Teahouses, restaurants, shops and Japanese arts shows are usually spilling people onto the street.
But this morning it is sleepy. We cruise through quiet Gion streets, browsing at hand-crafted wares that have been prepared for the early birds like us. The girls pick through fabric and tea canisters and pretty fans. We practice our Japanese thank you's: "arigato gozaimas"!
Later, we head to Nijo castle, and admire the painted ceilings, intricate wood carvings and hidden doors. I wished we were in kimonos as it felt like we belonged in a Geisha or Samurai movie!
Finally, we leave Kyoto and head home to Tokyo on the Skinkansen.
Travel tip on travelling with a pram:
The pram was a necessary nuisance. Finding and using lifts in the mosaic of subway platforms, shops and levels was troublesome and it frequently doubled our travel time, particularly when a few train or transport changes were needed. But we could not have done without it. Wherever you travel, your children will be walking around and they will get tired. They will need a rest, and you will need a rest from the high alert that parents remain on whenever their young children are not buckled in somewhere. We used it frequently for our two and a half year old and also occasionally for our five and seven year old.
My advice is to take (or hire - plenty of attractions in Japan had prams for a small fee) a pram and allow extra time for travel!