After spending the afternoon of our second day visiting temples, we headed back into central Kyoto to experience some of the city life.
One nice thing about Kyoto is that if you get tired of looking at the historical stuff, the downtown area has a bustling and vibrant feel to it. In the Kawaramachi area between Shijo and Sanjo where our hotel was located there are numerous arcades packed with interesting shops and interesting shoppers. We headed down into these in search of dinner and whatever else they had.
I love shopping arcades. Its a bit hard to convey the experience of walking through one in words or even pictures, so I made a 3 minute video of walking through the crowded and lively Nishiki Koji Dori arcade that you can watch here.
As you can see from the video, these arcades are a million times more interesting than the bland shopping malls that, regrettably, have been popping up all over the place here in the past decade or two. It is one of the things I'm kind of disappointed with Fukuoka about. We've only got one shopping arcade that is really busy -Shintencho - and it isn't particularly big. The other ones (like the one in Nakasu leading to Canal City) have a kind of dead feel to them.
Kyoto's shopping arcades though are brilliant. They stretch on in all directions for as far as the eye can see, packed with shoppers all the way. They have tons of independent little shops. Some good, some not so good, but all interesting. They barely get a passing mention in most guide books (if that) but I think they are one of the best attractions which Kyoto has to offer.
Bizarre features are not in short supply. Like airplanes being used as facades atop entrance ways:
Giant burritos, or Om-rices or whatever this is:
And mechanical crabs overlooking gift shops:
Some of the shops look quite old:
While others have a refreshingly "shiny" feel to them:
There are a number of tiny temples facing onto the shopping arcades here and there:
Enter their gates and you are transported in mere seconds from the hustle and bustle of the bright shopping arcade:
To the lonely and eerily quiet sight of an urban graveyard only metres away:
We ended up having dinner in a Yakitori restaurant that night. It was quite good, though I didn't take any pictures and can't remember the name of the place. Much merriment was had though. We actually spent quite a bit of time over the following couple of days wandering around the area.
Continued in the next post.
- Kyoto the Trip! Part 1 - Tofukuji and Sanjusangendo
- Kyoto the Trip! Part 2 - Kiyomizu Temple and Maruyama Koen
- Kyoto the Trip! Part 3 - Ryoanji and Ninnaji
- Kyoto the Trip! Part 5 - Antiquing Kyoto Style
- Kyoto the Trip! Part 6 - Cute Buddhist Statues
- Kyoto the Trip! Part 7 - Ohara and the Wrath of Mount Hiei
- Kyoto the Trip! Part 8 - Kyoto Station vs. Kyoto Tower