The traditional Kyoto

Today we boarded the bullet train from Tokyo (Shinkansen). Our destination was Kyoto. This train is so fast that it shortened our travel time from about 6 (+) hours on bus to only 2.5 hours! It was also quite the experience with going at a speed of 320 kmh which is almost 200 mph! I got to catch up on some reading as well which was nice instead of sleeping… I also thought this quote was fitting:)


Once we reached Kyoto we grabbed the subway to our guest house that we were staying at for the night. We came up to an incredible authentic Japanese styled home.


The interior is the design of a minimalist and is inviting because of the dark hues of the natural wood. Since it is a guest house other travelers are staying in separate bedrooms of the house, but we had it to ourselves until a little after dinner time.


We dropped our bags off into our rooms and went to the nearest castle. After paying 600 JPy each ($6 USD) we got an entry ticket into Nijō Castle. 


We were able to wander throughout the flatland castle, but the requirements were to take off our shoes before entering and also no photography. So, unfortunately I don’t have any pictures of the inside of this one. However, we then reached the outside and around the castle were gardens and outlooks of water trailing around the castle.


The two pictures below were at the top of some stairs leading up to a defense wall. The views were stunning as you could see all of the castle and it’s land as well as the blue hues of the distant mountains.


After we finished exploring the temples we went to get some food. I didn’t end up getting a picture of it this time because I honestly forgot… That’s how hungry I was. But for future reference the chicken and rice with curry is amazing there! 

After lunch we walked through the area we were staying in and out to another destination to a temple. We ended up reaching this neighborhood and I think google maps was messing with us… We ended up doing a weird loop around the block and saw this woman with her son for the second time so she said, “Hi! What are you looking for?” We explained the temple and by that time google maps decided it wanted to work again, but she insisted on showing us another way. 

She took us around the corner and there “it” was! Well… It turns out that wasn’t the one we were actually looking for because the name of the temple was typed incorrectly into google maps… But I think that I enjoyed that experience better because we talked briefly with the woman who lived in that neighborhood and we told her where we traveled and she told us she was going to Germany and Austria. She was also very excited that Japanese food was now our favorite food in the world. Check out the video down below to see our interaction as well as more of what we did today!

The temple that we were directed to is called Toji-in Temple, instead of the one we originally wanted to go to, To-ji Temple (fair mistake). This one was incredibly serene. This part of Kyoto was so quiet that while we were walking through the neighborhood you could hear the water running under the ground from the manhole covers. The temple was even more of a zen experience because of the breeze throughout the open feng shui of the temple and the water bubbling in the pond down below.


There were so many interesting facts about this temple that I actually read when I sat down in one of the open rooms over looking the pond. And I say “actually” because most of the time when I’ve been to a museum or tourist attraction I (honestly and shamefully) never really read the pamphlet all of the way through to find out the history, but with this one I read the entirety of it and really enjoyed it!


My two favorite parts of the history were why the floors squeak when you walk on them (as you can hear in my short video below) and the significance of the shape of the pond (which you can read in the picture above). However, the reason the floor squeaks is not because it’s old and wooden, it is a different sound than that; it is because back when the Ashikaga shogun lived there they designed the floors that way so they could be forewarned if there was an intruder in the temple. (Cool)


We stayed at the temple until it was closing because we lost track of time as we sat in the tea room overlooking the pond and the active coy fish that were swimming in it. We walked all of the way back to our guest house, which was about an hour and a half, but worth it to be able to see the streets in Kyoto.


At one point we even encountered these three Japanese boys who were probably around 6 years old. They were the kind of boys you grew up with that we’re constantly up to no good and were laughing at everything, but cute so they could get away with pretty much anything. As soon as they saw us they started talking about us… “Gaijin” (meaning foreigner). So my boyfriend heard and turned around and said hi. They all died laughing and said hi back. The conversation lasted about a few seconds with “what’s your name?” And impressively one of the trouble makers responded- Ikero (I think is what he said). As we all continued on our own ways the three little boys laughed for as long as we were still in earshot of them. So cute. 


We finally were close to our place and decided we were going to try to save some money and cook at our guest house. The grocery store was basically like the ones at home (stop & shop, etc.) but instead of it just having an ethnic food isle, it was the whole store full of Japanese food labled mostly with Japanese writing. Let’s just say we needed to ask a stranger for help finding something at least once.


Dinner was successfully cooked and we ate in the traditional dinning style on the floor that is apart of our bedroom as well. Tomorrow is the last day for us in Kyoto and then the first and last time for us in Osaka, so stay tuned to hear about our next adventures! And make sure to watch the video below 🙂


~ M + H

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