Another day in Japan! But back to the roots this time. Only about an hour (or less if you take the speedy train) from Osaka, Kyoto is one of the most fascinating and culturally rich cities in the Country of the Raising Sun. Former capital of Japan has so much to offer that I regret to this day for not spending more time in the city. If anybody ever wanted to question my trips for being too fast paced and not allowing me to feel the place, this would be their leverage. But let me show you what I have actually managed to see this time and there still has been plenty 🙂
I spent less than 24h in the city, but tried to pack as much into it as possible. Luckily my dear friend Alberto has helped me to get around and see my number one in Kyoto: the Bamboo Forest (or Arashiyama Bamboo Grove) which I would have definitely missed as getting there wasn’t so straightforward. This grove with its pretty shrines is a pure pleasure to walk through in any weather. Actually the worse the weather, the better the atmosphere and magical the experience. So I am glad it rained when we went… sort of 🙂 And it gets super magical when you get to see a Maiko (A geisha-to-be) in her colorful dress! (I got too excited and my hands were shaking so sorry for the quality!)
I have to say I was also surprised and amazed by a small Japanese garden located in the middle of the grove. I could swear it was made for gnomes or other little creatures! And I would love to make a picnic there myself! Although that would be highly inappropriate as the glade was part of the Arashiyama shrine. This cute little bridge!… ❤
Nothing lasts forever though and we too had to move on. We took a ride in a cable car right into downtown Kyoto (not sure if you can even say that) in search for a place to eat. Kyoto is semi-affordable when it comes to prices. Japanese know the city is a very significant tourist spot and of course everybody wants to make money… either way after walking around for a while and eating some delicious local food (I think…) we decided to take it easy and explore the city. One thing I was surprised to see was how soon it gets dark. Japan is way closer to the equator than I thought and so the days in the summer are shorter too (unlike in England where we can have the last rays of sun at 10 pm this time of the year!). So I got to walk in them quaint local streets and admire traditional Japanese houses lit up by street lamps 🙂
But it being dark did not mean the exploration had to end! On the contrary. The nightlife in Kyoto is vibrant and colorful! And because the temperatures are very outdoor-friendly in the summer everybody craves to get out! (well, maybe not everybody – if you happen to know few Japanese..). But the streets are definitely busy and one can find a perfect place to have a drink or dance! Or do other things 😉 All of that in the Gion district (also known as Geisha district!). You have a high chance to actually spot a geisha wandering the cobble streets of Gion. So if you plan a visit to Kyoto – put this on your list! You can always step into one of the ochaya (Japanese for a teahouse) and be entertained by a geisha or maiko. Bear in mind this pleasure can set you back by thousands of yen.
The morning next day welcomed me with shed loads of sunshine! I was made up to see that I had few hours to see a little bit more of Kyoto before I left for Mt. Fuji. By few hours I mean probably 2 hours from leaving the ho(s)tel and boarding the Shinkansen. I really wanted to see the Kyoto Imperial Palace so that was my choice. When looking at the map and how to get there I noticed there was a beautiful complex of temples quite nearby (15 mins walking) so I decided to stretch the trip and do both. Although I had to hurry up (which ultimately resulted in me almost missing the train but lets skip that bit…). As it turned out the temples well worth the visit! I had the Shimogamo-Jinja complex almost all to myself so I could (quickly) walk around and admire one of the most impressive torii there is.
The last sight in Kyoto I managed to “discover” was the Imperial Palace. Although I was disappointed to find out you cannot really get inside and you can only have a look at it from the outside. So one has to use his imagination to see what it was like centuries ago when the country was ruled by the emperor based in the building right in front of you. I wasn’t impressed. Apparently the building had burned quite few times in the past (as its made purely of wood, so you can imagine how flammable it is). But the thing is that Japanese in their culture do not pay attention to the past and old buildings as the western world does. On the contrary – old buildings (even with a potential historical value) are torn down and replaced with new. Is that the answer to the question why the country is so technologically advanced? Could be.
There are many, many more fascinating places in this beautiful city I haven’t managed to see. So that’s my advice to you dear reader – if you ever happen to visit Kyoto – plan at least 3 days for it. It’s really worth it!
Have a look into my gallery below for more pictures. Enjoy!