By Bonson Lam
To cap off my Kyoto trip, I opted to walk through the lovely Kamogawa River district during the afternoon. It was the perfect place for people and bird watching - an area to get away from the crowd - as I had tried and failed to wait until sunset.
Kamogawa, which translates to 'duck river,' runs throughout Kyoto Prefecture. It is a long stretch of river running from the Kyoto Basin down south to the Yodo River. The walkway caters to locals mostly who are going out and about their daily lives. Tourists also seek this spot to enjoy the sound of the river flowing and for a breath of fresh air, relaxing away from the massive crowd of Kyoto. During the summer, restaurants open their balconies looking out onto the river. This is called "Noryo Yuka" where people enjoy outdoor dining to enjoy the cool breeze of the evening with their food.
One thing about the couples who sit along the riverbank is they always sit a certain distance apart. It is very interesting to look at as it comes from the Japanese culture of respecting other people's space. I must say that it is quite refreshing to experience how Japanese treat each other with so much respect.
Sometimes, you can also chance upon a Geisha or two, walking on the riverbank. Here, you will find and meet all kinds of people; whether they are jogging, cycling, painting, or just wanting to talk and meet you. I had the privilege of talking to a middle-aged Japanese man who was very eager to talk. It was a few minutes of sharing stories, giving brief backgrounds about our lives, and the happenings around where we were at that moment. It was one of those irreplaceable moments of simple joy where you connect with a stranger even for just a short while.
The Kamogawa River is best to be visited during dusk, or just when the sun is about to set. Afterwards, you can walk through Gion where the alley is beautifully lit up by the street lights and traditional lamps.
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