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kyoto in photos
streets and gardens

Kyoto

Higashiyama from across the river

Photography is a communion between the eye and the light of the external world.  In Kyoto, light flooded the gardens and streets, creating spectacles without words.

Geisha in Kyoto

Geisha hairstyle Geisha in rickshaw

Tourist geisha. These women are not actual geisha but are tourists who spend about 5000 yen ($60 USD) to be dressed like geisha.  There are less than 3,000 active geisha in Japan so sighting a geisha in Gion is quite rare.

Memorial in Kyoto

Community shrine in Higashiyama district.

Streets of Gion Streets of Gion
Streets of Gion Streets of Gion
Streets of Gion.  This geisha district was spared from the fires that ravaged other parts of Kyoto and is filled with old teahouses, inns, and shops filled against narrow cobblestone streets.

Ryozen Kannon Yasaka
            Shrine
Yasaka Shrine Kiyomizu Temple

Yasaka Shrine, Ryozen Kannon, and Kiyomizu Temple, all situated in the Gion area.  The Kiyomizu Temple offers a beautiful view over Kyoto. 

Ryoanji Zen Rock Garden

Ryoanji Zen Rock Garden.  The famous rock garden dates from the late 1400s.  It demands silent contemplation, a near impossible feat with the hordes of high school students who arrive in buses to view this classic Zen garden.

Ryoanji moss garden

Ryoanji lower garden.  In contrast to the Zen rock garden, the lower Ryoanji garden is lush, letting light flicker through the leaves and trees.

Nijo Temple

The beautiful Nijo Castle, a shogun's castle built in the 16th century.

Carp at Myoshinji Gardens Myoshinji Temple
Myoshinji Temple Myoshinji Temple
Myoshinji Temple Myoshinji Temple
Myoshinji Temple.  This often ignored temple has numerous subtemples with small tea arbors and gardens.

Kinkakuji

Kinkaku-ji, the Golden Pavilion.  Even on a cloudy day, the gold leaf layered pavilion gleams.

Tenryuji Temple 

 Tenryu-ji Temple.  In the beautiful Arashiyama area, the Tenryu-ji Temple offers a respite from the bustle of Kyoto.

Koi

Tea garden

Flowers
Flowers Koi
In Gion, we found a small tea shop attached to a picturesque garden. The koi were simply the most beautiful fish we have ever seen.  They floated through the crystal water, creating waves of orange, red, yellow, white, and porcelain blue.  We walked into the tea shop after exclaiming over their beauty and saw, hidden in the closet, a jumble of trophies and ribbons for those colorful fish.  The light filtered through the garden so we stayed and drank tea and ate sweet things in that private place in Kyoto.

06/16/2010 02:17
Great photos as always :)I love the close up of the geisha girl. The skin looks like porcelain!
Gourmantic's recent blog post: Vivid Sydney: Macquarie Visions
06/16/2010 13:47
Thank you!
This brings back wonderful memories of the times I spent in Kyoto. It is one of my favorite cities in the world. New Year 1998 a dream came true for me: I witnessed the ringing of the big bell at the Chion-in and later the wild celebration at the Yasaka Shrine. Great food, too.
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06/17/2010 02:46
Thanks Gourmantic and Karin. Karin, what a wonderful memory of Kyoto! The city has so much understated glamour. We love it, too.
06/17/2010 13:17
Your photos are, once again, stunning - the colors are so vivid that I love re-traveling even to places I've been through your photo essays.
06/17/2010 22:02
These are gorgeous photos and it makes me want to visit Japan even more!
06/18/2010 05:27
Thanks Shannon! The colors in Kyoto mesmerized us.

