Takayama & Kyoto
This morning we woke up even earlier then we needed to. As much as we are both sad to be leaving Takayama we are really excited to travel down to Kyoto and see another part of Japan.
With extra time on our hands we strolled through the morning market one last time and grabbed breakfast at a riverside cafe. Outside the cafe it claimed to have an English menu. It turns out they only went half way with the translation, with the sandwich menu offering sandwich A, B and C. I went with sandwich A thinking they would get weirder further down the menu. Even though it was a self service cafe the staff insisted on waiting on us and were extremely happy to try out their English and hear us attempt Japanese. I soon discovered Sandwich A is made up of one slice of white bread, one slice of brown and filled up with 10 different vegetables, it was delicious if a little odd.
After we said a fond farewell to our hostel/temple we boarded the 4 hour train journey to Kyoto via Nagoya. It was a perfect time to relax, listen to Kygo’s new album and take in the views before we hit the craziness of Kyoto.
At Nagoya we had a mad transfer between trains. We had just 9 minutes between the two and had to get through 2 ticket barriers, get to the other side of the station and find the right track. After a mad dash with our bigger-than-needed suitcases we made it with a minute to spare.
Once we arrived in Kyoto we jumped on a local bus to our hostel. Instead of it being a temple, this time our hostel is next to one. Makes it very handy to get home when your lost! Our host is incredibly kind and lives next door with his wife and kids. He spent 40 minutes telling us the best bus routes to get all around the city and the safest areas. He has even hand painted a perfectly to-scale map of the local area on the common room wall!
After a quick look around the hostel we jumped straight back on the bus into town to see the Gion Matsuri celebrations. They go on throughout July here, with tonight considered Christmas Eve before tomorrow’s parade.
We were well and truly thrown into the deep end of Kyoto. A square kilometre of roads are made for pedestrians only and the place is filled up with hundreds and thousands of people!
Many times I was literally swept off my feet by the crowds and moved without even walking, I was so wedged in. The atmosphere was brilliant, almost carnival like. I have never seen so many people in one place. Both men and women were dressed up in Yakuta, a summer Kimono, with their fans and newly purchased food. Dotted around the streets were massive floats which will be paraded through the streets tomorrow morning.
Among the thousands of food stalls selling everything you can imagine and more, were music performances and traditional ceremonies. Some of which I didn’t understand but will definitely look up to learn more.
Despite all the traveling we’ve done today it was impossible to feel tired with everybody in such a celebratory mood. I look forward to seeing more of Kyoto in the sunlight.