We start our day off with a visit to Kinkaku-ji, the golden pavilion, originally a shogun villa but now a buddhist temple. Beautiful gold leaf temple (20kg gold used) with lovely gardens.

Nijojo castle visit next – this was the Shogun’s Kyoto Residence ( no picture taking allowed). Huge building with many rooms, gold walls with beautiful murals of tigers, pine trees, cranes and blossoms. Very impressive complex with lots of wood carvings and a garden full of Japanese maples and pines.

Alain, Jackie and I do the Samurai and Ninja Experience. We start off by learning about where Samurai came from (originally archers). Some of this I knew, but most was new to me. Afterwards we don samurai outfits complete with very long and heavy katanas for a fun photo shoot.

Once we were done playing dress up, it was time to practice being Ninjas and throwing shuriken ( Ninja Stars). It was all very interesting and informative.

After returning to our hotel to freshen up, we venture out to the Gion Geisha District in the evening. The Yasaka Shrine looks beautiful at night all lit up, as do the streets, full of tea houses, colorful lanterns, and original wooden buildings.

We are lucky and spot 7 separate Geisha walking briskly to the tea houses for their evening work. Most are Maiko ( apprentice geisha between 16-20 years old). We do see two older ones with more elaborate hair and hair ornamentation, as well as larger sleeves on their kimonos. Very glad we came out tonight, but we are not supposed to take any pictures as it is considered rude.

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