PLANES, TRAINS & WAKING UP IN: KYOTO, JAPAN
Kyoto, once the capital of Japan, only 2 hours from Tokyo is a city bustling with life but more so known for it’s grounding in the traditional with it’s streets lined with tea houses, buddhist shrines, michelin star restaurants and the occasional almost-extinct Geisha (Or Geiko as they prefer to be known as).
After many weeks speed-walking around the craziness that is Tokyo, it was a much deserved change of pace in this city with it’s many beautiful natural attractions that include the Arashiyama Bamboo Groves. Heading from one of Tokyo’s biggest stations; Tokyo Station, we hopped on the Shinkansen (otherwise known as the Bullet Train). One thing to note at with trains in Japan, they’re incredibly well looked after and Shinkansens in particular are so smooth that you feel little to nothing in it’s running of about 200mph between stops. The train even tilts and is so fast you don’t realise it till you look outside and are facing the roofs of passing buildings. Oh and i was also lucky enough to see Mt Fuji from my window, which is great since i wasn’t able to get up to Hakone this time to see it from Lake Ashi. Best season is in winter when you can see snow on it’s peak.
The first thing i realised about Kyoto, is how different the atmosphere was. Much less formal but more in terms of tradition has been kept. Even one of the oldest Geisha neighbourhoods still lives in the heart of the Gion District with only a handful of real Geisha houses housing real Geiko. In Kyoto, you’ll be able to experience the practices of the Geiko (tea ceremonies, dances, Shamisen performances .etc) , feed Japanese Macaque snow monkeys on the side of a mountain or even take a guided tour via rickshaw through the Arashiyama Bamboo groves. This city is also the home to some of the best restaurants in the world (some Michelin star rated) but if we’re talking affordable home cooked food then Ramen Sen No Kaze has to be my utmost favourite. Known for actually being the No.1 Ramen place in the world, they pride themselves on their silky thick broth and grilled and almost crispy Cha-Shu Pork. If you are ever in town, this is a must!
Last but not least, i wouldn’t be able to write a post on Kyoto, without mentioning the infamous 10,000 gates at Fushimi Inari Shrine; featured in movies such as Memoirs of a Geisha. It will take over an hour and a half to pass through every single tori gate but is amazing to see it’s vastness and complexity which is synonymous with Japanese design.
Here’s the few things for the bucket list below if you’re thinking of visiting Kyoto:
- Ramen Sen No Kaze – first on the list because it’s actually amazing! The wife doesn’t like ramen and when she tasted this, she didn’t stop going on about it to the point of actually trying to convince me to travel from another city just for lunch.
- Feed those adorable Macaques on Iwatayama. Keep your pockets zipped up. They like to steal!
- Devour a green tea ice cream whilst riding a rickshaw through Arashiyama Bamboo groves
- Start early morning 8:00am at Fushimi Inari Shrine and trek 233 metres above sea level through more than 13,000 major gates and 32,000 sub-shrines.
- If your with the Mrs, be sure to get fitted for Kimono and try kaiseki cuisine at a tradtional tea house.
Until next time,
LOOK 2: wearing Eyewear by Yohji Yamamoto, Commando Beanie, Rib Scarf & Hooton Artisan Overshirt by Realm + Empire, Woodland Camo Heritage Backpack by Herschel Supply Co., Jeans by Uniqlo, Camo Socks by Oliver Sweeney and Chuck Taylor All Stars by Converse
Photography by John & Jenna Jarrett
Words by John Jarrett