THREE DAYS IN KYOTO

If you made it through yesterday's novel, I just want to take this moment to say I'm so proud of you! And no, today's post is not any shorter. 🤗

Kyoto was probably the city I was looking forward to the most when I planned my trip! A smaller city nestled in the low mountains along a river... sounds a lot like Salzburg, where I studied abroad. Add historic temples and shrines and I'm 100% in.


I got to Kyoto around 3pm, after a very teary train ride from Tokyo. (I wish I was kidding, but that city blew me away in every sense of the word! I was so sad to leave all of the friends I had made and the amazing hostel I had stayed in. Kyoto had some big shoes to fill.)


After checking into my hostel and knowing I had about an hour and a half until the sunset, I decided to go up the Kyoto Tower. Because, once again, give a girl a tower and she will go up it. Honestly though... the view was not really worth it, ha! But I went to the restaurant, had a beer, and journaled some as the sun went down. Then I went back to the hostel, grabbed sushi for dinner, and made plans with some people I had met to rent bikes and explore the next day.

DAY ONE
We set off on our bikes around 9am and headed toward the Bamboo Forest. It was NOT an easy bike ride, and I quickly realized I was out of my league on the bike with the rest of the group.

 

We got to the bamboo forest around 10:30 (lol), took some pictures, and then quickly moved on. It was cool to see, but definitely crowded. If you go, go early. Otherwise, skip it.

 

Then we went across the river to the Monkey Park! My very first email address was Mad4Monkeys, so this was like 11-year-old Tori's fantasy. I was so ready to bring home a baby monkey in my backpack! (My roommate is glad I didn't. 😉)


Once we finally came down, we went up another hilly path to a hidden temple high up on one of the low mountains. It's definitely off the hidden path, but so worth it! There were so many flyers there explaining the history of the temple, what it stands for, the pillars of the religion, etc. Plus, the view was amazing!

After a morning of bike riding and two high hills, I was out of breath and getting hungry. (Too much sushi and beer.) I convinced the group to stop for lunch on our way to The Golden Temple. I had udon, and it was amazing. But more on all of the food I ate later!



Once we were full (maybe too full) on udon, we continued our way toward The Golden Temple. This is one of Kyoto's (and Japan's!) most famous sites. It was full of groups and crowds and we had to elbow our way to the front for the photo-opp. Definitely worth it though, I'd say.


It was getting late after we wandered around the grounds, and the rest of the group wanted to go down to the Fushimi Inari Taisha shrine. I quickly realized that I was not capable of keeping up with the group to get there before the sunset, so I decided to go back to the hostel.



Once the sun went down, I rode my bike over to the Toji Temple, which was right around the corner from where I was staying. It was open at night for a holiday special viewing! It cost a little extra to get in (I think something like $12 vs. $10) but I'd say it was worth it. It was less crowded than I think it would've been during the day, and I liked seeing it lit up and reflected in the pond!



It was also Halloween - so when I got back to the hostel and linked up with one of my friends from Tokyo who decided to come to Kyoto (!!! happy Tor) we got ready and went out with a bunch of people from the hostel. We went to a Karaoke Bar (amazing - we had a room for 2 hours, got unlimited drinks, and only paid like $18 per person) and then, in the most un-Tori thing ever, stayed out until 6AM!!!! at a night club. It was definitely an interesting night, and I honestly think I'm still recovering. I'll spare you the pictures I have. 🤗 

DAY TWO
Go back and re-read that last paragraph before I dive into my very uneventful day two in Kyoto.

After getting back around 7am (lolz) we all went to sleep and woke up around 11am. I honestly only wanted one thing: a cheeseburger and diet coke from McDonald's. So I rallied the troops and it was off we went.

Then, in desperate need of fresh air and a long walk, we wandered along the river and up toward the Imperial Palace. We laid on the grass for a while, talked about life, played word games, and tried not to think about how tired we were.


On our way back, we walked through the Nishiki Market and saw all sorts of foods... like these tiny octopuses on sticks... and giant octopuses with giant suckers.


 



Then we got conveyer belt sushi, took the bus home, changed into PJs and spent the evening playing card games. We had a lot on our list to accomplish the next day (my last full day in Kyoto!) and we were SO tired so we called it a night and got some rest.

DAY THREE
It was an early morning because we wanted to go to the Fushimi Inari Taisha shrine! We left our hostel around 7:30 and got to the shrine around 8:15. I would highly recommend going by then, or even earlier (the shrine is open 24/7!). It was a little crowded toward the bottom, but as we made our way through the whole hike, the crowd got more and more sparse. I took literally 300 pictures, so I'll just let them speak for themselves.


 



P.S. These shrines are called TORII so obviously that's all I talked about. 😇

 

 


Once we got to the bottom, the crowds were in full force. What we thought was crowded at the beginning of our way was swamped with tour groups and school classes. GO EARLY!



After the shrine, we went to a ramen restaurant for a quick lunch. Then we walked on to the next templeKiyomizu-Dera, or the temple of looooove. It's nestled beautifully up in the hills, and offers gorgeous views of Kyoto. I missed the peak foliage by a couple of weeks, and can only imagine what the colors look like juxtaposed with the orange temple!



There's a tradition at this temple involving a couple of rocks at the very top. If you're part of a relationship, you both rub the rock, the boy closes his eyes and spins around, and then is guided to the other rock across the courtyard by the girl's voice. If he makes it and touches the other rock, your relationship is steady and you have good luck! If not... well, that's too bad! 



Us single people are just supposed to rub the first rock for good luck. It's essentially flat at this point, haha. And I'm not sure it's brought me any luck so far!





We went to a few other temples and shrines after this, before heading back to the hostel to watch the Rugby World Cup Finals. Then we got (drumroll please) more sushi for dinner before spending another night playing cards and enjoying each other's company before I went off to Hiroshima the next day.

THE NEXT MORNING-ISH
Haha, I didn't know what to call this section. But my train to Hiroshima wasn't until 2:45, so I had the morning in Kyoto before I left! I finally did the thing I had been dying to do since hearing about it: we went to Kyoto Brewing Company! I had no idea what a huge deal craft beer is in Japan, but man do they love it. I'm so glad I got to go before I caught my train.


I loved my time in Kyoto almost as much as I loved my time in Tokyo. With only 10 days total in Japan, my trip was definitely rushed and there's so much I'd love to go back and do in both places! But, it was also really important to me that while I was over there I visited Hiroshima for two reasons: 1. with the bullet train it's really silly not to take advantage of being able to travel so far so fast, and 2. I didn't know if I'd like Japan and didn't want to have any regrets about not going to such an important and historic city.

So, with a beer for the road, it was off to Hiroshima!

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