We had planned on getting an early start on our first full day in Kyoto, however we weren’t expecting it to start quite as early as it did thanks to two excited kiddies who don’t usually get to share a room with anyone. Matt & I got next to no sleep the night before from the rock hard beds and the most uncomfortable pillows ever; bean bag like but so incredibly hard, it made for a long night. A long night which was made even longer by sharing a bed with Eden who not only snores but likes to snuggle right in, which wouldn’t be so bad if she wasn’t a mini furnace.
Both tired from lack of sleep the early morning wake-up was surprisingly welcomed just so we didn’t have to stay in bed any longer!
Our first pitstop of the day was Starbucks, just across from Kyoto Station, where we fueled up on pastries and drinks; I purposely went here so that Matt could get a coffee with a picture of a maiko on it, as I have heard they are super cute. Of course he ordered his coffee to go and for the duration of our time in Kyoto I never did see a ‘maiko coffee’.
We took the train to Trip Advisors number 1 attraction; Fushimi Inari-taisha. Despite arriving early in the morning, it was already unbelievably busy with tourists and many Japanese high school students visiting Kyoto. Having walked away to check out the thousands of origami cranes, perfectly folded and strung in hopes of a lifetime of good luck, I turned around to see Matt, Eden & Clio engulfed by high schoolers requesting their signature. This went of for a long time. Later we worked out that they targeted us to practice their English, at times it was fun and we enjoyed it but other times it was awkward. Like the time when a bunch of girls just walked up to me and stood there, they didn’t say a thing, in the end I had to lead the conversation not really sure what they were wanting to talk about. Eden coped with the ‘fame’ well and I was so impressed with her ‘signing’ her name multiple times.
Fushimi Inari has thousands (maybe 10,000) torii gates spanning 4 kilometers up to the Inari mountain. It takes approximately 2 hours to walk the whole way, my guess is we did a third of it, if that! It was fantastic.
Next stop was the Kiyomizu-dera, unfortunately this wasn’t as spectacular as I had envisioned simply because it was covered in scaffolding! However the walk between this Buddhist temple and Yasaka Shrine was awesome! Narrow alleys, Sannei Zaka & Ninei Zaka, are surrounded by old, traditional style buildings. Buildings which are now turned into tourist traps, restaurants and ice cream shops and bustling with people, as it seems everywhere in Kyoto is. Once we reached the end we took a quick ice-cream break and I am so glad we did because we spotted a few maiko; geisha in the making, something Kyoto is known for.
We made the sensible decision to take a taxi to our next stop, we hadn’t quite worked out the bus system yet and Eden, while she was doing extremely well, was getting tired. The taxi drivers in Kyoto were all so friendly, we ended up taking a few cabs, all were driven by men and all gave the kids lots of attention, one even gave Eden a Japanese kids comic. The taxi driver dropped us at the base of Ginkaku-Ji Temple, commonly referred to as the silver pavilion. It was really pretty, sadly we couldn’t go inside, but we did get to walk around the beautiful and perfect Japenese garden with a mound of sand which is to represent Mount Fuji.
On our walk back down from Ginkaku-ji we stopped for a Japanese cider which tasted almost like L&P! Eden who doesn’t get to drink soda thought it was amazing!
On the way home we braved the bus, which was empty when we boarded but within a couple of stops was packed with elementary aged children! After quite a long bus ride we ended back at Kyoto Station and since it was around dinner time and an hour before Nishiki Market closed we jumped back in a cab to tick one last thing off our to-do list for the day. The market was neat, filled with lots of interesting stalls from fresh fish to confectionary and of course many restaurants. About a third of the way through we found a restaurant to eat at, and then Clio lost it, so we quickly ate and quick marched back to the hotel for another restless night of sleep!
Our second day in Kyoto was our favorite, check back in a few days to read why!