Our lodging in Kyoto was a small apartment in a modern block just outside the centre. We took a (surprisingly cheap) taxi to the quiet street on which it was situated, collected the key, and phoned our contact (on the mobile provided) as arranged. She arrived quickly, and was very helpful, showing us how everything worked, and giving us some useful tips about the city. If you want an apartment in Kyoto, you couldn't do better. Details are here.
We liked the decor - these guys stood guard over us:
apparently at the behest of Roosevelt's Secretary of State for War, Henry Stimson. We walked out on the first evening to see the Pontocho area, a maze of little alleys packed with bars and restaurants. As dark descended, these places opened for the passing trade, and we enjoyed a stroll along the bustling streets, which are no more than passageways, really.
Earlier that evening, we had gone into central Kyoto to eat. One of our concerns before travelling had been about food - we thought Japan was not going to be very veggie-friendly. We were wrong. Whilst most restaurants are heavy on fish and meat, there is plenty for the vegetarian, partly as a result of Japan's apparent love affair with Italian food. As we had in Tokyo, we found an Italian restaurant, and had an excellent meal with some decent wine. We were also entertained by the waitresses. At this place, they announced, in Japanese, the meal they were serving as they approached, and then placed the dish on the table with a resounding "Buon Appetito!"
We were well placed for a stroll along the Philosopher's way, which could easily be reached on foot from our digs. On our way, we passed the Okazaki Shinto Shrine, where the presiding spirit animal is the rabbit. There were a lot of rabbits.
He's a Tanuki, and you can find more than you really need to know about him here.
Anyway, the temples and shrines are beautiful, and they are there in abundance on the Philosopher's path, which we travelled along in bright sunshine on a beautiful day. We spent most of the day there, and saw all the major monuments. We also enjoyed browsing around the many handicraft shops that line the paths. Enough for now. More on the Philosopher's Way in the next Japan post.