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Published: March 5th 2018
We arrived in Kyoto in the middle of the afternoon and took the subway to our hostel, Downtown Inn Kyoto, which was brand new - as in, still in construction. We had a little capsule with two single beds in a dormitory, which was nice and Shaun fell asleep straight away. I tried to look up places to visit for the next day but the WiFi was not working very well. After three long hours of napping, Shaun woke up and we went to have dinner in McDonald's - cheap... On the following morning, we didn't set an alarm and Shaun slept until midday. We then went to a nice restaurant I had looked up and had some special Ramen, which was very nice. After, we walked in Nishiki market and tried food, including delicious honey drinks from Sugi Bee Garden that we would have bought if we had enough room in our backpacks, and if we weren't afraid of ending up with honey extract everywhere... We then walked around Kyoto to Nijo-Jo Castle, consisting of two main areas, Ninomaru and Honmaru palaces. It was almost closing time so it was quiet. Honmaru palace is now in ruins as it was
The golden pavillion
destroyed in a fire in 1788 but the inside of Ninomaru Palace, with very impressive paintings in every room (but no furnishings of any kind) and the nightingale floor, called as such as it makes a bird noise when you walk on it. The Honmaru gardens were very pretty as well. In the evening, we probably ate some Ramen again - we cannot really remember!
On the next day, we left our guesthouse early to go to another guesthouse, one with working WiFi and a common room, Guest House Kyoto Inn. We left our bags there and had a coffee before heading to Arashiyama. It felt a bit village-like, although it is still in Kyoto. We went to Arashiyama island, but there was nothing there - although I had read otherwise on a blog. We strolled down the Bamboo path, which was very nice. There were lots of temples and we kind of missed out on them to go and visit Kinkaku-ji. Temples do close quite early so we had to remember that! We arrived at Kinkaku temple just before the time of the last admission and it was really worth it! The temple is called Golden Pavilion due
Inari Taisha shrine
Known for its thousands vermilion Tojii gates
to the gold leaves covering its structure. The park around it was beautiful, and peaceful - although it was very busy! We then came back to the hostel and bought dinner in a cheap supermarket.
On the next day, we went to Fushimi to visit the very famous Inari Taisha shrine, a place with thousands of vermillion torii gates. It was extremely busy with tourists taking pictures and selfies but once we got to the forest part, it was very peaceful. We did not hike up sacred Mount Inari. Instead, we went to Kiyomizu-dera, another temple, set on a hill. The views were beautiful but we did not see the inside of the palace. Apparently, the place was famous in the Edo period (between 1603 and 1868) for a special tradition which was to jump off the 13 meters high platform of the temple. If you survived, your wish would be granted. From what I gathered, Japanese people still use the saying "Jumping off the stage of Kiyomizu-dera Temple", when someone tries to do something dangerous or impossible. After that visit, it was already late and as we hadnt had a proper breakfast nor lunch, we were hungry! We
wanted to try some more Japanese food but we accidentally ended up in Japanese/Italian restaurant.
Our way back to the hostel ended up being a lot more complicated than we thought as we managed to take the right bus but the wrong way around twice in a row... Although the signs are all translated in English and the instructions and information are all very clear... It took us longer than an hour to get back, when it should have taken 10 minutes! We sat in the common room with guests and staff from the hostel but some were a bit too arrogant/rude for us to have a good time!
On the next day, we decided to stay one more night in Kyoto as we needed to rest. We made the most of that extra day to try lots of food. We had a delicious Japanese burger made with aged Japanese black beef for lunch and I found what Shaun thought was the best restaurant for dinner: Chifaja Saiin, next to Saiin station where you could have all-you-can-eat Yakuniku (grilled meat). We took the 90 minutes standard option for £20 each and ordered as much meat, salad, rice and noodles and desserts as we could eat. The meat (which was very very nice) came raw and we cooked it on the barbecue in the middle of our table. We ate an awful lot of meat and then had several desserts!! That was the end of our adventure in Kyoto as, on the next day, we took the Thunderbird train to Kanazawa.
There are many temples and shrines to visit in Kyoto and one needs to be very organised to see as many as possible. We did not really care about seeing a dozen temples and stuck to the main ones! Apart from the religious/touristic places, we enjoyed Nishiki market. Other than that, Kyoto is just another city and apart from the Kyoto Tower, the modern buildings are not particularly amazing!
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