Kyoto, Nara, and Osaka…oh deer!
After Mount Fuji we were off to Kyoto. Remember we had just woke up at 2am, climbed to the summit of Mount Fuji for sunrise and climbed all the way back down before making the trek to Kyoto.
We had originally found a bus we were going to take to save time. In order to take trains, you have to go back to Tokyo and then go to Kyoto. If you look at a map, this does not make much sense. We got on the wrong bus and somehow ended up at Thomas the Train land theme park. The theme park is real. They have an entire theme park, full of Thomas the Train themed roller coasters. The metro line there is even filled with Thomas the train decorations. In order to get back to the station we came from (go back the other way) we had to cross the theme park. The workers were nice enough to let us cross the park without purchasing a theme park ticket. We marched with our full backpacks across Thomas land, back to the original metro station, only to end up going back to Tokyo in order to route to Kyoto. Turns out it is the faster way in the end.
We stayed in our first Ryokan in Kyoto. Ryokan’s are traditional Japanese guest inns that have existed since the 8th century. The rooms typically have tatami-matted rooms, communal baths and areas where you may wear your yukata around. Yukatas are like kimonos, typically made of cotton, almost like a robe. The room came with instructions on how to set up our bed and how to put on our yukatas. There was also a table and pillows to drink matcha green tea. If only I could wear that yukata everywhere. It was so comfortable and I just want to wear it to work.
The other place we stayed in Kyoto was a hot spring hotel. Japan is known for their natural hot springs, which they pump up to the ground into bath houses. Typically bath houses are split between genders, but we splurged to have a private one in the room, just so we could experience it together. There is a sink next to the bath because you must wash yourself off before getting into the hot spring. You are considered dirty and why would you want to sit in a tub of your dirt? It really does make sense.
Kyoto had some of my favorite sights. We went to the Golden Temple (Kinkaku-ji), which is a Zen Buddhist temple and a National Special Historic Site. After we went to the Red Gate (Fushimi Inari Taisha). Inari is actually the god of rice, but traditionally Inari is also worshiped as the patron of business. Fun fact: Each of the torii at Fushimi Inari Taisha has been donated by a Japanese business. You may recognize the site from it’s many popular red gates. Additionally we went to the Bamboo Forest (Arashiyama Bamboo Grove), which is a natural forest full of bamboo (as the name suggests).
After two days in Kyoto we were headed to a small stopover in Nara before headed to Osaka. Our main reason for going to Nara was the Nara Deer Park. The park is home to over 1,200 freely roaming wild deer over 1,240 acres. The deer here are friendly. You can actually pet and feed them (To be honest they don’t really approach you unless you have food). The deer are everywhere in town, simply roaming the streets among the people.
On a side note, Nara was the first town who had soap and hand driers in their bathrooms. Shout out to Nara!
On a different side note, there are no trash cans anywhere in Japan. There are signs everywhere asking you to take your trash home with you. For sure the cities looked cleaner, but also it was a bit annoying when you were given street food and then could not do anything with what you were given. Anyways just a strange thing I noticed.
Next we were off to Osaka. We stayed in our first Air BnB type place there. The original plan was to explore Osaka for the day and then head back to Tokyo to finish seeing some sites we could not fit in before flying out. Unfortunately we received news of the typhoon Jebi that morning and had to switch our flight last minute. We headed back for Tokyo for one last night out and then we were going to fly back to LAX the next day.
The rest of our adventure in Tokyo is in the first Japan blog (since I divided up by city) if you want to know more. It was very upsetting to have our dream trip cut short, especially since we had planned to do so many more things in Osaka and Tokyo. We were extremely lucky to get out in time because the storm was devastating and the worst typhoon in 25 years. I hope anyone in the area’s affected is okay and that anyone else traveling was able to make it home safely.
We enjoyed our time in Japan so much that we have already talked about another trip soon. It was an amazing experience and I am happy to have had the opportunity to visit!
Until next time, please enjoy this photo of us enjoying crab on a stick and tea flavored ice cream…