Once laundry & breakfast were sorted, we took a taxi to the Kamigamo Jinja, along the Kamo river.
It's one of the oldest shrines in Japan, dating from the 800's. It's dedicated to a god of thunder, born to a goddess who found a spear in the river while bathing, took it home, & then found herself with child... there's a lot of arrow imagery there
, including omamori, which had Brendan giggling :)
The shrine has a tributary of the river running through it, which is used for purification by the Shinto priests. The water makes it feel much cooler, especially under the trees. Charlie particularly enjoyed being by the water :)
There are a bunch of different buildings there, all beautifully decorated.
The shrine complex is pretty large, so we wandered around for a bit, until we came across a "Beware of Monkeys" sign:
We had made lunch reservations at a restaurant near another shrine about 20 minutes walk from here, but it was so hot we decided to hop a cab instead.
Within minutes we arrived at the Otagami Jinja:
We hiked about 10 minutes back to our lunch restaurant (next to the Otagami) & were very sweaty indeed when we got there! Charlie had read about this restaurant, which is in an old sake warehouse that originally was in Nara, scheduled for demolition, but saved by a man from Kyoto & transported piece & piece to this neighbourhood in Kyoto & reassembled. It was a traditional noodle restaurant until around 2000, when his son turned it into an upscale Italian restaurant :) Charlie had read that they will do a vegetarian version of the set meal, so we decided to check it out.
When we were all done, we asked them to call a taxi & then had about 15 minutes to wander around the gorgeous grounds.
It occurs to me here that I may be giving the impression that our chats with various folks on our travels are occurring in English... but although all Japanese middle & high school students study English, it's fairly rare to find anyone who can speak it fluently (we've read that, in a pinch, you can write things down in English & the average Japanese person can read it, since everyone reads & uses Roman letters here, but they may not understand all the words...). With our waitress today, she had some key words in English & then we filled in the gaps with our Japanese. The kiosk woman had a bit more English & was really keen to chat with us (most folks who have some conversation skills love using them- just like us :). It really stretches me to do this chatting, because I don't always have all the vocabulary I want/need, but most of the time folks understand what I'm telling them & I am sooooo enjoying being able to communicate well this time! It's making me feel so much more adventurous, & the result is so many more interesting meals & places visited than before.
As it turns out, our taxi driver was not only a (rare) talkative driver, but also wanted to practise his English, so we had a lively ride home :) The Gion festival takes place all month, although the main events occur next week after we move on, but he told us about the float-building & where you can see it. Charlie & I had found a map of the events online, so we put this on the list of things to check out.
After a short rest & rehydration at the hotel, Charlie & I decided to head to the Nishijin Textile Centre, which is about a 15 minute walk from out hotel. We had visited it briefly on our first trip to Kyoto, 6 years ago, & were keen to see it again. The Nishijin area of Kyoto used to be the weaving & dyeing centre of Japan. Now the Nishijin Centre acts as museum, school, & marketplace for weaving & other textile crafts. You can make a reservation to actually weave something there, or to dress in kimono for a special event, & they have kimono fashion shows about every hour as well. We were mostly keen to do some gift shopping :) The walk there was a warm one, but we enjoyed seeing more of our neighbourhood. And the textile centre is a really wonderful place to end up! Charlie got a couple pics of a fashion show:
On the way back to the hotel we went into a very interesting little shrine with a 5-pointed star prominently displayed everywhere:
Also on the way home we stopped by a 7/11 to get dinner. It's the first time we've done this so far this trip & was somewhat nostalgic, since we often end up at the conbini (convenience store) for meals when we visit Japan :) And- bonus- they had some sort of promotion going on, so I was asked to pick 3 cards out of a box, & 1 of them was lucky & we got a free bag of potato chips!
After dinner Charlie & Brendan took the shuttle bus to the subway station, just to look for a bakery or something for breakfast food & beverages. They also looked for some floats being constructed for the Gion Matsuri, because the map said they should be near there, but they appeared to have moved on.
So- tomorrow is our last full day in Kyoto & we hope to find a famous sweets shop. Stay tuned...