On our first leg to Japan, Daniel and I spent about 6 days in the stunning city of Kyoto. During our time there, we saw several shrines/temples, as well as spent hours just walking around the city and enjoying what beautiful scenery it had. Before I left on my trip, my friend Heather made a comment about how pretty Kyoto is, and she couldn’t have been more right.
We stayed in the Ohanabo Ryokan, which was hands down, one of the best and certainly the most authentic lodging experience I have had yet. Our room was exactly like you would imagine a Japanese inn’s to be, and we even slept on the mattresses on the floor and had yukatas (Japanese robes) to wear while there. My favorite part was the onsen, which is the common bath fed by the hot springs. It was so interesting to me that while the Japanese are traditionally a very shy, timid people, they are so open and comfortable bathing in these common baths; it is certainly something Americans don’t have an easy time with. To top it all off, the staff at the ryokan was absolutely incredible and warm, I don’t think I’ll be staying anywhere else the next time I visit Kyoto and would recommend it to anyone visiting Kyoto as well.Some of the other places we visited while in Kyoto were:
Fushimi Inari Shrine: Probably my favorite Shinto shrine we visited on our entire trip. The vermillion columns are famous around the world, and the shrine is full of them, all the way to the mountaintop. Daniel and I actually ended up going early in the morning, which was so nice because there were no crowds at all. It was serene and lovely to feel like we had the entire mountain to ourselves and to take some excellent photos.Arashiyama Bamboo Forest: The Bamboo Forest in Arashiyama was another truly lovely place Daniel and I visited early in the morning before the crowds came in, and we are so happy we did. The Bamboo Forest doesn’t go on for very long, but the time you are walking through there is absolutely breath-taking. There are also some lovely temples to visit while walking though, so it was a morning well-spent. I would tell anyone going to visit around sunset, they say the sienna sky against the bright green swaying bamboos is a stunning moment.Gion: Known as the Geisha district, Gion is exactly what comes to mind when you think of old-world Japan. The adorable tea houses, beautiful bridges along the water, and winding hidden streets are lovely sights during an evening walk. We also had one of our favorite dinners while visiting Gion, at Yoshida Steak House. You can read the review here on TripAdvisor if you want more information.Golden Pavilion: Another beautiful temple in Kyoto that is also the most famous one in the city. We went with a tour guide, KC, and had a wonderful time learning about the history of the Pavilion, along with walking along the temple’s grounds. This one can get really packed, but we went on a cloudy, rainy day, which played in our favor because there were hardly any tourists at all.
Nara: About an hour outside of Kyoto, Nara is home to the GIANT Buddha statue housed in the largest wooden structure in the entire world. The Buddha and his home are definitely a sight to be taken in, and I would recommend anyone to visit, it’s just a short 45 minute train ride from Kyoto.One perk to the trip is that when you visit the temple, you also get to visit the Deer Park, where deer truly roam free. They are domesticated and perfectly comfortable with all of the humans walking around, and even let people pet them. They get fed very well by the tourists, but are also pretty smart because they will do anything to find a treat. One of the deer ended up poking it’s head into Daniel’s coat pocket in search of a deer treat and found a pamphlet instead, which he still tried to eat! Dan fought him for the pamphlet and succeeded, but barely.One of the nights in Kyoto, we had a food tour and cooking class with a wonderful group of Japanese women from Kyoto. We spend the first 2 hours walking around the Nishimi Food Market, sampling mochi (rice cakes) and sipping tea, along with learning about all the different types of foods that are part of Japanese cuisine.We ended the tour with a cooking class, were we learned how to make miso soup, egg omelette, spinach salad with sesame dressing and even how to roll our own sushi. The ladies who worked with us were SO patient and funny, I couldn’t have done half of the things they had us to with chopsticks if it wasn’t for their sweet encouragement.The next stop on our trip was Osaka, more about our adventures in the next post! Sayonara!