AsiaJapanKyoto

A slice of history

Kyoto Travel Blog

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Geishas, of course!
So, a few months ago after the end of the Aussie snow season, someone suggested we go to Japan to snowboard. What started out as a little idea became a reality when Jetstar had a sale. $650 later, we had our flights booked, and thanks to K's hard work, we got a very good deal for the snow through SkiJapan. After a few dramas, with one friend pulling out due to injury and another early drop-out rejoining us, there were 4 of us in the end (K, R, B and myself).

This was my first trip to Japan: I'd heard a lot about it, particularly how everything runs on time and the people are very polite. I was banking on the former, because we didn't have much time to spare after landing in Narita airport, needing to catch the airport train to Tokyo station and make the last train to Kyoto for the night.
View of Kyoto (me, R & K).
I shouldn't have worried - it all worked out fine. We stayed at K's House, a backpackers some 10 minutes walk from Kyoto train station. It was pouring when we arrived though, so we caught a taxi. When the driver asked us for the hostel's phone number (which we didn't have) we were a bit concerned that he couldn't navigate 2 blocks down the road. We found out later that 1. Japan's address system is complicated, so taxi drivers don't always know where they're going, and 2. They can plug a phone number into their GPS and it will navigate for them!

We only had one full day in Kyoto, and it went something like this: tempura, noodle soup and rice for breakfast and a bus downtown to Kyomizu Temple, a Bhuddist temple in a big complex. We saw some geishas and noticed the groups of schoolgirls were just as excited as we were to see them. The view from the top of this temple was lovely - Kyoto may feel like a small city but it isn't really! The area around the temple was steep with narrow streets lined with quaint wooden houses and touristy shops, a very pretty place with nice ambience.
Tombs or shrines, I believe.
Next stop: Ginkakiji Temple, a beautiful zen garden set in beautiful grounds next to a wood. We were too early for the cherry blossoms which was a shame: it would have looked amazing in full bloom.

After some rest time back at the hostel, we went down the road and into the tiny sake bar on the corner. It was literally a bar with maybe 6 stools, a TV mounted in the corner (for karaoke of course!) and full of knicknacks. The old woman who ran the bar welcomed us and providedT snacks with our sake (cold). She also made us sign a pair of tiny maracas. There was one other patron in the bar - an older man having a quiet drink. To our delight, they sang a duet (in Japanese of course). Then the lady made K and B try on a samurai suit and hold up (sheathed) swords... it was a little strange but funny. We only intended to stay for a drink so left after that, catching a cab to Gion.
Zen garden.


Korean BBQ for dinner, we shared a big spicy hotpot of noodles and meat, washed down with Asahi. We asked the waiter where he recommended to go out. The next thing we knew we were led down the alleys and up a lift into an apartment block, and into a room about the size of a lounge room, with a booth, some tables and chairs, a big bar and a karaoke machine. Stomu, our gracious host for the night, managed to convey to us that it would cost 10,000 yen for the four of us - all you can drink. It was a deal. We started on normal sake, then moved to cold sake, and then Stomu ran out of sake so we ended up drinking beer (over the course of the night... which ended at around 4.30am!). Of course, the karaoke machine got a workout, and we did managed to convince a lady patron to sing with us (her choice? any spicegirls song!). I have to mention the snacks - delicious shredded squid which you dipped in a sort of mayonaise and a chilli sauce, and carob buds.
The lovely sake bartender with K & B in samurai outfits.


Needless to say, we were all feeling a bit worse for wear the next day, but we did eventually make it to Hiroshima (next entry)...




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Geishas, of course!
Geishas, of course!
View of Kyoto (me, R & K).
View of Kyoto (me, R & K).
Tombs or shrines, I believe.
Tombs or shrines, I believe.
Zen garden.
Zen garden.
The lovely sake bartender with K &…
The lovely sake bartender with K …
Our benevolent host, Stomu.
Our benevolent host, Stomu.
Kyoto Hostels review
It's quite a large place with common areas (including a lovely fish tank), clean unisex bathrooms and a bar/breakfast area, which we didn't really che… read entire review
2,346 km (1,458 miles) traveled
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photo by: ys484