I mentioned in last week's blog that I always held on to a very specific image of Japan while I was growing up. One that revolved around the beauty, balance and art of the ancient culture. And when I first arrived in Sapporo, I was a bit disappointed because I wasn't seeing any of that. I didn't see much either in Tokyo or the other parts of the country I visited either.
Turns out I was looking for Kyoto.
This is Kinkakuji. It's an amazing place, and we were lucky we caught it at a beautiful time. Also known as the "Temple of the Golden Pavilion", it really does sparkle. It has an interesting history, beautiful surrounding gardens, and depending on when you go in the year, JILLIONS of other people coming to look at it! Kyoto is especially crowded especially in the Spring when the flowers are blossoming, and in the Autumn when the trees are changing colours. Plan accordingly!
I was also impressed by the unique food I found in Kyoto. I'm getting used to life in Hokkaido, where flavours are strong and distinct for the most part. Natural fish flavours, spicy soup curry, and rich, thick miso ramen are flavours I get a lot.
Here's a unique dish I found in Kyoto, which is a very gentle and subtle soup with yuba in it. Yuba is tofu skin. I found it to be subtle, but not in a weak or disappointing way. The phrase "tofu skin" isn't exactly brimming with marketing potential, so I gotta say that it was actually really pleasant and tantalising.
Another thing I like about life in Honshu in general is the narrow, meandering streets. Growing up in North America I never saw places like this, nor did I ever go into someone's house for a meal in their restaurant/upstairs dining room like you often find in Japan.
Kyoto is LOADED with unique little pass-throughs like this, and you'll even see the occasional geisha walking around. There are numerous temples and castles to explore, and there's also a huge modern station in the middle of the city.
I was surprised at how small the city was geographically though. If you make good use of the subways, it's easy to get a quick glimpse of the whole city in a day or two.
But, like i also mentioned in last week's blog, it doesn't hurt to look around and do some research before you get there! Try to nail down a few places you could stop for meals or exploring. There really are too many things to see and taste in this city!
Before coming, don't forget to reserve your own portable wifi/mifi! Pop it in your pocket and stay connected to the internet using your own smartphone or tablet, so you can get around stress-free! Check out our UNLIMITED+ LTE PLAN for the best deal you'll find on pocket wifi in Japan!