part 1 Kyoto
My heart lifts and aches when I recount my Japan trip I took with my mother early this summer. It lifts because of the complete bliss I was in while exploring Japan and aches because I would drop everything I’m doing just to be there again. This is my first time traveling in Japan without a tour group and I’m confident to say that I enjoyed it so much more. My mother is fluent enough in Japanese to get around and we could go to all the places we wanted to go.
Kyoto is our first stop and it did not disappoint. I melted a little from the joy of being able to relieve the tension of the long flight and train ride in our hotel’s onsen. It was a very modern hotel and I was surprised that though the room was small (compared to ones in the US), everything was very efficiently placed to utilize the space.
Bright and early the next day we traveled to the very touristy but oh-so-worth-it Kinkakuji (aka Golden Pavilion). I don’t know why I was surprised but the place was packed and became even busier as the day progressed. Despite the hustle and bustle, one can’t deny that the scenery can only relax you.
Near the end of the path was a strategically placed ice cream shop with an undeniablly reoccuring flavor common in nearly all japanese ice cream shops: MATCHA. DunDunDunn… That ice cream reignited my love for all things matcha.
I had to share this little kappa monster I bought from a small shop near Kinkakuji. It was too cute to not bring home…especially since I’m obsessed with kappas.
Next, we were on our way to Kiyomizu-Dera, a very popular temple. The gigantic wooden patio was impressive, but the view from atop the patio was even more breathtaking. I can only imagine how much more beautiful it can get during autumn. Taking the stairs down from the temple, we came across the Otowa Waterfall where there was a long line of people waiting to sip out of one of the three streams, each dedicated to benefit the recipient with longevity, educational success, or romance.
After going to Kyomizu-Dera we explored the area near this temple. We came across Jisyu Shrine (aka Shrine of Relationships).Why would my mother and I go here? Who knows! However, it was cute and interesting, making me wonder if they have shrines for everything.
By now, my feet were starting to ache a lot…but who can complain when you’ve wandered into Kiyomizu-Zaka street. There was shopping to be done! Like mother like daughter I suppose. We treaded on in search for the perfect snacks and souvenirs.
At the end of the day we made our way back to the hotel. Pro-tip: bring Salonpas or Bengay…because you are bound to do a lot of walking in Japan!
Next day, I was beyond excited. Fushimi Inari Shrine was one of those places that has been on my imaginary list of “places I wanted to visit before I die” since forever. We woke up extra early to avoid other tourists as I wanted to photograph the shrine as it was without people. Thankfully, I got just what I wanted!
I couldn’t put into words how exceptionally beautiful this place was. Orange seems like the color to rile someone up, but combined with the vast number of trees and only the sound of birds and crickets chirping, it was the most peaceful place I have been in for a while.
We jumped onto a subway and I tried to take in this experience. From one adventure to the next…we were on our way to Nara with a whole day of possibilities ahead of us.
cont. in part 2 Nara