Hello, hello, hello! Welcome back! After a whirlwind of production and travel, I’m finally back to show you guys the rest of my trip to Japan. This was definitely my favorite part of our two week adventure, and I hope you love all the photos I snapped along the way. Make sure to comment below with what your favorite part was, and also “like” so I know to keep doing these travel posts! Welcome back to Japan! xoxo
After a week in Tokyo, we decided to rent a place in Kyoto for the second part of our journey. Kyoto was the first capital of Japan, before Tokyo was developed and holds so much culture and history within its walls. After about a five-hour train ride from Tokyo, we finally arrived in beautiful Kyoto. From the second I stepped off the train I could feel the difference in energy, it was calm, friendly, and I couldn’t wait to discover more.
After dropping off our bags at our air b&b, we took a short walk down “The Philosophers Path” a beautiful 30 minute walking path next to a water canal surrounded by cherry blossoms that many believed philosophers and monks would use each day to meditate while going about their day. Artists lined the canals while local painters sold their little treasures to the tourists that found themselves strolling about, it was such a magical place.
After a while of walking and visiting a few shrines, we decided to get some traditional Kyoto cuisine, we found this incredible little restaurant at the end of the path and ordered some delicious appetizers and my favorite, the vegetable udon noodle soup. After dinner, we grabbed some green tea matcha ice cream and wandered into the local village, getting lost in the sights and surroundings for the rest of the day.
The next day, Hope and I decided to head out to the Ginkaku-ji temple, also known as the Silver Pavillion. It was Hope’s last day, and we were eager to head out early and spend some time together taking photos and enjoying each others company. It was the perfect morning.
The next morning was started off with a fresh grapefruit juice. They have these really cool machines in Japan, where basically it drills into a grapefruit or orange and juices the inside within seconds, they pop in a straw and its a fresh cup of juice! So cool! After breakfast, we headed to the Fushimi Inari Taisha, also known as the Fox Shrine. Inari, is a sacred entity that represents something, so the Fox Shrine represents good business with its “mascot” so to speak, being the red fox which is celebrated as a god in Japanese culture.
It took us over two hours to hike up the entire mountain through historical shrines and temples, but I made a few friends along the way. There were thousands of these red posts that lined the forests, each post is given to the shrine by a local business, in hopes that they will be granted positive vibes and good business for years to come. For lunch, we made our way to the local food market, where hundreds of vendors sold delicious specialty foods that we snacked on before making our way back to our home.
The next day, we took a bus ride and decided to hike into the bamboo forest. I was blown away by the natural beauty of these majestic trees, some standing 80 feet high, it was like I was in a fairytale land and they wanted me to get lost in their forest. After lunch, we met up with a British gamer, Grian and his friend Sam and decided to check out this gigantic flea market at the Toji Temple which coincidentally happens only once a month, it was absolute insanity. From handmade shoes, jewels and kimonos, to sacred scrolls dating back hundreds of years, local Japanese shopkeepers travelled from all over to sell their precious goods, if you’re ever in Japan, this is a must.
After a busy day with our new friends, Whitney, Joseph, and I had to pack up our bags and head to our next destination, Mount Koya-San where we would be spending a night with the Buddhist monks in their temple. Against my better judgment, I went along with Whitney’s travel plan and after five hours of travel, 2 busses, a taxi, a train, a subway and a cable car that went 90 degrees up a mountain while I held on for dear life, we arrived at Koya-San.
After checking into the temple, we were shown our quarters and served dinner and tea while wearing our kimonos, as the fog drifted into the trees, I felt like I was in a movie and I couldn’t be happier, I quickly fell asleep with my handsome prince next to me. A few hours later, around midnight, I woke up with some serious cravings for cheetos and ginger ale, I debated walking 30 minutes down the mountain to the nearest convenience store, but decided that the spirits of monks past would probably be out and I scared my own hunger away, I decided to head downstairs to take a bath. Did I mention there were only communal baths? Yeah, so I guess its a good thing I woke up and was alone downstairs in the middle of the night. I draped on my kimono and scampered downstairs to the baths and turned on the spout in the wooden bathtub. According to culture, you are supposed to lather up and then rinse off before enjoying the tub, so I did just that, awkwardly, and carefully watching out for anyone who may walk in on me, no one did. After a long, hot bath, I slipped back upstairs and into bed, immediately falling asleep.
The next morning I was awakened by the loud thud of the traditional call to prayer, a monk had been banging his gong for five minutes, and somehow we slept through it, it was barely 5am. We quickly dressed and shuffled across the courtyard to join the hour-long chanting ceremony, which I sadly couldn’t keep my eyes open for, but I did my best to meditate. After our morning chants, we were served another simple, vegetarian buddhist breakfast of rice, soup, tea, and an assortment vegetables as well as some fruit, I couldn’t stop thinking about the chocolate croissants at our hotel in Tokyo, but this was all for the experience! After breakfast, we walked through the buddhist shrines and cemetery at Okunoin we quickly packed, caught the trolley down the mountain and hopped on the train to Tokyo. Koya-San was definitely the most erratic, yet wonderful 24 hours I had ever experienced, it kills me to say this, but thank you Whitney, without the stressful day of travel we would have never been able to experience all the magic of Koya-San
Our last moments in Tokyo were just amazing. We reconnected with our new friend Momoka and she took us to this cute little cat cafe, where unlike the owl cafe, the cats were treated so well and slept in the sun, happy and fat as tourists fed them treats and played with them as they sipped hot cocoa and coffee available for purchase. Unfortunately after a few minutes, my allergies got the best of me and I decided to enjoy the kitties from behind the glass doors. I wandered out into the city and found the cutest hipster cafe that sold motorcycles and leather jackets but also somehow managed to make the best iced latte and avocado sandwiches I ever had, food first, cats later. We spent the rest of the day shopping and adventuring in Shinjuku before heading back to the hotel for our last dinner before heading to the airport in the morning.
I can’t really put into words how amazing our time in Japan was. The culture, the food, but mainly the people, really drew me in and captivated my heart, I can’t wait to head back and I think after two weeks traveling through the country, I would move there one day, if only for a long adventure, it was truly magical. I hope you all enjoyed this blog post and make sure to like and comment to let me know your favorites or where I should travel to next! A big thanks to the Mandarin Oriental Tokyo for hosting us throughout our stay, your kindness and hospitality was so appreciated. I love you for reading, until next time.