Feel free to check out day one of Kyoto but this is day two! We woke up early and got on the bus to Kinkaku-ji Temple, also known as the Golden Temple. This place was absolute madness and full of giant busloads of tourists and selfie sticks galore. I tried to capture it in the photos below as it was strange being around that energy and then turning your head a bit and seeing the zen landscape. The grounds themselves are gorgeous and the pond felt like a watercolour. The actual pavilion features a golden phoenix on the top and the top two layers are gold foil on lacquer. When it catches the light it glistens so proudly and really is a sight not to be missed.
From there more buses and trams and trains and walking to Arashiyama (an area to the west of Kyoto). It feels like a little village as the streets are narrow and there are different cafes, shops and knick knacks. This is a great place to spend a few hours as there are lots of things to see and do and it’s all walking distance to one another. First up is the bamboo grove and something I’m sure everyone photographs but really the experience is being there. Standing amongst this huge bamboo grove and seeing them soar up above you was bewildering (to me the contrast between looking up and seeing that, and being in NYC and seeing skyscrapers was really spooky). This area takes up a few ‘streets’ so get lost and enjoy the different kind of ‘jungle’.
Just next door is Tenryu-ji Temple and its’ stunning zengarden (probably the main attraction here). The grounds are amazing and it feels like you’re on a movie set as everything is so immaculate. The inside is a real wonderland to relax and reflect in. We sat there for a long time talking and thinking about our trip so far. If I ever had a ‘deep’ moment on this trip it was probably here. I think the atmosphere just gets to you and you can’t help it sometimes.
A few minutes walk away and you’ll hit a giant river crossing. Cross over the bridge and there are some shops and cafes to grab ice-cream or a hot drink. If you’re feeling fit then head to Monkey Mountain. It takes about half an hour to walk up and is quite a climb but I think well worth it. At the top is a) a breathtaking view and b) the wildest monkeys you’ll encounter. It did feel very touristy and at one point they put on the chicken dance song which ruined it a bit for me. The monkeys themselves are really charming and you get kind of swept away watching them run around and play. There are a bunch of them so you definitely get your ‘moneys worth’ but I guess to that aspect it is basically a zoo.
Back in Kyoto and near our capsule hotel was Ganko Sushi. From the outside it looks like a mess with all the plastic recreations but actually everyone inside were locals. We went there for dinner and it was really nice. Our sushi chef prepared our dishes right in front of us and then placed them fresh for our happy consumption. The waiter was really funny and made the whole experience for me.
That night was full of entertainment and we hit up some shops and then an arcade. This time I insisted on playing some games and tried my luck at maimai (this slapping game similar to dance mat but with your hands). It hurts as you’re constantly slapping but I was actually pretty damn good. Some girls stopped to watch me play and they gave me thumbs up afterwards so maybe I should start a club over here? Who wants to be my co-captain?
From there we stayed out lateish and then wandered to bed. The next day was a long travel one so we needed some good zzz’s (and no I didn’t win any of those Hello Kitty toys, sorry).