killin me softly, kyoto

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.

IMG_4445.JPGI 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

Forever unbroken
My spirit shall never waver
I may fall but never falter.
Spirit Tree by  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,
Tears fall,
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

IMG_4319 (1).JPGIMG_4298.jpgKinkaku-ji Golden Pavilion


img_4349img_4351remember 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 Templeimg_3809img_3821img_3815IMG_3765.JPGmaikos (apprentice geishas) in the wild
img_4015Fushimi Inari-taisha


img_4182The 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, . 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.
img_4183IMG_4180.jpgkitsune (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…IMG_4083.jpg

Minami-za, the primary kabuki theatre in Kyoto, near the famed Gion districtIMG_3830.JPGIMG_3859.JPGIMG_3872.JPGimg_3876grind 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

IMG_3887.JPGIMG_3940.JPGOi River (大堰川 Ōi-gawa)

img_3950img_3952IMG_3974.jpghead in the clouds // feet off the groundIMG_4124.JPGwhen in doubt, dance it outIMG_3996.JPGimg_4248img_4234img_4032Nijo 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