While I did enjoy many parts of Osaka, by comparison, Kyoto blew my mind! It is one of the most darling, quaint, beautifully stunning and enjoyable places I’ve been. The energy there was fabulous. Quiet, very zen-like with one beautiful place after another. I spent about a week there walking miles upon miles everyday through its majestic beauty.
Kyoto was the place I first noticed the raccoon dog statues, and made it my mission to find one for myself as a souvenir. While many people I asked said I would have to travel to a different city to find one, I was relentless in my pursuit and was ultimately successful in finding a raccoon dog about 2 inches tall. Perfect for travel! He currently resides in my home in NOLA:)
One of my favorite memories of Kyoto was seeing a man tending to the landscape with tweezers! I was in awe watching him go about the business of keeping the grounds in spectacular shape with only a pair of tweezers. Absolutely incredible! And it speaks to the dedication of their craft.
From what I recall, Kyoto had about 10 zen gardens that were scattered throughout the city. While each place offered unique sights and feels, along with mind-boggling displays of perfectly crafted landscapes, probably my favorite was the kare-sansui zen garden at Ryoan-ji. Its simplicity was breathtaking. I found myself just staring at the various parts of the garden, for what seemed like an eternity, allowing my mind to wander into a quiet space.
Another favorite part of the city for me was the Geisha neighborhood. The homes were lovely, the streets quiet, and if one was lucky enough, they might get a glimpse of a young, beautiful Geisha walking about with her, shall I call her her Madame(?) sheltering her from the sun with an umbrella. I was fortunate enough to see one Geisha walking about, but respected the posted signs to not take pictures. I was also fortunate enough to sit next to one on a train. Again, while other tourists asked to take pictures of her, I refrained out of respect. While the Madame did allow others to take pictures with her, I felt it was better to simply keep those memories in my mind.
Those are my most fond memories of Kyoto. I certainly could have spent so much more time there exploring even more portions of the city that I hadn’t gotten to, but alas, I always try to leave something to go back to every place I go:) Needless to say, I would highly recommend anyone to visit majestic Kyoto.