I was totally exhausted yesterday, so I didn’t have quite the energy to write a blog post about it, but better late than never, right?
Anyway, yesterday, after finishing everything I had to do at the airport, I took the train to Kyoto. Finally being out of the airport gave me the sense of, “Oh wow, I’m actually in Japan!” and I couldn’t help but feel just a bit giddy with excitement. I was also hit with some nostalgia feels as I passed by familiar sights, such as the Kaiyukan Aquarium in Osaka, and this got only worse once I actually got to Kyoto Station.
In any case, it was busy as usual but I somehow managed to get on the correct bus and find my hostel (still got a bit lost at one point, haha…thank goodness for Google Maps). It was still too early to check in, so I dropped off my luggage and wandered over to the Kiyomizudera Temple nearby, stopping for some lunch (kitsune udon) along the way.
I explored Kiyomizudera, which took a fair bit of time owing to how large it is. It is one of the most famous temples in Kyoto, so of course it was busy and filled with tourists, although the place gets extremely crowded during the cherry blossom and autumn colour seasons. Because it is located in the traditional east part of Kyoto, there were lots of people also dressed up in rental kimono and a few dressed up as maiko (apprentice geisha). It was a very colourful crowd! I did not envy those in kimono, though; it was fairly windy and cold!
After Kiyomizudera, I wandered back down the hill to browse the shops. They were mostly selling the typical tourist fare, like fans, fake kimono, and key chains, so I didn’t buy anything except for snacks. Kyoto’s specialty is a pastry called yatsuhashi, which I bought the crunchy kind (there is also a soft kind, typically with a sweet bean paste). Besides, it’s still a little early to be buying souvenirs.
Then I walked over to Sanjusangendo, a Buddhist temple known for its 1000 statues of Kannon. Unfortunately, no pictures were allowed to be taken inside, but it really was neat to see all those statues, and luckily, they had a lot of English signage to help understand what everything is.
After, I made my way back to the hostel, as it was then past 3 pm and I could check in. I did so and set up my futon in the dorm room. The whole hostel (Gojo Guesthouse) is set up in a traditional style, so it’s all really quaint. The girl across from me is from Australia, so we spent some time talking about our plans before we joined a few people in the cafe portion of the guesthouse on the main floor.
We were soon joined by some other tourists – more Australians, one from Scotland, two from America,one from France,one from Switzerland, and lastly, a fellow Canadian. Both Americans and the Scottish guy were all English teachers in China and were on vacation due to the Chinese New Year. We ate and drank and we talked about a lot of different things. It was really fun and I felt no need to go out that night. It was probably for the better since I was still exhausted from my four lousy hours of sleep at the airport and the long hours of travel.
At around 11:00 pm, I left the party to get some sleep, since I was having trouble just keeping my eyes open. And did it ever feel good to lay down!