2.08.2011

Kyoto | Geisha Spotting

Over the weekend, I accompanied Casey Fiance and his Tokyo Apache team on a trip to Kyoto, south of Tokyo but on the same Honshu island. Locals had been telling us that if we got the opportunity to take any trips outside of Tokyo, Kyoto was the place to go. Every time we'd tell someone we were going to visit Kyoto, the response was always the same: "Beautiful!" And indeed we found that their responses were warranted.

As Tom Cruise's Algren says in The Last Samurai, "...there is indeed something spiritual in this place. And though it may forever be obscure to me, I cannot but be aware of its power."

One hour in Kyoto and I was already gushing, 'Now this is how I pictured Japan!' Although Kyoto was the nation's capitol before Tokyo and is a large city, it still maintains that small town, old world charm. For starters, it's nestled at the edge of a mountain range with a river that runs through the city. Kyoto was not bombed during the war, so its old and ancient treasures still stand. Kyoto also has literally hundreds of shrines and temples scattered about, and even neater - a working Geisha district!

We had three wonderful days to experience Kyoto, and I took over 200 pictures... yikes! So much beauty, I had to attempt to capture as much of it as I could. I'll have to split up the Kyoto trip into a few separate blog posts. But it'll be fun, I promise.

To get to Kyoto, we took the Shinkansen bullet train that looks like this:


 The Shinkansen travels across much of Japan at over 200 miles per hour! Oh it's fast, and surprisingly comfortable...



Some of the players. Hilarious guys. Good guys.
(Don't worry - the guy in front isn't choking; that's how he eats)

We passed fairly close to Mount Fuji. It was massive.

Bus ride to our hotel! Packed in like sardines, and loving it.

On our first night into the city, we stumbled into the tea house and Geisha district...



The famous Ichiriki tea house.

6pm rolled around, then the lovely Geisha started showing up for work...


They won't stop to smile for pictures - they're commuting! They walked so elegantly in their floating kimonos on their tall sandals. They're carrying their instruments and fans, going to entertain at the tea house.

 Woops - didn't quite catch her...



A few painted ladies we saw during the day. Just divine.

I have had a few people from back home ask me if Geisha are prostitutes. NO, they are not. Apparently that's a common Western misconception. Geisha means 'artist'. They are proficient in their craft and a highly traditional and revered profession. Essentially, they are hired entertainment; they sing, dance, play instruments, paint and do caligraphy, perform tea ceremonies, serve sake, etc. Learn more about Geisha HERE.


Kyoto boasts such magestic shrines and temples. I'll post on one next time.


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