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  • Day98

    Kyoto, Japan

    March 6, 2016 in Japan ⋅ ☁️ 16 °C

    What a whirlwind week! Since we last wrote, we have had three busy days in Kyoto, Japan, the former capital city. While still very large, it certainly did not have the same big-city craziness that Tokyo had. We stayed at a hostel in a quiet neighborhood near Ginkaku-ji Temple. We mastered the buses and trains (that''s a vast overstatement, but we were able to easily get everywhere on foot and via public transportation). Kyoto had many shrines and temples, far more than we could have seen in our time here.

    On our first day, we arrived at the bus station early in the morning. After settling into our hostel, we ventured out to see some sights that were within walking distance. We went to Ginkaku-ji as well as Nanzen-ji Temples to start getting a taste for this cultural mecca. We were in dire need of a nap (thanks to that overnight bus), but after that we went out to Gion to grab dinner and see the nightlife. We had a delicious sushi dinner in Pontocho Alley and then set up with some seats along the canal, in the center of the bar district, to do some people-watching. Drinking alcohol in public is common on Friday nights in Kyoto, so we even picked up a few single-serve drinks at the convenience store for our activities. We actually had such a good time sitting outside with the post-work crowd that we didn't make it in to any of the bars.

    The following day we headed to Nara, a nearby city connected by the subway to Kyoto. We had heard there were deer there that you could feed and interact with, as well as a large park with numerous cultural sites. What we did not expect was to be mobbed by deer literally everywhere we went in the city. There were deer crossing warning signs for miles up and down the streets. If the deer knew you had food, you had many four-legged friends. Sometimes this was true even if you didn't have food. We saw a woman getting her shirt eaten, an older man getting his backpack nibbled on, and we even saw several deer head-butting small children (hopefully out of playfulness). However, there were signs posted about the dangerous behavior the deer can exhibit, including biting and kicking. We didn't see anyone get hurt, but it's easy to see the risk with that many deer and that many people on foot. There are some really spectacular shrines and temples in Nara that we enjoyed seeing as well, including the Todai-ji Temple, which holds the world's largest bronze Buddha dating from the 700s (pictured).

    On our last day in Kyoto, we unfortunately had to say goodbye to Amanda early in the afternoon. We first got our last ramen meal and then went to Fushimi-Inari Shrine (the red one pictured). It was quite interesting and rather extensive, working its way up a mountainside for several miles. After Amanda left, we went to Arashiyama to visit the local monkey park (pictured), see great views of kyoto (pictured), and walk down the traditional bamboo path.

    We saw so many great things in Kyoto, and are now at the bus station waiting for yet another overnight bus. Tomorrow we head to the airport first thing to go to Singapore (via Taiwan). So much excitement and so many new places!
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