Winter in Japan – day 7

A relatively late start today – didn’t leave the apartment until after 11am, then a short walk to the underground was followed by a journey to Umeda and a brief walk to the Hankyu line and the train to Kyoto. 

First time in Kyoto on this trip so I was looking forward to seeing if it’s different in winter. 

A rather convoluted journey from the Hankyu line in Kyoto involving a walk, two different underground trains and then another walk found us at the start of the philosophers path near Keage. 

I did this walk last time I was in Japan and it was surprisingly busy. One of the main attractions on the route is the cherry tree lined canal but with it being winter and no leaves or blossoms I wasn’t expecting the same visitor numbers.

Fortunately the walk was much quieter so perfect for photography.

One of my favourite spots on this route last time was the lovely little Japanese garden in the Nanzen-ji temple. I’m sure I moaned last year that too many people were in the gardens at any one time and this ruined most shots as every time I tried to take a photo, someone’s flash would go off and ruin the light or someone would walk in front of my camera… 

Today though, there was never any more than 5 or 6 people in the whole garden so I managed a lot of nice new compositions which would have been impossible last visit. 

After Nanzen-ji a brief walk along the philosophers path, with a stop for a lovely lunch in a small traditional Japanese restaurant (Japanese style beef curry and rice with a variety of pickled vegetables on the side) then another mile or so along the path brought us to Ginkaku-ji or as it’s better known “Temple of the silver pavilion”

Again, I was amazed at just how few visitors there were at this time of year. 

I left the silver pavilion rather annoyed last time because it was almost impossible to get a single photograph but thankfully it was different this visit, albeit with less leaves, no flowers or blossoms, very little sun, and a LOT colder! 

After the silver pavilion it was time for the walk back to Keage then the two subways back to Kyoto before finally boarding another train to Kawaramachi and an early evening visit to Gion for some Meiko spotting amongst the old tea houses. I managed to snap a few Meiko – no Geisha – and at group of entertainers in traditional costume and makeup so watch out for those shots when I return!

Finally it was time for a well earned break in Pontocho, Kyoto’s traditional entertainment district, famous for its restaurants, bars and night life.

After a few beers and a great Japanese whisky (the Yamazaki 12 year old single malt) it was back to Kawaramachi and the train back to Osaka.

It’s another late start tomorrow.  Off to Nara but trying to time the trip so that I’m still there after dark as February 3rd is a very special day in Nara… Setsubun Mantoro, where every one of the 3000 lanterns at the Shinto Kasuga Taisha Shrine will be lit for 1st of only 3 days in the year to celebrate the transition from winter to spring.  More of that tomorrow…! 

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