From Osaka we took the Bullet Train to Kyoto, we opted for the seven day JR Pass which allowed us to use selected services. If Heaven manifested itself in public transport it would definitely be the clean, reliable, smoother than smooth, where every-carriage-is-the-quiet-carriage Bullet Train. I didn’t want to get to attached, reassuring myself on every blissful journey that sure, it was faultless but it lacked the character of the 38 bus into Glasgow City Centre. We spent 5 days in Kyoto, and I would have happily have spent five more. It’s beautiful city, juxtaposing heritage and modernity in equal measures.
We stayed at the Centurion Cabin & Spa Hostel in Downtown Kyoto. The palace of all hostels, not cheap by hostel standards but worth it to catch up on sleep in capsule style bunk beds, and fresh towels and sheets available at no extra cost. Enough free toiletries that I began regretting the bag of “essentials” I’d be lugging around. The Centurion Cabin also comes with it’s own Japanese style public bath, complete with mini sauna. The so called “western” breakfast was essentially just carbs and coffee but I’ll forgive them for their lack of proteins as you could eat as much as you like, and belive me, I did. My only criticism, or positive depending on how you look it, would be the lack of atmosphere usually associated with groups travellers. You know, when they all hang around the kitchen discussing budgets, critiquing countries and cities, where’s got too “tourist-y” and of course, where to find the best ramen.
Take the Train out to Fushimi Inari-taisha Shrine, a popular tourist destinations but one of Kyoto’s most iconic sights. A Shinto shrine to Inari the God of rice, the rows and rows of the orange torri you wander through are seemingly never ending. Reviews said to arrive early, but honestly a couple of extra people couldn’t sway me to arrive any earlier than 11. The entrance and the beginning of the torri trail are naturally very busy, everyone snapping away, but if you have the stamina to climb the 4km up the mountain it’s much quieter and you can enjoy the fresh air and tranquility of the pathways, lining up your shots in peace!
You need to eat Okonomiyaki. A delicious savory pancake cooked on a hot plate, made with fillings including cabbage, noodles and meats. According to Wikipedia the dish takes its name from okonomi, meaning “how you like”, segmenting it’s position as an anything-goes type of meal, just whatever you like. If you follow my Instagram you’ll know how much I love breakfast, in fact my greatest love affair is with that of a perfect poached egg. Unless I’m cheating on it with beautifully fluffy pancakes. Okonomiyaki is the ultimate breakfast for dinner dish, or vice versa. It was so damn tasty we went back twice. Granted not the usual taste I would expect from Japanese cuisine but it made for a welcome break from noodles or rice. We ate it in a small establishment in the Pontocho Alley, one of the more reasonable priced and casual restaurants in that area. An immensely satisfying meal after a days sightseeing.