|Kyoto Station, Kyoto, Japan|
|Kyoto Tower, opposite the station|
A city teeming with international and Japanese tourists, the station has information centres catering to temple seekers and an all-day hop-on hop-off bus ticket. Even then, the temples and sites are much more spaced out in distance that I thought. Best to eat first.
|Ten-don - tempura chicken rice bowl with pickles and small udon noodles|
Lucky for us they had gorgeously light tempura and delicious udon noodles on the menu. My ten-don rice bowl topped with battered chicken breast pieces was satisfyingly filling if not a bit heavy ahead of a day of sightseeing.
|Udon with vegetable tempura|
The udon soup ordered above was a medium serving from memory with some fabulously light, unoily tempura battered vegetables and prawn.
|Kinkakuji - Temple of the Golden Pavilion, Kyoto|
Each of the three levels of the structure are meant to reflect different Japanese architectural styles, while the top two levels are covered in genuine gold leaf. The temple houses Buddhist relics and is set in appropriately relaxing, if not completely Zen, gardens.
|Walls of the Kyoto Imperial Palace|
Even just walking around the perimeter of the grand palace, it was definitely an ideal setting for anyone keen to live out ninja fantasies of running fights across the rooftops.
|Gates of Yasaka Jinja, Gion, Kyoto|
The Yasaka Jinja Shinto shrine sits before the huge Maruyama Park in Gion. The Shinto faith intrigues me so just watching worshippers' routines at the shrine was an educational experience.
|Torii gate entrance|
|Tied paper fortunes|
|Yasaka Jinja Shinto shrine|
|Lanterns at an entrance|
|Maruyama Park, Gion, Kyoto|
|Hanami-koji Street, Gion, Kyoto|
|Buildings in Gion|
|Side street in Gion|
|Yakitori restaurant in Gion|
|A maiko after sending off a client|
In traditional platform geta wooden clogs, she walked slowly and delicately along the footpath in an ornate kimono and obi, with hair accessories swinging.
Up closer, we could see the maiko's detailed application of make-up: white face, neck and upper back in a distinctive pattern, tiny red painted lips and dramatic black around the eyes.
|A maiko acrossing the road in Gion|
With our geisha/maiko spotting checked off quite inadvertently before a quick drink in a swish back lane bar, we got the bus back to Kyoto Station and the train back to Osaka with complete ease. How I miss public transport in Japan.
More Japan posts to come - back to Tokyo. See more photos from my Japan trip on my Facebook page.