Friday 4th September
Well our alarm went off about 7am, but we just could not be bothered to get up, so off went the alarm and luckily by chance the German guys in our room woke us up when they were getting ready to leave, phew, still early enough about 9ish te he. We checked the lake to see if there was any luck of seeing the Mountain but NO GO, so left just that little bit disappointed, but hay ho, there's alwasy another day, another time. More Jam on toast and Jam sandwiches to go and we were ready for our journey to Kyoto.
Took a couple of trains to get to a station near to Tokyo where we were to experience our first ever bullet train the Shinkansen. It kinda looked like a shark shape to me, but once you are inside, it's like being on a plane, only with more leg room, so clean and tidy and the layout is very plane like. When on the move it was very smooth, but watching the view out of the window, speeding passed us, it made you realise just how fast the train was going, was incredible. Even though it was quick, it still managed to rock us to sleep, however we did manage to read up a little Kyoto.
Arrived in Kyoto about 4:30ish and found our way to the hostel, which was easy enough to find, just as nice as the other K's houses that we were fortunate enough to stay in, perhaps a little busier than the others. It had it's own bar, so all good. Bags down and all booked in, we headed straight to Gion in the hope of seeing some Geisha, something I have always wanted to do, ever since readng "Memoirs of a Geisha" - great book by the way.
Thought "Just our luck" on way to Gion, when a rather heavy thunder storm begun, GREAT, we'd already left the Typhoon behind and now we were going to be caught in a thunder storm, but luckily for us, it came and went pretty quick.
Running around Gion like paparazi, we managed to take some pic's of Geisha going to work and wizzing between tea houses, it was fantastic, I was right in my element, stopped for a bite to eat in a local Chinese restaurant delicious, then back to work managed to snap a few more Geisha before heading back to the hostel. All in a days work, great experience.
Saturday 5th September
Had the funniest wake up call ever - OH yes we have all heard people snore and snort in their sleep, but have you ever heard anyone make the sound of a Lamb, it was the strangest sound, Ad and I woke up instantly, looked at each other and cracked up laughing and some American guy was looking down at us from the top bunk, I'm not sure if he thought it was one of us or if it was him, but the whole thing was hillarious.
On our mission to find some breakfast, which ended in cereal bars, as we didn't want to walk too far, we were stopped by a lovely Japanese chap, who mentioned he was 18 in reverse, bless him. Full of life, he used to be in the navy and since then a teacher, so knew English very well. We spent almost an hour with him, chatting away and helping him with some notes he had written in English, he was such an inspiration to us, his stories of places he'd been and things he had done and seen, it was lovely to spend time with someone like that, we are very pleased that we met him.
Big day ahead of us, got lots of temples, shrines and gardens to see, so we decided to purchase the daily bus pass from the hostel, the cheapest form of transport for this city, very easy to use. First stop on our list was Daitokuji Temple, a very traditional part of Kyoto, with many many more temples within the grounds, took a while to walk around, but was fab. The zen gardens were closed today, which was a shame as this is supposed to be one of the best, but we knew we had more to see in town, so ventured to our next stop.
Kinkakuji Temple - better known as the Golden Temple, was def one of my favourites, with its golden shine, surrounded by a beautiful pond and gardens, we spent a good hour or more strolling around, was very pretty and even though there was a fair few tourists there, it did not phase us, it was too beautiful and peaceful and there was plenty of room for everyone to wonder around.
We had just enough time for one more stop so went to Ryoanji - well known for its zen rock garden, very famous and one of the most popular. It was so calming and to top it off whilst sitting next to the rock garden Ad put on some Japanese music on the ipod, that did it for me, FAST ASLEEP, it does say that people mediate for hours whilst sat next to this garden, but I just went and out done the lot of them, that's how relaxed I was te he. Great place to visit, again the gardens were amazing, we are really enjoying the gardens.
Spoke to a couple of Thai guys whilst heading back, they were here studying, really nice chaps. Back to hostel for a quick freshen up then straight out to Gion Corner, just in time for the next performance, was one of the most Cultural experiences so far, first show was a lady performaning a tea ceremony, then harp playing, followed by flower arranging, a traditional dance from a soldier, I believe it is a dance they carry out when they have just fought or completed service, geisha dancing (a dance they do when they are becoming women), a traditional skit play, very comical and finally a traditional puppet show, all very talented people, we enjoyed this so much, very pleased we made the effort to go along. As an extra we got to learn and perform a tea ceremony ourselves, was very interesting to see the process they go through and how they arrange all their utensils, great experience, would def recommend to all and the tea tasted good.
Was quite late at this stage so as we walked through the shopping area of Kyoto, most things were closing, headed back, found a nice local restaurant near to the hostel and had some noodles and tempura etc etc, very tasty.
Sunday 6th September
First stop today was to Fushimi Inari - well known for its thousands of Tori gates (40,000 in total), that follow a path way up into the mountain side. Incredable to see, we did feel sorry for the poor b*****s who had to put these up, must have taken them ages. What a place, lets just say there will be no need for a bums, tums and thighs class for a while te he. The steps went on for miles but once at the top, the views looking out over Kyoto were out of this world, well worth the treck to the top. Just to add a little spice to the visit, we decided it would be fun to play a little tag, such children, but great fun. Also came across some kittens, Ad was having fun teasing one with a stick, I couldn't quite work out who was having the most fun te he.
Next up was Kiyomizu Temple famous for it Water Wishing area - where you drink the water pouring down from the mountain and make a wish, there is 3 water falls and supposedly one is for life, one for love and one for something else, but we both had a go, you never know. Gorgeous place, lots of little shops on the way in, where we had fun picking at the foods to try, very nice. A little person was to one side with the Japanese straw hats, you give them some coins and they say prayers for you, can't believe they stayed there for the majority of the day saying prayers, must have been bored by the end of the day. The whole area was surrounded by trees and gardens and again looked over part of Kyoto, was really nice.
Last stop for today was Sanjusangendo a buddist temple just around the corner from our hostel. Unfortunately we could not take photos, but my gosh this was an impressive place. As we walked inside the very quiet temple and turned a corner, there stood hundreds of buddah's, what a place, so unique and different from any we had seen so far, really pleased we made it here in time to see this. Just as we went to walk the gardens outside, it closed, but we were just thankful we got to see inside.
Back to the hostel to relax for 5mins in the bar, I tried the local plum wine, very sweet but nice. One glass and feeling a wee bit tipsy time for dinner me thinks. Went to find the food market that was closed when we got there yesterday, only to find it was closed again, only open in the day, did not see that signpost yesterday DOH!! Found a beef mix cheap place near the hostel, was perfect for what we needed. Bassically just a bowl of beef with different toppings LOVELY. Back to hostel to chill for the evening, a guy was playing his guitar just inside by reception, was really good, so filmed him a bit. This was great until he opted to come upstairs and play and sing at the top of his voice whilst others (LIKE MOI) was on the skype trying to speak to my mum and dad, found the funny side tho. Was nice to speak to them all the same, but got a headache trying to compete with him and opted for bed soon after. Got chatting to American guy in hostel and swapped more notes on places to visit in the area, was a nice chap, Ad got his facebook details to stay in touch.