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bald kyoto

Japan's ancient capital, Kyoto, attracts visitors from all over the world. They come for its temples, shrines, shops, and possibly a bit of karaoke too.

Most people enter the city via its ultra-modern train station, completed in 1997. The 15-storey construction houses trains, tracks, ticket offices, and a large shopping mall.

Just across from the station you'll see Kyoto Tower. Opened in 1964, two years before England won the World Cup, the tower gives visitors a view over the ancient capital from its 100-meter-high observation deck.

When the idea for the tower was first proposed, many protested as they believed its modern look to be out of place in the historic city. However, since then, many more modern buildings have been built throughout Kyoto, so no one complains about it anymore.

Kyoto Tower

Many tourists head first for Kiyomizu-dera, Kyoto's most famous temple. On the approach to Kiyomizu-dera, you'll pass Jishu Shrine.

Jishu Shrine contains a pair of love stones, placed 18 metres apart. Legend has it that if you can walk from one stone to the other with your eyes closed, you will one day find true love. However, if you miss the other stone and end up falling down the many steps leading down from the shrine, legend has it that you will be admitted to the nearest accident and emergency ward.

The advice given to those who want to attempt the walk is: "ask a good friend to keep an eye on you".

Jishu Shrine

Kiyomizu-dera is an extraordinary feat of engineering. Not one nail was used in its construction, making it one of Kyoto's few glue-only temples.

The temple provides a pleasant escape from the hustle and bustle of the city centre and is a popular destination for visitors throughout the year.


If you're really lucky, you might even see a geisha in the temple grounds!

Just across from Kiyomizu-dera, nestling in the hills which surround the city, you can see the exquisite Koyasu-no-to three-storey pagoda.

Koyasu-no-to Pagoda

But Kyoto isn't all temples and shrines. Though mostly, it is. There's also the gently flowing Kamo River, ideal for a leisurely stroll, or a run if you're in a rush.

The Kamo River

If you suddenly find yourself itching to get your wallet out to help the economy along in these difficult times, head to the centre, where you'll find shops galore willing to take your cash in return for a variety of goods.

"Hankyu very much for shopping with us today"

Back on the temple trail, consider a trip out to Kinkaku-ji, otherwise known as the Golden Pavilion Temple. It was originally built in 1397, 569 years before England won the World Cup, though the current structure dates from 1955.

Kinkaku-ji is set in peaceful gardens in which visitors can admire this beautiful temple from a variety of angles.


No trip to Kyoto would be complete without a saunter around the famous geisha district of Gion. The quaint little streets in this unique area are lined with traditional tea houses, restaurants and tastefully restored wooden buildings.

Keep your eyes peeled and you'll most likely catch sight of a geisha apprentice scurrying from her living quarters to her next geisha lesson....

A geisha apprentice legging it along a Gion street

But to think that Kyoto can only be matched with adjectives such as exquisite, quaint, pretty, ancient, and charming would be a somewhat misguided belief.

Scratch the surface and, like most ancient capitals in the world, you'll soon get a whiff of the city's sordid underbelly. Indeed, even in a place with as much history as this, there are still places where men pay money to meet ladies....

A bit of sordid underbelly.

It's probably best to stay away from the underbelly as it could result in more than just the surface you'll be scratching. Instead, immerse yourself in the city's olden days, which is what it's most famous for.

End your trip with a stop at Ryoan-ji, the historic Zen temple with its stone garden where you can sit and ponder all the wonderfulness of the city that is Kyoto.

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On Saturday, 17 January, 2009, Blogger Ojisanjake said:

I'm enjoying your humor :)... a welshman in Shimane.

btw.. is that Jishu shrine?  

On Saturday, 17 January, 2009, Anonymous Garibaldi said:

How about Follically Challenged Fukuoka?  

On Saturday, 17 January, 2009, Blogger Tornadoes28 said:

Those would have been some good pictures if that bald guy didn't get in the way.

I hope he puts sunscreen on that bowling ball.  

On Saturday, 17 January, 2009, Anonymous DanLovesJapan said:

he he... If you just look at the pictures where Mr.Baldy is staring at geishas, girls etc. He seems very much like a stalker. In fact, "Mr.Baldy" is probably his stalker-name.  

On Sunday, 18 January, 2009, Anonymous RMilner said:

Interesting photo technique, using the dome to bounce light into the shadow zones.  

On Sunday, 18 January, 2009, Anonymous Scotty.VOR said:

So you were the one flashing away behind me on the Kyoto tour?! Well, apart from the underbelly bit...must have been someone else...ahem...  

On Sunday, 18 January, 2009, Anonymous Anonymous said:

This reminds me of some folktale I read about a two frogs, one from Osaka and one from Kyoto.

Somehow they met halfway or something and decided that they should help each other stand upright so they could be tall enough to take a look at the other city and see if it was worthwhile to check out.

So they stood up and looked at each city. Both saw a green hill (I think that's what it was) and said that it wasn't worth it because the cities were exactly alike.

But it turned out they had both looked at the end of their nose because of the way they stood  

On Sunday, 18 January, 2009, Anonymous Anonymous said:

anyway because of that they both went home without visiting the other city even though the cities are actually quite different  

On Sunday, 18 January, 2009, Anonymous john turningpin said:

Just so you know, Neil Duckett and I got a tremendous laugh out of this over some beers last night. Excellent stuff, sir.  

On Sunday, 18 January, 2009, Anonymous Simon said:

What sort of shampoo do you use? Do you condition daily?  

On Sunday, 18 January, 2009, Blogger Vincent said:

Haha. It sure is funny. The bald guy's head seriously glows under the afternoon sun. I can imagine Kyoto photography admirers complaining about the head in the way.  

On Monday, 19 January, 2009, Anonymous Anonymous said:

lol the bald head is highly distracting...  

On Sunday, 25 January, 2009, Blogger dickie888 said:

typical gaijin always getting their fat heads in the way...

On Sunday, 25 January, 2009, Anonymous noi said:

The picture in your blog is quite Clear and beauty!
you are an englishman!en!
See the london's bus!  

On Monday, 26 January, 2009, Blogger NanBanJin said:

What a wonderful baldness!
I even thought it was my own head.  

On Thursday, 19 February, 2009, Blogger The Duchess said:

why did u said if u're lucky, u'll get to see the geisha? are they hardly been seen around?  

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