A couple weeks ago, me and Ashley planned a last minute trip to Japan. My brother, Justin, had just recently moved there so what better excuse to see a new place. After almost 24 hours of straight travel, we arrived at Narita International Airport. The first night, we didn't waste any time fulfilling one of our trip objectives: conveyor belt sushi. According to Justin, the place we went wasn't the best of the best with honors, but a good first Japanese meal, none the less. After unpacking and unwinding that night, we began our Japanese adventure. First stop, Kyoto.
Waking up in our first morning in Japan, I decided check out the Tokyo Skyline from the fire escape in Justin's building. From there, I witnessed my first Japanese sunrise with the Tokyo Tower looming in the distance. After getting packed up, me and Ashley, accompanied by my brother Justin, took the Shinkansen (Japanese high speed rail) about 2 hours southwest to the city of Kyoto.
Kyoto is a city ripe with old Japanese culture. Upon arriving, we decided to check out one of Kyoto's most famous landmarks, the Fushimi Inari Shrine. Situated on the foot of Mount Inari, the orange shrine marks the beginning of a trail leading to the top of the mountain. On the way to the top, we hiked through many orange gates of many different sizes (Almost 10,000) and passed by many different shrines where people can wash their hands and pray. After a long day of hiking in and around the Fushimi Inari Shrine, Justin introduced us to the Onsen life.
Onsens are Japanese hot springs where you can bathe and relax. Being surrounded by mountains, Kyoto has many different places where you can experience the hot spring life. Although the idea of bathing publicly was a little weird at first, it was the perfect way to unwind after a day of Japanese adventures. Upon first entering the onsen, you must take a shower to ensure cleanliness. After showering, you simply relax in one of the available hot springs. At this particular onsen in Kyoto, there was an indoor hot spring as well as a outdoor one. There was no moment more surreal than sitting naked in a hot spring, outside, while staring at the hills and peaks surrounding Kyoto. After relaxing and grabbing some dinner at the onsen, our first day in Kyoto was concluded.
The next day in Kyoto, me and Ashley decided to check out the neighborhood of Arashiyama. Not really armed with any sort of plan, me and Ashley simply took the train from our hotel to the Arashiyama part of town, got out and explored. Our day was filled many shrines, parks, bamboo forests, and lots of walking. Along the way, we took a midday break for some waffles filled with Matcha ice cream, as well a sampling Kyoto's soba noodles. The day concluded with one of our favorite meals of the trip, Ten Don: An assortment of tempura battered items (fish, shrimp, soft boiled egg) over rice.
During our last day in Kyoto, we decided to catch the 1pm Shinkansen back to Tokyo. Before hopping the train, we elected to check out the Kiyomizu Dera Temple on the east side of Kyoto. Like a lot of the shrines, the Kiyomizu Dera sits atop the hills surrounding the city of Kyoto. After walking from the bottom, we were greeted by many sweeping views of the city as well as the beauty of the shrine itself. After spending the morning exploring, our time in Kyoto had come to end. Next stop, Tokyo.