“I fell in your opinion when I fell love with you.” – Florence + The Machine
At long last, my extremely long overdue Japan in April (sakura season!) post. Very very late and it feels like ages ago. But right on time for you to plan your next Japan trip to be in late March/early April to catch the next cherry blossom season!
It was my first time in Kyoto. So the posting will be more about things you can do in Kyoto, especially if it’s your first trip.
1. Sakura Season
This view greeted me every day. The inn was along the river, flanked by overhanging sakura trees, petals falling like snow with each passing day of the fleeting spring. Imagine cycling along this path, watching the seasons change along with the time.
The beauty of spring makes me really poetic.
It was my first time seeing cherry blossoms. I’ve always seen pictures and heard about it, but seeing them in real life.. There are no words.
The flower does not think about competing with the flower next to it – it just blooms.
And for me, that was the hana of Noh theatre.
The confidence in your own elusive beauty. You don’t care if people are watching. Zero or one thousand. You are a flower, you are there, at the right moment.
I told you it made me poetic.
I’ve always associated Japan with cycling, and I feel that there’s nowhere else better to pick up casual cycling again that the kind streets of Kyoto. Filled with endless slopes and small back streets, hardly anyone will see you if you stumble and fall. And crash into walls. Cycle right into walls. Drains. Cars. -whistles-
The pedestrians and cars are super sweet as well! They saw me cycling painfully slowly (T_T) and a car was just driving patiently behind me without honking. When I saw it, I got off the bike to let it pass and the lady inside made a little honk and BOWED to me. T_T I think if it was anywhere else I’d have been hit by a car already.
3. Gion / Temples / Shrines
Kyoto houses the most number of shrines and temples. Best part was that it was walking distance (40 mins to an hour) to everywhere. It’s not bad because spring temperature it about 10 degrees C and walking keeps you warm. AND you get to see pretty streets!
Like this! Wearing a mask because it kept the warm air in.
I don’t think there were any legit geisha in Gion. I saw some ladies in makeup and kimonos walking around but then they suddenly started speaking Mandarin so… I think it was a makeup thing. They offered kimono rental.
4. % Arabica
If you’re a coffee prick like me, and a fan of latte art, you might know Junichi Yamaguchi.
He is the head barista of % Arabica, and a latte art champion.
I started fangirling when I saw him.
“A..Are you Mr. Junichi?!?!!?”
“OMG HI I’M FROM SINGAPORE I LOVE YOUR LATTE ART AND YOUR SLAYER IS SO SEXY TEACH ME MASTER.”
“Can I have a photo??!?!!”
5. Fushimi-Inari Taisha
And if you’re in Kyoto, you can’t miss the thousand torii gates of Fushimi-Inari Shrine. It’s a 4-kilometer walk up stairs.
It may seem really crowded at the bottom, but as you get higher (and more breathless), the crowd really thins out.
And you are left with questioning your life decisions.
And also old ladies walking faster than you up the steps.
6. Arashiyama – Bamboo Forest
The bamboo groves of Arashiyama is also one of the not to be missed attractions of Kyoto. It’s accessible by the JR train right into the heart of the district, where there are rickshaw drivers to ferry you up and down the narrow roads.
Now that you can cycle, you can Google maps your way from central Kyoto up to the mountains, where the famed bamboo forest is. You can also take the train, but if you want to YOLO and have a sore butt and freeze your face off, rent a bike for 500 yen and take a 10 KM ride up.
The sights are beautiful. The view is breathtaking. Cycling along cars was terrifying but once again, kind Kyoto people don’t kill you.
At the beginning of the Arashiyama district, the rain causes the cherry blossoms to fall and embrace the ground in a soft, pink blanket. Lock your bike at a random bike area and hunt for the bamboo forest on foot.
The tall bamboo stretches into the heavens, blocking the light of the afternoon sun. You may also imagine ninjas fighting through the branches by night.
The bamboo is so tall, and you feel so small next to it. For a moment, the 10km ride was worth it. But at the end of the path, you realise you have to cycle back.
You question your life decisions once again.
7. Photo Ops
The spring is so beautiful, everywhere is a photo opportunity.
You can’t take a bad picture. You just can’t.
Even with your eyes closed, the grace of the blossoms surrounding you will save the photo.
8. Osaka + Other
Well, since you’re in Kyoto, take a 30 minute shinkansen (JR Pass rules!) to Osaka because, why not? I prefer living in Kyoto and travelling to Osaka because… well, it’s prettier. 😛
The Osaka Aquarium!!! With otters!!! It’s a bit of a walk from the train station, but it was so worth it!
And in Osaka, always have Matsusaka Project. I find the outlet in Namba the best, but they were fully booked, so you should make a reservation! (They speak English).
But desperate for meat, this was the outlet in Fukushima. Yes. Went all the way there for meat. #worthit
In Kyoto, their well known food was tofu, served in a simple shojin ryori (Japanese monk food) style. Portions are small, mostly cold, very zen. So when one is in Kyoto, do as the Kyoto-jins do, right?
…..Yeeeeaaaahhhh not my thing. I like my food warm.
But it was a really delicious boat of tofu. It was a free flow tofu. Tofu trauma.
So that’s it.
I fell for Japan again, this time in spring. Advise for those who are about to rock? SPRING IS COLDER THAN EXPECTED BRING YOUR WARM CLOTHES. T_T
Bring your camera, because beauty is everywhere.
I’ll see you again.