In case you missed my Tokyo or Tokyo DisneySea post you can check them out! Now we are in Kyoto and the city of culture, temples and yummy scrummy food. I guess the first thing to note about Kyoto is just how big and stretched out it is. Tokyo is huge but easily connected, in Kyoto there are subways but they aren’t the best, you’ll be wanting to take taxis or buses. There are a bunch of temples in Kyoto so do some research before you come as to what takes your fancy as I promise it’ll be hard to see them all!
We took the shinkansen from Tokyo to Kyoto and it took around two/three hours. We had seat reservations and everything was really simple with our JR Passes. The train itself was exactly on time (as you would expect) and surprisingly spacious. I had enough legroom to even put my suitcase in front of me and still didn’t feel claustrophobic at all. The speed is incredible and you don’t really notice it until you look out the window and try to focus on a building or tree in the distance. The transportation in Japan is top notch and we had no issues with any of it whilst there!
One of my highlights whilst being in Kyoto was visiting Fushimi Inari. It is located at the foot of Mt. Inari and was home to the God of Harvest, Inari Okami, many years ago. Many people come here to worship and pray for good crops but also an abundance of tourists check it out due to the beautiful vermilion gates. There are approximately 10,000 shrine gates (or toriis) and people are encouraged to walk through them up the mountain. Alongside the gates are many statues of foxes which are considered to be Inari Okami’s servants. They are spirit foxes that are believed to convey wishes (and apparently the little bibs they wear are presents from the God as a thank you for serving him). The striking orange-red, vermilion colour is supposed to symolise life and counteract spells and is regularly repainted to keep up the boldness. It is a very popular and busy spot but if you just keep walking then eventually you’ll lose the crowd and truly get to immerse yourself in the space.
I suppose the ‘big guy on campus’ would be Kiyomizu-dera. To get here we took a train and then walked for half an hour but there are buses/from downtown it’s easy. I’m not really sure how to talk about this place as it is so large with many different sections and aspects to it. I guess highlights to start would be the main hall. Shoes off of course and you can wander through and pay your respects in various different ways. The views are incredible as you are very high up in the trees and you can see out over the city. Kiyomizu-dera is known as the temple of clear water and this was something we only found out at the end whilst having tea. There was a large fountain gushing out water and a huge queue of people. We asked why and it is because the water churning out is apparently one of the freshest from a spring up in the mountain. You can see a big group of school kids below getting it and having a drink!
Walking back we went through Gion, which is an area with very elegant looking streets. The restaurants there are a little more classy and it felt very fancy. This area is known for Geisha’s but sadly we didn’t see any (although there is a show you can buy tickets for but we passed). For dinner we ate more downtown (cheaper area) and went to Komefuku Tempura (just ask someone where it is haha). Again it was very Japanese and lots of pointing and guessing but the food was incredible and it was affordable. I think on this trip I fell in love with tempura and the crunch mixed with different flavours and textures inside is just scrumdiddlyumptious
I’m going to end this post with our accommodation as it is quite unusual but something I had to try. We stayed at 9hrs which I believe has two locations but this is the bigger/better. They are sleeper capsules, meaning you get a little astronaut/morgue bed to spend the night. This particular capsule hotel is very new and modern as others are more wooden and rickety. To start you take off your shoes at reception and are given slippers for the duration of your visit. Then there is a shower/luggage floor and sleeping floor assigned to each gender (no mixing here sorry). On the men’s floor there are communal sinks, showers, hairdryers etc. anything you might need. You’re assigned a locker to put your bags in and inside there you’ll find some pyjamas, a towel and sleeping kit (side note – the free toothpaste they give tasted like bubble gum). Sleeping wise the little capsule comes with a screen for privacy, a plug and a light alarm that gets brighter and brighter to wake you up as obviously music would be very distracting to the other guests. I absolutely loved this experience and for the price think it’s a bargain. Just make sure you pack some ear buds and then just embrace it!
Thank you so much for reading! Kyoto part two will be coming in a few days and I visited the golden temple and some monkeys on a mountain (yes that is my new children’s book title). Sign up to the newsletter so you never miss a post and hope you have a great weekend!