(March 22,23 and 24)

In Kyoto, the sun finally came out AND the cherry blossoms were in full bloom.

Our first stop was the Kiyomizu-dera Temple. We had visited several temples in earlier cities, but the big attraction at this temple were the cherry blossom trees, which were spectacular.

A west view of the Nio-mon gate, Kiyomizu-dera Temple 

As always near these busy temples were many shops catering to tourists and other visitors.

Uniquely, cucumbers on a stick

And the ever popular ice cream

Next day, under cloudy skies, we visited what may be the best known and most often photographed Shinto Shrine , Fushimi Inari Taisha 

The Fushimi Inari Taisha Shinto Shrine. 

The shrine itself is at the base of the Inari Mountain and is an easy walk from the train station. 

However, the unique thing about this shrine are the many, many (over1000) "torii gates" which wind up the side of the mountain.

The gates are mostly "sponsored" either by businesses, or in some cases, by wealthy individuals.

Foxes, regarded as messengers, are often found at Inari Shrines. This one holds the key to the granary in its mouth.

We didn't make it to the top of the mountain and it started to rain when we came back down, so we decided to head back to the hotel to dry out.

In the afternoon, because the weather was still very wet, we visited the Kyoto Railway Museum. There were many exhibits, some indoors and some outdoors.

The indoor exhibits displayed all kinds of technical displays, such as braking systems, signaling, carriage wheels etc, as well as full size steam engines.

The outdoor exhibits were the old trains - many steam trains from the 1920's onwards and even one working steam train.

This engine is American made

This was a working steam engine, which took passengers on a ten minute round trip journey. We didn't partake.

On our last day in Kyoto, we visited the Gion district twice - once in the afternoon and then again in the evening. The Gion district was originally the entertainment or the geisha district. There is a canal running through the district and the cherry blossoms were in full bloom.

Within walking distance was the Kyoto-Gion Yashaka Shrine and the Maruyama Park. The best thing about the park was the abundance of cherry blossoms- the best we saw in Japan.

The Chion-in Temple

That evening, we went back to Maruyama Park, hoping to have dinner. The restaurant and the Temple were very pretty at night, but the restaurant was packed, so we finally had dinner at an Indian restaurant on the way back to our hotel.