Thanks Joya! Definitely give Japan a chance. It took a little while for us to learn to love it but we've fallen pretty hard.
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06/19/2010 08:00
Such beautiful pictures! I love the geisha one :D I did it too before and the wig and kimono were so heavy. I couldn't walk straight. I admire real geishas for being able to wear this almost every day to entertain people. More about Japan please :D I'm really enjoying reading your posts about it :D
06/26/2010 05:25
Lilia - Thank you! That's so awesome that you dressed up as a geisha. I imagine that the dress is heavy - it looked heavy from where we were standing especially on a warm day!
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06/28/2010 02:19
thanks for sharing these! I love the Geisha ones! I am about to embark on my own 5 month travel journey and I love all the tips here, thanks so much for them!
10/22/2010 01:10
Gary Taylor
Thank-You!! I feel like I was looking through a National Geographic magazine. These photo's remind me why I fell in love with Japan and the Japanese people.
10/22/2010 12:23
Thanks all for the compliments!

Rebecca - let us know how the trip goes.
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01/18/2011 21:13
Awesome photos! Filled with envy. Japan is a must-visit for me. =)
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01/18/2011 21:13
Dani, thank you! Japan is an amazing place.
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01/19/2011 20:35
Isn't Ryoanji just amazing? It was a cloudy day when I was there, which was actually nice because it wasn't bright and sunny, and it was very calm and relaxing. Great atmosphere. And my first experience with a traditional Japanese toilet!
01/19/2011 20:35
Ryoanji is beautiful. In particular, we loved the moss garden which I imagine would be soothing and perfect on a cloudy day. I only wish it had been larger (though that was my wish for every Japanese garden because I wanted to keep strolling through them more and more).
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02/14/2011 03:40
The tourist geisha looks quite convincing. We went to Kyoto in 2002, we tried to spot geisha, I forget it was in Gion or Pontocho, but we didn't have any luck.
02/14/2011 10:34
There were tons of the tourist geisha, actually! It cost about 60 Yen to do it and they dressed you up in the whole ensemble. We think that we saw a real geisha, who was off-duty and not in her full costume, when we were in Chikuma City, too.
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08/12/2011 17:01
Wow, beautiful photography! I love Japan. Such wonderful memories of traveling to Kyoto & Tokyo. I was very lucky to see 6 or 7 real geisha in Gion and Pontocho. But I felt like a paparazzi. Although I saw several fake geishas while in Japan, I was determined to see the real ones. I must confess, I felt like a stalker. And unfortunately, was not able to capture a really good photo. The aperture vs. shutter speed was a problem, because I was avoiding using my flash out of respect. Darn! Those ladies are fast walkers in their high wooden shoes! But I'm SO fascinated by them : )

Safe travels! Keep blogging!

cheers,
~Kelly
08/13/2011 08:28
Thanks so much Kelly! How lucky that you saw real geisha --- we searched all over and didn't find them except maybe off-duty --- but we loved seeing the tourist ones, too.
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08/13/2011 08:32
Thanks so much Kelly! How lucky that you saw real geisha --- we searched all over and didn't find them except maybe off-duty --- but we loved seeing the tourist ones, too.
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08/13/2011 08:33
Kelly, We loved seeing the geisha in Japan, too (even though we only saw tourist geisha). Their outfits are amazing, aren't they? So envious that you got to see real geisha --- I would have had a hard time taking pictures of them, too.
Akila's recent blog post: weekly photo: penguins at boulders
08/24/2011 16:10
great pictures, makes me want to go back
08/27/2011 09:31
Thanks Michael! We loved Kyoto - it's such a lovely city.
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01/12/2012 17:29
Awesome Photos. I was lucky enough to catch a Geisha several years ago when I was in Gion. But as I was trying to be quick and sneaky about photo taking (and it was late) the photo ended up coming out blurry. I just tried to convince folks back home that Geishas are hard to spot because they are naturally blurry ;)
01/20/2012 11:47
Ha! It's so hard to catch the geishas in pose! We got a lot of blurry pics of geishas, too.
01/16/2012 12:19
I must say that those are some amazing photos that you have taken here. I was wondering if there are any places in Japan that offer a all inclusive package option for traveling? I am definately putting Japan on the bucket list of places to visit in my lifetime. Such amazing looking views.
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01/20/2012 11:39
Matt, I don't know of any all-inclusive options in Japan because that concept hasn't really taken hold there. But, I know that several companies offer amazing tours which combine all the attractions, transportation, and food into one package. This company here looks pretty good (but I haven't used them personally): http://www.insidejapantours.com/
01/19/2012 21:50
I never seen a city so closely built along with nature. The place is amazingly stunning with all these photos. I can't wait to visit Kyoto!
01/20/2012 08:56
Penny, thanks! Kyoto was our favorite city in Japan - it's impossible not to be captivated by its beauty.
01/20/2012 10:26
Your photos took me on a great little tour!

