After a rather uncomfortable overnight bus ride from Tokyo, we arrived in Kyoto an hour before scheduled on Wednesday morning (28th July). This would have been very welcome if it wasn't 6:30am with nothing yet open! After a brief search we arrived at our hostel and checked our luggage in, ready for a day of exploring. First up was Fushini and the walkways covered with Tori gates, a nice enough site but not terribly awe inspiring. Impressive is probably a better word, and to be honest is a great place to take snaps. After that we had a lazy afternoon with some lunch and getting a few things purchased and finalised before our trip. For dinner we headed out to Gion and found a great laneway that ran parallel to the river with many restaurants that backed onto and had outdoor balconies looking over the river.We found a great little place called 'Mimasuya' that was both in our price range and had a range of interesting dishes. We had Kyoto eggplant balls, tempura prawns with almond flakes, grilled carpaccio, tuna with shisho sauce, udon wrapped in beef with a delicious sauce, tofu and spinach mousse and many more.
Joss in the tori gate tunnel
The stretch of restaurants by the creek in Gion
Thursday (29th) not deterred by a rainy start (in fact having been told kyoto can be like a sauna in summer, a rainy and cool day was welcome), we headed out to the Romantic Train Sagano. After a bit of a transport mix up we ended up missing our original train and had to wait and hour for the next one - during which time we couldn't help but have a go of the large drive your own train set. The train itself was run by JR so held impeccable timing and wound it's way along a river and fantastic scenery for 23 minutes. We could see the scenic boats in the river which looked like a lot of fun, but a bit too wet for us to try, so we took the train back and took a stroll through the bamboo forest.
View outside the train, because it was raining no-one was sitting in the open carriage so it was perfect to stand in and take photos
The bamboo forest walk
In the afternoon we wandering around Shinbashi Dori in Gion which is said to be the most beautiful street in Asia (judge for yourselves), before getting a few last minute supplies and heading back to our hostel to get ready for dinner - to the wonderful restaurant we found the night before. Before we got there however, we were stopped by a very friendly old Japanese man who obviously liked chatting (his English was great) and we ended up standing on the street with him for an hour! His name was Shoji and he was 91! No joke!
Paul and Shoji
Us at Mimasuya and one of the tasty dishes, tofu and spinach mousse.
After dinner we packed out bags, ready to leave what ended up being a great hostel (K's hostel Kyoto) early in the morning to get to Osaka for the Ferry. That concluded our brief stop in Kyoto, it really wasn't enough time to do a proper tour and we would love to go back and see more of the impressive shrines and temples... next time.
We were sad to leave Japan but excited about the next part of our adventure.
PM: Now because I am a patriotic sort, I managed to burst a blood vessel or something else equally gross in my eye in the shape of Australia, just as we were leaving Japan. Pretty neat I reckon.