Posts tagged ‘kyoto’

The Happiest Moment of Luke’s Life

On our second day in Kyoto began with a breakfast

breakfastin the cafe next to the hostel, bacon and cheese on toast. Pretty good. Pretty cheap.

We had an action packed day planned. We headed south to the Fushimi-Inari Shrine which is somewhere you have to visit if you go to Kyoto. It’s a beautiful shrine famous for the miles of torii gates that weave in, out and around the shrine buildings. It feels like a magical place, especially when the sunlight slices through each gate and the surrounding trees. Here are a bunch of photos: IMG_1931 IMG_1949 IMG_1947DSCN0201 DSCN0233

DSCN0234DSCN0192   The photos give you an idea what it’s like but really you have to go there and walk through the paths. There are so many shrines in this complex, tiny ones and the major central ones. There are handy vending machines throughout, so you won’t get thirsty. You could play an incredible, potentially unending, game of hide and seek here.

After wandering around for hours we looked for a Zen garden that my friend in Tokyo had insisted we visit. She had visited it with her dad a week before while they were evacuated from Tokyo. She said that you pay a small entrance fee (I think about Y300), take off your shoes and walk around a building with 4 stone gardens surrounding it. She said when they went, they took their shoes off and it started snowing and it was magical.

Well, after I nearly broke into some private property thinking it was the entrance, we eventually found the place. It was the Tofukuji temple.

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It was a beautiful sunny day so if it started snowing when we were in there I would be suspicious that they had a snow machine. We paid for our tickets, left our shoes in the shoe shelf and walked in. No snow. What a rip off. Still, it was properly Zen. There were one or two businessy looking people who had brought a packed lunch and were sitting looking out over the gardens, silently eating. The gardens were designed in the 1930’s and have remained the same ever since. It was one of the quietest, calmest places I’ve been. DSCN0265IMG_1953

We then headed north to Arashiyama Park.

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It’s a beautiful area of Kyoto with a mountain you can pay to go up where there are loads of monkeys. It costs about Y500 and there are monkeys all over the mountain and signs everywhere that say things like “DO NOT STARE AT THE MONKEYS IN THE EYE” which makes the hike up to the top quite terrifying. At the top of the mountain there’s a shed/cage where the humans go inside, buy monkey snacks and you can feed them through the mesh. It is excellent.

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Luke has never been this happy, before or since

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you can see him pitying me inside my cage

Though the bigger monkeys push the smaller ones out of the way, so I deliberately made an effort to get the snacks to the little monkeys and a bigger one looked at me with such an astonished look, like HOW DARE I, that it makes me laugh to remember it. DSCN0304

The view at the top is pretty spectacular, you can look over all of Kyoto. An added bonus is the monkeys playing with the telescopes, looking like monkey tourists.

Back at the base of the mountain is a wealth of prettiness.

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A wide river populated with traditional boats you can get boat tours in, cherry blossoms everywhere – it looks like a postcard. We strolled around this lovely area but as it was dusk things were closing up. There’s a lot to see here that we didn’t have time to, like bamboo groves, a preserved street of houses from the Meiji period, fishing trips and, as with everywhere in Japan, approximately a metric fuckton of temples.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We were pretty tired so when we got back to central Kyoto we got dinner from a supermarket which included these weird things which were 100% texture 0% taste. IMG_1985

 

 

Philosophers Walking

We left Nara and headed to Kyoto. 

Kyoto Station is huge and futuristic, and it took us a bit of figuring out to find our way to the correct subway to get to our hostel.

I’d booked us into this place before the earthquake but due to it being cherry blossom season it was so busy I had to book us two different rooms for each night we were staying in Kyoto. After the earthquake loads of rooms became available & I could change our reservation so we had one private double room for both nights. A small reward for not cancelling our trip. The staff were very friendly, the lobby was very cool, our room was tiny but very clean & perfectly adequate.

If you only stay in these type of hostels you can travel around Japan really cheaply & safely. Most work out at around £15-20 a night per person which is pretty much what you’d pay in Western Europe but you can be pretty sure the Japanese hostels will always be clean & neat (never a guarantee in Europe or elsewhere, probably). Quite a few of these Japanese hostels have different branches across the country and offer free night offers on a loyalty scheme so you can save again.

We dumped our stuff & decided to try to catch some Kyoto culture before sundown. Free wifi helped us figure out what bus to get where. The bus has a ticket machine onboard that you buy from & we went all the way to the Silver Pavillion. By the time we got there the temple was closed so we didn’t get to see it but I had cleverly chosen this temple so we could walk the Philosopher’s Path from it.

This is a 2km canal-side path which is saturated with cherry blossom. It was so pretty I can’t even begin to tell you. I’ll just show you photos.

here is a woman taking a picture of her dog enjoying the cherry blossom

my normal clothes sometimes look like I’m cosplaying

  

 We decided to walk all the way back to our hostel & had a wonderful stroll through Kyoto along the canals as the sun set.

The hostel is near Gion which is known as the Geisha district. There’s a lot to do in this area. Loads of bars, restaurants, and shops. We wandered through a covered shopping street nearby and saw an Okonomiyaki restaurant called Mr Young Men so we went there for dinner.

This was my first experience of okonomiyaki & I bloody loved it. It was huge. I had a set meal which included miso and some onigiri (which was far too much food for me) for about £6. As an extra treat each okonomiyaki dish had names like Mr. Modern Man and Mr American. It was a really local seeming place. Dim & a bit grubby. Very authentic feeling. I’d definitely recommend it. Cheap, tasty & huge.

 There’s a pretty good okonomiyaki place in London where they cook it on teppans at your table but it’s so expensive! It’s called Abeno & is a good bet if you want to try okonomiyaki authentically but while paying twice what you would in Japan.