After a long overnight bus trip from Nagano, we arrived in Kyoto in the morning. I had a good sleep with it’s super comfy seats and listening to some smooth music where I slept comfortably. Until I heard a burst of giggly noise from my wife which I knew she must be listening to one of her podcasts. At first, I thought she was dreaming of little kittens and puppies chasing her.
The bus stopped adjacent to the train station and it was a quite a walk to our next guesthouse. It was a sunny day in the morning and a hill to climb. Me thinks there may be a lot of hills to get around in Kyoto.
After 30 – 40 minutes or so, we finally made it. Only thing is, the host was no where to be seen. We wander around without our shoes, stayed in for a little respite and getting ourselves in order for the day. Not knowing where our room was, we just make ourselves at home for a cuppa tea. As we step outside, Em notice outside the front door that there was a cute little note with my name attached.
It seems it works like a trust system where travellers can accomodate themselves with respect of course. There are rules and conditions to follow like taking off shoes and bike rental. Overall, we both like the place as it is clean and away from noise and pollution. Actually there is no pollution in terma of air. Because smoking is totally ban outside near the inner city.
Our dorm room is really comfortable and one of the best so far in our trip. The doona is fluffy and the mattress is like you’re on a cloud but you get a sense of little hands carrying your back. Plus we have the room all for ourselves for the next 3 days.
Old Kyoto Streets
Our itinerary was beginning to evolve after speaking to one of the guests and were suggesting in visiting Kiyomizu Dera (Pure Water Temple) and the famous stairs i.e. Ninen-Zaka and Sanen-Zaka. Also visiting Fushimi Inari Shrine (1000 shines) but for this visit may require cycling to the place as it is far away from our place.
Reaching to Kiyomizu-Dera was a nice walk from our place as you visit the cemeteries and having a fantastic view by overlooking the town. There’s an entry fee ( i think it’s 400 yen e.g $4) to enter the temple but decided not to do it and took pictures outside.
The area is pretty big and a lot of tourists. We learnt that kyoto is a place where you can dress in a kimono outfit and we’ve seen lots of them. So if you’re thinking of taking a selfie with a Japanese wearing the outfit then you’ll be pleasently surprised that they’re not. It’s better to hire one or buy a used clothing for cheap and enjoy the festivities.
Struggling to go through past the crowd, we’ve reached at the steps of Sanen-Zaka steps. But before we reached at this point. We’ve encountered wonderful treats to nibble on and its free to try. There are lots of different mochi and even the staff has encourages us to try some other snacks. This particular street is a highlight for us and feeling guilty we opt to buy one. Nevertheless, there are other different shops does the same thing by offering free pickles, chocolates, sesame chilli shaves, matcha tea and biscuits. The tasting is quite generous but try to appear genuine in buying one or at least buy one of you spent too long in a shop.
Parts in the street to the famous steps has the little shopping museums for people that are a fan of studio ghibli, hello kitty and other cute or anime stuff.
I liked going to the studio ghibli shop as it feels very nostalgic of the animation movies I watched when I was young. Back when I was studying in High School where it could be one of the reasons why I didnt do particularly well in School. But, from that little setback it’s not the end, there’s always be ladder to climb back up and an opportunity will arise for the better.
From the steps of Sannen-Zaka we strolled along towards Kodaiji temple and had the most fun and had a a romantic vibe to see the beauty of the temple, to the turning of the wheels or following the conditions of touching the belly/head of statues for good fortune. Also, seeing the trees hovering the path way towards Gion square was a sight to see.
City Streets and Modern Kyoto
Walking briskly past Gion square, we saw a Geisha walking and a lot of people gasps at her sight and wanted to take a selfie. Be aware though, its forbidden to touch and take a selfie with the Geisha as suggested on a sign post. Although, it may not be a Geisha and may be a Geiko or Maiko (Fake ones).
Not only Kyoto only has beautiful traditional pathways of streets that retains its charms from its old era but it also mixes well with the modern lifestyle where young people at heart go to party, eating at trendy restaurants and shopping for cheap and cool fashion.
It also houses big malls and cheap markets where people can buy high quality cheap food or shop at a local grocery for the budget concious such as us to eat meals at home.
There are some cheap local eateries where you can buy under $5 or more. Namely at some fast food places but we opt for 100 yen sushi which is $1 per plate. I think it was a satisfying eat out. Compare to Australia, we average in spending $25-30 or more in eating 8 to 10 dishes but here it’s very cheap. Generally we pay around $12.
Kyoto, is a good mix of the old and the new. I dont think 1 blog justifies enough of Kyoto so stay tuned for lots of Shrines and awkward poses.
To be Continued, Johnny