Friday, May 16, 2014

Japan Day 3: (Eastern Kyoto) Preserved Historic Streets of Higashiyama

While I was doing my research for our trip, I decided that part of my attraction for Eastern Kyoto was mostly becasue I wanted to spend some time walking the preserved historic streets of Southern Higashiyama (Ninen-Zaka, Sannen-zaka, Nene-no-Michi Lane, Ishibei-Koji). 

As we exited the Kiyomizudera Temple, we walked along the steep and busy lane of Kiyomizu-michi. This street is one of the most popular tourist spots in Kyoto. Walking down this narrow street with wooden buildings and traditional merchant shops invoke a feeling of the traditional Kyoto of olden times.

There are many gift shops, food stands, restaurants and cafe on this street.

The many shops in the area have been catering to tourists for centuries, selling all kinds of Japanese delicacies, with vendors standing outside prompting tourists to come in to sample their goods.
My kids are a compliant bunch, most especially where food is concerned.  Offer them food, and they will happily oblige your generosity.

The kids also loved the Japanese Cream puff stuffed with cold cream and comes in different flavors.

My little gourmand made a list of Japanese sweets to try for this trip, and she happily ticked off one from her list with her order of the Mont Blanc of Green Tea.  I do not even know what Mont Blanc is, so I had to google it here.
Near the end of the alley we took a left turn towards Sannen-zaka and Ninnen-zaka steps

Ninen-zaka and Sannen-zaka Preserved Districts are a pair of gently sloping lanes that lead down from Kiyomizu-dera Temple toward Nene-no-Michi Lane
Even with the hordes of tourists, I think spring and autumn are the best seasons to visit Kyoto.  The sakura (cherry blossom) in spring and for momiji (red maple leaves) in autumn are reasons enough for me.

The end of Ninnen-zaka led us to this wide street of Nene-no-Michi.

We had a late lunch at this restaurant along Nene-no-Michi lane, very near Ishibei-Koji (we would later find out). Unfortunately, the restaurant had no sign in English so I can't tell you where we ate.  The rain did not let up and so lunch was a well-timed break from the wet n cold.

While C and I found our food good, my sister did not enjoy her fish udon as much. 

Heading back out to the streets, we ventured to search for Ishibei-Koji. The narrow, covered wooden entrance to Ishibei-Koji Lane is hard to find, if you don't know where to look. Most tourists walk right by without giving it a second glance.  We weren't sure if we got our directions right, but we went right in this dark and narrow alley, and coming out from it we were greeted by traditional Japanese architecture and quaint wooden gates.

It is filled with high end restaurants, private homes for the wealthy, and ryokans (Japanese style inns). It represents the best of Kyoto's refined elegance.

Ishibei-Koji Lane is like entering a movie set in ancient Japan.  The street is very narrow with beautiful stone paved roads, and the houses that line the street have honey colored wooden walls.

The preserved streets are a beautiful sight which is best enjoyed if you are not hurried by time so you can take your time to absorb the sights, stop to sample all the delicacies that the shop-owners offer generously. My kids had a wonderful time buying Japanese snacks by the roadside... mostly sweets.  This is one place that I would not mind going back to, I had such a lovely time walking along the beautiful stone-paved alleys of Southern Higashiyama.  

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