Japan 2013 Day 3: Kyoto

by - 11/14/2013

I had this huge, elaborate plan for Kyoto. I was going to see Kinkakuji, Kiyomizudera, Fushimi Inari, and Gion. And then, in my mind, I thought we would be able to make it to Arashiyama in that same day. Yeah, well, that did not happen. I got to see only two of the things on my Kyoto/Arishiyama list. 

I had no idea how big Kyoto was. That was my first mistake. We got a tip from my friend to buy a bus pass for the day, which takes you all over Kyoto to the temples and sights and things. It took about 25 minutes in a super cramped and packed bus to get from the train station to our first stop, Kinkakuji. But it was completely worth it, because I FINALLY got to see some maple leaves! 

You guys don't understand. I have dreamed for so long to see maple leaves, specifically in Kyoto. I was beside myself. I must have taken close to 100 pictures at this place alone, I could not get enough of the leaves! 


Naturally, you had to pay a small fee to enter the grounds of Kinkakuji. This is what the ticket looked like! 

We were lucky it was such a beautiful day, because we got to see this beautiful view!

After Kinkakuji, we went to the other side of town to see Kiyomizudera. I thought this was the right place, but it turns out it was just another temple of some sort. There was some special thing going on, because there were many girls dressed in traditional kimono. We decided to go with the flow and went to the temple anyway. 

While I was there, I got myself a snack. Taiyaki and takoyaki!

We finally figured out where Kiyomizudera was. It was up a very steep hill, much to Kevin's dismay. The streets were cute, very old looking, like they would have looked back in the day.

But they were packed! There were so many people, and I feel like every single school in Japan was here on a field trip. Students EVERYWHERE. But once at the top, it was very nice.

There were interesting things along the way. I don't know why these statues were in aprons.

When we got to the bottom of the path, we found what the temple is named for. Kiyomizudera means pure water. It is said that this waterfall, Otowa Waterfall, which is divided into three, has different benefits, and a person should drink from all three. They represent longevity, success in school, and success in love. 

I wasn't about to stand in line to drink from that waterfall. There were so many damn people, and I was content just taking pictures of it. After we saw the waterfall, we had tea and snacks! I had tea with matcha dango.

After we saw Kinkakuji, I was told by a friend that if I walked down about 10 minutes, I'd get to a temple with a nice zen rock garden. Well, we ended up getting lost for ages. Apparently we don't know how to go straight down a road. I was annoyed, and I still don't plan on finding that damned rock garden. We made our way down into Gion, or part of it anyway.

What surprised me most was that one long avenue was just nothing but shops. Shops to buy souvenirs, and nothing else. Barely even a restaurant! It was pretty amazing.

We never made it to Arashiyama, which makes me sad, because I wanted to see monkeys. But I guess I can save that for another time!

All in all, Kyoto has many beautiful things and places to look at. I think it would be worth it to stay a couple of days there, maybe at a ryokan, to get the full experience. Trying to cram everything into one day was stressful and a bit of a nightmare. Learn from my mistakes!

Tips for Kyoto: 
  • If you plan on spending one day there, start extremely early (we got there around 12:00 pm, way too late).
  • Don't cram too many things on your list of things to see. If you are there for only a day, plan to see three places, maybe four max. Remember, Kyoto is huge.
  • Buy a bus pass. One of those special bus passes that will get you around the town for the day. I believe you can also get it for more than one day as well. The bus terminal is located outside of the main entrance of Kyoto Station. 

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