Japan!!!! I was so excited to be here but felt very tired from the plane. We arrived in Osaka airport at 9.30pm and had a hostel booked that was in the city centre so we had to get the train there. Getting a ticket was a sligt problem as all the machines were written in Japanese. Now I know that we are in Japan so we should expect that but we thought that there might be at least some english instructions. We stood at the machines for a while looking very confused but some how worked out what buttons we needed to press and soon enough we were on the platform waiting for our train. There was already a train at the other platform infront of us which had nobody on it, and all of a sudden all of the seats on the train turned around to face the other direction automatically!! It was so strange but it made me excited for all the other hi-tech stuff we are going to see in Japan.
The train journey took about an hour and while getting of the train we saw the train driver and he was dressed so smartly. He had white gloves on and even had a shower cap on his hat to stop it getting wet in the rain it was hillerious!! Walking to our hostel we were absolutly FREEZING!! Even though we felt cold in Hanoi it was nothing like this, this was England cold! There was air-con in our hostel thank god so we put it on high and it was soon warm in our room and they even had the best thing ever - a heated toilet seat!!
After a good nights sleep we got back on the train the next morning to make our way to Kyoto. Kyoto is famous for Geisha's so I was hoping that we would see some walking around. We checked into our hostel, then braved the cold to try and find something to eat. It took us about an hour to find something to eat for lunch as we spent most of the time in the shops just wondering what things actually where but we settled on some curry noodles and even ate them with chop sticks!
After an early night, we were up early the next morning as Colette's bus was due in at 8am. We sat in reception waiting for her and soon enough she arrived!! Its was so nice to see her, and it was good to think that me and Jane will now be a little less clueless as we have Colette to help show us places and tell us what things mean. We went straight out for some sight seeing, but as it was so cold and I didn't have many layers on we stopped off and I bought some tights to put on over my leggings.
Our first stop was Kyoto Castle. It's not what you would imagine a castle to look like but it was lovely inside, and the gardens were really nice - it was just a shame about the cold and rain! Then we got the bus to a local market. It was really interesting seeing all the different types of foods being sold. Me and Jane tried a little pastry which had red bean paste in it - it wasn't the nicest cake I have ever had but I liked it because it was Japanese. We then walked to Ten-mangu shrine. It was so busy when we arrived and there was even a Geisha cermony going on in one of the shrines but it was hard to see inside it so we didn't get the best view. We saw lots plum blossom trees in the gardens which were lovely, but everyone in Japan looks forward to the Cherry Blossom season and we were very excited for this too as it will last for the time that we are in Japan :) It was then back on the bus to visit another shrine, by this time it was absolutely freezing but this shrine was on top of a huge hill and so all of the steps that we had to walk up warmed us up a bit. There were lots of signs along the way that warned of wild monkeys, this me made really scared as the monkeys in Cambodia were evil! Thankfully we didn't see any and when we reached the top of the hill we all rang the bell of made a wish.
Colette kept telling us that she had a suprise lined up, so we were up early again the next day so she could take us to our surprise. Neither me or Jane ahd any clue as to what it was going to be, but after us walking through Kyoto for about 20 minutes we finally arrived at the surprise.....we were getting dressed up as Geishas!!! So it was straight into the changing rooms to put on our geisha underwear which was basically a cotton robe, then it was upstairs to the geisha makeup studio. There was already a lot of girls getting their hair and makeup done, so we waited in a line for a bit and were told to take our own make up off then one lady then done all our makeup, and we got to choose which outfit we wanted to wear. It was so funny seeing each other with all the makeup on but we looked boss, the woman who did my makeup even gave me geisha lips which looked so strange! A lot of girls who get made up into geisha's walk around the city with their outfit on, but we weren't doing that a photo was by far enough for us! I didn't realise how much work actually went into being a geisha, getting the outfit on was the hardest part as they place a sort of padding around your body then tighten it so tight that it was a little hard to beathe at first. Once the outfit was on they put our wigs on and we got to choose which flower we wanted in our hair, we then got our pictures taken and after we were able to go into a little room and take pictures with our own cameras. I was quite happy to take my wig off by the end of it as it was so heavy, but getting dressed up as a geisha was the best surpise ever!!
After all that excitement it was off for some more sight seeing, so we got back on the bus and went to see a bamboo forest and had some green tea ice cream which was lovely. Then made our way back to our hostel to collect our bags as Colette was due to get the night bus home and me and Jane had to move to a different hostel for the night as our original one was fully booked. Our new hostel was traditional Japanese style and so the beds were on the floor, it was really nice but freezing inside the room even some curry noodles didn't warm me up! The air con wouldn't go warm, even when we asked the owner to fix it it still didn't really work so we put lots of layers on and surprisingly didn't have a bad sleep.
The next morning we decided to visit the Golden Temple before making our way to Hiroshima. We have learnt since being here that Japanese people are really nice, and even as we were on the bus to the temple the driver stopped the bus, got out of his cab and asked us where we were going and said that he was show us when to get off! We actually already knew where we where going but maybe we looked a bit confused I don't know, but it was really nice of him to help us. The temple was really pretty, and was like nothing I have ever seen. Being a religious place a lot of people light wish candles to help them with certain things like to stop being ill or get married, one of the candles that we saw actually said "find employment" so me and Jane lit that one so at least when we are home we might have a bit of help in finding a job :)
After some time at the temple, we made our way back to the hostel to collect our bags and made our way to the train station. We decided to start our Japan rail pass so we would be able to travel to Hiroshoma on our first ever Shikansen, (bullet train) it's exciting!!