Tour de Kyoto

My Trusty Steed

I packed a bit into yesterday, bouncing around from temples in Kyoto to pocky men in Osaka, so today was a bit more chilled. I still had some things I wanted to see, but now that I have spent a bit of time here over this trip and last there was really only a handful of things left on the list.

Most these things were a bit out of the way so how to get there? Bike! In Kyoto there are bikes riding around everywhere, so why not act like a local. So I grabbed a bike from the hostel and off I went.

A few things… firstly, it is so liberating to ride without a helmet. Not that I wouldn’t at home if given the opportunity (I don’t trust cars back home) but here it was awesome to just jump on the bike and ride. Secondly, most road rules seem out the window on the bike. I mean a red light is still a red light, but you can ride on the road, the footpath, the wrong way, whatever gets you from A to B. Soooo much fun!

So off I went. Now all these photos today are taken with my little crappy pocket Powershot (and testing out the timer function in a few snaps). I decided to just pop that in my pocket and take random snaps along the way rather than get the trusty SLR out of the bag all the time.

First off was a visit to the International Manga Museum. This houses a massive collection of manga as well as some exhibits of various associated things. This was OK, although there weren’t too many exhibits, and without being able to read them, the vast collection was a bit wasted on me. Happy to have gone, but not to great. Did get a super cool Mighty Atom (aka Astro Boy) mug though. Hope it doesn’t get broken in transit (touch wood).

Konnichiwa from the Imperial Palace!

Next was heading north to the Kyoto Imperial Palace gardens. You can’t get into the Imperial Palace, so it was a cruise around the grounds. Like some of the gardens I have been to in the past few days, they are suffering from being winter, but it was still fun to be on the bike.

Parking the horse out front of the temple

Next stop was further north to Daitoku-ji and the surrounding grounds.

A man and his companion out front of Daitoku-Ji

Another temple area like many others. Probably not much to separate this one from others but there were heaps more little shrines dotted around the grounds which I was checking out. Although at one point though I think I ended up in someone’s back yard with my bike. Whoops.


Came across part of a nice bamboo forest too, but couldn’t get in.

From there it was across to Kyoto Castle. In the end I didn’t go in… I think the reality was that I was happier just cruising out on the bike than checking out more things. Plus, I have seen a few other Japanese castles (including the king of all of them in Himeji) so was happy enough to pass.

By the time I got back to the hostel about 5 hours had passed. Oh man it was great fun to be out on the bike. Just cool having a rough idea of direction and then riding and seeing where I ended up.

My other plan for the day was to visit the Nishiki Market. This is an undercover market with stalls of varying types, but mainly food, including lots of fresh weird stuff.

Mmmm... odd vegies

Odd Vegies… check.

Mmmm... benito

Benito… check

Mmmm... crab

Crab… check.

Ummm... eyeballs

Eyeballs… check.

Mmmm... winter pocky

While cruising through there (always on the hunt for Kit Kats too) I came across “Winter Pocky”. Not really sure what makes it a winter version, but it was certainly different. The chocolate on the outside was very different, tasted way more european in its flavour. Was good though (I have just polished off the last as I type this).

The only Geisha I could find

Since I was nearby I wandered through the streets of Gion, keeping an eye out for any Geisha rushing around. As it turns out, none to be spotted.

"Love Mermaid"? Only in Japan.

The area is also what I think is the “entertainment” district. Before you get any ideas it certainly doesn’t seem very seedy or anything but seems to be the place for shenanigans. Although I can’t work out if “Love Mermaid Girl’s Bar” is a bar full of girls or for girls. Sorry lads, didn’t go into find out.

Cruising for something to eat

From there it was some meandering through the small streets with their places to eat. I can’t tell if it is traditional or touristy, but these small streets are certainly cool.

A temple around every corner

So bypassing some temples on my way I arrived back at the hostel, fairly early for a change. So given I was a little weary from my riding and walking, I decided to nude up and join the old dudes in the nearby public bath house. Ah nuding up in public… still an odd experience. But way less odd here (is there even a legitimate and/or legal reason to nude up in public back home?!).

And that brings me to now, just chilling in the common room in the hostel. Tomorrow is really a free day. Given I had planned to go to Ise and abandoned that idea (some more advice from fellow travels here suggest it is cool but not really worth the effort from here), I am not sure what to do. I have checked the things off my list I had on there. Maybe I will head to Nara. It would be the first place I really visit that I have been to before. A little loathe to go back to places twice, but I have my rail pass and if it is a nice day again it will be magic to hang out with the deer in the parks. Oh, and visit Todai-Ji, my favourite temple (where I crawled through the nostril of buddha). I shall decide after brekky in the morning I think.

Now maybe you are thinking. No Kit Kats today? Well, I did come across one. Glen e-mailed me to say he found a specially branded Kit Kat in Mos Burger. not a burger flavoured one, but specially packaged. So walking past a Mos Burger, what did I buy?

Mos Kat


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