Travelogue: Japan – Kiyomizudera, Autumn Illumination, Kifune Shrine & Dinner with Maiko

Rise and shine! Today’s morning visit to the Kiyomizu-dera temple which is supposedly the most famous and crowded temple in Kyoto. And cos I was relatively early, I had shots of the empty sannenzaka streets! The funny thing was when you were trudging up the slope and you see a group of people with their cameras in the distance in your direction, I felt like a deer caught in the headlights. Like crap, did I photobomb their shot? So I decided to join them 🙂

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It’s so nice when it’s this empty! #morningpeace

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Heading over to the grounds of Kiyomizu-dera

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Autumn colours!

Well, the temple wasn’t that crowded cos it was still relatively early. But there were quite a number of people. So I roamed around the ground, took in the view which was really pretty and also paid a visit to the Jishu Jinja shrine! I think I paid so many visits to all the shrines on this trip I’m gonna be so blessed for the rest of the year (and next hopefully) Ha.

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Entrance to Jishu Jinja

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Apparently, it is said that there are no wishes you can not make true if you pray here. So well.. I shall see

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And the love-fortune telling stones which you are supposed to walk from one end to the other with your eyes shut. Well, it’s not exactly possible with so many people obstructing traffic. I would be glad if I never knock into anyone

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Writing my wishes and hanging them for luck!

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And as you know, the main shrine is still under construction. It would be really nice with the autumn view though

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Had a rest stop at Inoda coffee which was recommended by the guesthouse. The coffeeplace is famous for exhibiting old school atmosphere which well, I don’t know about that. All I can say is they have a very pretty view out there. And the coffee.. hmm it’s pretty on the stronger side which is slightly different than your usual latte 

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Cake Set ¥980

Tried the autumn special – Chestnut with Matcha. I concluded that of all the chestnut desserts I’ve tried, they all tasted pretty normal to me. lol

Ended up going quite a bit of shopping at Higashiyama district before rushing off for lunch at Gion Tadayasu which you can read up here. Yeah I was literally allocating how much time I had for shopping

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Passed by the famous Starbucks at Ninenzaka which was set in an ancient tea house. Super crowded. I just took a peep and continued strolling

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And caught 2 fake maiko that were having a photoshoot

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Kenninji Temple

Had desserts at the famous Kissho Karyo which I probably went at the wrong time. It was 2 hours before closing but the wait time was one hour. I decided to bite the bullet and wait and since I had time to kill, I went shopping at Yojiya. The good thing about the slip was you can check your waiting time online. The bad thing was they didn’t call me. So an hour wait was shortened to half an hour and by the time I rushed back to the cafe, everything was sold out except the warabi mochi. I had second thoughts if I should just come back another day, but I decided to just… have the warabi mochi :/

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Super inaccurate waiting time given

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Warabi Mochi ¥810 and Iced Matcha Latte ¥510

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Honestly, the warabi mochi was really good. Soft and chewy and I love the fine powder of the peanut. Even the iced matcha latte was rich and not too sweet. It was quite a bummer that I didn’t get to try their parfait 😦 So if you are heading to Kissho Karyo, remember to go earlier. At least, you have more selections to choose from

Kissho Karyo

306 Ishibashicho, Higashiyama Ward, Kyoto, Kyoto Prefecture 605-0066, Japan

Went for my first Autumn illumination back at Eikando temple which was a different facade altogether. It was ohmygoodness packed with people. I was so shocked when I entered I thought I was at the wrong place. The queues were snaking in lines of 4 from one end to the other end of the carpark that it couldn’t even fit into my camera frame! Lol I had to say this was a whole new experience. But everyone just waited patiently to enter which was well, pretty orderly. There was no pushing whatsoever. I must have queued for one hour or so. No idea, I lost track of time

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Queue at the other side

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Finally in!! This is a separate entrance fee from what you paid during the day. Autumn illumination is at ¥1,000 for adults

And when you thought you finally got past the crowd to enter the temple grounds, there was another line to queue for the view point. HA. Well, so I queued as well. But I thought the view from the view point wasn’t that great as compared to the reflection from the lake, which was so much prettier!

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View from the view point

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And the lake view

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So much nicer right?

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You definitely spend more time queuing than taking photos. After the whole experience I was so drained and hungry I had cup noodles for supper. But if you ask if I would go for another illumination again, well, honestly, I would. #butitisreallycrazy

It’s an early morning the next day which I visited the northern area of Kyoto and in specific the Kifune shrine. Unfortunately the trail to Kibune was shut for the time being due to the last earthquake which was really quite bad. The train takes you to Kibune-Guchi station which hmm really felt like a station out of nowhere. Was trying to locate the bus stop for bus number 33 cos by right according to maps it’s supposed to go eastwards but everyone was waiting in the direction that goes westward. So I was thinking for the longest time if I should just stand alone on the other side. So in the end I decided to follow the couple that decided to walk 30 mins to the shrine cos I overheard them saying the bus will only arrive 35 mins later. ha

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The correct bus stop on the other side which goes Eastwards

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But everyone was just standing here!

