On Monday November 23 there was a labor thanksgiving holiday and school was closed. With the extra time I decided to take a trip to Kyoto to enjoy the autumn leaves or koyo. All in all the trip was enjoyable and I got to visit some tourist attractions but the crowds were horrendous. It was simply a bad time (and a bad first time) to be in Kyoto. Despite the crowds and lack of space on public transportation, it was great.
Saturday morning started out well. The first stop was to kinkaku ki or the golden pavilion. It’s a beautiful temple and the garden walk was lovely this time of year. However, I always though kinkaku ji was a place where you could just sit a while and enjoy the view. That was not the case. Every last person is just trying to get a good photo and selfie sticks are flying all over the place. I’m still glad I saw it but I prefer visiting places where I can stop and take time to really be present in the location without the rush of a crowd and just a need to take photos and pass through.
Next I took a bus to Nijo castle. You walk through an area where the shogun lived and had meetings. I was interested in seeing this because of old artwork that adorned walls and ceilings, but it turned out the originals are stored and displayed in the museum. So I went to see paintings last. The grounds and gardens were beautiful and there was a nice lookout point above the moat.
After those two stops we went to Falafel Garden for lunch because I would be able to have a vegetarian lunch there. The restaurant was owned by an Israeli and the food was pretty authentic as for the ingredients available in Japan. I had a Greek style salad and a falafel pita. I also had baklava. The restaurant was located along the river and had a nice view.
After eating and feeling refreshed from sitting down for a bit, we took a bus towards Gingaku ji as we hoped to walk along philosophers walk to Eikan and then take a bus to the illumination at kiyo mizu dera. Due to time, we chose not to go to Gingaku ji and just walked along the philosophers walk. It was a nice walk with pretty views. When we got to eikan, they were no longer letting people get in line due to the large number of people already in line. We made our walk back towards the main streets to get a bus to kiyo mizu dera but as each one stopped they were full to capacity and not a single cab was empty. We decided to walk putting our mileage for the day at about ten miles. As we approached the area near kiyo mizu dera the street was a standstill of people waiting in line to go to it. Unfortunately, after our long scenic walk we didn’t stay around in the line fearing we wouldn’t make it back in time for a train to Osaka because of all the crowds. Hopefully I’ll head back to Kyoto on a less crowded weekend to check out some places I didn’t see when the cherry blossoms are around.
The next day we headed out and took a train back to Osaka. It was packed full and we stood squished for thirty minutes. The station in Kyoto was crazier than the day before and no lockers were available.
Feeling discouraged from the crowds and not being able to get on buses we decided to meet up with an ALT who lives in Kyoto now. We went to the main shopping district downtown to sightsee and have lunch. We had lunch at an Italian restaurant with an all you can eat bread set. I had a creamy salmon pasta because the lasagna had meat. After we walked around some more and then stopped to have a specialty Kyoto parfait. The wait was about an hour but it was nice to try and we weren’t in a rush to go home.
Then we headed home but waited for the second train to come so we could be first in line and get a seat. There were no reserved tickets available. It was a nice trip and I hope to go back to see cherry blossoms and more temples. Also, I want to see arashiyama and fushimi Inari. Luckily I am a 1.5 to 2 hour train ride away.