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Shrine City

Cherry Blossom Adventures - Kyoto

semi-overcast 23 °C
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Travelling via Himeji, by mid afternoon we had arrived in Kyoto. After being helped out of the right exit in Kyoto's huge station by some locals, we stopped by the supermarket before heading to our hotel.

Our Ryokan

Our Ryokan

After staying in a hotel with an onsen in Hiroshima, Kyoto was providing us with our most traditional hotel setting - a ryokan, a traditional Japanese style inn. Part of the reason for this wasn't just to add something traditional to our trip, but also because it was much much cheaper.

The trip itself was planned for over a year, and back in June I had had a quick look to see the status of hotels during the peak season. By then, still 9 months in advance, 80% of hotels were already booked. Although sharing a toilet and sleeping on mats on the floor for three nights wasn't ideal, it was £150 more for a Love Hotel in the suburbs, or £50 on top of that for the next cheapest hotel. Therefore we decided to rough it. It would be traditional, the location was good, and it wasn't for too long.

Arriving at the hotel, we were greeted warmly by the owner, who despite not having the best English was very chatty. After grabbing dinner we settled in for the night on our straw mats.

Inside our room

Inside our room

The following morning, after an uncomfortable sleep, we headed out for the first of our two days in the city. After sorting out our two day transport passes, we then headed out of the city to the Daigo-ji shrine, to the south east of the city.

Daigo-ji

Daigo-ji

Kyoto was coming towards the end of the cherry blossom season, and in a few days it would all be gone, but whilst we were here at least we got to see the city of Shrines covered in cherry blossom.

After arriving at the nearby train station, it was just a ten minute walk up the hill to the shrine, with the grounds covered in cherry trees. We started by heading to the Buddhist temple at the end of the complex, which is reflected below into a large pool of water. It was at this beautiful spot that I proposed to Chris.

Engaged

Engaged

After he accepted, we enjoyed the special moment before continuing with our sightseeing. We walked around the shrine itself, before heading to the hall at the entrance, where there was a beautifully landscaped and zen garden.

Zen Garden

Zen Garden

Sitting in the already warm morning heat, we enjoyed the surroundings before heading off to our next sight in the city, the Philosopher's Walk. This old canal is lined with cherry blossom, and thus was a real visual treat during this week.

Philosopher's Walk

Philosopher's Walk

It was full of people, including newlyweds taking photos, but we still managed to enjoy the views and stopped for an ice-cream pudding. Annoyingly for a city this size, there is a very limited metro and train network, with a reliance on buses. With many many people in the city at this time it made the journeys generally quite uncomfortable, but nevertheless we still managed. With it already being early afternoon, we headed to our last area of the day - Gion. We started at the Yasaka shrine in Maruyama park, which was teaming with street food and visitors.

Gion

Gion

We then headed off through the Geisha areas in the heart of Gion, before reaching the Kiyomizu-dera wooden hilltop shrine. Unfortunately it was undergoing renovation, so we weren't able to see it in it's full glory, but there were still grand views over the valley below.

Kiyomizu-dera

Kiyomizu-dera

After a busy day in the heat, we headed back in the afternoon to our hotel for a well earned rest. After sitting down for a while I went into my suitcase to grab some holiday notes. Putting them back ten minutes or so later I noticed a bug inside my suitcase. Flinching I realised it was a massive centipede! How on earth did it get there, when it was locked all day, and how was I going to get it out?

Chris passed me a bag, and we attempted to tip it from my raincoat on which it was laying, into the bag - but as soon as we moved the coat it quickly crawled deeper inside my suitcase. Panicking that it may get lost inside and crawl to lay eggs, I grabbed the coat, wrapped it up and put it in the bag as soon as I could, hoping it was inside!

Running past the hotel owner, I opened to front door and tipped the raincoat out, luckily seeing the centipede drop to the floor, but then crawling quickly towards me. After shaking the coat to remove any eggs from the coat, I quickly headed back inside making sure the door was closed. It later turned out that this bug was the Mukade - a venomous centipede that can eat mice... lovely.

Somehow managing to sleep that night, the following morning we headed out to the Fushimi Inari Shrine, famous for it's torii walk. Unsurprisingly, it was full of tourists, but we still got to enjoy walking beneath the arches.

Fushimi Inari

Fushimi Inari


Kinaku-ji

Kinaku-ji

We then headed across the city to the Golden Shrine of Kinkaku-ji, which if I'm honest paled in comparison to the similar Golden Temple of Amritsar. Nevertheless it was an interesting sight, and after stopping for frozen cola, we headed towards our next sights in Arashiyama.

Bamboo Forest

Bamboo Forest

Arashiyama is a suburb on the edge of the city, and contains several exciting places. The first was the Bamboo walk, which although pretty was pretty spoiled by so many tourists, which prevent the serenity from being taken in. We then continued our walk by heading through a park, and heading down to the riverside, where the river was full of boats, including one taking tourists for lunch with a couple of geishas.

Geisha Lunch Boat

Geisha Lunch Boat

After grabbing a bit of food we crossed the wooden bridge and headed up a hill to the Monkey Reserve. A long walk, but fun to see monkeys giving death stares and demanding food.

Monkey Park

Monkey Park


Kyoto Castle

Kyoto Castle

After a long day, we headed back to our hotel via Kyoto Castle, but with it having already been a long day we decided not to head in and instead went back to our hotel for a rest before packing our bits, as tomorrow we would be headed to the Japanese capital of Tokyo.

Tips

Posted by kmmk17 10:49 Archived in Japan Tagged monkey hostel sightseeing shrine eastasia cherryblossom

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