We made our way to Kyoto from Mt Fuji via a bus, followed by the Shinkansen (bullet train). We arrived later in the day and went for a quick bit of exploration before the sun went down; we did not visit any specific landmarks but just wanted a quick look. We were staying right next door to the famous Kamo river which gave some nice photos and views. The initial impressions of Kyoto were of somewhere with a lot of activity and workers, but not huge enterprise buildings. It was an odd and surreal combination.
Over the course of the next couple of days we set out to visit as many of the temples we had bookmarked around the city. Our plan was to try and take in a lot of the older Japanese culture and history, especially as Kyoto played such a large part in Japan’s history: it used to be the imperial capital of the country.
Each temple of Kyoto was similar to the next one, yet different and unique at the same time. Every time you knew you were at a temple or the site of one, yet no two were similar enough to be compared. Each had it’s own intricate designs, layout and landmarks. The scenery surrounding many of them was stunning. However, one in particular that stood out was the temple of Ryōan-ji. It contains a Japanese rock garden of 13 stones but it was cleverly designed so not all 13 could be seen from any angle.
We finished off our visit to Kyoto with a trip to the famous bamboo forest. Although very touristy, it was quite serene and relaxing to walk through. The scattered showers gave a very mystic vibe to the forest with reflecting sounds of rain echoing around you constantly.
The final destination for Japan was Osaka. It felt like a bigger and busier city than Kyoto with less but larger landmarks, more markets and places to shop. In some places Osaka was so quiet it felt like a ghost town; in others it felt as busy as Tokyo.
We visited the Osaka Castle which had plenty going on both inside and around it. Small food kiosks offered many small local delicious delicacies that we just had to try! Food is always the priority…always!
Other places that we visited included the Dōtonbori River and Umeda Sky Building. There was so much going on around the river it was one of the busiest places we had been. With so many people it was almost daunting, you were practically forced to go with the flow of human traffic. We made our way to the sky building to the viewing platform. This gave the best view of the whole city and showed just how far it stretched.
Japan is an incredible country that we thoroughly enjoyed visiting. Like all places, there were one or two things that we didn’t like much, but these were far outweighed by the positives. We met some of the most polite and quiet people we had ever encountered. Some of the foods we tried were extremely unique and delicious. All of this put together, coupled with beautiful cultures and traditions makes Japan a must visit country; we would definitely recommend. It will open your eyes in more ways to one!