Tuesday, February 14, 2012

visiting japan : kyoto 1

Intro about our trip to Japan
From Tokyo we took the Shinkansen train to Kyoto. On the way we passed Mt. Fuji and I managed to snap a quick photo out one of the train windows.

We decided to stay in a hostel while in Kyoto to save some pennies - we stayed at the Backpackers Hostel K's House and had a good experience. Rooms were clean and it was in a pretty central locations. I think if we went back we'd stay somewhere else to change it up - but we had a fine experience.

Anyway, dropped our bags at the hostel and hopped on a bus to our first destination, one of the most iconic Japanese places to visit, Kinkakuji (the Golden Pavilion). We could not have picked a better time in fall (mid/late November) to visit as the trees around Kyoto were amazing shades of red and orange. If you visit Kyoto you can't miss the Golden Pavilion, the grounds around it are amazingly beautiful and while it was crowded with tourists (the fall leaves bring some of the highest crowds after the cherry blossoms in the Spring) it was still an amazing sight to see.

The next morning we took a train to the Fushimi Inari Shrine (also known as the 'torii gates'). Torii gates can be seen all over Japan at Shinto shrines but this specific location has thousands of the gates lining a path up a mountain and into the forest. I can't describe how beautiful and peaceful it was walking up the path. Each of the gates is carved with symbols that can only be seen when you turn around and look back down the path.

This was one of our highlights on the entire trip to Japan, it was absolutely gorgeous.

To speed this along, we spent that afternoon walking around Kyoto seeing a fraction of the stunning shrines and temples there.

Kyoto has a famous selection of candy - I loved watching them be made, watching the locals shop for them in the crowded stores and admiring the packaging.

We took a quiet walk through the Gion district.

We didn't spot any geisha I'm afraid. But we did see...faux geisha. For a price in some local shops you can have the complete geisha treatment with makeup, wigs and the traditional garments. You can then go walk the streets of Gion and fool the tourists. This tourist was not fooled I'm afraid. The girls were tripping in the traditional sandals and carrying cameras - not to mention walking around openly in large crowds. Faux geisha!
In my life I have never seen power lines like those in Kyoto. Is that a weird thing to notice (and take multiple photos of?) Seriously, they're crazy!

Next up, day two in (and around) Kyoto...


catie said...

ohmygosh! BECKONING KITTY! my husband goes to matsuyama every once a while for work and that was the first souvenir he ever brought home for me. ours wobbles when you touch it, i guess they are supposed to "beckon" good luck to your home or business, but i just think they are adorable. i'm (fingers crossed) supposed to on the next trip he goes on, so i'll have to shoot you an email and get some travel tips if i get to go! looks like you guys had a blast!

Sandy a la Mode said...

wow, these pictures are soo beautiful!! i would love to go visit!