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Kyoto 2nd

June 11, 2008

If you ask people about Kyoto, both Japanese and foreigners, their immediate reaction normally is: “Yeah, a really wonderful city!”, having all of these super famous sightseeing places – temples and shrines – in mind. Well, these places are surely nice, without question. However, besides that, Kyoto often looks like any other city, with big streets, shops, office buildings, and the like. So, if you spend some longer time there, you either recognize that the city (sans the sights) is not that special, and the summer can get terribly hot & humid, while the winters get uncomfortable cold … therefore, people often say it’s “a good place to visit, but not a good place to live”. The other possibility is that you get to like the city for what it is. Managing to find many lovely places beside the main attractions, places that are not so overcrowded, but just as nice. Simply liking and enjoying the whole atmosphere there, the bicycle rides along the Kamogawa river (surrounded by blossoming cherry trees in the spring, making you feel as if it’s snowing when the air is full of white petals), the magnificent red maple trees in August … not to forget the wonderful food. To complete the picture, despite a population of about 1.5 Million, it feels like being in a small city which just happen to be of large size, if you know what I mean. The only annoying thing were the many foreigners – obviously, they didn’t let the rainy season discourage them from coming to Kyoto/Japan in summer, which is generally a rather bad idea. I actually dreamed of wearing a t-shirt, saying “アメリカ人じゃない!”. Maybe I should try to get it printed somewhere. 😉

So, to conclude: As you surely already got from my previous posts, I really do like Kyoto… as a whole city, with all its downsides, but also many great facets that make more than up for the rest.

Again, some words about today’s photos:
The first pictures show some pretty well known sightseeing places (Heian Jingu, Toji, Ginkakuji, …), though sometimes from not-so-typical perspectives, followed by the likewise famous paths through bamboo forests at Kyoto’s Arashiyama area. The last row displays an arrangement of a fantastic lunch that I had (actually, it was the last one of this trip, so I wanted it to be something special): Foodwise, Kyoto is well-known for its long tradition of making good tofu – and, even more of a delicacy, fresh yuba (tofu skin). So I went to this fancy restaurant that is specialized in yuba – every dish in the extraordinary 6-course-menu included it somewhere. It was absolutely delicious, and quite an experience. Is there any better way to end a great trip to the old capital?

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