KYOTO We arrive in the early afternoon. The air is fresh and the city is elegant and quieter than the other cities we have visited. The tall buildings seem to have a laconic rigorous and they overlook along the main streets. After having left the luggages we head to the International Manga Museum. Built in an old school, the museum has an elegant and old-fashion look; it collects 50.000 manga (since 1970) in the 200 meters of Manga Wall and hosts exhibitions on theme. Looking around is a dream, the smell of paper and the pretty colored covers of the bounded volumes in various editions is really exciting. The chronicle allows us to understand the cultural value of Manga in Japan, you can also browse manga in other languages such as English, French, Italian and others.
Spent a couple of hours here, as the sun begins to fade, we head towards the Imperial Park. You can not get in but the impeccable garden and the expanse of shingle that leads us to the main gate communicate anyway an atmosphere of peace and serenity. Among the must-seen destinations there is surely Gion: the district where Geisha still live and The Yasaka Shrine stands. After passing many shops and galleries, we do peep in the oldest Japan and visit The Yasaka Shrine illuminated by red lanterns and small candles that shine in the dark of night. Walking through the city of Kyoto also means running into a huge number of temples of every color and shape. They are everywhere.
The morning after we begin visiting the Imperial Palace. Used to the extreme European splendor, it’s hard to imagine that this essential elegance could belong to the Japanese aristocracy. The spacious rooms are immaculate and the Nijo Castle is adorned with colorful paintings. One of the particular features of the castle are the “nightingale floors”: in fact, the wooden planks on which we walk emit a sound similar to the song of the bird, which was useful in the past to warn the arrival of an intruder.
We proceed to the famous Kinkaku-ji, the beautiful Golden Pavilion: a pagoda completely covered with pure gold leaf that stands in the middle of a pond. Over the centuries, it has had many functions: it has been destroyed and rebuilt at various times of the 20th century, although its origin is of 1397. Not far away, it stands Ryoanji: the Zen garden, where a series of stones is arranged accurately on the gravel and offers inspiration for thought and introspection as a cornerstone of creative and religious of Japanese culture.
Up on a bus leading us “almost” to the imaginative universe of creative Hayao Miyazaki, we head to Arashiyama: a small modern village next to which stands the beautiful Bamboo Groove. The air is damp and restless as the gray sky that promises rain. The path is littered with beautiful tall Bamboo canes, lounge areas and stalwart young Japanese who offer a typical gig aroun. We desist and take a snack in the modern Yojiya Cafè, before returning to the city.
In the morning after, we have breakfast in an elegant french Boulangerie not far from our hotel. As my stubborn will to spot at least one Geisha, it pushes us back to Gion: we walk the nearby streets and we go into a small little street full of old buildings in which we find shelter during a showering rain. Finally, we order delicious Okonomiyaki served at the counter in a small Japanese restò. Face to face with our chef sipping Coca-Cola and sink our teeth into this delicious and typical revisited “pizza” with eggs, vegetables and cheese.
The sky clears suddenly and so we go to Higashiyama, along the ancient streets of Kyoto and dock at the Kiyomizu-dera Temple. Built in the eighth century, it’s considered by Unesco a world heritage place for its unique beauty. In fact, it rests on piles lying on the mountain of the East and allows a unique magnificent view overlooking the whole city.
We cross downtown Kyoto again and then take a little rest by the Kamo river, like Japanese do while enjoying the sunset. This serenity, apparent calm, the summer turning to autumn, the colours beginning to change from our arrival to Japan. Kyoto is perfect, perhaps the most beautiful of Japanese cities.
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