Monday, September 9, 2013


On our way from Tokyo to Kyoto
After the workcamp we traveled back to Tokyo to pick our lauggage, spend the night and just get ready for our next destination.... Kyoto!

On Monday Sept 19th, we went from Otsuka Stn. to Tokyo Stn. to take the Shinkansen towards Kyoto, we first had to stop by the Ticket Office (Outside the turnstiles of the station) because we had to Exchange our JR Pass, the JR Pass is a Ticket you have to buy Outside of Japan (For foreigners only) and will allow you to travel "for free" on JR Trains, buses, etc, I say "free" because you obviously have to pay for this pass but compared to the price of the Shinkansen (Bullet Train), you'll see it's well worth it if you are to travel a lot through Japan, we got the 14 days JR Pass and we payed 45,100 Yen (about $450 USD) but it was SO worth it as we took several Shinkansen and some local trains :), anyway, we arrived at Tokyo Stn. and took a local train and then took a bus towards our Guesthouse, thing is, the local train was not really needed since all buses depart from Kyoto Stn. (We didn't know about this!), we stayed at the Kingyoya Guesthouse at the Female Dormitory, the place is really nice and traditional but it's about 30 mins away from the station, a big inconvinient when you are traveling with a 20kg backpack and a 2nd 7kg backpack :(. 

Pros about the Kingyoya Guesthouse: 
- Japanese Style all the way
1st Bus ride
- They have frozen pillows for the summer!!! How awesome is that?, I didn't even know such a thing existed, but it was heaven considering the average temperature in kyoto those days was 34° but felt like 50° with a lot of humidity.
- There's Hot water 24/7, free Tea and WiFi 
- Breakfast is not included on the room price, but you can easily add it 
- The walls are (literally) paper thin, so, there's noise most of the time, they do give you earplugs but I don't like sticking things into my ears, so flock it lol. 
- Rooms are booked in advance, we booked about a month before and they didn't have any twin rooms available anymore :( 
- The female dormitory looks WAY bigger on the pictures!, so carefull, I realized I'm not a Hostel-Room sharing person lol
- It's about 30-40 mins away from Kyoto Stn, and from the Bus stop, I mean, not too far away from the bus stop, but again it was WAY too hot for us and we had HUGE lauggage lol. 
- There's not information about where and what time is breakfast served, we didn't order it, but people asked us if we knew when and where was it served lol. 

Over all, it was a good place to stay in, they provide you with a map of the area and are always willing to help you, you can get a free fan (wooo!) and they also sell the Day-Pass ticket, for 500 Yen, very convinient because each bus ride is 220 yen and there are buses everywhere, oh! and the buses have an awesome A/C system. 

We arrived in Kyoto around 2pm and had to meet Eric (Ex-workcamper) at the Kitano Tenmangu Shrine/Temple (sorry, I still don't know the difference~~ I know google is my friend and I promise I'll ask him one of these days!), luckily the Shrine was close to the guesthouse and after leaving our backpacks at the Guesthouse we walked over there, on the way we melted and died... ok no, we didn't die but I did melt a little, we met Eric at the entrance and then he explained us how to pray at the temple, we completed our prayers, walked around and then took a very needed break and got ourselfs some drinks until we decided to head to the Kyoto Tower conviniently located in front of the Kyoto Stn, so, we decided to take the Bus, 1st obviously going into the wrong direction under the sun lol, the ride was nice and filled with AC (can you tell I loved the AC?, I just can't function with such a hot weather), the tower is not that big, but you do get a nice view, I love high views and we got a chance to see the many awesome things Kyoto has, that way we found easier what to do while in Kyoto since we only had 2 full days there. 
Kitano Tenmangu 
View from the top of the Kyoto Tower

