The streets of Kyoto are a pleasure to walk through. I’ve been to a few cities in Japan, and Kyoto is by far the most beautiful of the bunch. It’s a modern city but as it was not bombed during World War II, it retains a lot of pre-war architecture. In fact, the wooden houses and shops in Kyoto are some of the only remaining examples of this type of architecture in any major Japanese city.
While a lot of Kyoto’s traditional architecture was lost in the post-war modernisation and development that occurred in Japan, a concerted effort began in the 1970s to protect it, and this continues today.
The result of all of this today is that Kyoto is a fascinating city to wander through. The beautiful and the “ugly”, the new and the old all exist in this city and around every corner there seems to be something interesting to look at. I don’t have much else to say in this post, with the old adage “a picture is worth a thousand words” being apt.
Being in Kyoto during cherry blossom season meant that the the city was even more beautiful than normal. I visited again in August, and the city took on a different kind of beauty when the cherry blossoms were replaced by the red and orange leaves of autumn.
These traditional wooden town houses are known as “machiya”. They originated in the Heian period and continued to be built right through to the Meiji period, although by then Japan had opened up to the Western world and city leaders were keen to “modernise” and adapt European building techniques and styles.
I don’t know what style of architecture this is, but I found this building to be utterly fascinating. The picture doesn’t really do it justice.
As with all of the public transport systems in Japan’s major cities, the metro in Kyoto is efficient, clean and extensive.
Many of the main shopping streets in central Kyoto have a lot of 1960s and 1970s style buildings. Combined with the giant awnings, it’s like stepping back into the not so distant past. Perhaps not as classically beautiful as the machiya, but an interesting retro kind of architecture that I think is kind of cool
In true Japanese style, the sign shows a construction worker who is bowing because he is sorry for the disturbance that the construction is causing.
I stumbled across this residential district just out of the centre of the city and spent a good half hour walking through it. I love seeing how other people live, and judging by the houses, cars and general upkeep of the area I think the people who live in this area must be on decent wages.
Some would say this building is ugly, I would say it’s fantastic.
This guy was wandering around Fushimi-Inari Station, looking at people as if he was searching for someone. He kept walking back and forth for a while until he spotted a group of young teens smoking and proceeded to join the group. I don’t know if he knew them or if he just wanted some people to smoke with but in any case he certainly seemed a lot happier once he was with the others.
When the sun goes down, Kyoto still looks great.
I hope you enjoyed taking a walk through Kyoto through my eyes. What’s your favourite city to wander through and admire the street life and architecture?