I cured my hangover at my favourite bargain vending machine/self serve place and hopped on my first ever bullet train to Kyoto! Apparently the Japanese version of lucozade is the go to hangover cure but with its medicinal taste and name “Pocari sweat” I wasn’t so convinced! The train was unbelievably fast and as with the rest of Japan just so incredibly clean. A mere few hours later and on time if not a little early we pulled into the beautiful Kyoto central station, a mass of metal archways and glass panels. I feasted here on tonkatsu which is this beautiful crispy breaded pork and as a set meal came served with miso soup, soy infused radish, little pickled vegetables, copious cups of green tea, perfect rice and this incredible curry sauce. Japanese set meals are unbelievable and for about £7 SO FILLING! I checked into my new hostel and hid out of the rain there to plan my time in the city.
I began my first proper day in attempt to hit the key tourist spots and to rinse my JRail pass for all of the free train tickets I could manage! I stared at the Fushimi Inari shrine complex where hundreds of orange shrine gates stand close together creating a bolt of colour through the thick forest. I decided however to weave past the hoards of tourists to a tiny hiking trail where I trekked undisturbed past eerie graveyards and beautiful shrines to find a beautiful row of shrine gates at the shrines summit and a view over the city. Each one of the shrines contained tiny stone foxes said to be the messengers of Inari and also as I later discovered capable of possessing humans, entering through their fingernails! I grabbed a soft sweet kebab of soy soaked rice cakes on my way back to the station and headed from there to the equally tourist filled Arashiyama Bamboo grove. Here once you passed the walk of selfie sticks there were beautiful mountain and river views and plenty of Japanese tourists who had opened for the “do your tour dressed as a geisha” package advertised all along the streets to the grove. There I sampled crisp tempura and cold buckwheat soba noodles served with a dipping sauce. When you are almost finished the waitress arrives with a. Hug of hot broth to add to your dipping sauce with fragrant spring onions to make into a beautiful soup to finish! Just another example of ingenious Japanese cuisine. My penultimate stop was at the golden pavilion perched in a lake known as Kinkaku-ji. It was an impressive structure but again tourists hoards made it hard to appreciate on any spiritual level and instead I admired its physical impressiveness before strolling back to the train. From there I headed to the imperial palace to catch up on postcard writing under plum blossom trees and to sip hot sweet coffee from a vending machine (so cool that this exists!). It was getting pretty cold by then and with the sun setting I weaved through the streets of downtown Kyoto back to my hostel for a dinner of bargain ramen snuggled on the sofa of our common room!
Photos; foxes at the Fushimi Inari shrine, The tonkatsu feast, the beautiful golden Pavilion, hilarious human rickshaws, beautiful views from my trek, bamboo groves, a soba noodle feast, me at the shrine gates, Kyoto at night, a great shop name….