We thought we were going to love Kyoto from the moment we stepped off the train, but it took us a bit to get used to how different it was from Tokyo. The first thing we noticed was that since it’s an older city the trains weren’t as quick to get to the train station as they were in Tokyo. Since we got used to everything being quick in Tokyo it was hard to get used to waiting. Another thing was that at night (around 8ish I’d say) we had nothing else to do but go back to our Airbnb. We are night owls and love going out at night, so that was really disappointing. We do, however, want to give Kyoto another try because we just felt like we didn’t really explore much, especially since it was our first ever trip to Japan so we wanted to stick to what we had researched and didn’t venture out.
Before I go on, when arriving at the station in Kyoto I decided to use the bathroom and it was surely an experience! I knew I was in the women’s bathroom for sure because when I arrived there was a long line of women waiting. When I finally got to the beginning of the line I saw what looked like a urinal and thought it looked weird just there at the end of the bathroom hall. If anyone knows what it’s for please share because I’d love to know! When I made it into a stall I noticed there was no “toilet” and I had to squat to pee (thank goodness I didn’t have to go for something else :O).
When we got to our Airbnb we saw many foreigners coming in and out of the building and it looked like it was going through renovations. When we got to our apartment the guy was just finishing up with cleaning and let us in to leave our bags. We really liked how clean he’d left it and we were also impressed by how big it was because we had heard about many apartments being pretty small.
Click here to go to this Airbnb’s page!
Our first day we decided to walk around our neighborhood and find a good place to eat. We found a really hippy/cool/chill cafe a few blocks from our Airbnb and decided to check it out. It turned out to be our favorite breakfast/brunch place we ate at on our whole trip. The owner was such a cool guy and our waiter was so sweet and attentive. We later found them on Instagram by the name globe_mountain_coffee (go follow now!).
After breakfast, the first day, we decided to visit the Fushimi Inari Taisha Shrine. I was so excited to see it in person. When we got there it was packed with people, something that didn’t even cross my mind. I don’t know why I expected it to be less crowded, but I was really bummed to see that many people at the entrance. Later, as we got closer to the top, the crowd of people was less and less. I noticed why that was rather quickly. We had to walk up so many steps to get to the top, but it was completely worth it because not only was the view amazing but there were not that many people and we were able to get some really cool shots.
The second day in Kyoto we went to the Bamboo Forest. This time there was no escaping the crowds though. The road through the forest was really not that long, so there was a lot of people and not as many spots to take nice shots without people’s head in the way. On the bright side, we got to see two geishas/maikos (not sure which one, but probably maikos) walking into the forest right before people started walking their way. We were able to take one awesome shot with no one in the background and that was the best part for me. We had seen girls dressed up like a geisha/maiko, but never with their face painted, so this was so nice to see some with the white on their face. I can’t be certain that they were “real” because although they looked like they were in a hurry and not really willing to stop for pictures, like most tourists that dress up as them do, they did have a few things that made me question their realness. One of them being the fact that “real” geisha/maiko tend to stay away from the crowds, which would slow them down to get to work and the bamboo forest is definitely a crowded place. Either way, I was delighted to see 2 and in such a pretty area.
At night, the first night we went to a really nice Japanese style restaurant (a sit down on the floor type). I have been used to sitting “Indian style” or “W-sitting” on the floor since I was a kid, so it was hard for me to understand why my husband was having such a hard time with it. I couldn’t stop laughing at him constantly trying to get into a comfy position. I felt really bad when I saw it impossible for him to do. He definitely wanted the experience but said this would be the last time because he could just not enjoy his food being so uncomfortable. Anyways, this first restaurant was a hole in the wall little place we found just walking around our neighborhood. We actually didn’t even notice it was a restaurant until we looked a second time and they had like an outdoor menu. Everything was in Japanese, but nothing a little basic Japanese from my husband and of course google couldn’t fix. We had a little bit of a struggle giving our order, but the Japanese are willing to help as long as you try too. We struggled with our Japanese and they struggled with their English, but we did get what we want in the end and they were so happy to see us trying our best to communicate in Japanese.
The second night was a blast because my husband had already planned from before our trip to go to this restaurant. The restaurant’s name is Menbakaichidai and they serve “fire” ramen. They set you up in their bar area and tell you to put your hair back if it’s long & to lean back once he comes around to your plate to set it on “fire”. They also take your phone and set it up in front of you on video to catch your reaction to the explosion. We really had a great time and the owner was so funny. Definitely recommend coming here!
Hope you enjoyed!