Kyoto Momiji & Park

Sunday took me to Kyoto, the 1,000 year old ex-capital of Japan (from 794 until 1192, when Tokyo [Edo] more or less became the capital).  It was an interesting trip on the Bullet Train, where I got to talk to several interesting people, including one older woman who spoke no English.

Yasaka Shrine - The main Kyoto Shrine, in Gion.

I went to Kyoto especially to see a momiji (maple leaf) dance show by Geisha.  So, here I am with Geisha and a guy (two girls on the ends are Maiko, or apprentice Geisha).  This was also my first chance to see real geisha, to hear a shamisen played, and to see proper dance.
Normally, they have their pictures taken only with large groups of people at the event and mail the picture, but since I was leaving Japan, they agreed (in Japanese) to take a picture with me by myself.  Very cool.

One of the main ponds in the park - I'm on a bridge surrounded by Japanese and their kids on this holiday Sunday.  Now, the funny thing is that after standing here for a couple of minutes taking in this very Japanese scene (in the middle of the 1,000 year old Japanese capital city), I realize I'm hearing John Denver singing "Take me home, country road, . . . to West Virginia" !!  After I realize I'm not dreaming, I walk around the corner and . . . (see next picture)

There is an American (sorry for blur) signing folk songs in this Japanese Park ! 
Very strange juxtaposition of cultures !

Two famous guys with red tree.  Samurai.  Cool.

Random roof, with gold trip and tree

People lined up to pray at Shinto Shrine - you walk up, grab and shake a rope, which rings the gold bell to wake the gods to they might listen to you.

Another temple.  I believe the lanterns are from sponsors
(though you can pay to have loved ones' names on temples, too)

Lit up version of lanterns

Momiji - Red Maple Leaves

The Japanese are cremated upon death and interred in/under little headstones; this is a typical cemetery - in a crowded country you are surrounded even after you leave this world !

Detail view of a very large cemetery plot.  I believe the wooden sticks are per person buried here.  I could be wrong, as there is water here, which is used to cleanse oneself and maybe support the flowers.

Walking around Gion shopping district and saw this site - the Crab that Ate Kyoto

Pachinko Parlor

Inside the parlor - sort of a vertical pinball machine - very common, very boring.