A weekend in the ancient capital of Kyoto, Japan.

Trip Start Jul 06, 2008
Trip End Aug 25, 2008

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Flag of Japan  , Kinki,
Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Ryan and I took a 21/2 hour train trip to Kyoto, Japan. It was the only city not damaged by bombs during World War II and is one of the ancient capitals of Japan. What they did not tell us was how hot it was going to be. When we got back to Yokohama everyone was talking about how Kyoto had been on the news over the weekend because it was the hottest city in all of Japan. It had hit record high temps the two days we were there!  Crazy hot!

Regardless of the heat, Ryan and I had a wonderful weekend. We walked everywhere and saw many beautiful things. We saw this Golden temple called the Temple of the Golden Pavilion which was literally covering in gold leaf. It was amazing. We went to this  place called Nijo  Castle which served as the home of the first Tougawa shogun in 1603. It was really cool and my favorite part were the floors. This shogun guy was super paranoid and had these special floors installed called "nightingale floors" so that if someone were going to try to sneak in and kill him he would hear them coming. The floors creaked as you walked over them and they literally sounded like birds singing. It was really cool. That night we went to this 300 year old noodle shop which we read about that was supposed to be really good. Well, the noodle shop was visually neat because it was so old and traditional but it also smelled 300 years old and the noodle dishes were terrible. Oh well...we walked around after dinner and explored this narrow street that runs parallel to the river and is filled with shops, bars and restaurants. After that we walked down to the riverside and watched some street performances. It was a beautiful night and people we sitting all along the river. The moon was full and there were people singing, dancing and a group of people even did a show with fire juggling.  It was very interesting because it was a public area down by the river and so many people were just hanging out drinking beers and watching the street performances or sitting with a date along the river.  The thing that seemed so weird was that no police came around to kick people out and there was no litter anywhere. Everyone left with their own garbage that night and the area was left spotless. I do love that about Japan! I don't think the general population in the USA would behave quite so well if they were given the opportunity to have open containers, food and live music along a water front area without supervision and garbage cans everywhere. That is the other strange this about Japan, it is very difficult to find garbage cans yet the cities are practically spotless. When you do find a garbage can, there are about three of them and they are labeled for different types of garbage. One is for plastic bottles, one for combustibles and the third for non-combustibles. I usually stand and stare at the cans for an average of about 15-30 seconds trying to figure out where to place my garbage.

On the second day we walked the eastern side of the river. This area of the city was very beautiful and more like what we thought Kyoto would be like then the western side we had walked around on the first day. We walked down narrow, winding streets lined with old traditional Japanese buildings. Temples and gardens seemed to spring up around every corner. We were not even sure which temple or shrine we were at half the time but we knew they were beautiful. We actually got to see the beginning of a Buddhist monk ceremony in this one temple. The monks were chanting and banging on a gong or something. We ended the walk by visiting a temple called Kiyomizu Temple. We had to climb this hill alongside an ancient graveyard to get there. The graveyard was breathtaking. We eventually arrived and after climbing many stairs and hills we were able to get the grand views of Kyoto that we had heard about from the tour book. It was spectacular.

That night we had wine and pizza(believe it or not) along a canal and talked an looked at our photos. In the morning we took a cab back to the train station, got on the train and headed "home" to Yokohama. On our last night in Yokohama we made sure we stopped to eat some mochi-creams, which are the most delicious little desserts ever. I believe they are made from some kind of rice concoction on the outside and are filled with a variety of things.  They look like the sweetest little dumplings you have ever seen. Our favorite was the chocolate banana. Oh man, I will miss the mochi-creams.
So, here we are back in Shanghai now. We were in the country for about two hours and Ryan was almost hit by a mini-scooter and I was pushed, cut off and almost ripped off at the grocery store. :o) Ahhh, back to China. It is quite a contrast to the highly civilized Japan and the very honest and polite Japanese. We are glad to be back though and settled in for about four more weeks. I am looking forward to finding more exciting things to do and experiences to have.
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pyo_lee on

Thanks for your interesting and useful information on Kyoto.
When traveling to Kyoto in the future, I am sure I visit your site. Thank you....
Kyoto is one of cities in Japan I'd like to.....

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