No one has anywhere to go in Kyoto. That was my theme for the 3 days that we spent touring around Kyoto because, unlike Tokyo, the crowds kept a (rather annoying) dawdling pace. Part of this had to do with the number of tourists that come to Kyoto to get a feel for historic Japan.
. . . And you really do get good glimpses of traditional Japanese culture in Kyoto.
There were numerous women walking about dressed in kimono. There is extensive preserved architecture as well as numerous Shinto shrines and Buddhist temples. After extensive research on ‘how to spot a real geisha’, I even spotted what I expect were maiko apprentice geisha out of their traditional dress (apparently the hair is the giveaway).
Our itinerary for Kyoto was almost entirely made up of visiting those various shrines and temples (stay tuned for a post just about them) but we also managed to see a few other really cool things in Kyoto which were more modern culture than historic culture.
Arashiyama is a neighbourhood about a 45 minute bus ride west of the central Gion district that draws tourists primarily for its bamboo grove.
While the bamboo grove was a really cool thing to see, it wasn’t that large and we seemed to move through it rather quickly. (side note: The relentless rain may have also played a factor here.)
That just meant we had extra time in the Arashiyama area to go to the Arashiyama Monkey Park!
The park is the natural habitat for 170+ Japanese macaque monkeys. A number of them are always hanging around the visitor centre where you can feed them (you have to be inside, behind the cage to feed them while they stay outside).
Just don’t touch them or look them in the eye. They don’t like these things, apparently. I didn’t test the rules to confirm.
We got more of an otaku fix by finding a better Yodobashi Camera store than the one we found in Tokyo. And by better, I mean bigger toy section. Matt was in heaven.
We also spent time in the Kyoto Manga Museum which had a small exhibit about the history of manga and where it’s headed in the future. The museum is more like a library of pretty much every manga you can think of… most of them, of course, were in Japanese and pretty useless to us.
Another place that we hit up that I loved was Nishiki Market. It was cooler than Tsukiji fish market in Tokyo because a lot of the offerings were ready-to-eat and, let’s be honest, I really like to eat. Pickles, street meat, omelettes, tofu doughnuts, dried fruit, and so much more.
Tip: don’t go early. It seems like none of the stalls open until 10 or 11am.
If you don’t know how much I love karaoke, then you really don’t know me at all.
At first I wasn’t too interested in doing karaoke in Japan because I figured all the songs would be in Japanese and I didn’t think it was worthwhile but we gave in one night in Kyoto and, obviously, it was awesome.
They had a decent selection of songs in English that were easy to find. You get your own little room that you rent by the half hour which is awesome because you can make a total asshole of yourself without being in front of a crowd of people you don’t know. You can queue up the songs you want to sing from the get-go or pick them as you go.
It was relatively inexpensive, like the equivalent of $8/person but I could see it racking up quickly if you get hooked (which, obviously you will) and drink a lot.
It was awesome. I wish we had karaoke rooms like this in Windsor.
Next stop: Koyasan. Stay tuned!