Early start from Hiroshima today to get into Kyoto at 08:30. Straight out to the Bamboo Trail to find thousands of tourists already there so absolutely no chance of the iconic photograph. Didn’t stay long as it was just too crowded.
Next stop the Golden Temple and it was worse there. I was literally marshalled along the path through the gardens but I did manage to break away to get a photograph at one spot were they weren’t trying to move us along.
It’s no fun everyone trying to get a photograph, the Japanese are pretty polite, waiting their turn, but I’m ashamed to say it was the Europeans, Americans, and Australians pushing their way in with no thought to anyone else.
Anyway I decided to move on to the Silver Pavilion and at first it seemed to be quieter there. But then two coach loads turned up and from that point it all went downhill fast. In the end I gave up trying to take photographs and headed away from the main tourist areas to find a beautiful peaceful garden off the beaten path.
Now although I’m getting at tourists I realise that I’m one myself. There were probably other photographers today thinking “I wish he’d get out of the way”
Over this last year I have come to realise that unless you are prepared to be at a location at the crack of dawn you are not going to get a photograph without someone being in the background. Either that or you look for out of the way places that no one visits. It’s just the way it is now.
Nishika Market was the same you couldn’t move there, so I’m the end I crossed the river to Gion District, famous for its geiko or geishas.
Although much quieter, there were still a lot of people about and although I did see two genuine geisha, in a hurry to get somewhere, or maybe avoid the tourists, it would have been impolite to photograph them without asking.
However I did see a lot of tourists wearing Kimonos. Apparently many tourists (that word again) become “studio” geishas for the day. Usually they are from Hong Kong, Tokyo or Taiwan, I even saw two European girls in traditional dress.
So how do you tell the difference? Local knowledge told me that the “studios” tend to pose or agree to you taking their photograph. A real geisha is generally on her way to work or on her way back and has no time for posing.
So there you have it. Did I enjoy Kyoto, yes and no. Depends on which way you look at it the fact that it has been voted the worlds top city for travellers means it’s always going to be busy. Why? Apart from the amazing architecture, Kyoto’s also home to 17 UNESCO World Heritage Sites, so plenty to photograph, if you can avoid the tourists.