Japan Trip 2010: Kyoto

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Kyoto is Japan’s original imperial capital with a very rich history.

The city is a perfect blend of old and new…

Can you spot the turtle? :)

I’ve been to Kyoto before so as far as touristy spots I just went to the Fushimi Inari Shrine (remember the scene in the movie “Memoirs of a Geisha?” where Chiyo is running through all these gates? This is the place.)

Two of the gate entrances side by side:

There were many fox statues at this shrine…

“The kitsune (aka fox) statues are at times taken for a form of Inari, and they typically come in pairs, representing a male and a female. These fox statues hold a symbolic item in their mouths or beneath a front paw — most often a jewel and a key, but a sheaf of rice, a scroll, or a fox cub are all common. Almost all Inari shrines, no matter how small, will feature at least a pair of these statues, usually flanking or on the altar or in front of the main sanctuary”

Lots of stray cats around the shrine.. this one only had one eye :(

Wishes and prayers…

You can buy these mini tori gate replicas and write your wishes onto them too:

These plaques were my FAVORITE though… look at all of the creativity! They are blank with only eyebrows. The rest of the fox face you can draw in yourself.

More touristy pics of souvenirs:

(Hehe! “I <3 Kyoto” fans on the left)

Shurikens or “ninja stars”

Final Fantasy VII figures… ok so random but I <3 FF!

So the highlight of this trip was actually hiring a REAL geisha and being introduced to the geisha history and culture via a geisha expert.

The cost of this was very high. We paid roughly $60 per person for a couple hours time with her and there were 12 of us. You do the math! Being a geisha is very expensive… the clothes, going to the hairdresser, learning new skills and taking classes, etc.

It is a dying art… most men and businessmen nowadays would rather take out a girl who wears sexy clothes and actually *puts out* (ahem) rather than hire an expensive geisha who just plays an instrument or does a traditional dance and serves you drinks. We did see a few businessmen with their clients taking a geisha out for the evening. Supposedly this is to show your clients you are a supporter of the arts. And its a misconception that geishas are prostitutes… real geishas DON’T PUT OUT.

Being a geisha means you must make sure your clients aren’t bored, and that they are comfortable and at ease. You also serve them drinks. Its kind of like being a performer of the arts, a waitress, and a stewardess all in one.

Sadly I’ve already forgotten her name but the geisha we hired was only 17 years old! She chose to be a geisha of her own free will and she was very sweet and nice :) So innocent, in fact, that she doesn’t have a cell phone and has never kissed a boy.

She was so cute… she did an interview for Brazilian TV that day with some Brazilians that lived in Tokyo. They told her they were going home via bullet train (shinkansen) and she replied…

…”to BRAZIL?”

AHAHAHHA SO CUTE!!!

A closer look at her kimono:

Playing the shamisen for us:

Outside on this bridge.. supposedly this is where Chiyo meets the Chairman in the film/novel:

After the geisha said her goodbyes we went to eat a late dinner…

Saw this girl on the way there… loved her style!

The front of the restaurant we went to: (doesn’t it remind you of that one sunscreen logo? Coppertone?)

A wall of stickers.. these stickers are actually calling cards of geisha. Pretty much the equivalent of a business card.

I forgot what this was but it was similar to okonomiyaki…sweet and savory

More food pics!

Got dessert at this AMAZING ninja-themed restaurant called Ninja Kyoto. They also have an attached sweets shop called Sweets of Ninja.

We got a crepe! A BLACK crepe 😀 Strawberry with chocolate and whipped cream. For an additional fee we included a ninja star cookie too!

Some random toys at a nearby game stop…

A cafe with delicious looking matcha drinks and food on display… mmm. Japanese restaurants and cafes are so clever… the whole concept of putting food outside for you to check out before you go in is GENIUS.

Passed by a Bape store on the way.. it was closed though :(

On a different night we had revolving sushi for dinner!!

Battered and fried shrimp:

California roll.. in Japan!! wow.

Fatty tuna (melts in your mouth!)

Honestly forgot what these next two were but they do look good.. :)

Salmon nigiri:

More shrimp:

Thanks for reading :)

Next city: Yokohama

♥ E&I