Kyoto From The Eye of A Retrophile

If I have another chance to visit Japan in the future, I would love to stay in Kyoto much longer. Being a massive retrophile and a culture and heritage junkie makes me crave for temples, historical sites, and even traditional houses of Kyoto. Kyoto is considered one of the best historical cities in the world, offering loads of temples and massive Japanese history to learn.

We rented a traditional Japanese house while staying in Kyoto for 3 days and 2 nights. Our journey in Kyoto began after we got out from Uzumasa station after a long Shinkansen ride from Tokyo (there is another station really near from our house, but it didn't connect to the main Kyoto Station), which was located near our house for the next 3 days. We looked so confused an old lady was asking us if we got lost. It was so much fun yet tiring when we try to find the house, which was actually located in a quiet neighbourhood like I often saw in Japanese movies and cartoon!

We didn't meet our host, Hana, while we're staying in Kyoto, but she told us how to retrieve the house keys and provide everything we need while staying at the house. It was a really nice house, I could say. I fell in love with the interiors! It was a traditional house with antique furnitures, complete with any Japanese traditional house necessities; tatami room, shōji, kotatsu (Unfortunately we can't use it because it's summer), and futon beds!

Yes, we did a little photo shoot at this pretty little house. Hehehe.

We got up earlier the next morning for a walk at Arashiyama, a district located in the outskirt of Kyoto known for its historic sites and natural beauty. The location can be easily accessed via train and it took us approximately 2 minutes walking from our home to the nearest train station, Arisugawa. 

The roads are still empty by the time we arrived at Arashiyama. This district is absolutely my favourite place to visit during my visit to Kyoto, due to its traditional atmosphere and old but beautiful buildings it has! The after rain weather that we experienced the time we went there making it nearly perfect!

Because it was still so early in the morning, we decided to take our first stroll to the famous Arashiyama bamboo grove located around 10 minutes by walking down the main street. The main street lead us to smaller streets which was surrounded by the beautiful, green, bamboo forest. We witnessed such a beautiful harmony between God and man's creation. It was breathtaking, yet so relaxing.

What makes the sight even more enigmatic was, for the first time ever, I saw a Japanese graveyard and its tombstones. I read a lot about Japanese traditions and rites, and I notice that Japanese funeral is one of the most unique process they had there in Japan. Summer in Japan is also known in popular culture for celebrating the deaths with a festival called Obon. Too bad Obon will be held in August, making me arriving a month earlier in Japan. I wish I could experience this iconic celebration in my next visit to Japan!

We also decided to took a glimpse of Tenryu-ji temple, known as one of the five best zen temples in Kyoto, and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Although we didn't manage to snap some photographs, but still, this place is a must visit!

After Tenryu-ji Temple, we went to another popular site, the one and only Fushimi-Inari shrine. The shrine was jam-packed with people, due to its popularity and people manage to visit the shrine to take photographs at the beautiful vibrant orange gates (the same circumstances as mine, duh). It's pretty easy to get to the shrine via train or subway. The nearest train station's name is pretty obvious and it's printed in a gigantic font size: Fushimi-Inari train station, or Inari Station. 

We got off from Fushimi-Inari train station and it was a pretty long walk to get from the station to the shrine. But don't worry, there will be lots of souvenir shops and restaurants you can savour first! There were also lots of food stalls across the road that leads us to the shrine.

The gates were so much crowded than the base temple and we're desperate to enjoy the view, well at least for a short moment of time. How do we finally manage to escape the crowds and take good pictures? Simple. Climb the Inari, the mountain where Fushimi-Inari shrine is located. There are 5000 gates and it must be a long trail, the further you walk, there will be less people in your photos! Haha!

No good photos of mine, so here's Fushimi-Inari shrine featuring my cousin.

We continued our journey in Kyoto by taking multiple buses to the famous Higashiyama District, where we will be taken back to the past, walking in a street full of traditional buildings of Kyoto. We went in from Sannenzaka street, going all the way to Kiyomizu-dera, and then going back to the main street via Ninenzaka. Didn't take a lot of pictures, but of course we're saving the best to show them up here. Hehe.

We discovered a small shrine (I still don't get the name of it), which turned out to be super colourful because the usual wooden plaque used for people to make a wish was replaced with beanbags!

Kiyomizu-dera was, again, jam-packed with people from across the world. We didn't even manage to get a decent photo at there, but at least we can savour ourselves with tasty Matcha ice cream (Not pictured due to small Snapchat-sized photo)! Haha!

Our last destination in Kyoto was considered impromptu. I never heard or searched anything about this place before, but we're SO GLAD to find this final place. The place is Toei Kyoto Studio Park, a park that displayed quiet vast amount of sets that were used for filming, especially films that sets in the past Japan era.

There were LOTS of attractions we can actually do, but since it was around 4 PM already, we only manage to enjoy up to 2 attractions. First, we watched a show about the making of Japanese movies (which involves a lot of visual effects and tricks) starring a samurai and a ninja. Then, we tried a haunted house attraction which is super creepy because it's not a ride where you can sit down and close your eyes every time a ghost appear, but you should walk in a small group in order to survive. That gave me such a chill!

