Let me just say I suck at writing travel posts. Part of it is because I didn’t take a lot of photos so I don’t have much to show you. But I suppose, it challenges me to write and let the words become the visual aid here, hopefully.
So, one of our favorite cities, Kyoto, was the next destination after Sapporo. We took a domestic flight early in the morning from New Chitose Airport to Haneda (Tokyo). From there, we took a train to Shinagawa Station then boarded a Shinkansen (using JR pass) for about 150-160 minutes to Kyoto.
We spent 3 days and 2 nights in this beautiful city.
The first day, we arrived pretty late in the afternoon. The weather that day was definitely a complete opposite to Sapporo’s. It was around 6-7°C if I remember correctly. The air felt nice and clean, just right. We switched up to lighter-weight outerwear and headed ourselves to walk around Nishiki Market. We definitely didn’t have any certain plan that day. We just strolling through. Some of the shops have closed already but we did get to see a little bit of the crowd.
I saw a Takoyaki shop nearby the Nishiki Market neighborhood and we decided to stop for a little snack. It was absolutely delicious! The bonito flakes were “dancing”. The steam that came out of the takoyaki when I split it into a half. The octopus filling. The sauce. Everything. UGH. JOY. I forgot the name, but it was almost right across Ichiran Ramen.
And yes, we finally got to try the famous ramen as well. Luckily, we didn’t have to queue as there was barely any. Overall, it was tasty but it wasn’t that special because I find that the broth was somewhat similar to what we have over back in Jakarta. I’m not saying Ichiran copies who. It’s just that, we already get to taste a little bit of Ichiran’s broth from the different local ramen joints.
The second day was the most memorable for us. We went to Arashiyama. Instead of visiting the Bamboo Forest (which we did a couple of years before), we did something a little different. We rented bikes to explore the area. We’ve been wanting to do this ever since we visited Kyoto and we’re very happy that we got to do it. There was a bicycle rental shop nearby the train station and the fee was ¥900 for a bike for the day. And they provided us with a map covering the Arashiyama area as well.
The weather was considerably cooler. We had to use gloves otherwise our hands will get frozen and numb. As far as destinations, we did visit a few of the temples located in the area. But for the most part, we just enjoyed ourselves with the scenic views and charming residential area. Wandering through the small alleys and admiring the little houses with impeccable gardening! It was so quiet and serene. Such a tranquil place to live in. It almost felt like meditating while cycling.
The street went up and down and it can be quite a challenge since the bicycles didn’t have any gear on them. Unfortunately, there were some renovations going on under the Togetsu-Kyo Bridge. I’d love to take a break near the bridge but there wasn’t much to see at the time, there was barely any water flowing through the river. We ended up having lunch somewhere nearby the river in one of the shops (it was ramen, btw). For dessert, we munched on a very delicious matcha soft ice cream somewhere in the main Arashiyama street.
As a note, we’re only allowed to park our bicycles in designated places only. The map showed all the spots. So if there’s a spot we want to see nearby but there’s no parking lot, we’d park the bikes somewhere close and then walk our way there.
Silly us, we had the means but totally skipped and didn’t take a photo with our bikes. They were bright red, almost as stark as my red coat!
After a few hours, it’s time to move on. We returned the bicycles and made our way to Philosopher’s Path or Tetsugaku no Michi in Japanese. The streamside stone path is filled with cherry trees and others, but of course, when we’re there, the trees hadn’t blossomed yet. It didn’t look that special compared to the photos filled with sakura blossoms and greeneries. But I think the beautiful aspect of it is just like any other parts in Kyoto: its tranquility.
The path gets its name due to Nishida Kitaro, one of Japan’s most famous philosophers, who was said to practice meditation while walking this route on his daily commute to Kyoto University. – from Japan-guide.com
Just like cycling through Arashiyama, it definitely felt like meditating while walking along the path. It’s peaceful and we only heard small noises from the wind or birds. The path is also located in a residential area. There’s Ginkakuji Temple at the end of it but we didn’t get in because it was closing time. To get there, there was a little bit of a steep walk up. Lots of shops. I believe I did get another soft ice cream.
We decided to stray and walked in between the alleys. Again, I’m fascinated by the structure and the gardening or small plants they put outside the houses. It’s always put well together. Very inviting. Very homey. We were talking about how great it would be if we could find ourselves living here someday.
As the sun went lower, so was the temperature. It got cold pretty fast. Time to go back 😀
My husband did take a picture of me while walking down the Philosopher’s Path: here.
A cute shop facade somewhere on Philosopher’s Path.
Kyoto, for me, is a city that is completely different than any other cities I’ve visited. The culture is still strong in this place. I feel immersed deeply. The civilization also feels a lot more simplified. The people are so much more laid back and nonchalant. We can smile at strangers and they’ll return the gesture. We feel relaxed the entire day, even with all the cycling and walking. I don’t think that I’ll get bored with it. Kyoto has a special place in my heart, indeed.
If you want to get away from the hustle and bustle, Kyoto is high up on the go-to list when in Japan.
On the third day, we didn’t do much. Just had some simple breakfast as we had to get ready to jump for the next city.
This time, it’s a new one. Okayama!