarity to Oliver, this pretty calico was actually my favorite! Her name was Mikan (“Orange”).
A little boy proved to be the supreme cat wrangler, though. At his peak, he had five cats playing with him at once.
I voted for Mikan! I wasn’t able to meet the famous Bob, because he was fast asleep on a perch we couldn’t reach. Oh well. Next time, Bob, next time!
After getting to Fushimi Inari Shrine, we found out a few members of our group were delayed. While we were waiting for them to join us, a couple pushing these two strollers of dogs parked their strollers in front of the shrine entrance to take a picture of them. There were six little dogs stuffed in these two strollers! Today turned out to be a very animal-filled day.
Because we had such a late start to our hike, and because the original plan had been to try to finish the hike in order to see the sunset from the top of it, I didn’t stop to take many pictures. Fushimi Inari Shrine is famous for its red gate-lined pathway, but of the three photos I did take, none of them were worth posting. I’m sure I’ll go back to Fushimi Inari soon, and I’ll take tons of photos then!
After hustling for about half an hour, we made it to a decent look-out point to see the last of the sunset!
Our trip back down the hike was mostly in the dark.
On days like today, I have such a hard time believing that this city is my home for the next year. There is still so much to this city that I’ve yet to see and experience. I am really looking forward to it.