Returning to Kyoto train station from Fushimi Inari shrine, we opted for a taxi ride to visit the Higashiyama District. From our readings and research, a lot of uphill walk is involved to visit this area if we would have taken the bus. So we got on a taxi at Kyoto station which is easy, as there are always taxis waiting. The drive was about 15 minutes and we got off at the intersection of Matsubara Dori/Gojo Zaka saving us time, energy & stamina.
If you have walking difficulties, follow our walking route, it’s downhill all the way, otherwise be prepared for a strenuous uphill walk if you do in reverse direction. Coming by bus, from the bus stop, will be an uphill walk to get to the point where our taxi drop-off point was. Believe me, the ¥1,400 taxi fare will be well spent. (We opted not to visit Kiyomizu-dera Temple as the roof of main hall is undergoing maintenance till 2020 and the building is surrounded with scaffolding and covered up from the ground to the roof.)
A visit to Kyoto would not be complete without a walk through these streets. These streets winds around the Higashiyama district and at the end of Sannenzaka/Ninenzaka, you can opt to continue your walk onward to Gion. Although the street is paved, the stairs at the start of Sannenzaka and Ninenzaka would be the only part not accessible to wheel chair bound visitor.
Lined with traditional shop houses like those we’ve seen in Hanamikoji street in Gion, these pair of pedestrian street, invoke a feeling of old Kyoto. The traditional wooden storefronts, cafe, restaurants, tea houses and souvenir shops caters for the needs of tourists, passerby and pilgrims. One may not notice there are no overhead cables along these streets, thus bringing out the genuine traditional feel of old Kyoto.
About 100m from the bottom of the stairs of Sannenzaka, walk straight pass a 4-way junction and to your right look out for a wooden entrance to a couple of restaurants inside. Many may give this a miss as you would not notice any attraction. Go in and you’ll find a small pond with a lot of big size Koi fishes. If you have some biscuits in hand, break it up and toss it into the pond. See the reaction afterwards.
Your walk from Sannenzaka will take you to Ninenzaka where this street too has a downhill staircase. From the top, you can see a shop with 3 opened umbrellas which makes it an icon unique to Ninenzaka. Further ahead, there was some heavy construction works going on so we turned back and continued to walk along Sannenzaka.
Continuing our walk, we pass by the pagoda styled Hokanji Temple before finally exiting to the main road of Higashi Oji Dori, where we caught the bus back to Kyoto station at Kiyomizu-michi bus stop.