On this day: Kyoto, Japan

See more from my On This Day series here, where I celebrate travel memories on their trip anniversaries.

On November 10, 2018, I was in Kyoto, Japan.

Following a lovely several days in Seoul and Busan, South Korea, we flew over to Kyoto to begin the Japan portion of our East Asia trip.

We managed to accomplish a lot on our first day in Kyoto. Home to some 2000 temples and shrines, numerous gardens, and traditional teahouses, this city in the Hansai region offered us ample opportunity to explore the history and culture of Japan.

After settling into our little guesthouse on the previous evening, we awoke early for our first excursion at Camellia Tea in the Gion District, where we had booked a tea ceremony. The Japanese tea ceremony, known as chadō  “The Way of Tea”, is a tradition steeped in history (pun intended). Dating back to the 9th century, it involves the ceremonial preparation and presentation of matcha green tea, a practice influenced by Zen Buddhism and considered as one of the three classical Japanese arts of refinement, along with kōdō incense appreciation and kadō flower arrangement.

During our visit to Camellia Tea, we watched a performance of the tea ceremony, which we followed by preparing a bowl of matcha ourselves.

After the ceremony, we headed out to see more of Gion District. This area is Kyoto’s most famous geisha district, bordered by Yasaka Shrine in the east and Kamo River to the west. Traditional wooden machiya merchant houses line the streets, and the area attracts numerous tourists who venture over for the shops, restaurants, and many teahouses.

Once we had tired Mr. Chuckles out from exploring one too many trinket shops, we went on in search of lunch at Nishiki Market. This narrow, five block long shopping street is filled with over 100 restaurants and shops serving all things food. It was quite crowded but we managed to try out several delicious items.

As evening approached, we headed back toward Gion, where we had reserved tickets for Gion Odori. This is one of five annual public performances put on by each of the geisha districts in Kyoto. Most of them are scheduled in the spring during cherry blossom season, but we were lucky to have arrived in Kyoto right on time for the sole and final autumn performance in Gion, which takes places every year from November 1st to 10th. Although we could not understand the dialogue and missed out on their jokes, we enjoyed this one hour show featuring traditional dance by the beautifully dressed geiko and maiko. A particular highlight was when Mr. Chuckles was gifted a paper crane by one of the geiko in the midst of the performance.

Finally, to cap off our eventful day, we had what I would eventually declare as my favourite meal in Japan, a kaiseki dinner at Michelin starred Gion Nanba.

Twelve courses of delectable Japanese delicacies later, we were happily fed and ready to rest up in preparation for our next adventure in Kyoto.

20 responses to “On this day: Kyoto, Japan”

  1. I loved Kyoto, we were there 4 years ago… I hope to return one day 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I so desperately want to go to Japan and Kyoto is at the tippy top of the list!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Perhaps your next trip to Asia? 🙂 Japan is a place I could revisit multiple times.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. We were in Kyoto a year ago too. Great place! Loved seeing the pictures of your kaiseki meal

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for checking out the blog!

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  4. What a wonderful day you had. So many different experiences. I’ve never been to Kyoto. Would love to visit, especially during the hanami. You are a much braver eater than me. Don’t think I’d be able to stomach that sea urchin.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I hope to revisit Japan one day during cherry blossom season too.

      Sea urchin is my favourite! Sometimes I forget that it is probably an acquired taste. 😛

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Kyoto is definitely on my list of places to see in Japan!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It certainly should be! Beautiful city full of history.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Wow, this would be a great experience!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It was! Thanks for reading 🙂

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  7. Kyoto is such a special place! What did you think of the octopus on at stick?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That was my favourite! The head was filled with egg, so good 😊

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  8. I visited a few cities in Japan, including Kyoto, without having prepared the trip well enough. I concentrated mainly on palaces and temples, for their architecture, while there are also many preserved traditions to be discovered in contact with the local people. Thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m sure you could’ve spent days or weeks seeing all those palaces and temples. We didn’t actually do very much of that as we were too focused on eating 😂

      Liked by 1 person

  9. You had me at the food pics! Matcha is one of my favorite types of tea, and it’s awesome you got to go see how it’s traditionally prepared! That sushi at the Nishiki Market looks like perfection, and your photos make me miss the food in Japan dearly. Did you happen to visit Kinkaku-ji or Kiyomizu Temple while in Kyoto? Those temples are legendary! Can’t wait to see what more you did in Japan!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I may have passed by those temples but honestly most of my trip was food centered, hahah! I don’t think we properly toured any temples in our time there.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. simply the best city in Japan!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I agree! I thought I really enjoyed Tokyo but looking back at these trip memories, I think Kyoto has the edge.

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