The journey ended shortly after we arrived at our home. It was such a fine day for us to explore the beauty of Kyoto. Once again, if I have another chance to visit Japan in the future, I would love to stay in Kyoto much longer. There are probably loads of places that I haven't explore yet, due to the lack of time in Kyoto. I never expect Kyoto to be this beautiful. Another place in this world keeps on surprising me with its beauty and memories. Thank you Kyoto

Lastly, enjoy this legendary Sukiyaki that accompanies me during writing this post.

When In Japan

How do I start this post properly?

I'm so out of words right now, but I really have to write something, just because. Haha. These past two weeks has been a blast for me; finally visiting one of my favourite countries to explore since my last visit two years ago: Japan. It was a great time I had there, visiting some more cities I never been to (re: Kyoto) and experience more things I could ever imagine doing so.

For this trip, I went with my usual travel partner (re: mom), my brother, and my two cousins. I'm so happy that I can finally use the Airbnb application that I have in my phone after some quite time keeping it in my phone, wondering when I can finally use it when travelling! We did town hopping from Tokyo-Kyoto-Osaka-Tokyo in the span of two weeks, so there will be 4 places we will stay. It was so easy to book places in Airbnb I am so happy there is such a thing as Airbnb. God bless Airbnb! (Pardon my overexcitement)

I'm so excited to meet some new people in Japan! As I said, Airbnb lets me meet and befriend new people from all over the world, including this very country. My apartment hosts were so communicative and so friendly, although I didn't see some of them in person. I think this gave us an opportunity to experience how locals in Japan live!

The flight from Jakarta to Tokyo took us almost 7 hours on board and when it was almost in the midnight. Well, it was a no problem for me as I can sleep shortly after the plane took off and get up shortly before the plane landed. Haha. I spent times in the plane doing so, got up some quite bit because of bumpy ride up there. We finally landed safely at Tokyo's downtown airport, Haneda International Airport. Right after we landed, we bought some necessities that were needed while we're there such as SIM Card (I honestly can't live without connections in my phone *sob*) and Suica, a card that can store our money in it and it can be used for train and bus tickets, and even buy food and drinks from the vending machine! Speaking about convenience, Japan is one of the best country that provide so!

Oh, I almost forgot about Japan Rail Pass. This pass works like magic while I'm staying in Japan. The pass could be ordered via online or by a travel agent prior departing to Japan, so you can't make any purchase of it while in Japan. This pass gave us lots of benefits especially when it comes to travelling via bullet train a.k.a Shinkansen, because it will save you loads of money rather than buying regular tickets (bullet train tickets are so costly, it's the same price as plane tickets to the same destination!

It was summer already in Japan, but there are still plenty of rains before a long, dry, and humid summer next August. The best way to travel in Japan in these past months is to bring yourself umbrella, just because, rain can come anytime. It was raining the first day I was in Japan and it goes warmer and warmer for the next following days, but still, rain can comes every time. Speaking of summer, summer in Japan is everything you've ever seen in movies, television, and manga! It was so festive and there are lots of festivals and events in several spots in Japan! Even some theme parks such as Universal Studios Osaka and Tokyo Disneyland held summer only events that are so cool! Stay tuned for my coverage of what really happened in those two places! Haha.

People in Japan never cease to amaze me. They are responsible, and know how to act in public spaces properly. Every time I go to station, no matter how crowded it is, they tend to queue properly and show some etiquettes, such as letting people get out from the train first before going in. They tend to be friendly to travellers and foreigners, so there will be no problem when it comes to asking people in Japan. One other thing that is so eye opening is; public spaces and facilities in Japan are also built for the needs of people with disability. There are some parts of the sidewalk that were bumpy and plays chirping sounds because it was designed for people with visual impairment. I love on how people are considered equal in Japan and deserve public facilities the same as normal people.

By the way, have you tried toilets in Japan? If you haven't see one of the magical invention of Japan, then toilet shall be one of them. Man, they sure have lots of buttons to press! 

Ah, Japan. One of many countries where I left my heart in. Yes, more posts about my trip to come. Finally, enjoy this song I barely know some few hours ago.

Dear Beautiful Souls

Dear beautiful souls in Japan,

To this high school boy that I met 2 years ago in Kansai Airport, who chase me all the way through the station's stairs so he could tell me that I took the wrong way. He then pointed out to the right train. To a beautiful American-Japanese girl that I met on the train. The girl who has the most beautiful eyes and smile that I ever seen in my life. To her loving mother who let her sit on her lap through the train ride, and showed her beautiful sceneries through the train window. And to her cheeky older brother. To Mr. Onizuka, a Harry Potter ride staff at Universal Studio Japan who tolerate my crappy Japanese and let me ride the Forbidden Journey ride after a long misunderstanding. To a Harry Potter show host who gave me a "Oh look! We have a Slytherin here!" shoutout during the show. To the tempura restaurant owner in Akihabara, who gave me a printed map so I can get to my hotel easily that very night. To the mini market lady, who apparently understand English and told me clearly how to get to the same hotel I am searching for. To a strong grandma on the train, who politely refused to receive a seat I was once; because "It only took me two stations." To a train station staff that told me the train will be coming on 7.01 AM and it really is.

You are the reason why I shouldn't stop exploring. The world is full of beautiful and (some) unpredictable souls, just like you.

See you soon.

Note: I made myself a new Instagram for my travel photos. Go check it out! @novreica.travels