In the morning Alex introduced me to funny French guy called GiGi. He thought my camera story was hilarious and then likened me to Bridget Jones saying I look and act like her.. not happy with that comment! He got quite excited when I told him my surname actually was jones..
I then headed off to Higashoyama. Visited kiyomizudera temple - didn't want to pay to get in as it was quite expensive so instead wandered around the grounds looking at the areas I could for free. I then headed down 'teabowl lane' and ate my weight in free japanese sweet samples. Like until I literally thought I was going to be sick..At least I didn't need to buy lunch..
My walk took my from South Higashoyama up into the north, along The Philosophers Path. This was a small walkway running alongside a narrow river/canal. It was a grey day when I went but I can imagine it to be beautiful next month when all the cherry blossom is in season and lining the pathway. At the end of the Philosophers Path is Ginkakuki, the silver pavillion, which I was looking forward to seeing except once I'd got there at half 5 it had been closed for about an hour.. Again, unorganised Sarah forgot to check this sort of important information in the morning before setting off..
SO instead of walking around the temple I headed to Gion, the geisha district, in search of a few Maiko's (geisha in training) as they tend to head to their appointments at around this time - so prime spotting time. I wandered down some of the smaller alleyways for about 20 minutes, ones that a lady from my hostel recommended to look down, and sure enough I spotted a glimpse of what I thought was the edge of a kimono swish around a corner ahead of me and down a side street. I picked up speed and as I got closer I could hear a jangle of bells and sure enough I spotted her again but this time turning down another street. At this point I was literally running after her - she sure was fast for someone tightly bound and shuffling in platform flip flops!! Once I reached her she was at a zebra crossing, a funny sight compared to all the tourists stood around her. Each Maiko is accompanied by someone who carries their belongings for them and so I politely asked if they mind me taking a photograph, which I thought was more respectful seeing as they no doubt normally just get cameras thrust into their faces all day. Unfortunately she shook her head and said no, so I took a cheeky picture of the back of her (!) and then headed off. What you don't know won't hurt you?? 5 minutes later I heard the familiar sound of bells so walked in the direction they were coming from. This time there were 2 maikos together and once again I asked and this time they obliged, I only had one shot at the picture and one looks like she has a halo on but here it is!
After this accomplishment I hopped on a bus and made my way for 40 minutes (the bus was SLOW) to a veggie restaurant called the Falafel Garden that Alex had recommended. I got there at 9 to discover they stopped serving food at half8! Was so tired/hungry/disappointed by this point that I just headed once again to buy tofu from a supermarket. I got lost trying to find the subway in order to get home as I couldn't cope with another crowded slow bus as I just wanted to get back, but a really camp Japanese guy came to my rescue! He was so helpful and waited with me until my train arrived :)
Once I was back I packed all my bags and made my way to the 9 hour capsule hotel
I figured that whilst i'm in Japan I have to experience a capsule hotel, and I'd read about this particular hotel online months back when I was first in the process of making my travel plans. It is pretty new and extremely modern - almost futuristic, and I picked this because it looked super clean/sterile ha! Id resigned to the fact that I'd be paying around £40 for the night, but that it was an experience I'd regret if I didn't go and so it was justified. However it turns out students can stay half price, and as I'd brought with me my OUT OF DATE student card they let me stay for a reduced price! I've used my student card a couple times so far in Asia and nowhere has noticed the date on it.. either that or they don't care. Anyway, as usual I got lost trying to find the place but 3 guys came to my 'rescue' but in reality their GPS phone just got us more lost and we ended up calling the hotel.
The hotel itself was very clean and modern, almost futuristic. Everyone corroded had directions written either on the floor or along the wall for you to follow and had gender specific floors in the building. There was even a separate lift for males and females. You get given a locker which contained toiletries and a set of pyjamas for you to get changed into, before heading to either a gender specific 'common area' or retiring to your 'pod'. The sleeping pods themselves were remarkably comfy and I think the mattresses and pillows were memory foam. Once inside, you pull down your little curtain at the end and set an alarm time that you want to be woken up at. The alarm system works so that it doesn't wake you up with sound, instead it gradually brightens the light inside the pod so that your wakening is supposedly more natural, and it sends you to sleep with the same concept by gradually reducing the light. I have to say I slept pretty well and the light alarm worked well as I woke up bang on 10 am like I set!
I then got up, packed, and headed back to Tokyo for one more night before flying to Thailand.