We've been visiting Kyoto over many years and have seen most of the sights once at least. The one place we always head for is the area between Kiyomizu and the Ryozen Kannon and Kodaiji Temple. We plan to spend the whole day visiting the temples and the restored traditional streets in between and inevitably run out of time.
This is the Kyoto everyone imagines, away from the cars, urban sprawl, high rise buildings and chain-store shops. You can buy all your souvenirs, hand-made, from the small individual shops here, stop of for lunch and tea (very reasonable prices) in the cafes along the route and wander off the main stone-paved pedestrian way to look at old Kyoto houses and tiny gardens.
Despite the crowds, especially at the Kiyomizu end, this place always feels relaxed. If possible leave time for Kodaiji - not as well known as Kiyomizu and with far less tour parties as a result. You can leave this till tea-time as this lovely temple has a modern garden which is illuminated at dusk. It also has late night opening in March and December.
I wandered off Sannenzaka into lovely garden onto which backed a teashop - which I'd not noticed before. I didn't need to buy anything - but was just welcome to look and photograph. A nice surprise.
This is the Kyoto you really came to see! Don't miss it.
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