Friday, December 14, 2007

Japan 15: Kyoto 3, Gion district

For visitors who have the impression that Japan is a very expensive country, this might just be a great surprised. This is a little secret for people who have not been to Japan: The BigMac in Japan cost 280円 or about S$3.70 which is still cheaper than BigMac in Singapore, namely S$3.85. After years of deflation, while the rest of the world experience inflation, the prices in Japan has become much more affordable. Although exorbitant prices of the late bubble period still exist, Japan can be cheaper than in fact many major cities around the world, including the self-proclaimed paradise of Singapore.

In Japan, all bus schedules and trains schedules are clearly indicated. No matter in small towns or big cities, they really provide a great favour for commuters. And in this case, in Kyoto, they add a little touch of cuteness to their bus arrival times.

The streets of downtown Kyoto by night. It does not look, sadly, like an ancient city, but rather a modern city.

A beautiful modern building, with interesting rooms.

However, the district of Gion preserves the streets of the ancient city. Here is where a Kabuki theater stands along the street.

The narrow streets of Gion that snake around. Losing one's direction in the dark streets, of endless rows of houses and shops, can be easy.

But soon, the subtle beauty of the architecture is realised.

Although, at a first glance, all the buildings and structures seem to be uniformly the same, but on a closer look, each shop displays an individualistic characteristic of Japanese design, with heavy use of wood and paper, in simple, refined and symmetric design.

Most of the shops that are opened are mostly restaurants.

And looking from the exterior of these restaurants, of fine design, refined taste, one can be sure that the food served in these restaurants are of similar caliber. Of course, not forgetting to mention the prices, at least around 3000 per person or even more.

A very interesting menu indeed.
Honestly, if these are the prices to be paid for an authentic Japanese traditional meal right in the heart of the cultural centre of Japan, especially the famous Kaiseki of Kyoto, then it could be fairly reasonable, given the fact that similar establishments in Singapore charge around the same price, only the location is totally different.

In the Gion district, there is a theater catered for tourists to experience several Japanese traditional performing arts all in a short span of 1 hour, at a price of 2800.

With only foreigners present in the audience seat, one might wonder how authentic these almost factory manufactured performances are. A quick fix for Japanese cultural performances just for the mass foreigners.

Geishas can be seen from time to time in this part of the city. Probably serving to entertain very wealthy customers; this Geisha for example, just alighted from a posh vehicle. And they all seemed to be in a rush where they quickly disappeared around the corner; either catching up on their next performance, or just shunning away from the irritating visitors.

One very interesting notice located in the streets of Gion.



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