Kiyomizu-dera temple and the shopping streets at Higashiyama

8 June 2016

After visiting the Suntory Yamazaki Distillery in the morning, we had the afternoon free until about 6 PM where we would need to travel by train back to Kansai airport for our flight home. We decided to go visit another of the “must-see” sights in Kyoto, the Kiyomizu-dera temple. Most tourist information guides would suggest taking a public bus from Kyoto Station and then walk the short distance from the bus stop. We decided to take a taxi since we were a group of four and it was not too expensive after sharing out the cost.

It was quite fast getting to the vicinity of the temple by taxi compared to a bus but the streets just outside the temple were not accessible by cars. The experienced taxi driver knew exactly where to alight us. We were dropped off at the junction of Gojo-zaka and Matsubara Dori. I got my first glimpse of the shopping street leading uphill to the Kiyomizu-dera Temple and what the Higashiyama District offered. It was chock-full of people on a bright sunny day. The hot summer days of Kyoto was finally here after the light rain on the last few days.

Shops, eateries and cafes line both sides of the steep and busy street. Although the stores were interesting, somehow shopping in a crowded and busy street on a hot day with perspiration running down my face is not fun.  I was glad that the temple was only a short distance away.

 

In the open area before the flights of steps leading up to the temple premises I saw a group of dogs. King Charles Spaniels! One of my favourite breeds. They were nicely dressed up, just like their owners.

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The owners were lining them to take a group photo.

 

Looking at the crowds, we can tell that this temple is one of the most visited temples in Kyoto. Another one of the UNESCO World Heritage sites in Kyoto.

Kiyomizu-dera temple

Main gate at the entrance to the temple and the 3 tier pagoda.

We wandered around the temple premises and found a long queue waiting to buy tickets to get into the main temple complex. Since we had plans to come again in autumn this year, we decided to give this a miss, get out of the heat and find somewhere nice and cool for afternoon tea.

We spent about an hour, sipping coffee and eating sweet desserts in the upper floor of a cafe overlooking the crowds below us along the Matsubara Dori. This was what I like about free and easy travel. No rush, no need to see everything at each place we visited. 

By about 4 PM, the day got cooler and the crowd thinned slightly as we made our way down Matsubara Dori and headed down to the Sannen-zaka shopping street.

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The mood to look at the stores and do some shopping returned and we bought some local foodstuff to bring home from one of the stores. Many visitors were dressed in kimonos or yukatas and we saw a few shops offering such rentals and makeover for a fee.

From Sannen-zaka, we headed into the Ninnen-zaka where there were more interesting stores, restaurants and cafes to browse.

Hello Kitty fans would probably love to spend some time in the Hello Kitty themed cafe along the Ninenzaka Street.

We ended our exploration of the Higashiyama District at the end of the Ninenzaka. There are more to see and explore in this area, such as the Yasaka no To Pagoda or the large statue of the Goddess of Mercy in the Ryozen Kannon. But we would leave that for our autumn visit. What we did was a sneak preview of what the Higashiyama District has to offer. This place would be best visited in autumn with the cooler temperature and the beautiful fall foliage at these temple sites.

We caught a taxi to bring us back to the Ibis Kyoto Station Hotel to pick up our luggage. Travel from Kyoto to Kansai International Airport was easy via the HARUKA limited express. This is a direct train from Kyoto Station to the airport via Osaka and was covered by our Kansai Hiroshima Area Pass.

View of the sun setting over the city of Osaka from the train.

We managed to catch a sneak preview of Osaka as well from the train.

 

Bye Japan. We will be back!

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