Kyoto was about visiting shrines, palaces, cherry blossoms galore, and charming streets like Pontocho. Compared to Osaka, Kyoto had a city-rural flavor to it. There were more maikos walking about the city.
When we got off the train, this was the first site that greeted us.
There I was, all short-haired (growing it out) with my bandana fashion of the time (not the best idea) admiring the blossoms.
Check out this ice cream purchased at a train station.
Spot the hidden bunny face!
We stayed at K’s House Hostel. It was the most spartan among the three places we stayed at, but it was ok. Like in Hostel 64, we had to share bathrooms with the other guests. Still, I was shocked to see a topless man come out of the bathroom entrance.
Kewpie mayo is the best mayo. They deserve to advertise on a subway line.
We walked around this district, in search for a Michelin star restaurant where we had steak.
It took a while finding it. Thankfully, we had matcha soft serve ice cream to tide us over for the moment. It was the richest soft serve green tea ice cream in the world.
The steak, prepared with much love. This place had an awesome bathroom. Very high tech! When I entered, the seat cover lifted. I felt so respected.
Totoro, looking cheeky.
Lovely blossoms outside the palace.
Even mailboxes here are so pretty.
An abundance of narrow buildings.
Finally, we reach the gateway that officially marks the correctness of our direction, in the pilgrimage to the sakura blossoms.
Roasted gingko nuts, which we passed while ascending towards the top of the hill where the sakura trees were.
What Japanese people typically do during this season.
What you’d like to do when you reach the top.
Isa and I are being tourists.
Seriously, what kind of unattractive and uncomfortable leg pose is that.
Snacks, while relaxing under the falling flowers…
I’ll always be thankful we were able to do this during this year. Isa and Carina are some of my most favorite people in the world, best friends I grew up with, people I’ve known for more than a decade.
They had temples where bells were rung, and paper lanterns would sway in the wind.
Then we went to one of the palaces, but it was closed! So we took lots of photos in the surrounding gardens instead.
This tree reminded me a lot of my dog, Pizza. All white and fat and poofy.
There was a Taiwanese girl in a maiko costume who did the kamehame wave with us.
Anti-pervert subway posters.
Nishiki market. A lot more picturesque and alive than Kuromon market in Osaka.
A special soy bean snack, which the vendor advised, helps people lose weight.
Look at all those knives. Wish I could’ve brought some home.
A vendor scooping out genmaicha.
Sashimi on a stick.
We spied a lot of freshly grilled eel, which helped us figure out what we wanted for lunch.
We went inside a small shop inside the market, where there was a surprisingly large dining area upstairs. The person in black is a man, by the way. Not me.
Below is the infamous eel liver. It’s so bad, it deserves a post of its own.
Eel liver is the shittiest thing in the universe. I ordered fried eel bone, and got served this thing instead (which initially, I thought was the fried bone…*facepalm*). I was so mad (they still made me pay for it, since I touched it and ate some… and I was too mad to argue) that I got teary after. HAHAHAHAHA.
I don’t know why, but the Japanese are obsessed with baumkuchen.
Below are the things we saw at the Fushimi Inarii Shrine.
Jumpshot. Thanks, Sarie!
Isa, beating the crap out of me.
Waiting for the train, to go home.
Walking around the Pontocho area was one of my favorite parts of this leg of the trip. Streets lines with cherry blossom trees, willows, and quaint little houses and restaurants.
This street in particular was so narrow. There were restaurants to the left and right sides, and a surprising amount of people.
Narrow passageways branch out of the narrow street. They were deep, and led to restaurants, or other alleys/streets.
Katsukura, for some Katsu.
Wanting to make sure we got to the airport on time, we ended up taking a fancy train. By the smiles on our faces, you’d think it was some luxury liner. But Japan just has fancy trains. Okay, maybe not.
This is actually a chocolate snack, not ice cream.
The Kyoto train station.
Japan is a place I see myself returning to. There’s still Tokyo, Nara, and even islands like Okinawa to visit. This trip to Japan has increased my respect for their country and appreciation for their culture. People have been unexpectedly helpful, going out of their way to help my friends and I get to the places we were looking for. There’s a whole lot more to the trip than is shown here, such as the beauty stores (where you’d find a world of cosmetics and beauty products! Like charcoal soap, and a gazillion options for blackhead remover strips), that fateful day in Kyoto where it rained so hard while we were finding our way back to the hostel, other food (yup, there was more!), well-dressed old Japanese people, subways that smell good and arrive on time…. But that’ll have to be something for me and my friends to talk about over good sake, at some time in the future when we return.
Carina wrote about the trip extensively here: days 1, 2, 3 and 4. Very pretty and in sequence, without shoving too many pictures into your brains (like I have over here) within 2 posts. Isa and Sarie haven’t written about it yet (?) but they write about life and food, and everything else in between.
To end, here’s a video with snippets from the entire trip. Do I see myself living there in the future?