Before I moved to Japan, Kyoto was a place I had always wanted to visit. As a self confessed culture junkie I wanted to experience the heart and cultural hub of Japan.
There is so much to see and do in Kyoto so attempting to see everything in a day was impossible. A friend had offered to be my unofficial tour guide and I had requested that I would like to go to Arashiyama. Arashiyama is on the outskirts of Kyoto and and I had read and seen pictures of the bamboo forest and really wanted to go.
From Kobe it took over an hour and a half to get there but once I was there the journey was worth it. As expected it was quite busy but walking amongst the huge bamboo trees felt good and once again it felt great to be amongst nature. I know I have the mountains and sea in Kobe but a change of scene can sometimes make all the difference.
We walked up to the observation deck and from there we had an amazing view of the river and the boats drifting along. I felt like I was in Thailand or Laos because the view was really special. After wandering around the forest we wakked along the main street filled with lots of shops. Kyoto is known for matcha which is a type of processed green tea, it also has a very distinct taste. Most shops had something matcha related; cakes, pancakes, biscuits and even coffee! I chose to try the ice – cream and it was pretty tasty! I had tried matcha tea before and I wasn’t a fan but after having enjoyed the ice- cream I may be inclined to try it again.
Kyoto is also known for yatsuhashi which is a popular sweet treat. There are two varieties; soft and hard. I tried both and I preferred the hard one. There were so many flavours to choose from and of course I sampled them all. I ended up buying the ginger flavour which I’m looking forward to having with a cup of spiced chai!
Once my food heart was content we took a bus ride to begin the Philosopher’s Path walk. It was really nice and I can imagine once all the cherry blossoms have bloomed it will be even more beautiful. The path follows the canal and along the way are little restaurants, cafes and pottery barns. The walk ends near Nanzenji Shrine which so I was able to have a look around the grounds. It was really pretty at the time due to the sun setting so the sky looked beautiful.
Kyoto is a special place and I have barely scratched the surface of it, luckily I will be going back in a few weeks with work friends to spend the night in a ryokan (traditional Japanese inn), watch a traditional Japanese dance, experience a tea ceremony and dress like a Geisha. I can’t wait!!