Johnnie Hillwalker's Johnnie Kyoto Walking Tour

Member Rating 4 out of 5 by Foxboro Marmot on December 6, 2003

Under the name Johnnie Hillwalker, Hajime Hirooka conducts a five hour English language walking tour of Kyoto from March through November. Our group was truly international: the US, Canada, Serbia, Korea and Singapore were represented, along with an assortment of Japanese who wanted to practice their English.

Nothing much happened during the first half hour of the tour. We met outside JR Kyoto Station across the street from Kyoto tower and got organized before crossing the street to the JNTO Tourist Information Office. We picked up a few more people and then walked to Higashi-Honganji Temple, where the tour really started. The first part emphasized the Buddhist religion and the Shinto faith as we walked through this large headquarters temple, smaller Shinto shrines and a neighborhood temple and burial ground. The second part revealed the workshops hidden in private homes and small buildings on side streets - candy, fans, tatami mats, tofu, pastry, pottery - all manufactured in small interdependent businesses.

Along the way there were a few snacking opportunities. Johnnie provided a piece of inari sushi (don't worry, it's not raw fish!) and a rest stop for Japanese pastry and tea, but there is no lunch stop. Be sure to take a bottle of water and a small snack.

Five hours, to be honest, was more than we wanted; the tour probably should be broken into two, smaller tours. Speaking of breaking down, after awhile our group broke down into those who kept up with Johnnie and those who lagged behind. I felt Johnnie could have told us much more in our stops in the last hours of the walk, but he would always wait for the stragglers to join us before speaking much. Toward the end of the walk the comments got a bit vague as he kept to schedule: "A famous pottery maker lived here. Now let's walk . . ."

A very educational tour given at a slow walking pace. It only covers 3 kilometers, but being on your feet for five hours turns it into an endurance contest. Still, highly recommended.

Johnnie Hillwalker's Kyoto Walking Tour
Outside JR Kyoto Station
Kyoto, Japan

© LP 2000-2009