Do you Kyoto?

Trip Start Dec 24, 2011
Trip End Dec 31, 2011

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Where I stayed
Ayado Guest House

Flag of Japan  , Kyōto,
Tuesday, December 27, 2011

We left Osaka on Tuesday and took the train to spend a few days in Kyoto. Pay attention to the station stops or else you'll miss it. If you've gone under the mountain, you've gone too far! I was expecting a larger station and we ended up having to catch another train to go back one stop. Kyoto Station is a grand building and leads to an even grander city. It is the Japan of your imagination: stunning temples, colourful shrines, mountain views, bamboo alleyways, beautiful geisha, grand palaces...
While I did greatly enjoy what Osaka had to offer, I was glad to visit Kyoto next because it offered the Japan I dreamed about. Our hostel was located in Gion, just outside the historical geisha district. The side streets outside the hostel were home to several antique shops containing many of the familiar Japanese antiques we have scattered around the house at home. The first day in Kyoto was spent wandering the busy streets full of shops, street food vendors, locals and tourists. One of the delicious street foods to be found is a barbecued rice cake on a stick, covered with a sticky, sweetish orange sauce. As dinnertime approached, we followed the sounds of happy slurping to a ramen shop. In Japan and Korea, it is permissible (and encouraged) to slurp your noodles. The louder you are, the bigger the compliment to the chef. Instant ramen has nothing on this stuff. I myself am not much of a ramen fan until I had the real thing served in this steamy little shop where the cooks make the noodles at the counter and large pots of broth simmer in the back. Needless to say, there was a lot of happy slurping coming from our table.
On the way back from dinner, we stopped at the Yasaka-jinja Shrine. There is something very enchanting about visiting a shrine at night. The oversized carved dog and buddha statues have an otherworldly quality in the lamp light. I could have spent the rest of the night photographing the shrine in different lighting. Wandering around the grounds under the moonlight is a great way to experience the magic of Japan.  
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