Sadly this post will not contain any photos from our camera because our memory card corrupted and we lost all our Kyoto photos and footage! This has to be the worst thing to ever happen to (aspiring) photographers! Especially because it had all of our favourite photos from Japan on it! I’m so glad we have so many amazing memories of Kyoto and that we have this blog to document our trip!
Oh and before I forget, If you haven’t seen the post about our time in Tokyo click here! ♥
We awoke to find a cloudy day in Tokyo, which wasn’t good news for our trip to Hakone, cloud and rain meant that the cable cars and boats at Lake Ashi might not be running! Regardless of this we kept our hope we would still catch a glimpse of Mount Fuji. Hakone is a small town famous for views of the iconic Mount Fuji and hot springs (onsen).
Once we got to Hakone by train we then caught a local bus to Lake Ashi, unfortunately when we got there we found that the boat and cable cars would not be running because of the weather so we made our way to our accommodation for the night – Fuji-Hakone Guest House.
Staying in a traditional Japanese Guest House was an amazing experience, we slept on Tatami Mats, had an indoor picnic with the group (which was like a big slumber party) and got to use the onsens, Sam and I were lucky enough to reserve a private spot for the outdoor onsen!
We woke up early in order to catch the Shinkansen to Kyoto (Bullet train). It was an awesome experience, we were travelling at around 300km/h and yet it felt like we were barely moving while sitting inside.
FUSHIMI INARI SHRINE
Fushimi Inari Shrine was our first stop in Kyoto. A beautiful shrine dedicated to Inari – the Shinto God of rice. The famous Torii gates were donated by individuals and businesses to bring them good luck , they form a glowing orange/red tunnel that lines the path up to the top of the mountain, it is about a 2 hour walk to the top. The oldest gates were donated around 711 AD, and the newest? Well, they are constantly being added to this day. There is said to be over 10,000 Torii gates! I didn’t have time to count them all..
There were many statues of foxes throughout the grounds, foxes are considered the messenger of Inari. This made me happy because I love foxes! I bought a little fox key chain here to remind me of Fushimi Inari Shrine.
ARASHIYAMA BAMBOO FOREST
The Arashiyama area has got to be one of the most magical places I’ve ever visited. Not only for its famous bamboo forest, but for the serene river and Sakura everywhere you look.
Standing beneath the towering bamboo felt otherworldly as they creak and sway in the wind.
I would recommend going really early to beat the crowds – I think we were there at peak time and it was crazy. I can only imagine how even more out of this world it would be with fewer people there. We can’t wait to go back already!
After some lunch and an amazing morning in Arashiyama we headed back in to the main area of Kyoto for Sam to take a Samurai lesson!
It was really cool to learn a bit of history and watch Sam learn some different techniques of the ancient Samurai.
THE GOLDEN PAVILION – KINKAKU-JI
Not wanting to waste any time in Kyoto we headed to the Golden Pavilion after the Samurai lesson. The Golden Pavilion (Kinkaku-ji) is a zen Buddhist temple. The top two stories are completely coated in gold leaf, so it’s not hard to see why this is one of the most famous buildings in Japan.
Of course one photo is not enough, you must take one from every angle!..
ALL YOU CAN EAT BBQ
The best meal we had in Kyoto was an all-you-can-eat Japanese BBQ. Our table decided to go for the option of all-you-can drink as well, it was the most hilarious night you could ever imagine. The only catch was, if you couldn’t finish a dish you have to pay extra for it – so we made Sam finish all the left-overs. You can see us encouraging him and wiping the sweat of his forehead at the end of our Japan video, my stomach still hurts from laughing so much!
GEISHA & GION
We had the opportunity to become a Geisha for the morning, so myself and a few of the other girls jumped at the chance! It was not cheap, but so worth it. It took a few hours to get our make up, hair and kimonos on then we got to do a mini photo shoot each. It was so much fun! I was so glad to finally get the wig off my head at the end as I was getting a headache. It was so unbelievably heavy!
Gion is the area famous for Geisha’s, we had a bit of time to explore this area before we had to leave for Osaka. It’s a beautiful area, just how you imagine Japan to be, with narrow cobble stone streets, tiny alley ways and beautiful buildings, temples and shrines. On our first night in Kyoto we were actually lucky enough to see a real life Geisha on her way to work in Gion! Out of respect you are not allowed to take photos of them without asking for permission, she was in the back of a car, so I just looked at her in awe – she was absolutely stunning, I was blown away.
It’s not hard to see why Kyoto was our favorite area of Japan so far. Each city had its own quirks but I think Kyoto holds a special place in my heart. We will be back for sure!
Stayed tuned for our next post exploring Osaka and Nara!