Updated: Apr 25, 2018
I am incredibly sad to say that my unimaginable trip to Japan has come to an end and i'm on the plane home back to England. But what an experience I have had. This adventure will stay with me forever and I have made 3 great friends.
In my last blog I was travelling on the Shinkansen on my way to the next stage of my trip, exploring Kyoto. Kyoto as I imagined it would be, was far different from the high-tech and buzz of the capital. Once again we were staying a little out the centre in a very quiet remote area. The only way to get from A to B here was by local (small) busses. However, there were 30 of us all with enormous suitcases trying to fit onto the small 15 seated buses. In rush hour. We had to take transport in turns in two groups. Luckily I was on the first bus so I didn't have to wait around for an hour or 2 for the bus to return. We sat awkwardly trying our best not to upset the locals on the bus... but it was rather hard when our suitcases were taking up all available walking space. The hotel we were staying at was very original, our beds were on the floor ( japanease style) which I really enjoyed. I think it's only right in other countries to experiment and try new things traditional to where you are. We were also given our own Kimonos for when we wanted a dip in the hot springs.
First day in the picturesque land that is Kyoto we visited the famously photographed Fushimi Inari also know as, Thousand Tori Gates and the Shrine Fushimi Inari Shrine 伏見稲荷大社. Despite the rain it truly was fascinating, for as far as you could see vibrant red gates. Trying to snap a photo with no one else present was a task... but we tried. Oh and guess what, we finally ate dinner in a traditional Japanese restaurant. We removed our shoes and sat on the floor with a lowered tale in the middle. Struggling to read the menu we translated on our phones for the waitress, "we want something traditional" he smiled bowed and 10 minutes later we had our feast (pictured below). I had a bowl of Sukiyaki, thinly sliced beef with vegetables, tofu and vermicelli. Tempura which has become my ultimate favourite dish. A bowl of Udon with a tiny bowl of soy source for dipping and some wasabi on the side, chop stick away. After we caught a number of buses until we reached Kinkajuji, The Golden Pavillion, another famously photographed landmark of Japan followed by a visit to Kikyomiza Dera another Shrine where after we finished the day with some souvenir shopping along the cobbled streets.
The second day of Kyoto is one to remember. With transport being incredibly more confusing than Tokyo we experienced getting lost a fair few times. Ending up in the middle of nowhere became the theme for this day. But we pulled through and still managed to find Arshiyama, otherwise known as Bamboo Forrest. It was worth getting lost. I had never seen so much Bamboo! and after a stressful day of transport trauma a peaceful walk through this forrest restored my zen. Towards the end of the forrest there was an original Sagano Romantic train which took you along the scenic Hozukyo Ravine along the cliff edge. The journey was 25 minutes which left from Saga torokko station to Kameoka torokko Station. If you ever visit Arshiyama I strongly recommend this trip.
For our final day in Japan and wanting to experience as much of Japan as we could, we caught the the train to Osaka Japans third largest city. We had a relaxing day walking along the Dōtonbori 道頓堀 canal, shopping and of course eating. Paying a visit to Namba district which is now a popular nightlife and entertainment area characterized by its eccentric atmosphere and large illuminated signboards. The illuminated signboards made some fantastic photos including the famous billboard for a confectionary company Glico displaying the image of a runner crossing a finishing line which is seen as an icon of Osaka. It Was a lovely end to an incredible trip.