Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Japan: Kyoto

KYOTO! Man, where to start. First of all, Tokyo station is such a fun place with shops and tons of places to buy bento boxes to take on the train, so we did that. It was so hard to decide with all the food options! I am a pretty firm believer that everyone should expand their food comfort zone even though I struggle practicing what I preach sometimes. A lot of this stuff is what we have in America but people won't eat it because it's Japanese. 




Salmon eggs are one of my favorite things to eat.

They actually had really good pastries everywhere in Japan even though they use significantly less sugar.
We got to Kyoto and checked into our gorgeous airbnb that was right down the block from this beautiful temple so we were able to visit that and another temple as well. Something I have noticed is that Japanese people do not use their culture for profit. I kept thinking all the different things they could do to make money at the temples (like Geishas dressing up or those cat statues), but they didn't. The people you see dressed up in these pictures are Chinese people who essentially want a good Instagram picture. 







it was kind of rainy so there wasn't very many people there and it was so peaceful. Also, walking around somewhere with your shoes off automatically makes it more intimate and I just really like that



I was surprised that these look red in every picture because it was a BRIGHT and severe orange color!


This was my favorite temple we visited in Kyoto because it was so beautiful.

when I turned the corner and saw this (obviously so much better in person) I gasped at the BEAUTY of it all

Old Kyoto with new Kyoto behind us!

flowers EVERYWHERE

THIS GUY! I wanted to buy the painting off of him so badly

I can't remember why they do this...but we did it at every temple we went to, basically like cleansing I think. Don't ever drink the water at these things, just put it up to your mouth.




Over the course of the next few days we visited a few temples and shrines. The place with a thousand torii gates was very cool and I wish we had gone right when the sun came up so it was not so crowded. 
The golden temple was also cool but again, it was PACKED. If you go to Japan, most of these places are open 24/7 because they are functioning temples and they want to give everyone the chance to go, so I would wake up at like 4 or 5 (the sun rises super early in Japan) and go so you miss the crowds. It for sure took away from the peace and quiet you are supposed to feel at these places.
These are essentially the same as when you write someone's name on a prayer roll in the temple. They bring them in (I think it's 100 cranes on each lanyard) if someone needs a blessing.
Torii gate facts: You do not enter in the middle, that is for Buddha and important people, enter to the right and bow before entering and then do it again as you are leaving. 

Probably one of the coolest things I have seen in my life!

The gates led up a mountain to this lovely little pond
The symbolism of the fox, who is like a messenger, and the red bib who helps people, specifically children into the afterlife. 



The thing I really loved about Kyoto which is also the thing I love about Boston is how the "newness" has sprung up and adapted, accepting the old as well. It's very cool.


So when a friend found out we were going to Kyoto she said "make sure to go to the Golden Temple and see the monkeys!" so I thought that the monkey park was the same place as the golden temple. I heard the monkey's are huge jerks, so half the time we were walking around the golden temple I was so anxious that a monkey was going to come be a jerk to us. Then I realized she said "Make sure to see the golden temple, AND SEE THE MONKEYS" meaning the monkeys were another part of Kyoto and there are no monkeys in this place. Oxford comma!!
I match the temple kind of!
An joke that we kept up was how every single temple in Japan burned down at one point. Mark got a Google phone and so he would take a picture of the temples we were at and his phone would instantly pull up the Wikipedia page about it and he would read it to us while we walked around. We would be like "K! When did this temple burn down!" but I mean, when you have candles for worshipping in all wood temples I guess it's bound to happen. This one burned down most recently, in the 80s.


After we saw so many things this day, we went back to the airbnb while I had the most delicious and necessary nap of my entire life. We woke up and wandered the streets near our airbnb and found this ramen place. I love a good spicy miso ramen, so delicious! Too bad I got ramen broth all over my new shirt. Luckily my mother in law is the best and spent fifteen minutes rubbing the stains out of my clothes. 

We were able to hop on a bus and go to this river area of Kyoto, if I went back I would have eaten dinner here because it was gorgeous. On the other side of the houses is the smallest alleyway with hundreds of restaurants. Again, very quiet and serene.



Of note: Every night we went to 7/11 because it was close to our airbnb to get drinks and stuff. I had BLACK THUNDER for the first time which is a realllllly good candy bar, they also have an ice cream version. I also pretty much lived on these little Koala crackers that had chocolate inside the entire trip.

Another thing of note is America needs to get it together on the drugstore front. I got a huge rash from the soap in our airbnb and we had to go to the drugstore, essentially like a Walgreens, and EVERY SINGLE WORKER there is a educated, with a degree, pharmacist. The girl who helped me was SO good and got me exactly what I needed. It was just such a moment of "well yeah duh like this is so helpful and makes so much sense" and that, my friends, is Japan in a nutshell. 

We were off to the countryside after this for what would be the biggest culture shock of my life! 
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