Kyoto: Barhopping in Geisha land

Kyoto Travel Blog

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I arrived in Kyoto around 6pm and took the metro to the hostel I've booked myself for the next couple of nights during my stay in Kyoto.

Geisha land!

Navigating around Kyoto's metro was a little challenging for me. I just had gotten used to Tokyo's metro system, and then now -  Kyoto. There are less train lines, just 2 companies, but for some reason, it was more difficult. Hmmm... I did arrived to my hostel in 30 minutes, had to walk 2 blocks from the station, carrying my surprisingly heavier bags. I just had to take my time looking at the metro map to really get myself oriented.

Kyoto Hostel and Gion Hostel, only across from each other, is part of the baKpaK Tokyo hostels group of hotels, hostels, and guesthouses.

They are located two blocks from the famous geisha-hunting area of Gion district. Check-in was in the Kyoto Hostel and found myself being checked-in by the same guy I saw 2 days ago in Tokyo. Cool. He also mentioned that there was a barhopping group that night and if I was interested in joining. 'Sure, why not?', I thought. 

Because I booked into a 4-bed dorm, I was assigned to the Gion Hostel which was perfectly fine because it was quieter, cleaner, and the bathroom was better. One of the staff, Mari, was leaving and volunteered to walk and help me with my luggage to the hostel. That was nice of her. In the room was two of my roommates. They too reminded me if I was going to the barhopping group that night. They were going.

I said yes. Sorted out my clothes for the next two days, we chatted. Christina is from Canada, the other British. An hour later, we went back to Kyoto Hostel where we were to meet the rest of the group. No one was there yet, so I checked my email, facebook, and travbuddy account. So many birthday wishes, all postings and emails! I forgot that since there was no internet connection at the ryokan and I was out both previous days, I never got the chance to check my email and facebook. Also, it was just my birthday yesterday~! I replied to some people, and skipped the other ones I've recently communicated with.

The group assembled, a whopping 20 people decided to join. Tomo was surprised since the previous week, only a couple people joined her. We walked across the bridge over the Kamogawa River to Karawamachi-dori and the discussion of 'should we eat first or go to a club' ensued.

I voted to eat first because I haven't had dinner. So did Tomo, the hostel's barhopper guide. We went to an izakaya restaurant and I seated with Tomo and two Italian friends, Marco and Mirco, who just spent the previous night a monastery. The other group was at another area of the restaurant because they originally just wanted to drink, not eat, but they eventually did anyway. 

After dinner, some people decided to go back - tired from the previous night of partying. While the rest went to another bar. Most of the bars were empty. I guess Wednesday night isn't a big party night in Kyoto, so we found ourselves in bar called Sex on the Moon. This bar is on the second floor of a building on a narrow street west of the Kamogawa River- which street, I don't know.

I was only following Tomo.  There were only 5 people there and we made up the rest. Some people wanted to sing karaoke, but didn't want to the ones to start. I ordered my drink chatted with the other people. There were quite a lot of Brits in the group and I met someone also from NYC. Cool. Well she is Irish but lived and worked in NYC prior to going on to her around-the-world trip. By midnight, others left and it was down to me, Tomo, the Italians Mirco and Marco, a Brit while we waited for the Dutch. I was exhausted but decided to stay on.

We went to another bar, which not surprising, was empty as well. It was a very 'gaijin' bar called Sam & Dave which have several locations in Kyoto or in other big cities in Japan, if I'm not mistaken.

The bartender, the 4 person group playing pool at the end of the bar were all gaijins. I looked at their drink menu and found they have cosmopolitan as one of their drinks. Hmmm... a cosmo in Japan? I asked the bartender if he would recommend it - is it good? I think he was offended because he defensively responded with 'It's up to you.' What an arrogant ass, I thought. But I ordered it and was surprise it was good. Almost NYC quality. Almost. Not ashamed to be corrected, I admitted to him that it was very good and said my thanks. We stayed there for another 30 minutes before leaving.

On the walk back to the hostel, Jord wanted something to eat, and we ended up in McDonald's! I wasn't planning to order anything but I saw that they had teriyaki burger! Jord said it was his treat. Cool~. It was good and I can add to my list about authentic McDonald's from other countries. I had bulgogi burger when I was in Korea the year before.

We all said our good byes, each had different plans for the day to see Kyoto.

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photo by: ys484