I love Kyoto!!!
First of all, I loved the ryokan we stayed in. The owners were so kind, even though I spoke absolutely no Japanese. The little garden was adorable, the baths were nice, and I must have had a million cups of tea.
Hikone Castle was really interesting. My favorite part was the natural wood ceiling beams, and the overlook outside had a nice view.
The shopping area the ryokan in was really bustling and energetic. I really liked the Nishiki food market and surrounding streets. I walked down the river during the day and night and it was interesting to see how the bicyclers and artists turned into huge groups of people drinking and hanging out under the verandas.
The “blood ceiling” was one of the more striking things I saw. I thought it was a brutal way to commemorate the sacrifice of the dead, but very powerful. It was interesting having read the letter before visiting. I also really liked the Ryouanji temple before the crowds got there. The Sugiya was another favorite, I thought the really defined architecture in each of the rooms were beautiful and I could imagine myself in the Edo period walking through the halls.
Walking through the Gion area gave me the same impression. I got to go to an antique shop where I bought a Meiji period print for 3000 yen on the side of the street and looked through pottery and designer handbags stacked on top of each other, and a pottery shop where the potter made work behind a curtain, which were highlights.
Of course, I loved seeing the maiko perform. It’s always been a dream of mine to see a geisha perform, and while she wasn’t a fully certified geisha it was still an incredible experience.
My favorite shrine so far is the Fushimi Inari shrine. I wish I had more time there to climb all the way up to the top. I love how it is built into the mountains and all the smaller shrines in the complex.
I wish I could stay in Kyoto for longer. There was so much I didn’t get to see. It seemed like there was a temple, shrine, or shopping street everywhere. However, it was nice to go back to Nagoya which has become much more familiar, and the restaurant we went to for the last group dinner was incredibleeeee.
On a side note, I also got to see the Japanese ER, which was an interesting cultural experience which I hopefully don’t have to repeat.