This morning I woke up sad. I had a dream that I was in Kyoto and I woke up at home. It’s not that I don’t like being home, I just really liked Kyoto. I’m not even sure where I was or who I was with, but I was in Kyoto, I know that. It was actually kind of a scary dream, but I still wished I was there. I even looked up flights to Japan in October when I woke up. Spoiler alert: they were too much.
If you haven’t figured it out yet, I really liked Kyoto. It’s dotted with temples and filled with girls in Kimonos. It’s flat as can be, perfect for biking (which I actually didn’t even do) and has enough 7/11’s to make a long walk bearable in the freezing cold. 7/11 became the pit stop every time we saw one to warm up. Also, free wifi! This was crucial in navigating, especially since I walked us about 15 minutes the wrong direction. Oops.
Have I ever mentioned I can’t really read maps? Because I can’t. Unless I’m in Taiwan, I did good there.
I was in Kyoto for three days. Well, sort of. This is just about the first day, wandering around the Yasaka Shrine and Chion-In Temple, getting lost because of my poor map reading skills, and trying all the samples at a market full of Japanese souvenirs and snacks all while stopping at every 7/11 we saw.
We ended up being the only people in the Chion-In temple. Most people didn’t walk up that far. It was too cold in the shade, but the sun was perfect. After sitting in the temple for a bit, we just sat on the front steps of it, shoes off, enjoying the warmth. It was one of my favorite things there.
I don’t think either of us were quite ready to face any sort of public transportation here, so walking was really all we considered. I really didn’t even think about it either, though. I also didn’t know Kyoto had a subway until it was probably too late. Or maybe I didn’t realize it and just thought there were trains. I honestly don’t know, but I walked a lot there.
After lunch and a pit stop at the hostel, it was time to find the Hello Bibliotec Cafe. This is where I was put in charge of directions and led us about 15 minutes astray.
Google Maps didn’t work offline in Japan so we were left counting the number of streets we had to cross before making turns and comparing the map to how the street actually looked. This is only sort of reliable, mostly if you’re going the right way and it really helps if streets are labeled.
Another stop in 7/11, for Internet and heat, and we were finally headed in the right direction. Coffee, here we come!
Once we warmed up with coffee in the adorable Hello Bibliotec Cafe, we started to make our way towards this craft market we read about. A stop in a paper store, bakery, and countless other shops led us to one more 7/11 (Surprise!) to make sure we were still going the right way.
Good new: we were! Bad news: we still couldn’t find it.
Again, we went to 7/11, the same one, for an update on how far it was. We just didn’t go far enough. And we had to cross the street. So there was that, too. We finally made it to the market which turned out to be more of a store with books, food, and other Japanese goodies. It was still fun to look around. Plus, there were samples of most of the snacks.
I know this is going to be shocking to hear, but we still weren’t done with 7/11 for the day. We stopped at the same one as before to make sure we knew how to get back. That went a lot better, but it was much colder at that point as it was dark out. And lucky us, there was a 7/11 right by our hostel, where we stopped for dinner before going back and drinking all of the tea.
Have you been to Kyoto? What did you think of it? Did you like the temples there? Do you want to go?