A regular blog reader may have already picked up the fact that Ms X does love a torii gate. Mr X on the other hand, ain’t that fussed but as it was on that day‘s itinerary, he complied. What’s better than one torii gate? Many torii gates!!!

Fushimi Inari Shrine in southern Kyoto has an abundance of Torii gates.

These lead up a mountain. It‘s hard going when one has to stop all the time so that a perfect shot can be taken.

Our retirees are too impatient to get the perfect shot!

Now the problem with all those gates, is that everyone except our two spent all their time flicking hair, posing and generally holding up the line. This did not improve Mr X‘s relationship with torii gates.

Ms X had seen many many photos of Sanneizaka Street which seemed to represent the old-world Kyoto. She quite fancied a relaxing, laid back lunch in the area. She had planned to do some shopping in all those nick-nacky-noo shops. Ugh. It was a shame all those other tourists crashed the party!

Having said that, their advice is to still go there. They were told it gets busier in April-September. Hard to imagine.

It was time for some Tea for these two and so off to experience a Traditional Tea Ceremony with their hostess Mia. How agreeable was Mr X you are thinking. Ms X wants to remind you that he does drink tea. It shouldn’t be a problem… well, except for the leg situation and the fact that there’s no milk or sugar for him.

Mr and Ms X both agree that there’s a lot of similarities between the Tea Ceremony and the Onsen. Rituals, rules and palaver. Ms X can hear Ms C saying it‘s the culture however there are things that could improve both #justsayin

Why oh why do you have to sit on the floor? Why oh why does it have to be matcha tea with no milk? And why oh why is talking politics or sport banned from the Tea Room? Having got that off her chest, Ms X is glad she did it, but perhaps her legs aren’t. Our travellers were joined by some Brits, a Frenchie, a German and some Israelis who, Ms X believes did not tell Hostess Mia the truth when asked if they liked it. At least Ms X kept saying ever so gently and respectfully, “It‘s different“ when pushed for an opinion. Sitting around a small mat in a small space with two crook knees between them was a memory those two will keep with them forever. Ms X did love the lovely cups as those who know her understand her fondness for crockery. Mr X was heard to say that it wasn’t the highlight of his trip as he reached for an old Lipton‘s teabag later that night.

Note Mr X‘s legs! Hostess Mia would not have been impressed as we are sure he was breaking one of her many rules.

Ever wondered about geishas? These two retirees chose to find out a bit more by doing a walking tour one evening through Gion, home of many geishas.

First up, its the prettiest part of Kyoto- absolutely stunning. It was the inspiration for the setting in the film “Memoirs of a Geisha“.

These days 16 year olds come to a Geisha Boarding House where they commit to 5 years of training under the tutelage of a House Mother. They have all their board covered, their kimonos and any beauty services provided and they are forbidden to be in any relationship. They are banned from having any access to the internet or going to places like McDonalds or Starbucks. They are given access to an education as they go to geisha school where they learn dancing, singing and maybe a musical instrument. They do no chores as they have to keep those hands looking delicate. They are free to leave/retire whenever they want. They leave with nothing as they do not receive a wage. If they stay, after 5 years they may be ready to become a fully fledged geisha. Geishas and their protégés attend geisha parties in Kyoto’s many Tea Houses that are attended by business men from all over the world. They dress in a particular style with a particular make-up. They speak in a high pitched baby voice and they walk in tiny baby steps. They provide a fantasy. They are not prostitutes. It‘s intriguing as well as upsetting that this should still be happening in this day and age. This is one Japanese ritual that needs to be stopped. Now.

The largest Geisha Tea-House in Gion, Kyoto.

There was just one more thing that our retirees needed to do before they farewelled Kyoto. You guessed it- another temple! Not just any temple but the stunning Golden Temple.

That‘s gold leaf on those two floors.