Kyoto Day 1

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Today was the first time I’ve ever taken a bullet train and it was AWESOME! I know…I’m so easily amused…but being able to travel has been so amazing for me…I wish this was my job.

I arrived in Kyoto around 13:40 and getting to the hotel this time took much less time. I’m staying at the ANA Crown Plaza, it doesn’t look like much from the outside, but the inside is fantastic. I really like my room, when I opened the curtains there was a cute little garden.

I appreciate the location of this hotel for a few reasons:

  1. Conveniently located by a subway station AND a bus station.
  2. They actually have a shuttle that picks you up from Kyoto Station (wish I knew that before I got here)
  3. Because right away I was able to step out and visit Nijō Castle (二条城). It cost me 600¥ (~$6.00), totally worth it. I spent a little over an hour there. Let me tell you, I’ve been to a lot of castles in my day, but a Japanese castle is the best in my opinion! The intricate designs, the woodwork, the silk screens, the amazing hardwood floors, the layout of the rooms, etc…all of it really speaks to me. (I know, super stereotypical…I couldn’t help it, lol)

After wandering around the castle and its grounds, I took the train to the Sueyoshicho Prefecture (末吉町) and walked around until I ended up in the Gionmachi Minamigawa Prefecture (祇園町南側).

I ate…yeah, so I did it again. I didn’t know the name of the restaurant. I gathered from the menu though that it was a vegetarian restaurant and it was lovely! I got a croquette dish.

Then I walked down Shijo Dori towards the Yasaka Shrine (八坂神社). This is a great street it has a ton of shops, restaurants, and food stands. I stopped at a food place for a parfait 茶寮都路里 Tsujiri greentea.

Then I walked to the Yasaka Shrine (八坂神社), which is 1,350 years old! It…was a humbling experience. I am not religious, at all…but, I figured, what the hell? Do you want to pray correctly? Easy:

  1. Wash your hands:
    1. Hold the ladle in your left hand and wash your right hand
    2. Swap hands pour water in your left hand to wash your mouth
    3. After rinsing your mouth, clean your left hand
    4. Put the ladle in a vertical direction, clean the handle of the ladle and put it back the way you found it
  2. Praying:
    1. Walk to the shrine
    2. Bow your head once
    3. Ring the bell (with forcefully so it rings)
    4. Throw a few coins into the shrine box
    5. Bow your head twice (bow low in a 90-degree angle), then clap twice (your hands are far in front of you)
    6. Put your palms together and pray, then when you’re done
    7. Bow again
    8. When you exit the Torii (the gate to the shrine), turn around and bow again

After all this, I went to Kyoto Tower (I wonder if all the cities have towers that are lit up?), then returned to my hotel.

Tomorrow, my plan is to go to Osaka for the day!

Noteworthy Things:

  1. Culture wise, Japan may not be for you depending on your personality. I was raised in a very Asian household so it resonates very strongly with me. There’s a lot of bowing and politeness with thanks, no problem, excuse me, sorry, etc.
  2. The two hotels I’ve stayed at so far are the kind where you stick your key into a pad by the door to activate the electricity in the room. Why am I telling you this? Because if you are thinking, “Let me leave this charging while I go out!” make a note which plugs will work.
  3. I took a bus for the first time and it seems that there is a flat rate for buses, whereas the trains look at how far you are traveling to calculate the cost.
  4. The toilets here are heated. And yes. I do like that.
  5. Your IC card works in Kyoto.

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