After a long school year I didn’t have much time to research too much of what I was going to be doing on this trip. I took people’s word for what would be good and what things I should see and do (Sara Moore 🙂 So when I arrived in Kyoto, known for its original and most preserved temples, I was blown away by how huge of a city it was! In my mind I was planning on a small tranquil area that made me feel like I was in the outskirts of Japan. It was worth every minute of the visit but that is not exactly what I got. Throughout the trip we visited a large number of temples, castles, markets, and ate some spectacular and not so spectacular food.
After we first arrived in Kyoto, we dropped our bags and hit the city. Our first stop was the Gion area and the Zenkojido temple. It was by far the largest temple we had seen so far with A beautiful area and amazing views. The walk up through thousands of headstones was quite spectacular as well. It was interesting to see the number of men and women walking around in kimonos and the wooden shoes. We realized later that you can rent them for the day as you walk around. They were beautiful and so elegant, however if I had to walk in wooden shoes all day my feet would fall off! Coming down from the temple put us onto this tight narrow street with so many shops and bakeries and gifts. It was fun to walk along and see the number of different items unique to Japan.
Some other temples that we visited the next day were in the area of Arashiyama. We saw the bamboo forest and the Gio-ji Temple as well as Daikaku-ji. The way that the moss grew over these temples were amazing!
The second area of the day was the Fushimi-Inari-Taisha Shrine Area. After a long bus ride and a walk through the middle of nowhere, we started off at Tofuku-ji Temple without knowing it. we were not disappointed though by being lost. We discovers a beautiful temple there and it was more than quiet. The Meditation hall at this place was massive and beautifully built. We walked around there for a little while and we’re going to give up when we gave it one more shot. We walked about another mile down the road and it started to become more busy. All of a sudden we turned a corner and it was like we were transported to a different world. So many people and so many food stalls! We struggled to get through the people and make our way to the temple entrance. It was a beautiful area known for its thousands of tori gates. So we found our way to the tori gate walk and began. Again there were massive amounts of people and it was beginning to ruin the experience for me. I find that I rush and don’t enjoy things as much when I have to get out of the way or fight through people. So anne and I took a little detour up near some grave sites. It took us literally 200 yards off the main trail and there were only 3 other people. Walking around there we found a little path that lead us into the woods, so we took it. Suddenly everyone was gone. To our amazement we climbed up the mountain and came to the top of an overlook. It was beautiful and so quiet! We eventually got ourselves back on the main path and headed back to the main shrine with the masses of people.
Another thing about Kyoto that I really enjoyed was the visit to the food market. Going to a food market is one of my favorite things when I’m traveling. I get to see the foods local people eat and the things they buy, not the things put out for travelers to buy. Among the food that was there and I tried was anchovies, squid on a stick, tons of seafood and sea urchins, lots of breads and pastries. There were sweet potatoes that were baked and fermenting in something, dried fruit, and lots of mixtures of spices. Overall the trip to Kyoto was short but very sweet. Now that my belly is full of sushi and Japanese snacks it is time for South Korea!