After a stressful first month of settling in, getting back to doing essays (never fun) and teaching English, we thankfully had a few days off! Therefore we decided to become tourists again for a few days and headed straight for Kyoto, the cultural capital of Japan.
It really is the most beautiful city. With temples and shrines at every turn, mountains and the Hoguwara River, there really was so much to explore. With just five days to see it all, we decided to take the Shinkansen (the Bullet train) to Kyoto. No wonder they call it the bullet train! It’s amazing, almost as if you are on a plane speeding down a runway. England really should think about investing!
So after arriving in style we set about exploring the beautiful temples. The Kiyomizu temple is definitely not to be missed. Set on the Mirror Lake, the Golden temple glimmers in the sunshine and reflects in the lake, making it one of the most famous and beautiful tourist attractions in all of Japan. Having gone to visit it in Golden Week (the busiest week of the year) did mean it was a little packed. However the stunning temple was worth the amount of people. The other Tokugawa temples are also beautiful. Decorated in red and orange patterns, the colours of Buddhism, the temples stand out strikingly against the green mountainous backdrop of Japan. You can take a walk through the village, pop into the little antique stores and visit the temples as you walk around.
The next day we visited the International Manga Museum of Kyoto. One word, weird! Manga is extremely popular here in Japan but I can’t help finding it all a bit strange, with people of all ages obsessed with these cartoon characters. It really is a whole subculture out here. After a morning of Manga, we then visited the botanical gardens, where you just get lost in the beautiful woods of cherry blossom trees. Stunning.
Our day in Arishiyama had to be my favourite, however. Bamboo forests stretch on for miles and you can take a walk through them, and up to the mountains to see the monkeys. At the top of the mountain an incredible view of the whole of Kyoto can be seen, with mountains in the distance and the thriving city below. We then took a boat trip down the Hoguwara river and through the rapids. One of the best days ever!
Of course we also set aside a day for shopping and explored the famous Nikishiki food market. Well I say ‘food’; we saw lots of crazy dishes ranging from whole octopus on a stick to dried fish sweets. Interesting to say the least!
It was really hard to leave Kyoto, but sadly the duty of teaching called us back to Nagoya. We have a few hectic weeks ahead of us with work but we are all loving life here in Japan. We do, however, still make the odd mistake in the supermarket. Yesterday we thought we had bought tea bags and it turned out to be fish stock. Yuk!