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Asia » Japan » Kyoto » Kyoto November 9th 2019

One of the first train tickets we reserved when we arrived in Tokyo was our ticket to Kyoto; at nearly a week out we got some of the last seats on the right side of the train (it’s essential to get a window seat on the correct side of the train in order to view Mount Fuiji). Fortunately, we had already seen Mount Fuji earlier in our trip as this time it was shrouded in fog. After an early and still-amazing (if Fuji-san less) bullet train ride we arrived in Kyoto, the pinnacle city of Japanese culture and tradition. Full of thousands of temples and gardens and hundreds of teahouses it was a highlight of our trip and even after a week there is much I want to return to see. Our first sight was Nijo ... read more
Ekiben
Kamo River
Birds on Kamo River

Asia » Japan » Kyoto » Kyoto October 27th 2019

By this point we have the trains down so none of that WHY DIDN'T you get off the train?! that was our stop!!nonsense! that we experienced getting to Hakone. Getting to Kyoto was easy breezy from Tokyo. We did a quick luggage drop at our hotel as we have also figured out that the check-in time in Japan IS THE CHECK-IN time and headed over to Nishiki market. Which can I say that I LOVE that the pasmo card I use for public transit works in a completley different city and that is freaking awesome. Anyhoo, I have never been a fan of street meat even when it comes nicely packaged as stall meat. So this market was cool, but I really only tried one thing and snagged a bag of cucumber kimchi at this spot ... read more
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Asia » Japan » Kyoto » Kyoto September 21st 2019

On 4 September we were off travelling, first stop Kyoto, taking the Shinkansen which departed from Tokyo station. It was a journey of about four hours and, as we'd booked a room at the Kyoto Tower Hotel which was just opposite Kyoto Station, as soon as we arrived it was a case of leave our luggage in our room and head off to the Kyoto subway where we'd organised to meet up with Keiko Kiriyama who I last saw at the Dickens International Conference in Eastbourne, UK. Keiko is an Associate Professor at Kyoto University who gave a talk at the Eastbourne Conference on 'Dickens and Dance' so it was lovely to see her again. With the skies darkening the three of us headed off to the Shokokuji Jotenkaka Museum which entailed walking through a garden ... read more
Garden at the museum
Temple in the Karasuma Higashi area
Temple in the Karasuma Higashi area

Asia » Japan » Kyoto » Kyoto June 19th 2019

We spent 10 days in Kyoto. On our first day, we strolled around Nishiki market before checking into our ryokan (traditional Japanese accomodation). The sparse nature of the furnishings, the sumptuous Japanese dinner and breakfast the following morning and even a somewhat uncomfortable night’s sleep on futons on the tatami mats made for an experience not to be missed! On the second day, we moved to our hotel Hotel Mystays Kyoto Shijo, a bit out of the way but otherwise quite good. We spent the day exploring the Imperial Palace and its park on foot and later by bike. We also rode northwards along the river to explore Shimogamo-jinja temple and the Botanical Gardens. Wednesday was a hot day but we still did a leisurely and sometimes vertically challenging walk in the southern section of Higashimaya. ... read more
Me at the Imperial Palace
Riding through the park around the Imperial Palace
En route to the  Botanical Gardens

Asia » Japan » Kyoto » Kyoto May 27th 2019

SC writes: When we first came to Kyoto nearly 5 years ago, on an Exodus trip, we rattled round and I always felt we missed lot, through being jet lagged and disoriented. The plan this time was to cover Kyoto thoroughly, revisiting some places but focusing on the new. Kyoto is a large city and it can take 30 minutes to get across town by bus, and you need buses because the city is poorly covered by Japan Rail (JR) lines, where our passes are good. Yesterday we bussed out to the East of the city for a long walk around numerous temples, exotic old Edo period shopping streets and ended at the garden for one of the temples. The walk was good and interesting but it soon got really rather hot. In the end we ... read more
Edo period buildings make for a great shopping and strolling experience.
Temples temples everywhere
Sunday’s garden

