Half of our day in Kyoto is spent wandering around holy grounds. The other half was spent in the “little town” life, where we get a taste of vintage Japan.
The entire nation of Japan is well known for its nationalism. But it is at Kyoto where we feel the Japanese spirit truly shines in. After all, it was the old capital of Japan, so for hundreds of years a lot of the cultural nuances we see with them now are from here.
It took us around 6 stations from our hotel to get to Arashiyama. I’m thoroughly impressed with the Kyoto train station because it felt like I was in a mini-airport. Kyoto’s trains are quite different from Osaka’s or the MRT here in Manila, because the seats were arranged like a bus. When I noticed that it began to snow, I even asked the lady beside me if I can pull up the blinds to see the snowfall. She kindly obliged.
Walking around Arashiyama is fascinating. Compared to the open wide, more urban Umeda, the district is pretty quaint. Deep in my mind, I was singing “Little town, it’s a quiet village…”
After that never ending holy walk, we ended up back to the main area of the town. Pretty cool because I got to see an art gallery along the way! I never got to see what was inside it, though. 🙁
Luckily this food stall–I have yet to understand its name–was nearby. We both got some soba noodles, and I added a potato croquette. I underwent a really long diet back in 2016, and I wanted to taste fried potatoes that weren’t… fries or chips (as Brits and Aussies call it).
All I understood from the name was that it means “three [something]”. My friend said three lines meant “san”, which translates to three, but I don’t understand the other kanji character.
The potato croquette was really great! I was too hungry to take a pic of it though, but I got a decent snap of my soba noodles (which is also good). Shall I get the name of this place, and the location, I’m recommending it to you all right away!
I took a few more photos of the Arashiyama area before we left for Gion.
Gion is the heart of the vintage Japan feeling Kyoto gives. The city area has a 1970’s aesthetic that takes you back to an analog era of fresh air and pre-memes.
While walking along to Gion, we noticed these geta (traditional Japanese footwear worn with kimono) for sale. But we backed a bit when we saw the price. Y26,000! I understand these are definitely artisan, but damn. The shoemaker must’ve put his soul, blood, and sweat in making these. He definitely must’ve put his soul inside like Voldemort put his in the horcuxes, because would you look at that heel height!
Intramuros, Is That You?
We reached the hot spot for tourists in Gion when we saw the village with lots of traditional Japanese architecture and a tiled road. Obviously, this was it. This reminded me of our very own Intramuros, where colonial Spanish influences are visible around the area. Similarities between Intramuros and Gion are very visible, minus the fact that Intramuros was colonized. And I don’t see a lot of tour guides who keep clinging on to me, so that’s another difference.
Within the tiny village are tiny streets, and they’re a little more modern than our main attraction.
Going back to the main attraction, we saw a lot of fascinating establishments. There were restaurants, high end shops for souvenirs, and small temples. And of course the most Japanese brand ever was there too: Hermès. :^)
Along the way, there were two girls in kimonos walking around the area. They must’ve rented from the rental shops I saw along the way here. My cousin’s wife encouraged me to take a photo with them. I asked and they were fine with it.
Below is the proof I missed the memo… :’)
I secretly took a photo of this cook, but there were people along the way. 🙁
Outside of the main area, there are more shops. Some are for food, souvenirs, maps, and guides… But the further we are from the main area, the more western the businesses… especially when near train stations. I even got my matcha powder from Starbucks.
We boarded the train again and returned to the main Kyoto station. But we faced the north side instead, and we got a view of the Kyoto Tower! Its modern design definitely sticks out from the archaic feel Kyoto gives off, but it’s around the business center so it’s not entirely out of place.
We checked out of our hotel and left at around 2 PM to get tickets for the Shinkansen / bullet train. Shall you plan to travel through it, I warn you that the ticket lines are crazy! But we managed to get on the right track and the right car. There was a lady selling bento lunches. Too bad I was still very much full with the soba I ate earlier.
The view in the shinkansen is super amazing, even if other passengers blocked the way. Luckily for us, the weather was fine and we got to see Mount Fuji! Whether you’re a tourist, a local, or a resident, there’s something magical about seeing the Mount Fuji. It doesn’t matter if you’re on a train or on your porch. If you got a view of it, enjoy.
Where To Next?
Osaka, Kyoto… Two prefectures down! After all that, we finally get to my favorite part: Tokyo! I’m very much in love with Tokyo. The city girl in me fell in love with the scenery. And I got more photos of them!