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Saturday morning walks in Kyoto

In recent weeks, as the kids sleep in on the weekend, my wife and I have been taking early morning walks around the city, hitting temples and shrines before the tourists. We chitchat while strolling along, poking around areas of the city that we have not taken the time to explore. Sometimes we talk about memories from two decades before, when we lived in the city together. How the city has changed since then! Ironic since Kyoto is known for maintaining its twelve-hundred year old history. But that makes it such a fun city to explore on foot. Kept small, it is very walkable. Much of it is flat. The histories of the city are layered upon one another, just waiting to be peeled back for new discoveries at the same old places. Every street corner has been the site of some major historical incident. My wife’s grandmother lived in the city her whole life, was a proud Kyoto-jin. She claimed to need many more lives to know every part of the city.

As we stroll I take short vids and some photos and post to social media. I thought I would reproduce the last couple of excursions for you here.

Excursion 1

(original Tweet thread)

Going on a little Saturday morning coffee walk

Shijo Bridge. Dark clouds to the north. Fishing 🎣 Leaves are turning 🍁

A few scenes from Yasaka Jinja ⛩️

They are prepping for 七五三

Look at this cool turtle woven from harvested rice stalks! 🌾

Red leaves in Maruyama park behind the shrine. 🍁

Walking back from Yasaka we go through the grounds of Kennan-ji. Here is a spot that priest Eisai came down from Hieizan. Love the moss

Mossy walkway leading up to mossy stairs and an old gate to Kaizando

Stopped at the Gion Ebisu shrine to throw coins at the face of Ebisu on this unique torii ⛩️🪙

Here’s to good business returns! 💰🤑

Excursion 2

The other week we took a much longer route, and ended up going for 10km. We happened upon a year-end goma fire ritual at a 1000 year old temple down the street. Then walked across the city to the foothills and chatted with a monk of another 1000 year old temple, while looking at tourists walk under the famous maple leaves.

With too many people we moved along to another nearby temple where you could climb to the top of an 800 year old gate and see the turning leaves (and crowds!) from above. At the back of this temple are the remains of an aqueduct from a 19th century power plant. You can walk up and along the waterway for about 10 minutes to get to Keage, the last station before going over the mountain to Yamashina.

Poking around we find all sorts of points of interest, cafes, restaurants, and stores. Sometimes I just take snaps of stuff I find funny:

a blue sign: "COFFEE & WHISKY
A classic Japanese Saturday morning combination

See more Saturday morning photos at hires on Flickr →