Asia » Japan » Kyoto » Kyoto » Gion May 16th 2019

We were up early and after breakfast went down to meet our guide for the day, Hiroko Inaba. 'Hiro' had spent two years in Finchley, north London and Lesley and she swapped stories. Hiro said that she misses London. However, the friendship could have become rivalry when she said that her sons support Arsenal Football Club - great rivals to Lesley’s team Tottenham Hotspur. However, that was not the reason Hiro immediately told us that she changed our guided tour schedule. Rather it was that the Imperial Palace was closed because of the Aoi festival (see yesterday’s blog). But as we had at least seen part of the palace grounds already, we were happy to adopt Hiro's amended tour plan. We caught the local train to our first stop Fushimi Inari Taisha Shrine. This is the ... read more
New Car space for Safe Driving blessing
Tofukuji temple of Zen Buddhism
Zen garden of Constellation stars

Asia » Japan » Kyoto » Kyoto » Kamigyo May 14th 2019

We said goodbye to Takayama and took the train to Nagoya, the change point for our destination Kyoto. After a while it started to rain and suddenly the train ground to a halt. The loudspeaker announcement said that due to a thunderstorm the train would not proceed for a while. We sat for about half an hour wondering about our transfer and reserved seats on the shinkansen to Kyoto. We eventually arrived at Nagoya about 30 minutes after our scheduled bullet-train had left. There was a ticket office as we got off the train and we explained about the thunderstorm and showed our tickets. With no fuss the booking clerk issued new tickets with reserved seats for the next train which was about ten minutes later. We arrived in Kyoto just eleven minutes after the time ... read more
Lady bow in back
Tea Master seriously busy
Ayako explains the Tea Ceremony

Asia » Japan » Kyoto » Kyoto March 20th 2019

Off to Kyoto on the Shinkansen (Bullet) train passing Mount Fuji as we hurtle by - strangely given this is the land of technology it was a surprise there was no WiFi on the train. First full day in Kyoto we spent in the company of Fumo and Mari Ono - two old friends of Mie my brothers wife. They kindly took us to Arashiyama and the bamboo forest which we walked through towards the Tenryu-ji Temple. This was a sprawling Zen temple with one of the finest gardens in Kyoto and wonderful mountain views. Above there we went to another set of gardens this time developed by a Japanese samurai movie star from the silent era - Oh-kohchi Denjiro. As you had to pay to get in we left the crowds behind and it was ... read more
bamboo forest
Poets house at the Tenryu-ji Temple
Mari and Sue

Asia » Japan » Kyoto » Kyoto November 25th 2018

I cant believe it's been a week since we arrived already where does the time go?? Anyway, as usual we have a full day of sightseeing planned and this time we are heading to South Kyoto. First on the itinerary is the Tofuku-ji temple, which is meant to be renowned for it's stunning temple and landscaped gardens, especially in Spring and Autumn. After a quick pit stop at the 7-11 for our usual breakfast of steamed pork buns and rice balls (the obvious breakfast choice for the discerning western traveller), we decide to walk back to the Gion district so we can get some pictures of the area in daylight. It's a good 25 minute walk and the sun has came out, so we are absolutely roasting hot. I've decided to wear my big boots again ... read more
Autumn foliage
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Temple gardens

Asia » Japan » Kyoto » Kyoto November 24th 2018

One of the great additional unexpected benefits of being here has been that my sleeping has been amazing. I'm falling asleep by 11pm, and (although a few toilet stops in the night) i'm not waking up again until about 8am, and waking up feeling refreshed. It's like my body clock has totally reset itself which is amazing! Anyway, I digress. As mentioned, we wake up at 8am and have a quick look at the itinerary to try and figure out our routes for the day as we are heading to North and West Kyoto today. We plan on stopping off first at the golden temple (Kinkaku-ji) which is the furthest away tourist spot we plan to visit on our trip here, so it seems sensible to start there first. First things first, we need some breakfast ... read more
Kinkaku-ji Temple
What a picture
Trying matcha green tea ice-cream




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