KYOTO: my first trip there and I’ve fallen in love. Japan’s old capital validated my high levels of anticipation, making a return trip the top of my travel to-do list. Two and a half (very) short days were crammed full of sight see-ing and (of course) food, more than I can fit into one post. I’ll be breaking Kyoto down into smaller stories, but first here it is: Kyoto in a nutshell.
Day one: An embarrassingly indulgent breakfast of pancakes and coffee and roaming around Kyoto station and its many levels of shopping. Kyoto station was a stunning example of functional but beautiful design. Large expanses of criss-crossing metal beams form walls- yet never enclose to form a building, allowing light and air to stream through.
Nishiki Market: It was easy to get disoriented in the bustling roads of shopping for everything from fish to wigs.
It was here that I also visited a temple to receive a fortune, after a few technical difficulties. Like most temples, a few hundred yen can be exchanged for a “fortune”, which you can take as lightly or as seriously as it suits you. I found a somewhat kitschy machine with an automated dragon(?) who fetched fortunes within an enclosed case.
It was here that I also ate a cat donut (adorable) burnt ramen (yes, burnt) and visited my first Cat Cafe.
The day culminated with a sensory overload at the Fushimi Inari Shrine. A series of hundreds of orange “Torii” gates leads up a mountain, called the Senbon Torii. We hit it just as the sun was going down, making the climb down treacherous but worth the view of the glowing orange shrines.
Day Two: Maiko Dress-Up in the Gion District, something I’ve been dreaming of doing and finally had the opportunity!
Kinkaku-ji, a stunning, golden temple which in the perfect weather absolutely glowed in against the blue sky and water.
This was followed by a return trip to the Gion District to explore the bustling nightlife and souvenir shops. In contrast to my other experiences in cities, Kyoto was surprisingly lively past 8 pm. Tokyo’s nightlife felt more hectic, and chaotic, especially in the Shibuya area. Kyoto, on the other hand was alive with excitement and yet entirely comfortable, like a spirited reunion with old friends.
Day Three: after a hasty breakfast and bus ride we spent an ethereal hour at Ginkaku-Ji, Kyoto’s silver temple (aka… the not so silver temple).