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Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Day 5: Trip to Japan (8 April 2010)

We have a bit of free time on this day. Since we were already in Kyoto, we decided to visit the Kiyomizu-dera which is a UNESCO World Heritage site. Kiyomizu-dera is located in Higashiyama-ku, one of the 11 wards of the city of Kyoto. For lack of a better comparison, I believe "ward" here is equivalent to "mukim" in Malaysia.
We took a taxi from Granvia Hotel, Kyoto to Kiyomizu-dera. The journey took about 15 minutes, but as we were nearing our destination, the traffic got heavier, partly because of the narrow road leading up to the entrance of Kiyomizu-dera. We spent nearly two hours at this site, walking up the hill, into Kiyomizu-dera, along with other tourists from all parts of the world, enjoying the breathtaking view of the temple's surrounding. The sakura trees that were in full blossom made the view all the more spectacular.
From Kiyomizu-dera, we walked along Ninenzaka and Sannennzaka (above picture) which are lined up with small shops along the slopes. Most of the shops are tea houses and eateries, and there are also others that sell souvenirs. Sakura trees added splendour to the colours of spring as we walked down the slopes.

After walking for about ten minutes, we reached Kodai-ji. We spent a short while here snapping photographs before leaving. Our next destination was the Gion District. It took us another 20 minutes to get there.
Gion District (above picture) is perhaps famous for those who are familiar with the novel (and later movie) called Memoirs of a Geisha. The novel was largely set in the Gion District. This area is made up of narrow laned which are lined up with old wooden buildings. These buildings include machiya townhouses, traditional Geisha houses, restaurants and eateries, as well as souvenir and craft shops.

We spent about half an hour there before heading back to the hotel. This particular day gave a sense of history to a gaikokujin like me. At the very least, I have a rough idea of how things were in Kyoto way back then.

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