Well this post came out way later than expected. While I was supposed to post about travelling, I was doing some travelling myself. I am now planted in Kalamazoo, Michigan, and nothing can take me away (please for the love of cakes, please take me away).
Day 2! Turns out the Nishiyama Ryokan is really close to the subway stations of Kyoto. After a short walk (and a little bit of train confusion) we boarded a train to Fushimi Inari station.
Traveller’s Note: The Kyoto rails have different levels of express-ness, with normal trains stopping at all the stations and express trains stopping only at major places. The express trains tend to be red, and try to make some sense of the almost-entirely-Japanese displays before you board.
Fushimi Inari is the cutest station ever with its fox decorations! This is because it is there for Fushimi Inari Taisha, a shrine that revolves around foxes. It is also the shrine from the manga and anime Inari Konkon Koi Iroha! (Hence why I like to call the shrine Fushimi Inari Konkon Koi Iroha Taisha).
Otaku Note: I noticed on the map that there was a Tanbabashi station, which is the last name of the male lead in Inari Konkon Koi Iroha! The main character’s name is Fushimi Inari too. It wouldn’t surprise me if many (or all) of the other characters are named after Kyoto locations.
The street from the station up to the shrine is full of cute little shops selling all sorts of souvenirs and food, and there was even a cat cafe! Inari Konkon Koi Iroha lied to me though. In the anime the shrine was so quiet and peaceful, but in reality it was FULL OF PEOPLE. THAI PEOPLE. EVERY FREAKIN WHERE YOU GO IN JAPAN YOU WILL ENCOUNTER THAI PEOPLE.
Shrines have a pool where you ritually cleanse your hands and mouth before entering, but we didn’t bother because honestly, that looks like it’ll make us way more dirty. Despite all the signs saying don’t drink directly from the laple, a guy drank directly from the laple right in front of me.
The shrine is huge, and for the adventurous you can climb the entire several-kilometers path up the mountain. Of course I didn’t, I’m a lazy bum. I did pass through a long path walled by several orange gates. It was interesting and slightly psychedelic.
In many shrines across Japan you can write your wish on a wooden panel and hang it up, and at Fushimi Inari Taisha they came in fox shapes!
Afterwards I went to meet up with my friends from college who are studying abroad in Kyoto. Fawkes on twitter @rune_devros kept hyping me to go to “The Best Okonomiyaki Place in the World”, and after scrutinizing Google Maps we found it. It was a small little shop with a nice old man running it. The small little shops not featured in tourist guides are the best places to go to get an authentic feel of the place, so when travelling don’t think too much about where to eat – just walk around and randomly go into a store!
Was the okonomiyaki good? You bet! I got a supreme version that was HUGE and had yakisoba, meat, potato salad, and cooked vegetables in it. I’m a huge glutton, but it took effort for me to finish all of it! We were all extremely satisfied, so you should definitely go if you find yourself in Kyoto.
Next was the shopping street at Sanchome, where I had real taiyaki for the first time. There were many cute stores to look at. And karaoke! Unfortunately my dreams were shattered when I found out that only a few of the songs I wanted to sing were available at the Karaoke place. There were Break Out and MAXON, along with other Super Robot Wars and Gundam songs, which I was grateful for. But I was really looking forward to singing Kalafina’s heavenly blue but it wasn’t available.
I walked around some more with my mom after my friends left, and when I was too tired and dead we chose a random sashimi shop. The shop looked nondescript and cheap, so I expected the sashimi to be bad. It was actually great. No matter where you went in Thailand, there would always be that “old fish smell” in sushi and sashimi. Here, there was none. This is what TRUE fresh sashimi is like and it shocked the hell out of me.
We had dessert at this high concept crepe shop afterwards, and it was fancy and delicious. A lolita group had a meet up at a nearby table and I was really jealous. I want to be able to dress up like that with others, but I have no one to do so with. I wish I could go talk to them but I was too embarrassed (and my Japanese is not good enough to hold a conversation beyond basic things).
And that was my second day in Kyoto.
We had planned to explore more of it the next morning, but due to an incoming typhoon we had to get the hell out of Dodge-Kyoto before the shinkansen lines shut down.
Because of the rush, I didn’t ask for reserved tickets on the shinkansen. I thought we’d easily get seats considering how we were first in line for the next Hikari train to Tokyo.
I was wrong.
It was packed.
We spent three hours standing in the shikansen with our luggage. We stood near the doors, so it wasn’t as bad since I could watch the scenery pass by. I also found out that moving my legs in a little dance as I grooved to the Persona 4 Golden ending song and the Space Dandy opening song made things feel better.
And so ends my adventures in Kyoto. Onwards to Tokyo!