We left Tokyo a few days ago on a bullet train (Shinkansen) bound for Kyoto – 513km in 2 hours. Not too shabby for travelers that are used to public buses. Underestimating the amount of Japanese that travel in their own country on the weekend, we struggled to find a hostel for our first night here. We wandered the streets for a few hours with our packs, becoming increasingly over it, before we ended up in a little homestay with an old lady and her dogs. We had our own little Tatami room, complete with bamboo mats and Japanese kimono’s to wear to the shower.
Our first proper day in town we spent checking out a monthly craft market… turns out the Japanese LOVE their markets as this place was packed, with barely space to move. Add in the heat and the prices and we were over it in an hour. Last night we headed out for dinner in a beautiful area called Gion that is one of Kyoto’s original and last Geisha areas- one of the most exclusive and well known in Japan. We didn’t see any Geisha, but we wandered the beautiful streets and ate some weird chicken Yakitori- stomach and all.
Today someone (me) decided it would be a good idea to ride bikes across the city to a bamboo forest and some temples despite someone elses (Liam’s) protests. Two hours later we arrive hot and sweaty, but also glad to be there as the place was beautiful, if not sprawling with tourists. We checked out the forest as well as some temples and some beautifully traditional gardens, as well as having a laugh at some of the posing that the Japanese like to do. My favourite was a group of three girls- one posing, one photographing and the other using the torch on her phone to supply flattering lighting to her friend. No word of a lie.
After lunch (sushi on the steps of a supermarket – stay classy) we checked out another temple – a gold one this time, made friends with some Japanese school kids and then made our way home quickly to some cold beer. I think we’re close to being over temples… it doesn’t take long. Tonight we had some of the best ramen yet, more gyoza, and we’re about to fall asleep at 8.40pm. Raging.