Ready yourself for the onslaught of photos I’m about to drop on your visual channel. I can’t help it, Kyoto in the fall is truly enchanting. It turns out everything everyone says about it, is true. Kyoto is the less crazed, more hushed, more visibly tourist-laden counterpart to Tokyo (and perhaps the latter because there is a more solidified list of ‘must sees’). My advice is to go early (8 am is sufficient) to the immersive attractions like Fushimi Inari Taisha (the many-rowed vermilion tori gates) and Arashiyama (bamboo forest), while leaving the more viewing-based sites like temples, the Gion district, and such to whenever you have time. Brilliant autumn colors uplift the scenery everywhere; fire-red momiji, or Japanese maple trees, and sunshine yellow of falling gingko leaves. We are guardians of a beautiful earth, my friends. Let us cherish and appreciate it often.
Happily, I’ll be returning to the kansai region in the spring when my dear college family comes to visit. I hope to see the philosopher’s path, kyoto imperial palace, perhaps tour a whisky distillery, and also taste the street delicacies of Osaka next time.
I stand tall like a bamboo tree
ever upward, reaching
The wind blows and yet I stand
That which troubles me, grounds me
My faith in the universe like a sapling
I dance and sway
My spirit shall never waver
I may fall but never falter.
– Spirit Tree by 林 Alice
An upright thing of green sprouts out of the ground,
A bladed thing of green springs out of the ground,
Piercing the iced-over winter,
And when its green leaves shine on the morning’s empty road,
I let tears fall,
Even now, from over the shoulders burdened by remorse.
The hazy roots of bamboo spreads out,
And the bladed thing of green sprouts out of the ground.
– Bamboo by Sakutaro Hagiwara
Arashiyama Bamboo Forest
Looking up, falling down
Kinkaku-ji Golden Pavilion
remember that time we snuck in a 30 minute window at dinnertime without reservations at famous Kyoto omurice joint, Kichi Kichi? (thank you for smiling upon us, food gods)
My mama used to make me omurice when I was a kid, which essentially consisted of ketchup-flavored fried rice wrapped in an omelette–a total child’s palette pleaser as you can imagine. But this stuff was more grown up with onions, peas, and topped with a demi-glace sauce. I will never think of omurice the same way.
Autumn Illumination at Kiyomizu-dera Buddhist Templemaikos (apprentice geishas) in the wild
The names engraved on each of the 10,000 vermilion torii gates represent patrons who have sponsored their creation with monetary donations. I randomly spotted a gate with my surname, 林. The literal meaning is ‘woods’, thus the character looks like two trees. My pronunciation is ‘Lin’, whereas the Japanese iteration of the same character is ‘Hayashi’. I loved seeing the morning light filter in from the surrounding forest in this peaceful place.
kitsune (foxes) are thought to be messengers for the Shinto god of rice, Inari, and their likenesses are strewn about the altars and gates of this shrine…
Minami-za, the primary kabuki theatre in Kyoto, near the famed Gion districtgrind your own kinako (roasted soybean powder) to sprinkle atop dango (mochi dumplings) at Nishiki market, where you can sample sake, tsukemono (picked vegetables), and sweets
Oi River (大堰川 Ōi-gawa)
head in the clouds // feet off the groundwhen in doubt, dance it outNijo castle // view from the roof deck of Kyoto station
mata Kyoto, off to play with the deer in Nara
xo your friend alice
Location: Kyoto-shi, Kyoto Prefecture, Kansai Region, Japan