It was time to go to Kyoto. We had another early morning and headed the station to hop on the train. This is what the shinkansen (the bullet train) looks like:
We arrived in Kyoto too early to check-in to our Ryokan (a traditional Japanese inn). The owner was kind enough to keep our bags and offer us a welcome tea and homemade ogura cake, that was delicious.
We had planned to see 6 major spots in Kyoto, but we failed to check the size of the city. It was much bigger than expected and the public transport didn’t match our commuting needs. One point of interest was considerably far from the other, all spread over the city, so it was time to set priorities. We had only one day in town and chose to take it easy. We started having a tour around Nijo Castle, the best surviving examples of castle palace architecture of Japan’s feudal era. The building itself is beautiful, as well as its surrounding gardens. As with everywhere in Japan so far, the grounds were impeccably clean and well maintained.
It must have been the time of year, but it seemed like everywhere we went in Japan, we were always coming across groups of school kids – usually scurrying along with the teachers and tutors, but sometimes, they were alone. And they were constantly taking notes. It was really fascinating to me to see so many locals at these tourist spots. It seems like you never visit the historical locations in your hometown – only when you’re in a foreign environment. But here all the students were visiting. It was a bit empirical.
It was amazing how spontaneously these kids would interact with tourists. My brown skin and tall height, and my partner’s blue eyes and blond hair caught people’s eyes no matter where we went. It was very easy to realize people were staring at us because we were different from most of their population, but apart from a few exceptions (usually elderly people), no one really approached us – save for the school kids. They not only shouted “HELLO” and “GOOD MORNING” or “WELCOME” wherever we’d meet them, but would often go so far as to ask us for pictures. At first, in front of Kyoto castle, I thought these 2 girls were asking me to take pictures… of them. When I said yes, they started to histerically jump and shout “HE SAID YES, HE SAID YES” and instead of handing me the camera, they set the selfie mode and *BLING*, they had a selfie with my best confused face. I really felt like a celebrity afterwards.
After leaving the school kids and Kyoto Castle, we visited Kyoto market and decided it was a nice place to have lunch. They had simpler things like Miso, Lamen, Meat and stuff, but also had a more “special” section. I’ve never seen octopus eggs before, and though I found it cute, I stuck to the simple food.
We hung around for a while and before we realized, it was already getting dark. The quality of this picture is not very good but I love the idea it gives of Kyoto. Very traditional architecture, keeping alive the old times, mixed up with new buildings and modernity. It was taken in Shimogyo-ku – Tokiwacho.
Back in the Ryokan, this was our room:
I found it so cute. As an added benefit, sleeping in the tatami is more comfortable than I imagined (but not as comfortable as the capsules.). We ate something quickly, had a bath and enjoyed some Japanese tea before bed.
The next morning, we woke up around 8am as we wanted to go to Fushimi-ku before leaving Kyoto. Fushimi (one of the eleven wards in the city of Kyoto).
It’s a beautiful park around (guess what?) a temple, and arriving there you see immediately the first torii.
We went up to the mountain track under the infinity of toriis. It’s a very beautiful path along a forest. We went up, and up, and up, and up. We actually had no idea of how long the walk would be but were definitely not prepared for such a long one (and with part of our luggage!). Halfway up, we were gifted with this beautiful view over Kyoto.
That motivated us to keep on going up. And up, and up, and up. When we were about to give up and turn back, we saw this sign:
We were so close! So we kept going up hoping to have an even better panorama, perhaps towards the other side of the mountain, but it didn’t happen. Once we reached the top there was a sacred place for praying, but too inside of the forest to see anything around. It’s okay, we were happy enough to see the way down the mountain (enough with going up!).
We arrived back to the station, got the rest of our luggage in the lockers and stepped in the train to Osaka, hoping we were going to be rested enough to see a bit of the nightlife of the second largest metropolitan area in Japan: Osaka!