Transitions commence new adventures. Make 'em last…

The Paris of Japan – Part 1

Yasui Konbiragu Shrine - Kyoto, Japan

Not a second was lost upon setting foot in Kyoto. Immediately upon reaching the hostel, I dropped off my bags, grabbed a map, and jumped out the door with mighty eagerness and zeal for adventure. Within sixty seconds I found myself in the middle of Gion, the mysterious geisha district, where I  saw my first real-life geisha kindly walking down the road with a client fortunately oblivious to my camera intruding their sphere of elation. It was at this moment that I realized I was entering into another totally different world.

Geisha with client in Gion

Streets of Gion - Kyoto, Japan

The district of Gion had kept up its original, antiquated ambiance as the streets were full of lavish, wood-constructed buildings, many built over a century ago that immediately fostered deep sentiments of actually walking through an 1880’s Japanese town. Bravo! I had several “wow” moments wandering through Gion, in addition to an “accident” that was quite embarassing at the time, but something I can somehow sadly laugh about now.

Beautiful Japanese girls in traditional kimonos was a normal site to see in Kyoto

As I roamed through Gion I came across many beautiful, eye-catching Japanese women dressed in traditional kimonos, a pleasant sight and custom that I found to be quite normal in Kyoto;  one woman in particular I will never forget. After quickly snapping a few photos, I continued walking through the streets of Gion until I was literally stopped in my tracks by an apparent Maiko (an apprentice Geisha without make-up) in a green and white kimono walking towards me. She was absolutely stunning. Her angelic features were ethereal and it was as if she gracefully floated through the crowd like an apparition. Her hazel & silver eyes pierced into mine for several moments and I instantly realized she was one of the most beautiful women I had ever seen. I then stood in awe as she passed by while giving me a long, delightful smile. Now this was not any ordinary smile that is then quickly forgotten about moments later, no! This was a smile coming from a woman with eyes like a tiger and a face of an angel that could easily lure a man like a Siren into serenity, or peril. I was immediately lured.

Standing there dazed as if I had just been clubbed in the head, I slowly and nonchalantly turned around  in hopes to be gifted with another glimpse of her.  She was still looking right at me. We caught eyes again and my heart sank to my stomach. I stopped breathing and for a brief moment I felt weightless. My legs on the other hand must have turned into jelly because as soon as took my first step towards her, I tripped over my own feet and collapsed to the ground. BAAM! It was a hard fall and tumble. I was supremely embarrassed, but I got up briskly as if nothing had happened and looked around to see if she was still near; she was not. I soon discovered she had vanished into the crowd like a phantom never to be seen with my eyes ever again. At this particular moment I honestly felt like I was left stranded, a strange feeling I don’t ever recall experiencing in such a manner. Notwithstanding my throbbing knee after having fallen, it was indeed a little painful not catching another glimpse of her magical smile, almost like instantly falling in-and-out of love with someone and never being given the chance to reconcile, forever.

After brushing the dirt off my pants and standing there for a few moments gazing into the direction where she had graciously ventured, I turned back around, took a deep breath, and headed up the hill to Hokanji Temple.

Hokanji Temple - Kyoto, Japan

Hokanji Temple and cart-man taxi

Hokanji Temple and Gion wood buildings

Not before long I came upon the Yasui Konbiragu Shrine and was gifted with a marvelous sight.

Yasui Konbiragu Shrine - Kyoto, Japan

Water washing wells at every temple and shrine

View of Yasui Konbiragu Shrine and Kyoto city

With the weather quite serendipitous, I then ventured just up the road to the Kiyomizu-dera temple where I cherished the opportunity of being given such an awesome view. I sat here for about 20 minutes enjoying the panorama and resting my mind.

View from Kiyomizu-dera temple, Kyoto-Japan

It was hard to leave this place, but since it was getting late and I was extremely hungry,  I headed back to the hostel in order to obtain a recommendation for a great, local place to eat. Upon my arrival I decided to hang out in the “social area” for a bit and drink an ice-cold brew before heading back out. My plans would soon change as I was  joined by several european and japanese travelers who were also staying at the hostel and whom I would eventually befriend.

IchiEnSou Hostel social area - Kyoto, Japan

My new Japanese friends

After chatting it up for awhile, Yashi & his wife, the IchiEnSou Hostel owners, took us all out to the Kyoto riverwalk.

Kyoto Riverwalk at night

Yashi, our hostel owner taking us out to the Kyoto riverwalk

Quick snapshot of a geisha near the Kyoto riverwalk

Then after grabbing some grub and beer along the way, we sat ourselves down at an apparent popular hangout spot along the river and we’d  soon be accompanied with entertainment by street performers that surely made the night much more eventful.

Fire street performer, Kyoto-Japan

It was very enjoyable talking with new travel friends from around the world and learning about their expeiences, where they had been and what they’ve been doing. It would soon be ascertained that our yearnings for travel and experience were very analogous, especially those from a cool girl by the name of Line, whom I’d be given the arbitary opporunity to spend some quality time with the following day.

And while we were all walking back to the hostel along the riverwalk, I was again reminded by how great it is to be intimately connected to someone as I was overwhelmed with nostalgic yearnings, and desires to be willingly gifted with this once again.

Bike date

Upon reaching the hostel and chatting a bit more with all my new friends in the “social area,” I happily concluded my first seven hours in Kyoto and woke up bright and early the following morning ready for adventure. I had no idea what I would soon encounter, but I was indeed ready for anything and willing to grunt the thick of forests to discover hidden treasures. Stay tuned for Part 2.

Who knows what lurks ahead?

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This entry was posted on September 23, 2011 by in Japan and tagged , , , , , , , , , .

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“Experience, travel – these are as education in themselves.”

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