The mood : Kyoto, Japan

I‘ve talked about the few days we spent in Kyoto before, but since I have difficulties really forming an opinion about my experience there, I thought compiling a the mood post might help.

To put our stay in context, I can say that it was right at the end of our first trip in Japan, so we had already seen a lot of fabulous things, and most of them in a blissful tranquility, with barely any tourists. To a point that, when we arrived in Kyoto, and proceeded to see one of the temples that had been recommended to us, we were stunned to see how crowded it was, the myriad of souvenir shops and the hordes of tourists “disguised” in traditional attire. We were expecting a beating heart of Japanese culture and it was like we had stepped in another country!

This meant finding off-the-beaten track spots was a bit difficult, I’m convinced that judging by the size of the city, there must be plenty of them though. Surely there were nice moments (I thought so looking at the pictures!), but I still feels this calls for a re-do. I’m somehow sad and puzzled that I could not fall in love with a city the Japanese are so proud of.

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Itineraries in Japan here and there.
More pictures of Kyoto.

J‘ai déjà un peu parlé des quelques jours que nous avons passé à Kyoto, mais comme j’ai un peu de difficultés à me faire un avis sur cette partie du séjour, j’ai pensé que compiler quelques photos pour une série the mood m’aiderait peut-être un peu.

Pour remettre un peu ce temps passé là-bas dans son contexte, il faut que je précise que c’était à la toute fin de notre premier voyage. Nous avions déjà vu beaucoup, beaucoup de choses formidables, et la plupart dans une tranquillité royale, avec très peu de touristes en vue. Ce qui explique notre stupeur à notre arrivée, alors qu’on entreprit de visiter un des temples qui nous avait été recommandé, et qu’on y trouva une foule compacte, des magasins de souvenirs par dizaines, et des hordes de touristes “déguisés” à la mode traditionnelle. Nous qui pensions mettre le pied dans le cœur culturel du pays, c’était plutôt comme si on avait soudainement mis le pied dans une autre dimension !

Il fallut trouver des spots un peu hors des sentiers battus, mais ça n’était pas si évident, mais si je pense qu’ils doivent être nombreux quand on voit la taille de la ville. Le tableau est loin d’être noir, et il eut tout de même de jolis moments (du moins, c’est ce que j’ai pensé en revoyant les photos!), mais j’ai quand même l’impression qu’il faudrait qu’on y tente à nouveau notre chance. Je reste un peu attristée et confuse de n’avoir pas réussi à tomber sous le charme d’une ville qui est pourtant si chère au cœur des Japonais.

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Mes itinéraires au Japon ici et ici.
Plus de photos de Kyoto.

6 Comments

  • These photographs are absolutely beautiful, and you’ve certainly transported me to a different time and place. It’s a shame about the overly tourist nature of the place, but at least you found some small moments of pleasure. I sometimes have that with a new place; I want to love it, I know other people love it; but I’m not quite there myself. I’m glad I’m not alone!

    • Reply February 10, 2016

      The Voyageur

      Thank you Rachel!
      I think you can really “miss” a place, despite what all the guides tell you, I try to do my best for that not to happen (knowing what you like is a good start), but you can still be taken by surprise.
      As for the amount of tourists, I think it didn’t help to go in May which is I think the moment of the year when schools visit the temples (the only upside was seeing all these irresistible, very well-mannered schoolchildren).

  • Reply February 14, 2016

    Pixel Nomads

    I, too, have felt that way about Kyoto. We headed to the surrounding mountains to escape the tourists. Kuramadera is beautiful and a quick hike over the mountain rewards you with a tiny magical onsen town free of all tourists. Kouzanji was also a lovely, mossy temple hidden in the hills, far from the tourists, where you can enjoy a first tea (the first tea trees brought to Japan from China are planted here).

    • Reply February 17, 2016

      The Voyageur

      Hi, I’m relieved to read that ! Thank you for the tips, I marked them on Google Maps, so we can do better next time.

      • Reply February 22, 2016

        Pixel Nomads

        You are very welcome! Nishi Honganji (a Buddhist temple northwest of Kyoto station, not Higashi Honganji which is more popular as it is on the street leading out of the Kyoto station) is a pretty complex of temples that do not get visited as much by tourists as most visit its twin Higashi. There is a street of religious goods called Syomen Dori starting at the middle temple gate that is also interesting to explore and the street that runs in front of the temple, Horikawa Dori, is lined with shops for various religious goods, specialty foods (pickles, for example) and other beautiful household items. You will often find monks darting across the street to pick up items for use at the temple.

        • Reply February 22, 2016

          The Voyageur

          Thank you so much ! Now I’m actually angry that I’ve missed all that…!

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