Kyoto and Myako Odori

Once again – arriving by train is quite incredible; the magnificence of the train station in Kyoto is breathtaking. From  www.japanguide.com:

“The Kyoto Station (京都駅, Kyōto-eki) building was constructed on the 1200th anniversary of the capital’s foundation in Kyoto. It was opened to the public in 1997 and stands in perfect contrast to many foreign tourists’ image of Kyoto as the capital of traditional Japan.

The building’s futuristic design and atmosphere was conceived by the Japanese architect Hara Hiroshi. Hara’s design attempts to convey historical Kyoto through a modern aesthetic. The station’s large main hall with its exposed steel beamed roof, called the Matrix, is meant to reflect both the structure of the station and the grid like layout of Kyoto’s street network.”

In stark contrast, the Gion district is Kyoto’s best known geisha quarter where Japanese men come for the company of professional geishas in private inns and tea houses. Gion’s history started in feudal times, with stalls catering to pilgrims and visitors. In the late 16th century these evolved into teahouses and theaters.

We bought an all-day bus pass so that we could easily get around town and to the sights. We started off at the Shimogama-jinja Shrine in the northern part of the city. It was fairly early and all was peaceful and quiet.

From there we made our way across town to the Kyoto University of Art & Design Theater for the Myako Odori show that I had booked from home. These performances only take place during the months of April and October. The first Miyako Odori was held in 1872 during the Kyoto World Exposition.  The beautiful performance by Geiko (the Kyoto word for Geisha) and Maiko of a tea ceremony, dancing, and music has been shown continuously ever since. Through dancing they express spring, summer, autumn, winter, and return to spring during the cherry blossom season. Unfortunately no photography was permitted during both the tea ceremony and the performance, but the following photos are taken from pictures in the theater. See You Tube.

Onward to Kiyomizu-dera Temple (which is currently shrouded with a mesh tent and undergoing renovation!) However, the magnificent pagoda was enough for me with its vibrant orange and beautifully decorated beams. The view from atop this hill across Kyoto is stunning. For over 1,000 years, pilgrims have climbed the slope to pray to the temple’s 11-headed Kannon image and drink from its sacred spring.

On our way up to the temple we passed the magnificent Ninna-ji Temple’s pagoda.

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