Kyoto: In Which We Immediately Realize Our Folly

Folly is: OMG this place is amazing and we are only here for four nights. Clearly we have lost our minds and need to just sell our stuff and move here so we can wander tree-lined canals, admire stately temples, and soak in the light of a moss-covered traditional garden until we burst, or at least attain enlightenment.

Today started with a walking tour of some of the major sights in this district of Kyoto. I unpacked our trusty Boba Air carrier for the fist time and wore Ami for a good chunk of the tour, which she really liked!

Tori set up our tour, which was with a lady named Maki. Maki was terrific! Knowledgeable, personable, ready to take small detours when needed but totally able to keep us on track.

Our first stop this morning was the impressive Nanzen-ji temple.

From Maki, we learned all about the water sigils all over the temple, placed there in the hope of keeping the wooden structure from burning.

Inside Nanzen-ji were all sorts of beautiful rooms, painted in gold leaf, as well as many smaller gardens for contemplation of the major questions of life.

Right near the complex is an aqueduct that makes for fun pictures.

After Nanzen-ji, we moved on to the Tenjuan pond garden, which was stunning. This was a place that pictures just don’t do justice, because the experience is all about how the light filters through the bamboo and the trees until it hits the carefully-tended mossy undergrowth, while water trickles softly in the background. You place your feet carefully, feeling for the different textures of flagstones and gravel and paving. It’s all-encompassing, and is gardening done a very different way than I’m used to.


AFter the gardens, we moved on to the Philosopher’s Path, which is a narrow street that follows a canal overhung by trees. Our first stop was a local Shinto shrine, Kumano Nyakuoji, where Maki gave us a lesson in the proper way to prepare yourself to pray.

The Philosopher’s Path was a lovely stroll. Ami even walked a bit of it. I was really surprised how much she loved being in the carrier, and I was happy Logan didn’t mind carrying my heavy diaper bag/purse while I hefted the toddler!

Our last stop with Maki was at the Honen-in temple. One of the wonderful features they have there is two large arrangements of sand, which are tended and change with the seasons. I have no idea what happens to them if there is serious rain. 

Ami got to go “up-up” on Dada’s shoulders, too!

After appreciating the Honen-in temple, Maki shepherded us to a ramen restaurant, where she took her leave. The ramen was incredible (though poor Ami had some difficulty with it, she eventually decided she loved the roasted pork slices). Then, Tori and Jody took their leave and Logan, Ami and I found a supermarket to restock our toddler and parent friendly snack selection.

For the first time in four days, we were all able to get a much-needed nap. woohoo!

Tonight we had booked an experience I was really excited about. A company called Nagomi Visit puts travelers in touch with local families who want to host meals. We went through the company and had an offer from a woman named Miyoko. So at 6 this evening we presented ourselves at a train station near her house for dinner!

What a wonderful time. Miyoko-San really went all out, preparing multiple dishes for us. The group welcoming us was large and so friendly! There was Miyoko, one of her sons, her daughter and her daughter’s husband and their four and two year old sons. Playmates for Ami!

Also they had these amazing chairs that squeaked every time a kid sat down in them. Ami was in LOVE.

The conversation was great, and much fun was had. I even got to play a game of cat’s cradle with Miyoko’s daughter!

I can’t thank this family enough for inviting us into their home. We even got to take part in a traditional tea ceremony.

When we left, Ami seriously hugged both of the boys goodbye. It was precious. 

Thank you, guys!

I don’t want to leave Kyoto. Ever.

And with that, good night!

2 Comments Add yours

  1. emc says:

    Gahhhh looks amazing. So happy you guys are having a great time on Ami’s maiden overseas voyage!

    1. Classy Otter says:

      She’s done SO well. Better than I could have imagined. I’ve been so impressed with her!

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