Kyoto Tower! aka Kyoto TowO

Oh, Hi!! Me-Eric-Diana @ Kyoto Tower

Sunset looking at the Kyoto Tower
After the Tower Eric had to go to meet his friends, so we decided to call it a day and after walking around the station, we found our Bus and went back to the GH, on the way we stopped by a Lawson (Convinience stores in Japan are THE best thing EVERY!!!-- I kind of miss them) and then went back to the GH, where they had already moved our backpacks to our room (yay!!), good thing because their stairs are Tiny Mctinyston. 
Kinyoya GuestHouse 
For our second day we started with the Nijo Castle but it was closed lol, so, after our total fail, we waited for another bus to take us to Gion aka Geisha Paradaise ;), we 1st visited the Yasaka  Shrine (formerly known as Gion Shrine), if you didn't know, before going into a Shrine/Temple you must wash your hands at the entrance, there's like a mini-pool (I bet it has a real name) and then you can go in, I loved doing this to freshen up, but does anyone know if it also applies in Winter? I heard winters in Japan are VERY cold.... 
After walking around and not being able to understand anything because everything was in Japanese, we walked some more and ended up at the Maruyama Park, we chilled there for a bit before going out to explore Gion and find somewhere to have lunch, sadly we didn't find a place of our likes and decided to move on after going into the "Udon Noodle Museum in Japan" and realizing it wasn't a museum but a restaurant lol. 
Yasaka  Shrine
This is were you wash your hands
Maruyama Park

At this point we didn't know what to do (yay for lack of planning!!), so we found the closest bus stop and decided to move on, we took yet another bus and made our way towards Fushimi Inari-taisha, if you saw "Memoirs of a Geisha", well, this is the place when she runs through the red Tori ~gates~, the place is HUGE and is said to have 32,000 sub-shrines O_O, this was my favorite shrine in Japan, we then decided to go to Sanjusangendo, a temple with 1001 human sized statues, but we couldn't make it on time and ended up going back to Kyoto Stn to take yet another bus and look for an Izakaya, a recomendation made by my sis' french friend.... a not so good recommendation if I may say, he only gave her the name and told her to google it, we didn't know where it was, but luckily (and thanks to the app MapsToGo) we found it and turns out the speciality are ONIONS (Diana's national dish! not), the place was... cute (?), looks very Japanese, but I found it overpriced, the service is too slow, portions are tiny and if you don't like onions you'll have a hard time there, we got a "side dish" for free and it was sliced green onion lol, we had to add lots and lots of chilli powder and so, we ended up asking for a chilli refill like 3 times, I bet when we were leaving they were saying "Goodbye crazy-chilli powder girls!!!" lol, since we were close to the Shirakawa river, we decided to take a night walk and just explore more of Gion by night and since that Izakaya wasn't enough we made a last stop at a convinience store to stock on some more food n_n. 
The Onion Izakaya 
Sunset-night walk
Fushimi Inari-taisha
A billion Tori (Gates)
Day 3 came and it was time to go back to Nijo Castle, this was a disapointment for me, you go inside the Main building, take off your shoes, walk around it and go back to point A :/, photos are not allowed, there are other buildings but it was TOO hot and we didn't think it would be that different, so after that we decided to go to the "Giant Buddha we saw from the Kyoto Tower" aka Hoko-ji Daibutsu (Giant Buddha), we just googled the address and took a lovely bus towards Gion, walked a couple of streets and made a stop for a drink at the 7/11, good thing because then we had to walk up the hill and then some more stairs until we were up in the mountain breathless and sweaty lol, but we found it!!, who could miss such a Giant Buddha?, to be honest, we didn't had to go all the way to the top of the hill, we made a mistake and ended up there but it's ok, that kind of thing is what makes a trip better, I like not making such tight schedules/plans and just go with the flow, but also, thanks to this, we were late to meet Eric again at Kyoto Stn. (he had to catch a train) but we made it just in time to have lunch with him and say our goodbyes since we wouldn't be meeting again (At least in Japan.... in 2013 lol), by that time we were exausted and as I said before sweaty (TMI?), so we headed back to the GH to do laundry and re-pack to leave for Osaka early the next day. 
Outside the Nijo Castle 
Top of the Mountain-- Can you see my finger at the corner? I was so tired I didn't even noticed it when I took the pic
Giant Buddha
Last Lunch with Eric @ Kyoto Stn.
And that's how we did in Kyoto, if you ever get the chance, you must visit, it was one of my favorite places in Japan, just don't go in Summer or you'll melt. 

-Gisela V. 

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