Adventures in Japan – Part 3

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Day 6

It had been nearly a week of rainy, overcast weather. But when I looked outside this morning, I saw the bright sunshine and decided to visit the Meiji Shrine. I explored the area for an hour or so, drew my fortune, then headed back to Takeshita Street and Tokyu Plaza in Omotesando for lunch. I spent the rest of the afternoon in Yoyogi Park enjoying the warmth and sun. It was a laid back day and I definitely needed the slower pace.

Day 7

Today was an early day. I woke up before everyone else, checked out of the hostel, and headed to Tokyo Station. I reserved a seat on the Shinkansen with my rail pass, bought an ekiben (train bento) for lunch, then headed to the platform. The journey took less than three hours and I arrived in Kyoto in the early afternoon. I found the hostel with ease (with a map) and checked into my room. After settling in, I walked around Kyoto with a fellow traveler from Germany. We got back around 8 pm, I had supper, then headed to bed.

Day 8

As I was only in Kyoto for two full days, I wanted to make the most of my time there. I got up early and walked to Kyoto station, grabbing a coffee and onigiri on the way. After a short train ride, we arrived at Fushimi Inari. Beautiful orange temples and torii gates decorated the landscape. It’s located on a small mountain and you can walk all the way to the top beneath an unending line of orange gates. It’s quite the experience and quite the challenging climb. But it was the perfect start to the day and the quiet coolness of the forest is calming. Introvert tip: go super early or at night to avoid the massive crowds. I explored Kyoto Imperial Palace and Nijo Castle after that. I made it just in time for the last tour of Ninomaru Palace, complete with gorgeous artwork and nightingale floors! Then a quick supper and time for bed.

Day 9

To avoid the crowds, I took the train at 7 am to the Arashiyama bamboo grove. Very few were there that early. It was an incredible experience to walk among the towering bamboo in solitude and reflection. I also quietly explored the neighborhoods, and many shrines and temples. I also recommend checking out Ōkōchi Sansō. It’s a villa that was owned by a well-known Japanese actor. But for a small entrance fee, you can enjoy a steaming cup of matcha in a cute tea house in the midst of a beautiful garden. I then walked to Monkey Park Iwatayama nearby. It’s a steep climb, but well worth it to see the Japanese macaque monkeys and the view at the top! In the evening I headed to the Gion district for delicious sushi. Then I spent a few hours exploring the quaint side streets to catch a glimpse of a geisha or maiko. Walking the narrow streets really feels like you’ve stepped back in time.

Hope you have a great weekend!

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