It’s just the perfect combination of everything. All the best bits of Tokyo (the shops, restaurants and bustling streets) mixed with the luxury of mountains, forests and streams.
Just like the rest of Japan, Kyoto has that sunshine and warm heat without the humidity, the busy streets without the stress and the hecticness of city life but with an organised and smooth- running feel. It’s lovely.
The Shinkansen bullet train down here was fun- it felt like we were levitating and you couldn’t really look out the window because it makes your eyes go funny. But trying to find the hostel wasn’t fun. Google maps sent us in the opposite direction so we spent loads of time dragging out bags down the streets trying to find it until we gave up and got a taxi. Take note- if you’re a backpacker never ever ever get a taxi in Japan. The five minute taxi ride costed us more than half of what our bullet train tickets cost (and that got us halfway across the country).
Guest house Ga-Jyun is a lovely place to stay. Just like everywhere else we have stayed so far, it’s really cosy and homely. The staff are lovely and they offer a healthy free breakfast of fruit, yogurt, herbal tea and pastries. The only issue is that the rooms are quite cramped and they don’t have locks on the doors, but it doesn’t feel like you need them and there are lockers for valuables. AND THEY HAVE A DOG AHHH!!
We’ve been feeling pretty exhausted from all the moving around and I’ve actually been a bit uptight and grumpy, then found myself getting uptight and grumpy about the fact I was feeling uptight and grumpy.
I’ve been having trouble sleeping and really vivid dreams still, a consequence of staying in different beds all the time. It’s made me start overthinking things and getting wound up and not making the most of my time here. After the stress of getting lost at 10pm on our first night here, we then had to share a room with someone loudly snoring, a loud main road in the background, and no air con and I literally thought I was going to murder someone (so petty haha).
Luckily that feeling only lasted two days and now I’m over the moon with happiness again! I think I was just over tired. Our first two days in Kyoto have been chilled but productive. It’s so picturesque here it’s hard to not get stuck in a daydream as you’re walking down the streets. There are so many shops selling traditional Japanese ornaments and throws, statues, chopsticks and crockery. I’ve decide when I’m rich (not if, but when) I’m going to come back here and buy everything for my house.
I’ve ticked trying green tea ice cream off of my bucket list, something I’ve wanted to do for a long time, and it was delicious! It had such a strong flavour of fresh green tea but the after taste was really creamy.
I’ve also done a bit of shopping! I told myself I wouldn’t then realised I’d spent way less than expected, so I got myself and my mum and Daruma doll (finally!) and these gorgeous mugs which people over here serve their herbal tea in.
There’s quite a few museums in Kyoto, but you have to pay for most. Luckily, the museum of traditional crafts was free, so we had a look around and saw some pretty nice stuff, with a traditional Japanese style- portable shrines, giant weaves, bows and arrows, homemade candles etc.
Although we didn’t actually end up getting any food at Ponto Cho, it was a special experience walking down the narrow alley way in the early evening. It was like the Golden Gai of Kyoto. Tiny, authentic restaurants plastered side by side lit up the bustling alleyway.
The reason we ended up not eating there is because it makes it difficult enough when a pescatarian (me) and a fussy eater (jenny) try finding somewhere they can both eat, and it makes it even more difficult when 80% of the places available only have Japanese menus and no one speaks English.
We took a look around the Bamboo forest in Arashiyama which was gorgeous! The bamboo was a lot more spread out than I expected, but each one was so tall and had delicate leaves at the top. They had these people giving tours around the forest, dragging around carriages with people on them like they were horses (worse job ever).
We’ve seen a couple more shrines and temples too, including the Noyomiya shrine which was a favourite. It had four large stands decorated in personalised wooden plaques, where people had written personal wishes and desires and hung them up.
The food has been just as good as everywhere else. I cannot get enough of these mini sushi snacks you can get from 7/eleven and Lawsons. They are sooo good I don’t know how I’ll live without them when we leave.
We did decide to get a Burger King one night though; we were in desperate need of a greasy, carby takeaway. We sat by a gentle stream in the middle of the town with a beer for me and peach cocktail for Jenny. We’d been watching all the Eagles fly around above us, waiting for the perfect moment to land on someone or something.
I had a small bite of my fish burger left and before I knew it something felt like it pinched my hand. It happened so quickly we had no idea what had just happened… An eagle had flown down and grabbed the last bit of my burger from my hand and flown away so quickly we haven’t even seen it! The funniest bit was that my hand was still in the same position it had been before the burger was taken away.
I can’t believe we only have four days left until we got to Vietnam. It feels like we’ve been away from home for so long, but the more we’re away the more time is flying past.
Our final days here are going to consist of going round to different shrines and temples, making the most of Japanese food and relaxing before we go to Vietnam and start drinking more!