After Yokohama, we had an incredibly long journey carrying all of our luggage to Kyoto. When we made it to the last train stop, it was raining and dark! We had to somehow hold an umbrella, carry our bags and find our way through the streets of Kyoto to our hotel. It took us longer because we had to stop every once in awhile to reposition our bags and check the GPS on our tablet.
Eco and Tec Hotel was actually very easy to find, if we didn’t have the tablet to navigate us, we’d probably never find it. There wasn’t a big sign for the hotel and it was down a residential street that didn’t look like there was anything more than just houses. We also got off at the further train stop, not knowing that there was one about five minutes from the hotel. When we made it, we were so relieved and happy! As we checked in they asked to take a picture of us to put on their Facebook page. I guess they take pictures of all their guests. We looked beat down, wet and miserable!
After we had unpacked, we went downstairs to the community room. This is a really cool hotel. There is only one employee at a time who cleans the rooms and checks in guests, because of this and an effort to stay green, they don’t change towels or clean rooms often. If you want those services done regularly, you have to pay extra. We were only there for about two nights so it wasn’t a problem. The community room had free water and tea, free wifi, and massage chairs! We both jumped in the chairs and enjoyed a much needed massage! I was exhausted and hungry so we ordered a pizza and called it a night!
The next morning it was a little grey outside but we had mapped out everything we wanted to see. We walked down the main road in Kyoto to a coffee shop, where we had breakfast and decided that we wanted to rent bikes!
Our hotel had an affordable bike rental rate, so we decided to do that. GREAT idea!! I had so much fun and it was much easier than walking. My feet were hurting after all the walking we had done in Tokyo. I was wobbly at first and afraid I was going to hit a pedestrian, another biker or a car!
We rode through a market with a lot of shops that we visited later for souvenirs. I loved this about Japan, everyone rides a bike. You’d think with Guam being so small that more people would ride bicycles; but I’m sure with the heat, uphill roads and distance between villages this wouldn’t be such a fun experience. Our first stop was the Kyoto International Manga Museum! I’m a fan of Hayao Miyazaki (Spirited Away, Totoro…) so I was really excited. The museum was made in an old school building. There was a mixture of Manga art and history and history about the school and Kyoto. Very interesting. There were TONS of comic books that you could lounge around and read, unfortunately we didn’t see any that were in English so we just looked through the pictures. My favorite part, well two parts, first was the “How to Draw Manga” section where you could learn the Manga drawing process and then there was another room where they had artists from around the world draw something based on the word peace. It was so creative! Most of the art rooms had a no photos rule so I didn’t get to take many pictures.
After the museum we realized that it was pretty late and we still wanted to visit another museum. We used the map to find our way to Nijo Castle. We rode through the quiet streets . Getting used to driving on the opposite side of the rode was a challenge, but fun!
For a small fee we parked our bikes in the bike lot.
The park where the castle was is HUGE. We weren’t allowed to take photos inside the castle nor could we wear shoes. There are many beautiful gardens and ponds.
In one building, where we couldn’t wear our shoes, the floors were called Nightingale floors and made a cricket sound whenever stepped on. This was so the Shogun could hear if anyone was trying to sneak up on them.
It was late when we got back to our hotel, but we still wanted to explore! We’d gone back to the shopping area where everyone seemed to be. I found an all you can eat pizza place and Peter had some bad tasting beer which was all you could drink for an hour. At the end of the night we stopped at Pig & Whistle for a drink before heading back to the hotel for bed.
The rest of our trip we explored Kyoto. There are so many parks and beautiful historical structures everywhere. Even walking down the narrow roads we found shrines and Japanese style homes.
On our last day we took a walk and saw this bright red bridge thing. As we walked toward it we came to another park.
Here we found another shrine and garden.
We saw these fountains everywhere and weren’t sure of the meaning. We watched as school children went to them and washed their hands with the water. It was a beautiful, bright and sunny day on our last day in Kyoto. I didn’t want to leave.
We had some extra time to kill before we needed to head to Narita, so we went to the Kyoto Handicraft Center. I’d spotted it on the map and really wanted to go there. At the moment, the original building is under construction so everything has moved out to a different building except for the craft center. Peter and I decided to do some arts and crafts! I painted a clay doll bell and Peter did the cloisonné key chain. It was SO much fun! You get some guidance from the craft center helpers, watch a video and learn about the history of your art work. It was so relaxing and peaceful.
If you want to go to Japan, but you don’t want to navigate the busy rail system or deal with the city life, then Kyoto is the perfect place to relax and go at a slow pace. I wish we had more time here to see more sights.
Goodbye Kyoto and Japan. Hope to see you again!