My first 24 hours in Kyoto
After a jam packed week in Tokyo, here is what my first 24 hours in Kyoto looked like.
After arriving early in the morning via overnight coach from Tokyo, we arrived in Kyoto. I have to say, the coaches in Japan are not only comfy and spacious, they are clean, with friendly staff and offer a great night sleep. Now it has been known that I can sleep anywhere, however for around 30 pounds, you really can't complain. Definitely a cheap option for over night travel in Japan. Not sure Martin felt the same, he looked a little rough stepping off the coach in the morning.
The excitement of arriving in another area of Japan kicked in, aside from Tokyo, Kyoto was only our second stop. We were already in love with Japan and couldn't wait to see what Kyoto had in store. We dumped our bags at the hostel, which had the best Japanese toilets I have seen, complete with disco lights, we then set off exploring.
Our hostel was a little further outside from the centre of Kyoto, so we ended up walking a lot further than expected, we had some gorgeous views on the way.
We set off to the area of Gion, the famous geisha district, in search of food and to absorb in the atmosphere of Kyoto.
We ended up walking through the Nishiki Market on our way, which was a slight detour to get to Gion, but so worth it. The long alley streets were packed full of food, trinkets, shops, cat cafes and beautiful shrines in the midst of all the hustle and bustle.
We grabbed a couple of snacks from the market and carried on to Gion. We first walked to the Yasaka-jinja Shrine, in the eastern end of Gion. The striking orange entrance to the shrine can be seen from down the road, the colour shines in the sun. We couldn't help but go inside.
Our exploring continued deeper into Gion, through the winding traditional streets filled with high end tea shops and restaurants, we knew we were in a special place. This area was said to be where you could see Geisha's.
A geisha was officially recognised in the second half of the eighteenth century. Geisha are women who dedicate their lives to Japanese traditional arts and put their talents to use entertaining customers on the occasion of banquets and performances.
We were so lucky to see a Geisha walk into a tea shop, they are so rare to see now in Kyoto, it was truly a wonderful sight. Unfortunately you can't take photos of Geisha's, so we watched on from afar and took a mental picture.
We spent most of the morning wandering the gorgeous streets of Gion and Higashiyama, it was a beautiful change from the hustle and bustle of Tokyo, here is where I felt I got to connect to the history of Japan.
We wandered further through the streets, accidentally trying extremely hot wasabi peas on our way before coming across the beautiful Yasaka Pagoda. Surrounding this 5 story building, were gorgeous shops selling delicious distilled coffee, gorgeous pottery and little boutique shops filled full of Japanese treats. It was a wonderful place to just absorb our surroundings. The area was full of tourists dressed in kimonos, their bright colours lit up the streets, making this area vibrant.
After a day of continuous walking, and slightly sore feet, we headed back to our hostel. On the way home we came across a tiny shrine, that held 'kukurizaru', which are wishes written on tiny coloured balls. It was a beautiful sight of colour splashed throughout this little shrine, a perfect way to finish off the wonderful day.
Our first day in Kyoto was so busy, we explored our surrounding area and slept so well that night from all the walking. I smile thinking back to our first day in Kyoto, I think it was the first moment it really sunk in we were in Japan for the next 6 months.