Wednesday December 7th
Wednesday was to be our last day in Kyoto before training it back to Tokyo. It definitely felt like it had gone quick, which it had given we lost almost a day of exploring, so we had to fill the last gaps before jumping back on the Shinkansen.
The main goal was to visit Fushimi-Inari shrine, my favourite in Kyoto, and one Kate had not visited in the past. This is very well known, with the thousands of torii gates snaking their way up the mountain, and the many visitors wandering through them as they ascend the mountain. There are always plenty of people visiting, and today was no exception. We had arrived nice and early, so we weren’t too inundated so started making our way up.
It is impossible not to be in awe as you wander through the gates. The brilliant orange combined with the morning sun meant every gate corridor and curve gave you a new gorgeous view. Given the cold weather was arriving, the many statues of foxes on the mountain were starting to be dressed up in the bonnets and shawls which adds even more to the character.
Given we didn’t have too much time to spare we didn’t make our way to the top of the hill, rather explored for an hour or two, soaking up the atmosphere. Back at the entry way lots of stall holders had set themselves up and started selling the wares. I wasn’t necessarily looking for a souvenir, but couldn’t help myself when I saw a “traditional” Japanese style printed fabric, but with Japanese themed Star Wars. Of course I had to get one.
Just as exciting we’re all the food stalls we came across. We had garnered an appetite, so tucked in to some of the goodies. Best of the bunch was a bacon wrapped rice block with some kind of sauce over it. Mmmmmmm! I also smashed down some takoyaki, nice and fresh off the grill. So good on a cold day.
With that we made our way back in to central Kyoto. We had a couple of little shopping gaps to fill, but the main one was my having located a Kit Kat pop up in the Daimaru department stall. Winner! It was similar to the one now in Melbourne with an array of their own flavours. Nothing too outlandish, but of course I bought some of all of them 🙂
A little more wandering led us back to the hostel to pick up our bags and make our way to the station. Next thing we were speeding our way back to Tokyo, arriving at Tokyo station a bit after 6pm. Now to find our new home for the next few days!
I decided to try a place I hadn’t stayed at before, another K’s House hostel, this one in Asakusa. Location seemed good and we were able to get a room big enough for the two of us as well as our visitor who was arriving the next day.
Surviving the peak hour commute in the metro, we found the hostel with fair ease. A great spot and only 15 min from Tokyo station made it easy. We were warmly welcomed and when we got into the room we had made the right decision as it was (relatively) roomy and would be perfect for our next 5 days. I love the vibe of a good hostel… the welcomes are always much nicer.
It was almost 7:30pm, and rather than relax we decided to quickly pop down to Akihabara for a quick bit, given it was only 10 minutes away. So back on the train we went! We jumped out and were met with the main big building housing a couple dozen toy stores, Radio Kaikan. The building had been completely renovated since I had last visited so from the outside it looked very different. But inside was the similar collection of smaller stores selling any and all kinds of figures and otaku goods. Heaven! Alas, the building closed at 8pm so we only had 20 minutes to have a quick look. Oh well, we could come back.
We spent some more time wandering the Main Street of Akihabara, me filling Kate in on many of the things. I pointed out AKB48 cafes and maid cafes, and she was intrigued! Alas we just wouldn’t have time to visit. We also popped into a number of other toy stores with me having to buy a Ronin Boba Fett figure for the shelf. Seems Japan x Star Wars mashups are a big thing.
The hours were ticking by and we knew we were up for a busy next 4 days, so it was back to the hostel for some rest before an action packed Thursday.