EtsyNY Travels: Kyoto, Japan

I was lucky enough to visit Japan this past spring (you can read about the first part of my trip here) and as excited as I was to visit Kyoto, it still managed to exceed my expectations.  It is so charming. has such a long, rich history filled with beauty, art and nature.  Around every turn was a cherry tree with blush blossoms winking in the wind, a temple bustling yet serene, or a gaggle of girls in traditional dress kimonos. 

A part of what made Kyoto so special to me were the myriad forms of history-filled art: textiles and embroidery, painting and calligraphy, even the presentation of food is beautiful and carefully thought out. I hope you enjoy my photographic journey through Kyoto!

Even the Hello Kitty dolls in Kyoto wear kimonos

Even the Hello Kitty dolls in Kyoto wear kimonos

We stopped an an Onsen (hot spring) on the way to Kyoto, just outside the city, and stayed at the ryokan there.  Everyone wears matching kimonos you are given at check in.  After enjoying the springs, we were served impeccable, multi-course meals for dinner and breakfast.  While almost no one at the ryokan spoke any English, we were able to communicate perfectly well and enjoy a lovely, relaxing day.

We stopped an an Onsen (hot spring) on the way to Kyoto, just outside the city, and stayed at the ryokan there.  Everyone wears matching kimonos you are given at check in.  After enjoying the springs, we were served impeccable, multi-course meals for dinner and breakfast.  While almost no one at the ryokan spoke any English, we were able to communicate perfectly well and enjoy a lovely, relaxing day.

There is a seemingly endless array of temples in Kyoto, but they are all lovely and unique.

There is a seemingly endless array of temples in Kyoto, but they are all lovely and unique.

There are many species of cherry blossom.  These slightly pinker ones were at the height of their bloom during our visit.  It's hard to predict exactly when the blossoms will bloom, but we got lucky.

There are many species of cherry blossom.  These slightly pinker ones were at the height of their bloom during our visit.  It's hard to predict exactly when the blossoms will bloom, but we got lucky.

Look at those blooms!

Look at those blooms!

The Fushimi Inari Shrine was my favorite - miles of these orange gates and various moments of smaller shrines throughout, with a charming little village at the base.

The Fushimi Inari Shrine was my favorite - miles of these orange gates and various moments of smaller shrines throughout, with a charming little village at the base.

We wandered through a small, historic geisha neighborhood and, thanks to an historian acquaintance from Kyoto, learned about the life of a geisha.  We also saw a geisha show put on by one of Japan's 'living national treasures.'

We wandered through a small, historic geisha neighborhood and, thanks to an historian acquaintance from Kyoto, learned about the life of a geisha.  We also saw a geisha show put on by one of Japan's 'living national treasures.'

In Kyoto, traditional dress is much more common than in Tokyo.  Visitors even rent kimonos for the day so they can visit shrines in traditional garb.

In Kyoto, traditional dress is much more common than in Tokyo.  Visitors even rent kimonos for the day so they can visit shrines in traditional garb.

I found a left-handed sashimi knife at a small shop (it was the only knife labelled in English!), and they engraved the kanji for my last name on the blade.  They sharpen the knife before giving it to you, and it is incredibly sharp!  I love that it's the perfect knife for me, a lefty, and personalized.  

I found a left-handed sashimi knife at a small shop (it was the only knife labelled in English!), and they engraved the kanji for my last name on the blade.  They sharpen the knife before giving it to you, and it is incredibly sharp!  I love that it's the perfect knife for me, a lefty, and personalized.  

The food, of course, in Kyoto was wonderful.  Kaiseki cuisine, a set many-course dinner using seasonal ingredients, were incredible, and featured lots of cherry blossom flavors!

The food, of course, in Kyoto was wonderful.  Kaiseki cuisine, a set many-course dinner using seasonal ingredients, were incredible, and featured lots of cherry blossom flavors!

These snow monkeys were so adorable and we had an awesome afternoon hanging out with them. 

These snow monkeys were so adorable and we had an awesome afternoon hanging out with them. 

These thousands of cranes are left with wishes at shrines throughout the city.

These thousands of cranes are left with wishes at shrines throughout the city.

I spent hours in the Kyoto Handicraft Center.  It has several floors, and hundreds of objects made with traditional crafting techniques. I brought home lots of prizes, from pretty sweets to miniature painted fans.

I spent hours in the Kyoto Handicraft Center.  It has several floors, and hundreds of objects made with traditional crafting techniques. I brought home lots of prizes, from pretty sweets to miniature painted fans.

Jumping for joy at the end of an amazing trip!

Jumping for joy at the end of an amazing trip!

Lauren

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