Kyoto in June

So since we’re in Japan and BEFORE we have another little munchkin running circles around us, we thought, “Let’s visit the mainland!”  We decided on this June and July for 9 days to go on our adventure.  And WHAT an adventure it was.  We learned a lot about Japanese public transit and about ourselves…some we wish we didn’t learn.  The downsides to the trip were that hauling Little E around was harder than expected because strollers are hard to take on the subway and on buses ,and that 2nd pregnancies and walking a ton do not mix!  But other than that, it was so lovely to get out of the island heat, see some culture and history and just be together doing what we love…traveling!

So this post is all about Kyoto (the next post will detail all about Tokyo).  I loved Kyoto the best!  Just small enough to see 2-3 things a day and not wear yourself out!  Adam got the public transportation figured out almost immediately and the people were so warm and friendly.  We ate good food and saw some amazing shrines and temples.

We landed in Osaka at the airport, ate a quick lunch (McDonald’s…don’t judge) then raced over to the JR train station and hopped a train to Kyoto.  Such a lovely train ride, so calm, so laid-back…I thoroughly enjoyed looking out the windows and seeing the land around us while Little E colored!

McDonald’s at the station…you’ve got a picky toddler and a pregnant woman…what are you gonna do?
JR train ride to Kyoto.  It’s about an hour and a half.
Here’s something we never see in Okinawa…rice fields!!!!

After arriving in Kyoto, it took us a bit to find the subway, then our stop, then our hotel!  Exhausted, I think all we did was venture to a little grocery store for some food and spend the rest of the evening holed up in the hotel.
The next day, it rained!  We were completely unprepared but our hotel lent us some umbrellas so off we went!  We visited the Kyoto train station (which is an architectural beauty…and also indoors) and then ventured to Toji Buddhist Temple a few blocks away.

Little E is ready for the rain!
Kyoto station
A little ramen shop for lunch
mmmmm
Toji Temple.  See Adam and Little E really small in the corner!
Inside the temples were old bronze statues of all kinds of Buddhas.  You weren’t supposed to take pictures, but you know me!
5 Story Pagoda…the tallest wooden structure in Kyoto
In the rain.  You can tell this is day one because we have Little E in her old sleepy wrap.  It was quickly evident that wasn’t going to work.  We bought an ergo that very same day at a lucky find on our way back home (Babies-R-Us!!)
    Day two included a trip to the Temple of the Golden Pavilion and then to a small town called Arashiyama and it’s beautiful bamboo forest.
  The Golden Pavilion used to be the private villa of shogun, Ashikaga Yoshimitsu. After his death, he willed it to a sect of Zen Buddhism.  The top two floors are covered in gold leaf.  This seems a bit extravagant…but even more so when you consider that it has been burnt down and rebuilt SEVERAL times.
The garden and pond are said to be almost exactly as they were in the 1300-1400’s
Little E eating her Coolish!

Arashiyama was a delightful little town, full of little shops but also a ton of tourists!  Little E was a superstar here.  She even got asked by young college aged guys if she would take pictures with them!

We ate a little sack lunch next to the river and Togetsukyo bridge.  This was where we couldn’t even eat in peace because so many people wanted to take pictures of Little E!
In the Tenryugi Temple gardens on the way to the bamboo forest
Fish watching
Yay, a family picture!
Been awhile since we’ve seen hydrangeas!
Bamboo forest (with school kids…yes, they were EVERYWHERE)
   Day three we went to the Fushimi Inari Shrine.  This is a famous Shinto shrine dedicated to Inari – the Shinto god of rice.  It is known for it’s thousands of torii gates that head all the way up Mt. Inari.
The Romon Gate and Honden (main gate and main building)
Starting the torii gate journey
Washing hands for good luck
Foxes are said to be the messengers of Inari
Daddy and Little E in the shrine
Fun fact:  each large torii gate costs about a million yen each!
Another family photo!
Each torii gate is donated by a person, family, company or organization

After a short nap in the hotel, we then went to Gion for the evening.  Gion is Kyoto’s famous geisha district and has not only preserved some traditional streets, but also has a ton of shopping a bit further into town.  We got lost when first arriving and happened upon the Shirakawa Canal – a beautiful willow lined street and canal with expensive houses and shops.

Shirakawa Canal
Yikes…what am I wearing?  Well, at least Little E is cute and the background is nice.
Hanami-koji Street
More Hanami-koji street.  We were a bit underdressed to eat here!

After a bit of wandering, we soon realized that we should not spend $200 on dinner and proceeded to walk a LONG way in the shopping district before collapsing at an Italian chain that ended up being our cheapest and most abundant meal (and we were so hungry, it didn’t taste half bad).  Little E loved it!

Beginning our long journey in Gion to find dinner!

Day four was a lazy day.  We went to a little park for Little E  took a nap, then tried to go to Nijo Castle (which I was very sad to see it had closed at 4:00 when we arrived at 5:00).  We ended up eating delicious Californian/Mexican food at a little place in a back alley near the castle…delightful!

A little pond and fountain at the park that Little E thought was wonderful
Ta Da!
La Jolla’s restaurant front…I kid you not, it was that little!
Little E likes it??  SOLD!
Homemade EVERYTHING, even tortillas!

And thus, endeth Kyoto!  On day five we rode a train to Osaka, flew to Tokyo, then rode a bus to our hotel.  It literally took us 12 hours!  There will be no pictures from that day because it was pretty much just waiting, sitting, getting luggage and entertaining Little E.  Read about Tokyo in the next post…

 

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