East of Kyoto: Southern Higashiyama Neighborhood Walk

higashiyamaCredits: Papers by Designs by Tater from ScrapMatter’s Life’s Little Surprises Kit.

The guesthouse took sometime to find.  Tucked away in a street where cars aren’t allowed.  The driver of our shuttle service eventually found it; he led us into a narrow residential street.

garden-at-entrance

The house is charming, even at night.  A young man let us in, cheerfully welcoming us at 10 in the evening.  The real owners of Yamato Guesthouse are his parents, Kenzo and Nagako.

kenzo-and-Nagako

He was there for the weekend, I figured.  I noticed a group was enjoying some drinks at a corner so I asked if they served dinner — we were hungry, arriving straight from Kansai International Airport.  Of course, they only serve breakfast but they accommodated our request and prepared something simple after seeing our hungry faces.  The other group, it turned out, are friends visiting hence the beer and the snacks – I felt a bit embarrassed about our dinner request.   😯   Such is the hospitality of the Japanese and of our host.

breakfast

Nagako served quite an exquisite breakfast and for 2 days I felt very pampered

The former capital of Japan is famous for its temples and shrines, a beautiful city with tradition and culture filled to the brim.  Kyoto is one of the oldest cities and there is so much to see.  Even just zooming in on an area – the east side – we still barely scratched the surface.  Two whole days is obviously not enough but that was all we had.  We were merely passing through and we made the most of it.

Yamato, I estimate, is a good 10 minutes stroll away from Kiyomizu Temple — actually, it could be 20 if you window shop and ogle at everything interesting along the way.

store-chawanzaka

The neighborhood consists of many interesting stores, delightful cafe and food stalls, which actually make for a pleasant stroll to the temple.

chawanzaka

The street of our guesthouse comes out to Chawan-zaka, it actually leads to the temple but we chose instead to turn into a complex that has several flights of stairs,

asahizaka-mapA map of Asahizaka complex

asahizaka-steps

stores and cafes line the way leading to Kiyomizu-zaka, where we chanced on more stores and tourists.

kiyomizuzaka-from-templeKiyomizu-zaka from the temple

If you turn right, you will end up in Kiyomizu Temple.

kiyomizudera

Inside the temple, the tourists escalated in unbelievable proportion.

tourists

Half way through the temple, we gave up and settled for a much-needed coffee break and cream puffs.

Yatsuhashi-cream-puff

Kiyomizu-dera is perhaps the most beloved of Kyoto’s temples.

kiyomizu-temple-entrance

It is a famous hilltop temple offering sweeping views of the old capital.

view-of-the-city-from-kiyomizudera

Popular with tourist and pilgrims, the temple is part of the Historic Monument of Ancient Kyoto and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The narrow cobbled street of Kiyomizu-zaka (if you walk away from the temple) will lead to Sannen-zaka and Ninen-zaka, a restored neighborhood oozing with old world charm.

Ninenzaka-and-shannenzaka

Both streets are lined with old wooden houses, traditional shops and restaurants.  It is  a good example of the old Kyoto, the Kyoto everyone imagines.  Despite the drizzle, it was a wonderful walk, quite uplifting I must say.

Following the route suggested by Lonely Planet, we found the street the guidebook described as “the most beautiful street in Kyoto”, Ishibei-koji.  It is a quiet alley lined with high-end restaurants and ryokans.  I saw a photographer taking shots of the street at the end of the stone-paved road.  I went to where he stood and this was what came out.

Ishibei-koji

Have to admit that this quiet street has character with its own stories to tell perhaps but to be identified as “the most” beautiful street puts too much pressure don’t you think?  Beauty is indeed in the eyes of the beholder.  Developed primarily as an area for luxurious rental homes, it is presently a favorite site to shoot TV dramas, movies and TV commercials.

At this point, it was already more than drizzling and it didn’t look like it would let up.  We decided it was time for lunch.

Useful Info:

Guest House Yamato
6-539-23 Gojohashihigashi,
Higashiyama-ku, Kyoto, Kyoto Prefecture
Kiyomizu Temple
1-294 Kiyomizu
Higashiyama-ku, Kyoto, Kyoto Prefecture
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11 thoughts on “East of Kyoto: Southern Higashiyama Neighborhood Walk

  1. What a fascinating place. I can see why you would need so much longer to investigte those streets with their shops and cafes. Lots of great photos. Thanks for sharing.

    Like

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