The machiya we are renting is in a neighborhood called Kamibentencho, adjacent to the well known Gion district. Although tourists are drawn to this area, both Western and Japanese, it is not simply a tourist attraction filled with ryokan, hotels, restaurants, and rental units. It is also a neighborhood where Japanese people have lived for centuries and still do. The side streets are narrow single lanes where even some Japanese cars cannot go: last night a compact mini-van was unable to negotiate the T-intersection outside our door and had to back up the way it came.
Directly across the street from us, meaning about 10 feet from our front door, is a tiny restaurant with a beautiful entrance garden.
Some of the streets are bordered on either side by lovely walls, revealing nothing of what lies behind them.
In the nearby Yasaka-Kamimachi neighborhood, we were at first puzzled to see many Japanese, and a few Westerners, dressed in traditional Japanese clothing. And not just the women, but also some men. It was only when we began to notice the many kimono rental shops that we realized what was going on: they were tourists who paid to rent the clothes and photograph themselves on the traditional streets. Selfie-sticks abounded.
Here the photographers are trying to capture just the right image of the Hokanji temple in the late afternoon light.
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