Oooooh yessssssssssss finally. I arrived in Kyoto. Its again a ‘must visit’ place. Big. Its a HUGE city. I know because i was trying to walk around – and i almost lost a day from my visit – this how bad was my foot after the first day walking tour around the temple district. There is a quite poor subway system only with 3 lines in the main north – south direction which is very useful only if u planning to reach the main train station – tickets cost 300yen so its ok. Oh yes – so using the metro all around – i didnt quite understand the structure at first – basically i think 300 yen is the smallest fare – and depending on the distance u re going; increasing.
Every station u can find a massive map with the names of each stations your metro stops and a number under – that number is the price of the ticket u have to choose from the machine to get there. If u accidentally fuck up something, buy cheaper ticket or paying more what u should DONT WORRY — its Japan. Nobody will take u to a dark room and investigate lol – there is a service in every gate dealing with ticket price differences so u can pay extra there or get your money back. So easy and fair system.
My sleep was at the Khaosan Kyoto Guest House – massive big hostel perfectly in the downtown. After coming from that lovely small place in Kanazawa this hostel looked brutal and just not friendly. Was a bad first impression – honestly it was not bad at all. Just big and full of americans who were spending every day playing VR and football games upstairs in the common area and leave everything dirty in the kitchen. I stayed there 4 nights for 17.000yen.
It was very hot and sunny when i arrived a bit exhausted carrying my 13 kilos backpack and i was hungry like a wolf so found a ‘must try’ place to have my lunch perfectly on the way to the hostel. Lonely planet suggestion – for a reason. Ippudo ramen. Best money-value balance. Easy to find place as always a massive queue waiting infront.
Be patient, well worth it. Big bowl of ramen soup from 1500yen, also famous for its gyozas (was ok but be prepaired for a massive bowl of deliciousness and be aware of the free space in your belly). Yum. Yum yum. I was doing quite well – ate more than anyone around me.
Checked in and pushed myself into the flow of tourists flowing down to the Imperial Palace of Kyoto. Im not sure if i was simply too late or its never accesible but seemed pretty guarded so no visitors allowed inside. It didnt looked too impressive anyway – surrounded with a park full of sakura trees which was amazing. It was really blooming so time for millions of photos. Walking and walking – this city is different volume – now i needed to walk 30-40 minutes between temples in the Southern Higashiyama.
Was getting dark so crossed the geisha district -GION- on the way home – narrow streets, red lampions again, canal, plenty of tourists traps like shitty eateries and bars. For one second i felt the area very doggy. Its like the back dirty streets. No thanks. I was organizing my Maiko experience for the next evening – the geisha student show i was talking about before. One friend’s friend suggested me this place – Kyoto Granbell Hotel – superfancy hotel and they do Maiko nights every Tuesday and Friday for 5000yen. Better if u pre book (i did it with email, no payment needed cause japanese trust u so they hold your seats till u get there and pay) because these nights are busy. Im sure u can do this for cheaper – im not sure about the quality though. I show u in the next post.
Shame on me but after 10 hours walking i did stop for a beer in an Irish Pub. And smoking was allowed inside. It blowed my mind!!! But i enjoyed that pint soooo much plus in this little break i found my dinner place to try the famous okonomiyaki in Kyoto. Another Lonely planet suggestion, Nishiki Warai, very good deal with Okonomiyakis – which are savoury pancakes, but huge freshly made once served on a hot plate in the middle of the table and its still cooking while u are eating.
Basic from 700yen but for 2000yen u get a massive one with every toppings and a pint of beer. Location is a bit hidden – was hard to find cause there are no street names and numbers around so i was asking locals after every 10 meters. But better if u dont forget the location cause its in the Nishiki Market which is one of the miracles of Kyoto – i was coming back there in the next day.