Kyoto is Japan’s cultural center and land of many temples. Kyoto has a long history and was once Japan’s capital. It feels relaxed compared to Tokyo but, like Tokyo, it is warm and polite, clean and safe, and attentive to some of the finer details. Everything here is so visual! Traditional Japanese style says a lot with a little. Drama is presented with simple beauty and attention to detail. The message is there if you are paying attention.
My first destination in Kyoto was Nishiki Market, a covered arcade that runs about four blocks through the central part of town. The stalls sell every imaginable kind of Japanese food and there are some craft shops as well. The market made me so happy and reminded me of one of my favorite grown up picture books .
Nishiki Market is this book in real life. Everything is presented with such love and care, and with a style that honors natural elements. You wonder how a man who spends his life selling chestnuts knows so much about how to make his food look like part of an artist’s portfolio.
Yesterday was also temple and shrine day. Temples are Buddhist and shrines are Shinto. There are not many tourists here at this time of year it seems but the temples and shrines are nevertheless very popular on the weekends with local families and couples.
One of my favorite things about the temples are the small quiet rituals everyone can enjoy and one of my favorite rituals is the fortune paper. You pick a stick with a number and tell the number to the monk. He gives you the corresponding fortune written in beautiful kanji on rice paper. If you get a bad fortune you may tie it on to a small fence and the temple will chase away the bad fortune for you. If you get a good fortune, you keep the paper. I kept mine!
Here are some more temple pictures I liked.
At the end of my day I was in Gion, an old neighborhood in Kyoto where the geisha houses are located, which means geishas.
A lovely thing to see:
through the paper window’s hole,