Kyoto Video: Old Japanese Streets in Southern Higashiyama

Kyoto Video: Exploring Southern Higashiyama

Video from my first full day in Kyoto, exploring southern Higashiyama. Hope you enjoy it!

Here are all the details about what we did and where you can find everything. If you have any questions just get in touch in the YouTube comments, or on Facebook or Twitter – I’m always happy to chat about Japan!

Old Japanese Streets in Kyoto

Kyoto is Japan’s historic old capital, and one of the main things to do is visit temples. Hundreds of temples. I’ve even heard of people getting temple burn-out because there are so many. Now I wasn’t too keen on visiting temples all day – I enjoy seeing the elegant architecture and gardens, but for me it’s not the main objective when visiting Japan. So at first when I was planning my trip to Kyoto, I was unsure whether it was the place for me. However, there’s lots to do besides temples, and I must admit I really enjoyed seeing the ones we visited.

One of the main things I wanted to see in Kyoto was old Japanese streets! I wanted to experience the old town, and see the wooden “machiya” (town houses) and maybe a geisha. It turned out that Gion was a much better area for this, but first we headed to southern Higashiyama, one of the main touristy areas, where there are lots of sights and the old streets I was looking for.

Walking from Kyoto Station

We walked there from our hotel near Kyoto Station. It’s not a particularly short walk, but walking around gives you an opportunity to see more of the city. The route took us over the Kamogawa River, a wide river that runs through the middle of Kyoto, and we walked along a path by the river’s edge for part of the way.

Unfortunately it was raining and at the start of October it was really hot (27°C) with 100% humidity. You’ll notice this from how my hair looks increasingly fluffy throughout the day (especially in the next video!). It’s also tricky filming when you’re holding an umbrella and trying to keep your camera dry, so apologies if the video’s a bit shaky at times.

Sannenzakka, Kyoto

Sannenzakka – beautiful but crowded

Ninnenzakka and Sannenzakka

We headed for Ninnenzakka and Sannenzakka, two famous, picturesque streets. If you start at Kiyomizudera (one of the main temples) and head towards them, the route takes you on a tour of the area. It’s certainly beautiful, but I definitely preferred the back streets, once we turned off the main route. The main streets were a crowd of people and umbrellas, and in the quieter areas it was much easier to enjoy the atmosphere and see the architecture.

It’s also important to note that, while it’s a historic city, the whole of Kyoto isn’t old houses and machiya. Particularly around the station, it’s very much like another modern city, although I did notice old style houses dotted in between the modern buildings. To experience old Kyoto, head for Higashiyama or Gion, where you can stroll around pedestrianised areas entirely made up of old houses and secrets!


You can’t see in the video how hot it was, but compared to autumn in England, it was unbelievably humid! Kakigori is shaved ice with syrup drizzled on top. There’s a stall called Nice Ice that always has kakigori at Hyper Japan, and although it looks fun, I’d never really seen the appeal. However, in the heat it was exactly what we needed.

We stopped at a cafe right by Kiyomizudera (details and map here) that served kakigori, traditional Japanese sweets and cold udon. They had a good selection of flavours and it wasn’t tasteless like I thought it might be – the whole dish was flavoured with melon and it was so refreshing. The cafe certainly knew what tourists needed in the heat – they had fans, shelter from the rain and free drinks of water – perfect!


Kakigori (shaved ice) – so refreshing

Curry Udon

Mimikou was a restaurant I’d found on Happy Cow, as a place serving vegetarian and non-vegetarian food, so it was perfect for us. I’ll be making a video just about vegetarian food in Kyoto, with more about the menu and the meals on offer. For now, let me tell you it was a treat to have curry udon, and this was probably the best meal of the trip.

Here’s Mimikou’s website – they have an english menu and I’d definitely recommend it! It was an easy walk from Southern Higashiyama, and is also right by Gion, the geisha district.

More Videos about Japan

Coming up next is where we went in the afternoon, which was one of the highlights of the trip!

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