And fate would have it, when I was 3/4 way up.. the bus drove past us. So we were all momentarily confused by the bus timing. HA. It was hilarious 

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Okay anyway, yay destination reached! It was difficult to picture this flight of empty steps especially later part of the day cos there’s just so many tourists!

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Kifune Shrine

And the most important thing you have to do here is the omikuji. This fortune telling paper can be found in many shrines and temples but what makes this place so special is they reveal your fortune though water. Yup, that’s right. So you place this piece of paper in water and ta-da! Words appear! And fear not if you don’t understand because they have a QR translator in different languages. I was deciding between being amused or impressed. Lol

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Step 1: Buying the paper ¥200

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Step 2: Putting it in water

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Step 3: Translate

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Step 4: Tying the paper (well it depends)

And then I decided to leave it at the shrine for greater blessings

Went to visit Yui No Yashiro which was nearby as well, which is the God of Matchmaking. There was a small bazaar area being set up but since I was too early, they were well, still in the process of setting up

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Many of the restaurants are situated along the river so that that you can dine at the river during Summer, enjoying somen noodles and grilled salted fish. Since it’s Autumn, nearing Winter, there’s no tents set up for obvious reasons

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Walking to the shrine

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Well, I guess many people would want to be blessed here

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Headed over to Enko-ji temple next, a Zen Buddhist temple that is well known for its fall foliage which was also very crowded

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Enkoji Temple ¥500

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There’s a mini bamboo forest here so if you never make it to Arashiyama, this is another alternative. Lol

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And walk all the way up to the top!

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Okay so this view is the 重点. And photography at this point is so intense, to the point if there were people sitting at the front, the photographers will ask them to shoo! Lol I was entertained

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Just to show you how intense it was

So I went back to nap after this before heading off to Patisserie S which was located slightly off the other end of Shijio Dori street for a tea break. Was in for a surprise when I reached cos I didn’t expect the line to be that long. So you ordered your cakes at the counters before joining the queue to dine in. Reason being the cakes flew off the shelves as soon as they landed. I’m not kidding. In a blink of an eye, most of the cakes were sold out cos there were always group of people coming in for take-outs

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Masala ¥550 (left) Melon ¥580 (right)

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Since I have waited for so long, I decided to go with 2 cakes. Preferred the Melon to the Masala cos I thought the Masala was a little too creamy for my liking. I’m not sure if my expectations were heightened by the crowd but I thought the cakes were decent but not particularly spectacular. But since this place was rated one of the highest by locals, if you are interested, here’s the place

Patisserie S

Japan, 〒600-8425 Kyoto Prefecture, Kyoto, Shimogyo Ward, 高辻通室町西入繁昌町300-1 カノン室町四条1F

Walked back to Shijio Dori street cos I had to digest the cakes before dinner. Booked a dinner with Enchanted Time with Maiko in which you get to be entertained by a maiko while you have your dinner. And it was a far walk. I was so tired by the time I reached the place I just sat on the stairs and stoned. lol

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Didn’t really get to explore the ochaya as we get ushered to the second floor once we entered. So dinner was a variety of items which you get to try all the different Japanese cuisine. Food wasn’t great honestly. It was okay. Thought the nicest thing was the udon (which I don’t usually eat). But I thought the program was more interesting. You get to watch the maiko dance, talked to her (with the help of a translator), asked her questions and even participated in games with her. It was quite fun

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A small little handbook with all the FAQs. I guessed people must have asked the same questions again and again. lol

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Obanzai

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Oden

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Sashimi

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Our maiko for the night was Fukuna さん and according to the hosts, she’s already a senior maiko after being in the industry for 3 years. Another 2 years to go (hopefully) and she can get to become a geisha

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And since she is a maiko, she can only dance while being a geisha, you can do much more (like playing instruments etc)

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A picture with the maiko! She’s really friendly. I asked what is the most challenging in her life as a maiko and she told me – Maintaining her hair. ha. But I can emphasise cos you only get to go to salon once a week! And also because they have to maintain their image, there are only very limited places they can go to on their free time, so in short, they have not much freedom. Most of the times they just stayed in their ochaya or out at work. But she told me she is happy doing what she is doing. Aww, that’s nice to hear. In life, it is important to do things that make you happy, isn’t it?

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I cannot imagine maintaining this hair on a weekly basis without washing. Gosh

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Steak

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Chawanmushi

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Tempura

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Udon

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Desserts

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The sticker that you get when you win at the games. No I didn’t win but my neighbour won twice and he gave one of them to me. I know, so nice right. He told me he shared his luck with me. hee

Food aside, I thought the experience was interesting. Generally speaking, you probably have little chances to interact with a real life maiko. If you have never done this before, it’s probably an activity you can consider while you are in Kyoto

Previous travelogues:

Travelogue: Japan – Takayama & Shirakawago

Travelogue: Japan – Nara, Fushimi Inari, Eikando Temple, Tea Ceremony En