It’s funny how sometimes the unplanned days end up being the best ones. Ok, not sometimes…often! We had originally planned on a day trip out of the city, but the weather forecast was for rain all day. We decided to skip the rainy travel and just explore more of Kyoto since there is so much to see. It was a very good decision. I believe this is the day when we really discovered the attraction, peace, and tranquility that you can find in Japanese gardens. I’m a huge fan now.
Today was laundry day. One of the perks of the hotel was free self serve laundry. That was great! The bad part is the dryers took forever. I’m talking hours. I got the feeling that most people air dried their laundry. Eventually we had to just hang stuff up in our room to finish drying because we needed to get back to Gion for our tea ceremony. We took the bus there and then found a cute little restaurant for lunch.
We sat at the counter again and the staff couldn’t have been nicer. When we paid I said, “Oishi!”, which means delicious. People would love when we would say that and took it as the highest compliment. It literally was one of the few words I knew, other than some numbers and greetings. It really came in handy because so many of our meals were oishi!
We didn’t get up until 6:00, which meant we were finally over the jet lag. It took a week! We were both quite sore. We decided to take the morning off. We eventually went to the pharmacy and bought Sal an ankle support bandage and me more ice packs. It seemed to help a little bit.
Our plan for the day was to go to Katsura Imperial Villa. We had made a reservation weeks beforehand. We took the bus again, but this time it was much easier. We stopped at a random restaurant on the way, where everyone in the kitchen greeted people when they entered. It was sorta funny — like the Japanese version of Cheers. Sal had ramen again.
We walked from there to the Villa, but with Google giving us wrong directions resulting in extra walking. Scroogled again! We were early so we waited a bit. Then we began the tour. You can click the link above to read more about the villa. Our guide was extremely nice and the gardens were beautiful. In Japan most gardens don’t have flowers. Rather they have perfectly manicured bushes and trees and at least one water feature. This place had ponds, bridges, old tea houses, etc. There were actually a decent number of stone steps. I was happy it wasn’t raining, because it would have been slippery and with my luck I probably would have fallen into the pond. They don’t want you to walk on the moss there, as it is sacred, so it’s important to watch where you step. I wish they would have had a place to have tea because it was incredibly peaceful. I’ll let the pictures do the talking.
We thoroughly enjoyed the tour and highly recommend it. Afterward we were trying to decide where to go. We decided since we weren’t so far away we’d try to go to the Bamboo Forrest. The problem was that we had a walk to get to a bus stop and we were already sore just from walking up and down in the villa gardens. We decided to have them call a taxi for us, but got lucky and someone was dropped off as we were getting ready to walk back and request it. The driver didn’t speak English and it took a little while, but he eventually figured out where we wanted to go. The taxi drivers in Japan dress very nicely, often in suits, and sometimes even wear gloves and/or a chauffeur’s hat. It was extremely crowded where he dropped us off, and the international travel police (again, that’s me!) noticed he didn’t give us the small change from the bills we gave him. I thought Japanese considered tipping insulting! Not that guy, apparently.
It was a Saturday afternoon and it was extremely crowded, but I’m still glad we went.
It’s sad when I crack myself up so much.
It wasn’t exactly peaceful there. When we got to the part where you turn around and walk back, we took a little detour to the side instead. There weren’t as many trees, but there also weren’t as many people.
It was pleasant walking around there. We could actually hear the hollow sound of the trees hitting each other in the wind. It was very relaxing.
We wandered for a bit, trying to avoid some school kids, and made our way to the water. The next day they were having some sort of boat parade and they were preparing some of the boats. We decided to walk back up to where the shops were and we had our first matcha ice cream.
After our treat we shopped a little and then walked to the train station to take the train back to Kyoto station. By this time we were sore again and needed liquid medicine. We discovered a cocktail bar at a hotel and I taught the mixologist how to make a Final Ward (my favorite) and he taught me how to make a Rolls Royce (his favorite). Another fun interaction. He really liked the Final Ward and made sure to write down the ingredients and proportions. Now I’ve taught people in both Japan and Australia; it’s my little way of giving back. Some people donate to charities.
We then knew we needed food, so back to the train station we went. We decided to go to the same area as the night before as we saw a OKONOMIYAKI (Japanese layered pancake) restaurant we wanted to try. I always thought that you cook them yourself on the hot top of the table, but this place had it already cooked and the hot plate in the table just kept it warm.
We were chatting away during dinner and I said I didn’t understand how there weren’t more chubby people in Japan with all this amazing food. Sal immediately pointed one out (not me). We still have a lot more chubby dubbies back home.
We enjoyed dinner then walked back to the hotel to listen to the live music again. There was a French little person staying at our hotel that we saw a few times. I only note it because I noticed in Kyoto there were three other dwarfs I saw while we were sightseeing. Was it just some weird coincidence? Why did I find it interesting? Hard telling.
I once again iced the knee and we both slept like rocks after our long day.
Note: I’ve been dreading writing about this day because I was an idiot and paid for it basically the rest of the whole trip. Learn from my mistakes, people.
I got almost 9 hours of sleep and it was glorious! I woke up at 5:00, but that was OK because we needed an early start. We went to 7-11, then took our food with us to the train station and caught the local train (crowded with school kids) to Fushimi Inari Shrine. This shrine is very popular because of all of the torii gates.
My jet lag wasn’t over yet – only five hours of sleep. Oh well, it could be worse. I was up at 3:00 a.m. though. We woke up very early, checked out quickly, and took a cab to the train station. This was the only time this trip that we were given an estimate on how much the fare would be and it was actually lower. We left so early it was strange seeing empty streets during daylight hours in Hong Kong! We took the Airport Express back to Hong Kong Airport and it couldn’t have been easier. The apartment high rise portion of the city seemed like something out of a science fiction movie.