From various sources, I read that Shinbashi Dori has been called the most beautiful street in Asia. After reading that, I couldn’t possibly pass up the opportunity to hunt this street of beauty down and check it out. So, with a couple guides and my trusty international T-mobile phone with me, I steered my group down to the Gion district where Shimbashi Dori is just a block down from the Yasaka Shrine.
Did it meet my expectations? Absolutely. My pictures, though nice, really don’t do it justice.
Again, being an old school fan of the anime Rurouni Kenshin, I could almost hear the shuffling sound of the pink-haired ronin samurai’s sandals coming down the street.
Luckily, I was able to make it here during daylight, but at the same time, it was near dusk, so it was nice to be able to enjoy the street in the light of the setting sun and get to see the place at night as well.
Like the Ninen Zaka and Sannen Zaka streets by the Kiyomizudera temple, this Shimbashi area was also lined with machiya, two-story buildings that have living quarters upstairs and a shop downstairs. Many of these establishments were restaurants, and being in the Gion district, there were geisha establishments, too. I didn’t see any geisha strolling around myself, not that I was really looking for them, but I think at the time I was there, near evening, they were all probably in doors preparing for the evening of customers, and if I were geisha hunting, I’d probably go earlier when they were headed off to work.
There were, however, tons of tourist women dressed up in kimono rentals and wandering around in the picturesque area. Though taking pictures of them is common among tourists, I didn’t snap any pictures of myself, though, because I was generally trying to avoid people in my photos.
Some of the more expensive establishments were along the little river that paralleled the street. We couldn’t afford that posh experience, but that didn’t stop us from enjoying the view.
It wasn’t just the main street that looked pretty. Even the alleys that branched off had that old Kyoto feel to them.
Since we rushed through the street, I didn’t get to take as many photos as I wanted, so I definitely look forward to a more leisurely stroll down this area in the future, and maybe I’ll save up for a little tea ceremony experience in the area.
Next up, New Year’s festival at the Yasaka Shrine.