Just finished my second day in this wonderfully fascinating city and I have loved every second of being here. I am dead tired from all the intense walking during the whole day (6am -> 7pm) so this is a quick post of what happened yesterday–my first day in Kyoto. We took a 9-hour bus ride from Tokyo and arrived at Kyoto at in the morning (my friend’s friend booked the tickets so I have no idea about the details though). After the initial bafflement at the sheer size of the station, the friend figured out that we should buy a Kyoto 1 day pass which allows us unlimited use of Kyoto busses for the day (500 yen). From the station, we took a bus to our hostel Mundo Chiquito–one of the best and prettiest hostels I have ever been to. If you go to Kyoto on a budget, THIS is the place to stay. It is also 3 minutes from Nijo Castle–our first destination.
The check-in time was 3pm, which meant we had 8 hours to spare -.- Though of course the staff didn’t allow us to check-in early, I fell in love with the place from the veryyy first sight. It is a lovely old Japanese house with pretty and relatively large Japanese-style rooms. Our double bed room had this awesome view from the small balcony:
Okay so Kyoto station & Kyoto tower were the two first things we saw once we set our feet on Kyoto and I must say I was quite disappointed =}
But like every fairy tale, things got better. Our first destination, Nijo Castle (entrance fee 500 yen), was quite impressive. Though it can’t be compared to its counterparts elsewhere in Japan (for example, Himeji Castle) in terms of size and exterior, the interior won me over completely. We, however, were not allowed to take pictures, but I can assure you that Ninomaru’s palace’s interior is mindblowingly awesome. That said, though, a stroll around Nijo Castle’s surroundings was quite a reward on its own.
The garden with a pond~
On the map, the Kyoto Imperial Palace was just a short distance away. I insisted on walking there, and on the road we came across numerous photogenic houses… Kyoto is really a city for walking. If you don’t walk, you are bound to miss a lot of things that neither the guidebook nor the Internet talks about.
We didn’t know that we had to make reservation in advance to enter the Palace, so we could only wearily stroll inside the Imperial Palace Park (the palace & the park are in the same area) because boy, it was HUGE. But of course, it was absolutely stunning as well:
Coolest pigeons I have ever seen in my life:
And this is the Imperial Palace from outside T.T I could tell that it was massive though O.o
Not too far from the Palace is the World Heritage site Shimogamo Shrine, one of the oldest Shinto shrines in Japan. As we got off from our 10-minute bus ride, we were immediately awed by the shrine’s gorgeous vermillion Torii gate.
So imagine how we felt when we saw this…
Intensely awesome ;v;
The more we walked, the more Torii gates we saw…
No matter how ooooooohhhhh-ed and ahhhhhhhhhhhh-ed you are, don’t forget to cleanse yourself before entering any Shinto shrine:
I mean doesn’t this kind of environment inspire you to be somewhat better to match its aesthetic standard, let alone the spiritual level?
The whole area was so big there was even a forest there…
As much as we enjoyed Shimogamo Shrine, our tiredness & hunger won us over. We sadly said goodbye to the shrine and took the bus back to the area near Nijo Castle. As we were walking back to our hostel, we stumbled upon a Thai restaurant. The prices looked good, and there were lots of people inside. I knowwww, it’s weird to eat Thai food in Japan, but it turned out to be a great decision. The friend’s Tom Yum Gung (700 yen) and my Green curry (540 yen) were very very very good. They tasted almost 100% authentic to me.
Evetually we managed to drag our corpses back to the hostel. A quick shower and an hour or two checking facebook/editing pictures/doing random online stuffs were followed by our inevitable
collapse sleep. We slept from 5pm to 5am. We slept like we had never slept before (well mainly because our sleep in the 9-hour bus ride was extremely bad, cramped seats, awkward positions, bus stopping every hour and so on and so forth). Fortunately, that’s why we had enough both physical and spiritual strength to bravely carry ourselves mostly on feet over the hills and far away, into the forests and across the fields, under the downpours, the sun, the winds… to enjoy as much as possible what Kyoto has to offer today. More on our second day later, and it is gonna be much more exciting with much better photos ;)