As it happens almost all the time when I am back from a trip with high emotional impact, I need some time to put things together and to try to write them down. This time I must say that I was even faster (do you remember my very late posts about Senegal? But this was a different story).
If you follow the blog on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter you may know that this summer I had an amazing trip to Japan, touring the country during almost two weeks, definitely one of my best travel experiences so far.
Now I have almost 2000 photos, even more memories…how to say something about that?
First of all I decided to split my adventures in three parts: Kyoto, Tokyo and the other cities that I visited (Osaka, Nara, Hiroshima, Kobe and Nikko) just to try to make it easier for me to write and maybe also for you to read.
I will start with Kyoto because it is the first city that we visited, after a quick pit-stop in Tokyo when we arrived (relax in a ryokan with private onsen…pretty much needed after a very long flight).
Kyoto is the ancient capital of Japan and probably the most charming city of the country: incredible sights by day and by night, the most beautiful temples and shrines, great food and shopping, nature and ancient traditions. We started the visit with the famous Nishiki market where we also ate great sushi and seafood in general. We remained in the city center to start our Japanese shopping with the best vintage kimonos and haoris that I found in Japan. If you want to buy original Japanese kimonos without breaking the bank the best way to do it is finding them in second hand shops or flea markets. In Kyoto I found two amazing pieces in Kawaramachi Dori in a beautiful shop full of vintage traditional kimonos (I also bought a small obi there). Kyoto is also perfect for buying traditional silks and fabrics as the prices are relatively low as well as the famous furoshiki, the Japanese traditional handkerchiefs to be used for almost everything!
We spent the afternoon and night in Gion, the famous geisha’s neighborhood and one of the most fascinating areas of Kyoto. We visited the Maruyama Park with the Shinto shrine of Yasaka and we got lost in the tiny streets of Gion looking for geishas (we spotted four but it was impossible to photograph them!) and enjoying the nightlife.
Our second day in Kyoto was dedicated to the huge Imperial Palace of Kyoto and its perfect gardens (I learned here the real meaning of perfect harmony in a Japanese garden!) before heading to the Kiyomizu-dera site in Higashiyama, part of the World Heritage and one of the most visited Buddhist temples of Kyoto (finalist for the 7 World Wonders competition!). In the afternoon we took the famous Philosopher Walk, a long peaceful stone path with many interesting temples to visit on the way like the beautiful Nanzen-ji (where I practiced meditation!) or the Ginkaku-ji, also known as the Silver Pavilion.
Our third day in Kyoto was really emotional but also quite hard. I didn’t mention that it was horribly hot and humid during almost all the staying there (exception made for some rainy hours in Tokyo). For this reason we decided to wake up very early in the morning to visit the most famous shrine in the world, the Fushimi Inari-taisha, a quite long climb in the middle of hundreds of tori (Shinto doors) that was so awesome and difficult at the same time due to the awful heat (even early in the morning!). It took almost the half day to visit this amazing shrine but we couldn’t get enough of Kyoto awesomeness, so we moved straight to the Kinkaku-ji, also known as the Gold Pavilion, an amazing golden temple in the peace of a wonderful Japanese garden. After this hard day we decided to have a late lunch at the Shogetsu Okonomi, a restaurant inside the Tenryu-ji site where food (vegetarian) is prepared by the monks following the zen tradition. No need to say that it was delicious and probably one of our best experiences in Kyoto.
Restored after this amazing lunch we felt ready for a long walk inside the bamboo grove in Arashiyama: it was interesting but there were too many tourists so we decided to have a well-deserved matcha ice cream to finally relax and prepare for another perfect dinner in Kyoto!