The city that stole my heart.
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Day 1: Gion
We got a little held up in Tokyo due to an unforeseen circumstance and arrived Kyoto just past sundown. We missed the chance to meet our Kyoto host in person, but met up his friend instead and was taken to our perfect little Airbnb apartment conveniently located to just about everything (our apartment was just next to the Kawaramachi station).
As most of the sight-seeing locations were already closed by that time, we decided to head to the Yasaka Shrine as it is open 24hours and just a 10minute walk away (took us longer cause we didn’t know where we were going and ended up turning into a lot of unnecessary alleyways).
Visiting the shrine at that hour gave us the place all to ourselves. I admit it was a little scary, especially how quiet it was. I half expected to see something i’m not supposed to with every shot i took but thankfully it was all just in my imagination (as usual!). Though i am a little surprised that my shots turned out pretty clear even without a tripod. Progress!
625 Gion-machi Kitagawa
Higashiyama-ku, Kyoto Prefecture 605-0073
Open 7days; 24hours
Day 2: Arashiyama & Southern Higashiyama
Waking up at 5.30am was tough, especially when the temperatures were freezing outside. But arriving to a peaceful and serene Arashiyama made it all worth it. We had a little difficulty finding the bamboo forest, and if you’re heading there anytime soon, you’ll find it near the Tenryu-ji Temple. Make the effort to arrive there early and i guarantee you won’t regret it!
We stayed home during midday while waiting for our luggages to arrive and got to Gion in the late afternoon. It was love at first sight. Make your way to Ninen-zaka and Sannen-zaka and you’ll find lanes of traditional wooden buildings, shrines and temples just around the corner, and oh my those street food shops. That area may be targeted towards tourists but there’s no denying i’d go back there anytime! It is also known as Kyoto’s famous geisha district, and we were so lucky to have stumbled upon two maiko (apprentice geisha) making their way.
As we were running late, we pretty much sped past all the shops to reach Kiyomizu-dera before closing time. It was only later that i realised i forgot to take any street shots which i’m currently so gutted about. And because we stayed there till sunset, by the time we left the temple, most of the food shops we were after were already closed. Didn’t manage to try the green tea buns but OH MY GOODNESS THOSE KYOTO BEEF BUNS.
Someone post me a dozen of those. Right now.
Day 3: Southeast Kyoto & Northern Higashiyama
Both the Arashiyama Bamboo Forest and the Fushimi-Inari Shrine were on my must-visit list, making this the second day of 5.30am wake-up calls. We didn’t wake up that early because the location was far, but because we tried avoiding having people in our frames at all costs. Good thing the boyfriend doesn’t complain haha!
The torii gates at the Fushimi-Inari Shrine were something, and walking through the pathway under those bright, orange gates gave me some sense of zen. We were actually prepared to hike that day but didn’t realise how tough it would be (more like i was the unfit one. its all stairs but the incline and the cold got to me) and gave up halfway as we were short on time. For the thrill-seekers, attempt this hike at dawn or dusk as it will feel a lot more spooky with all the graves along the way.
There was a route that led within a forest and out to a housing neighbourhood, which is apparently a shortcut to Tofuku-ji if you’re coming from the Fushimi-Inari Shrine. Do be careful when using this route as there isn’t much proper signings so you could end up lost. Doubt its that bad though as we got lucky on our first try.
We went back home to charge our devices before coming back out to Nanzen-ji, which is why we arrived late. Didn’t manage to cover all of the sub-temples, and i’m particularly sad we couldn’t make it to the zoo nearby! After taking one too many paparazzi shots of the boyf, we decided to call it a day, picked up a couple souvenirs from the Teramachi Shopping Arcade (near where we stayed), and began with our goodbyes.
I will never get over Kyoto.
Wait, let me rephrase that. I refuse to get over Kyoto.
Our entire trip was a little rushed and i wished we had a couple days more. There are still a lot of locations we didn’t manage to cover, and due to our tight schedule, we couldn’t even visit Nara which is just a train ride away.
Kyoto, i’ll definitely be back for you.
Wait for me.