For our first full day in Kyoto, we headed first for the Gion district, historically famous for its geishas. Now it’s largely dominated by tourist shops, none of which existed fifteen years ago when I last came. There’s even a Hyatt Hotel in the middle of the district — although it has the merit of fitting in with its surroundings.
Next, we headed for a temple and I decided to navigate us through Marayuma Park, with no expectations. It was filed with beautiful sakura (Japanese for cherry blossom) trees, including the largest we’d seen.
When I previously went to Gion, I briefly saw a geisha step out of a house before scurrying into another building. When she was spotted, there was a general rush of tourists towards her, trying to take a photo.
On this visit we didn’t see any geishas. However, more people (Japanese and tourists) were wearing kimonos and their more casual version, yukata. There were lots of people posing in the park and not just couples about to get married. The cherry blossom trees were a stunning backdrop to any photo.
The whole park is incredibly beautiful and has the feel of a Zen garden, with its water features and rockery.
Later in the week, we returned to the park on a rainy day, again on our way to a temple. It was filled with colourful stalls selling food and knickknacks. It reminded me of Japanese food packaging, which is equally colourful.