Kyoto – An insight in the cultural capital of Japan
After a bit more than four days in Tokyo it was time to head to Kyoto. Why Kyoto? It came in my mind spontaneously when I read that it is the cultural capital of Japan and very different to Tokyo. That piques my curiosity.
Instead of taking the bullet train I decided to travel by plane and enjoy the view of Japan from above. The bus brought me from Osaka-Itami airport to the center of Kyoto. I figured out soon that this city is different. The only high building I saw was the Kyoto tower.
My hostel was not far away from the station why I decided to walk the distance of one kilometer. It took less than 5 minutes walk till I saw the first temple. Quite curious I decided to drop off first my stuff and then to start my sightseeing at the Higashi Hongan-ji followed by the close-by Nishi Hongan-ji temple. The architecture of those two big temples ist very similar and a good beginning for a walk through the streets lined by traditional Japanese houses built out of dark wood. Hours later the evening brought me to Gion. In the small streets full of nice looking restaurants it was hard to make a decision where to have dinner. My fellow traveler – I already met by coincidence in Tokyo – and I had dinner and ended up later in a unique cocktail bar. A bartender looking like a magician, a toilet behind a book shelf and a decoration which were also the mixing tools. The cocktails were yummy and in combination with a good chat about traveling, politics and life the perfect end for my first day in Kyoto.
Like in Tokyo my hostel stay made me wake up (too) early again but perfect for what I had planned. I was ready to explore at seven and took the public transport to the famous Fushimi Inari temple. As one of the most popular places in Kyoto this temple can become very crowded already in the morning hours. That is what Tripadvisor told me. For that reason I was hoping the early time and the (not very good) weather forecast will be my advantage.
As soon as I arrived I started walking the steps through the hundreds and thousands orange Toris (Gates) up the hill. On my way I found several shrines nicely decorated. Half the way up after more than one hour walking a beautiful view over the city of Kyoto appeared in front of me. Time for a break. Unfortunately it was a quite short one. The forecast was not lying and suddenly it started raining heavy. Happy that I brought an umbrella with me I took it as a sign and started slowly walking down again.
Shosei-en garden – a beautiful Japanese garden – not far away from Central station was my next stop and with three Japanese I was the only visitor. While I walking along the paths I enjoyed just the sound of the rain drops falling in this silent oasis in the city center. Normally I don’t like going for a walk while it is raining but something here in this interesting city changed my mind. That must be the reason I finished my day with Sushi for dinner. Also normally not my favorite food.
Not bored of the temples I made my way to the Kiyomizu-dera temple in the next morning. At the same time big tourists group did the same. Nevertheless the temple is worth a visit and the close by Gojo area is one of the neighbourhoods where you can find the traditional wooden architecture as well as more Japanese gardens and shrines. Enough sights to spend the whole day. If you need a break make sure you ll have a tea ceremony and enjoy a delicious Matcha tea in one of the gardens.
After this day full of exploring Kyoto it is time to say good-bye Japan. A country which surprised me very much and finally I can say it definitely is worth to make the long way over. After my week I can say the time I had to travel in Japan was more like a stop over because like always in Asian metropolises I also underestimated distances in Kyoto. For that reason I tried to make as much as I can out of this trip but I ended up missing some sights in Kyoto and in Tokyo. I hope I can come back one day to see and learn more about this country, its culture and the people who live here.