Too bad about the rock garden noise though. I'd love to sit there in complete silence for a while.
Matthew Karsten's recent blog post: Sold-Out NYC Broadway Tickets for Only $27? Yup!
02/02/2012 09:57
Gorgeous photos. They brought back very fond memories of our own trip to Kyoto last spring.
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02/06/2012 05:47
Thank you!
02/09/2012 07:05
Kyoto Gion
It is indeed quite rare to see geiko on the streets of Gion nowadays, but if you aren't on a really tight budget you can see them at traditional teahouses, ochaya. Ichiriki Ochaya is the best, but it is also insanely expensive and you actually need an invitation to get in :(
02/20/2012 19:15
Love your photo of the rock garden...I know it's a pretty difficult place to photograph, so good work!
03/12/2012 08:34
Thank you John!
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04/17/2012 12:18
wow... i know it's been said but the geisha portrait is stunning. can't wait to see kyoto in person someday.
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04/27/2012 14:09
Thank you Mina! It's an amazing city --- I'd love to see your photos from there because it's so photogenic.
05/10/2012 02:29
Great photos. I especially like the Ryoanji lower garden one. The composition of the photo makes me feel as though I'm actually standing there looking into the garden myself. Awesome.
05/23/2012 10:21
Thanks so much Dave!
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05/15/2012 14:59
Absolutely stunning! I would love to head to Japan! Where would you recommend staying in a dime? (if possible in Japan?)
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05/23/2012 07:54
Thanks! Lots of great places to stay in Japan but for a good budget option, we really liked the Hana Hostels in Kyoto and Hiroshima.
Akila's recent blog post: why take guided tours
06/24/2012 09:18
I love the portrait shot! Her face looks flawless!
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07/05/2012 08:42
Thanks Audrey!
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07/05/2012 12:26
What an interesting looking place. The more of this wonderful world I see the MORE I want to see. Thanks for sharing these!
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07/10/2012 16:19
Your photos are absolutely stunning. And I was fortunate enough to spot 3 geisha's while I was in Kyoto. How did I know? My Japanese friend pointed them out saying how exciting it was that I got to see one. They were TOO far away for photos though. Your close ups are BEAUTIFUL! I wish I had known I could of been dressed up! I bought my own kimono and all!
07/17/2012 16:01
Chrystal, thank you! That's wonderful that you got to see them from far away. We didn't know about the dressing up either except that our guide book mentioned that you can dress like a geisha. So, that's how we figured it out!
08/10/2012 01:06
avinash
these photos are really amazing. i like this place
08/10/2012 01:45
really this is the beautiful city here.
10/10/2012 03:48
Jim
I love Kyoto and it's old charm so much! My work takes me to Osaka regularly where I stay at Fraser Residence Nankai Osaka serviced residences, but every time I'm there, I will always take a day trip or spend a night in the Geisha district just to to soak up the atmosphere. Thanks so much for sharing the amazing photos!
10/24/2012 11:36
Thanks Jim! We loved Kyoto, too, and really couldn't get enough of it. We definitely want to go back.
10/28/2012 22:42
Amazing Kyoto! One of the best vacation I had was in Japan! Really love to comeback
10/30/2012 04:02
Amazing images which shows the colorful attractions in Japan. Really a great place to have a memorable trip and spend vacation there.
12/16/2012 23:44
Cool! Thanks for sharing your photos to let us know the how beautiful Kyoto Japan is.
01/04/2013 02:25
Stunning Kyoto. I really hope to make it there one day. Thanks for sharing!
01/16/2013 00:31
Some really great photos, you really seem to have captured something of the spirit of the city.

