And so off we went to catch the bullet train, bento boxes in hand. Our train arrived, and with a quick clean by the ladies in pink and men in blue, we found our seat and settled in for our trip.
The bullet train travels at around 200mph, so your ears do slightly pop when travelling! We were sat next to the most fascinating Japanese man who was telling us stories of his work and family and of the history and traditions of Japanese life. He also pointed out Mount Fuji and I managed to snap the photo below. Interestingly he told us that it is good luck if you spot Mount Fuji on a clear day.
When we arrived at Kyoto station, there seemed to be a large queue for taxis but a man appeared to the side of us holding a sign saying ‘Foreign friendly’ and helped us with our cases to his taxi. On route he told us so much about Kyoto, it felt like we had our own private guide!
We had booked an AirBnB for our stay this time and it was in a great location. Kyoto feels very much like ‘old Japan’ and actually was once the capital of Japan. The streets are full of traditional houses, and the cleanliness and beauty really stood out to us. This is the same for Tokyo, everybody in Japan really takes pride in their homes, no matter how big/small or what area they are in. From houses to apartment blocks, all are adorned with plants and pavements are cleaned every morning and leaves swept up.
We met our host, Yoshimi, at the apartment and settled in before exploring the Imperial Palace. When entering the gardens surrounding the Palace, the first thing we spotted was a beautiful couple wearing traditional clothing having a photoshoot. We were then approached by two lovely Japanese ladies who asked if we were English as they wanted to practise their English and asked whether we could have a conversation with them which was very sweet.
The Imperial Palace was beautiful and the perfect introduction to Kyoto.
After, we wandered the area around the apartment, and came across a street full of beautiful pottery, coffee shops, and beautiful Japanese art and crafts. We grabbed some food at Mew’z café which was run by a lovely lady who made the most lovely food and the decor had a very bohemian feel about it.
After we had eaten, we carried on walking and eventually we came to an indoor shopping arcade called Teramachi-dori where there is a variety of bookshops, clothing shops and crafts. This leads you towards Nishiki market which is a lively traditional food market, also known as ‘Kyoto’s kitchen’.
Heading back to our apartment to unpack, we stopped at a Family Mart supermarket which has a memorable little jingle as you walk through the door which permanently got stuck in our heads! We got food to cook at our apartment, and discovered Anman (steamed buns with red bean paste), my new favourite thing!