For the second part of our Japanese adventure, Emma, Jess and I headed to Kyoto, spurred on by the tune of “Rather Be” by Clean Bandit.
We decided to catch the over-night coach to Kyoto, because it was about a third of the price of the Shinkansen- the bullet train. We travelled on the Sunday night, and although it wasn’t the best night sleep I’ve ever had, it did the job! We arrived in Kyoto at about 6AM.
As Emma’s fantastic family were also visiting Japan, we joined them for the day and visited the Golden Temple, which was beautiful and then headed on a train to Nara. (The Passmo/Suica cards I mentioned in my previous post- Japan Part 1 –can also be used for the metro and buses in Kyoto too!)
In Nara we visited the Todai-ji temple, which was beautiful, and tried a bento box amongst the famously friendly deer! There were lots of shrines to visit, which we walked between- admiring the cherry blossom and boisterous deer along the way.
That night we stayed at Downtown Inn Kyoto, which is a capsule-style hostel, cheap and in an excellent location, and I would fully recommend it. We were very tired after the night bus so after picking up some sushi from the supermarket we headed to bed.
Today we decided to check out Nishiki market in the quest to find a cap with Hachiko, the famous dog, on it. This market had a Camden vibe, and was an extensive maze of food, jewellery, drink and clothes stall. It was colourful and vibrant, and after an hour of searching, I found the cap!!
The 10th floor of Kyoto Train station (which is well worth a visit), is a floor dedicated solely to ramen, which we had before getting the train to the Fushimi Inari shrine– where there are thousands of red Torii gates! We climbed to the very top, which took us about an hour and a half and is quite a work out. The sheer extent and number of gates was breathtaking, and the scenery was beautiful.
That evening we checked out the Geisha district in Gino, before heading back to our hostel.
On our final day in Kyoto, we got the bus to Arashiyama, where the Bamboo forests can be found.
Arashiyama is a town which runs along a beautiful river and is surrounded by hills, and it was so beautiful! It was nice to see a more rural part of Kyoto, and it was stunning.
I got my primate fix by climbing up the hillside of Arashiyama monkey park to see some Japanese macaques, who were wild but came close to humans in the hope for food! There was an amazing view point of Kyoto at the top, so it is well worth the climb.
We then wondered through the bamboo groves, before heading back into the city where we tried Okonomiyaki (more on this amazing meal in my other blog post), before catching the coach back to Tokyo that evening.
After another questionable night’s sleep on the coach, we headed to Sovra’s, where we chilled for most of the day and headed off on a quest to find Sovra’s phone which she had lost the night before. We found it in the 9th karaoke bar. A true hero.
Our final day in Tokyo!
Today we tried an Onsen in the local town of Inagi. Onsens are hot springs, which you can visit and relax. There was a male and female section for privacy, with indoor and outdoor pools of different temperatures, and some had added scents and oils too. It was a really relaxing experience and the pools were beautiful. Be prepared, you have to be totally naked to enter the pools but this is actually a very liberating experience!
That evening we had our last supper of ramen at one of the restaurants in “ramen street” at Tokyo station. As Emma and I had a flight back to Heathrow early the next morning, we decided to sleep at Tokyo Narita airport overnight- if you are going to do this, get there early as seats for sleeping on go very quickly!
I hope that I might have inspired you to go on a trip to Japan! Overall I loved the city scape and vibe, how cheap and tasty the food was, and how polite and kind the Japanese people were. We were incredibly lucky to have Sov as our tour guide, and it was a really happy two weeks!
Header: Origami cranes in Arashiyama, Kyoto 2018