Japan – Kyoto, Gion

04/05/16

This morning I checked out of my flat in Osaka and headed off to Kyoto, I managed to get on the rapid train so it only took 30 mins to get there. From Kyoto station my Airbnb host had given me clear instructions so I hopped on the bus which cost 230y! And in no time was at the flat, it’s great as bikes are included with the flat so no walking or bus yay.

The first place I headed to was Gion which is the Geisha district, it was a straight road from the flat but it got so busy towards the end of the path it wasn’t pleasant to cycle. There’s so many people here as there’s a lot of shops nearby and a lot of souvenirs. Many girls dressed up in Geisha outfits, and I wanted to get in on the action but as its a day rental and it was already late in the day I decided I’d consider it another time.

The first temple I saw in Kyoto is Chion-in but it was under reconstruction so you can’t actually see anything.. It was nice to walk around but I wasn’t interested in spending any more money to see the inside or the gardens. If I paid for every one then I’d be poor!

I then walked around Hanamikoji Dori which is the famous street where the Geisha hang out. Except that Geisha are very rare and if you actually want to see one you have to pay a lot of money. I was really hoping to see a real one but as it is Golden week I really doubted they’d come out as they’d be mobbed. There were some signs which told people to not take selfies or get in the way of the Geisha! I liked the architecture here it felt really old school even though the buildings look like they are reconstructions. All the food and shops are expensive and not worth it. I was tempted to buy tickets to see the Geisha performance in Gion Corner but after reading a couple reviews decided against it.

I then went on a random bike ride just going through all the back streets and ended up near the castle. It was closed but I can go back tomorrow. As it was nearing dinner time I stopped off at a Yakitori restaurant which just serves different bits of chicken on skewers. Some were good but some were kinda bad.. Really not a fan of offal! There we met some guys who were up for having a laugh and we ended up befriending them. They bought some sake which wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be, and they got us some chicken balls. As I wasn’t too keen on all the food they said I needed to try kushikatsu which is like breaded skewers.

So I hopped back on my bike and followed them through the streets until we came across a popular restaurant. Our wait was 1 hour! But we went to have a look at the weird techno festival where no one was dancing apart from 3 oldies and the rest were sat down watching. So weird! The rest of the wait was full of banter and laughs. Once inside one of the guys ordered a ton of random things which were mostly vegetables (thank god) to try. I really enjoyed this, it was all really tasty I think my favourite was lotus and the mochi. The chicken tastes of chicken nuggets ha. The Japanese guy also ordered so shochojin which I thought was a soft drink. Turns out it tastes like paint stripper even though it’s not very strong…

At the end the Japanese guy paid for the whole meal! It was too kind of him and he really didn’t have to. It cost so much and I was so appreciative of him making me try new things. It’s the first time I felt like I had a fun local experience here and that Japanese people are really friendly and polite.

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