Monday, December 26, 2016

Kyoto, Japan

I'd always wanted to visit Japan. From what I'd read and seen, there was quite an intriguing culture there, and one that would be markedly different from the one I've grown up in. It can be challenging to truly 'get away from it all' in the globalized world of the modern age; everything is connected, you are never far from news of home, and the comforts of home seem to find you all over, from a Starbucks in Sao Paulo to a Dunkin Donuts in Bangkok and the 24-7 connectivity of the internet.
But Japan has a life of its own, and I wanted to see what it was all about. I was not disappointed and in fact, would love to return to see more of the country. I had started off in Tokyo but with such a fantastic high speed rail system, I was going to check out more of the country. Kyoto was chosen as a second stop. 

Above, the famous Golden Pavilion or Kinkaku-ji, officially named Rokuon-ji, a Zen Buddhist temple in Kyoto. Of course I had to visit this. Sadly I missed othe popular Kyoto attractions. I was somewhat limited by traveling circumstances, so I'll have to see some of those places another time. 
but first, we had to get there.

I'd gotten a rail pass, an amazing deal and restricted to tourists. Going to Japan? Get one. I ordered it online and picked it up at the airport after arrival. Above, one of the trains similar to one we rode.
Below, some views from the ride.

We got to Kyoto and had a fiasco where we couldn't find our hotel. This is a common problem. I have learned over the years that when going to a totally new place, it's good to to look at all the things that make this unknown destination easier to navigate.. I've purchased maps in advance, locating my hotel/hostel and knowing where I need to go. I also look at Google street view to get a sense of where to walk. On the maps I consult, I note landmarks and remember them - as in, after I leave the train station, walk towards the McDonalds (if I a Hilton, I'm walking in the wrong direction) - that stuff has been very helpful, and many times when I have failed to do this preparation, I'm lost.

In this case, after getting really frustrated I went back to the train station and explained where we were going to a cabbie (who spoke no english) and the place was seriously like 3 blocks away. 

The subway entrance, above, and inside, below...

There is a lot of interesting food.. and a ton of cool snacks.. in Japan.

Kyoto is a very peaceful city with temples scattered around the city, and many chances for a lovely stroll through nature. We weren't planing on coming to this park, but after we left the subway to walk to the Golden Pavilion, we passed this complex and took a look around.

There was a multitude of structures here, along with walking paths and manicured trees.

It was time to get back to the street to continue to our destination, and even the streets are nice..

Finally, we were there, and we walked around the pavilion.. It was quite crowded but I managed w few snaps without too many people.

This is not a large site. My traveling companion was pretty worn out from all the walking though, and we still had to get back to the train station. The Silver Pavilion would have to wait for another trip..

We were hungry so we stopped in a local eatery before getting on the train.
I hadn't seen many vegetarian spots (and supposedly they are all over Kyoto) but this place had tofu on offer. We were definitely lunching here. It turned out to be awesome.

The proprietor was so friendly, and adorable. When he walked us out he was bowing graciously. 
He is picture in the photo below. He was a wonderful man.

Kyoto was so charming. 
There were lots of cute little touches. I loved this little lane, below. with that slim little house.

Through our hostel window, you can see the slippers lined up and ready
and below, a cute mailbox.

But this is Japan, after all, so you get weird stuff like whatever is happening below.
As they drove by with those plastic monstrosities, music blared.

Yeah, just part of the train station (!)
The stations are clean and full of places to shop. Many were like malls. 
And there was always tons of food to buy for take-away.

We were going on to Hiroshima, but I was a little sad to leave Kyoto so soon.
I'd love to return one day.


  1. I would love to go to Kyoto---more so now that I have seen these photos! What a graceful city. And the oreos! Were those green tea flavored, or was that just the color on the bag?

    1. I didn't try them, but I think they were green tea flavored. I did try some interesting kit-kat flavors though, including green tea, which was delicious!


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