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02/04/2013 15:29
I think it's well worth the $60 to look like those Geishas -- stunning!
02/23/2013 00:45
beautiful pictures.. that woman scare the hell out of me...
02/25/2013 05:09
Amazing photos! this made me to explore and know more about kyoto and Japan. ;-)
03/18/2013 20:38
I really enjoyed Kyoto when I was there a couple of years ago. Pretty laid back city and easy to get around, with great food too!
04/21/2013 14:58
Great set of lovely photos. My favorites are the geisha shots and the Ryoanji lower garden.
04/25/2013 12:33
Thanks Bino!
04/24/2013 15:38
Amazing photos of Kyoto! Thank you for sharing.
04/25/2013 12:33
Thanks Ray!
05/12/2013 03:51
Such beautiful photos. You've really done the city justice. Makes me miss Japan though!!
05/15/2013 13:42
Thanks Megan! I miss it too.
05/19/2013 11:02
Very wonderful and beautiful photos.
06/19/2013 21:06
Wonderful photos and the koi are stunning! You really did a amazing job capturing the essence of the city!
06/20/2013 17:18
Thanks Barbara!
08/07/2013 09:09
These photos are just magical. The colors are amazing, especially on the geisha, but the flowers and koi also blew me away. I haven't been to Japan yet, and it may be a while before I can make it up that way, but these photos are the next best thing. I only wish you'd had some photos of the sweet things you were eating. I have a deep and abiding love of Japanese food.

I've always been envious of people with the photographic eye. I can't seem to take a decent shot for the life of me. But I sure do enjoy looking at them. Thanks so much for sharing these.
08/12/2013 19:21
Thanks Daniel!
08/08/2013 06:05
I'm so jealous!
08/14/2013 04:23
Really astonishing photos.I had trip to Kyoto 2 years ago.Due to time shorting i was not able to visit all the gardens specially tea garden.But, I don't regret it now because you have all the perfect shot of Kyoto.That i can recall my visit.
08/22/2013 06:18
I'd spend $60 to be dressed as a geisha. Wow. They look stunning! Such a beautiful place. Japan is next on my list!
08/25/2013 15:25
It should be! Japan is incredible. We highly recommend it to everyone!
10/17/2013 09:14
What beautiful photographs. Kyoto is def on my travel list! Would love to see it.
10/20/2013 17:28
It is a definite must see. It's one of our favorite cities in the world!
10/31/2013 02:07
What wonderful pictures. I heard Japan is expensive. But it really looks worth it!
10/31/2013 05:55
What a great photo. I've heard Japan is expensive. However, it looks worth it really!!!Thank you for sharing and a great post although I’m new in your famous blog.I won a lot of knowledge here, I hope you will make in the future.Thank you.
01/03/2014 20:38
Through all the pictures i can sense two things, calm and spirituality that is hard to find in North America. The closest I have found so far is in the Caribbean, particularly in Cuba.
04/01/2014 23:12
Really this is the wonderful town. Awesome pictures which reveals the vibrant destinations in Asia. Really a good spot to have a unforgettable journey and spend vacation there.
06/10/2014 10:26
Stunning photos- I absolutely love the one of the tourist geisha
07/14/2014 15:18
Thanks!
09/11/2014 17:35
Thank you for reminding me how beautiful Kyoto is! My husband and I were there a few years ago, right at the start of Cherry Blossom season. We needed to go 2 weeks later to see them in full bloom but it was still so beautiful.
10/20/2014 09:45
Surprised to know that sightings of a geisha in Gion is quite rare. I'd really love to see an authentic one and I'm planning to go Japan, hopefully this March/April - any recommendations? =)

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