Monday, May 24, 2010


Kyoto is a magical place.

{Yasaka Shrine, the gate to Gion}

It's the third time I visit it now, and I fell even more in love with it this time around. I left grey, rainy Marugame on Thursday with a whole lot on my mind, but as soon as I hit Kyoto I felt lighthearted again. It was so lovely to see my mom after being gone for several months! I haven't been homesick at all, but I've definitely missed my mom... sometimes a girl just needs her mother. She really loved Japan, and it made me happy. She was smitten Japanese people, their kindness and politeness, and she enjoyed how clean and beautiful it is. I had a great time showing her my favourite sights in Kyoto, such as the little tiny alleys in Kyoto, and some exquisite temples. Kyoto is so majestic and traditional, and it feels mysterious and fascinating.

{Maman et moi}

{Lovely streets of Gion}

{Teahouses and alleys}

It was nice to stay in a luxurious hotel room, and to get a bit spoiled! We did lots of shopping, sampled green tea sweets, and just relaxed in beautiful cafés and caught up on everything. Then on Saturday lovely Isabel came to join us! We walked around the wonderful Gion district, where all the Geisha activity takes place, and stocked up on everything green tea-flavoured you could possibly imagine: tea, lattes, chocolates, Japanese sweets. Kyoto is famous for its green tea, and they make the most delightful confectionary, called Yatsuhashi: the paste is made from rice flour and cinnamon (and often green tea), and it's wrapped around red bean paste. We also walked along the Path of Philosophy, at stopped at the cutest little apple-themed café along the way, where we sipped apple tea and ate apple cake, and chatted with the owner, who was also from Shikoku island.

{Pomme café, on the Path of Philosophy}

On Saturday night, Isabel and I booked a youth hostel and went out to sample Kyoto's nightlife. Kyoto is very touristy and not the place of choice for a wild night out, but we managed to find lots of cozy little bars along the canal, and fun young people. We got high on chocolate and green tea lattes by the canal with our friend Danny, ran away from a creepy businessman, got our photo taken with some friendly Japanese doormen (they call themselves 'guest catchers'), ate some tuna salads from the convenience store, and practiced our Japanese over gin and tonics. We stayed up until 4 am just walking around and laughing, and returned to our cute little hostel to squeeze in a few hours of sleep.

{Our new Japanese friends!}

{Matcha lattes in Kyoto oblige. It wasn't sweet enough so we ordered cake and cookies...}

{Sitting in Ponto-Cho alley}

{We met Danny for a few hours, and enjoyed our sweets overload by the canal}

{Yasaka Shrine at night}

Again, it was sad to leave a place as enchanting as Kyoto on a rainy Sunday. It was sad to say good bye to my mom, for another several months. But I'm so happy she came to Japan and saw my world, and understands why I'm not ready to leave any time soon. Isabel and I boarded our bus, Starbucks in hand, sleep-deprived, but in good spirits and with clear minds. Kyoto itself it like a temple, very peaceful and soothing.

Kyoto is definitely magical.


Jen said...

Sounds like Kyoto is your "happy place." I hope you get to visit many more times before you leave Japan. :-)

Anonymous said...

So happy to see you having such a good time, Vivian! Nothing's going to spoil your good time or the magic you've got going on in Japan! I know it must have felt amazing to see your mom again. I miss mine all the time, it's definitely the worst part of living so far away from home.

{lovely little things} said...

Kyoto sounds amazing, can't wait to see it!
A few questions for you:
1. What fancy hotel did you stay at?
2. Would you recommend staying at that hostel, I'm looking to book a place in Tokyo in the next few days. Was it a ryokan? We've wanted to try that.

Nigel said...

Beautiful pictures. You make me want to travel...