Biking, Beer and Bape :p

Biking, Beer and Bape :p

After breakfast and laundry were finished, I rented a bike in order to visit Kinkaku-ji, a Zen temple completely covered in gold leaf. The bike I rented was brand new and even had a smartphone mount so I could easily look at directions. The temple was only about 7 miles away, but since most bikers use the sidewalks here I followed suit. Navigating around people slowed me down a bit. It was fun just to bike and not have to rely so much on public transportation or my sore feet.

Of course on the walkway up to the temple, they were selling all sorts of things covered in gold leaf. Although, what I opted for were sticky rice dumplings covered in a sweet soy glaze…absolutely delicious. This was by far the coolest temple I’ve seen in Japan. It was covered floor to rooftop in gold leaf and surrounded by a beautiful garden. It was a short walk around and therefore a short visit, but it was stunning and worth the trip.

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I was biking back but made a pit stop in Gion to do some shopping. I had made the mistake of thinking 5 days 4 nights could be done with only 3 shirts, but it was just getting weird to wear the same shirt for the 4th day in a row. Granted, what I bought was not weather appropriate, so I don’t know what I was thinking. My phone was going to die so I biked back to my hostel to charge up before meeting a friend for drinks. We stopped at an Irish pub and ordered beers. I accidentally made the mistake of holding up two fingers (as in two of what he ordered) and the bartender thought I wanted the #2 beer. Which turned out was 10% alc. and very hoppy. My friend kindly drank it and gave me the one I really wanted. We moved on to another Irish pub where I bought a miniature ramen bowl made of clay and a Guinness. After talking about how I regretted not trying at least one of the different parts of chicken from dinner the other night, we popped into a place where I could try gizzard for the first time. I have to admit, I was a little more daring after 3 drinks, but I truly didn’t mind it. I wouldn’t say it tasted good, but it wasn’t bad. It reminded me a lot of a water chestnut! After that, I did need some cotton candy 🙂

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From there we decided to check out this standing bar that we passed because it seemed popular with the locals. It was ‘urban-fresh’ and had interesting wall paper in the bathroom. Here we struck up a conversation with a Japanese man after he complemented my friend’s Bape jacket that he had just bought. I was then jealous that I didn’t end up buying one, because I want complements too! Bape was started in Japan after all. So we quickly went to the store so I could get something and I rocked a sweatshirt dress the rest of the evening. Both of us were checking out the next day so we called it a somewhat early night.

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Salt Neck?

Salt Neck?

The plan for the morning was to go to Fushimi Inari-taisha Shrine, known for the orange gates that line the path to the top of the mountain. It was only a few miles away so I decided to walk there. Headphones in, I had a nice walk there, still laughing about some of the fun had the night before. I reached the temple and began my ascent. The bottom was crowded with people trying to get pictures by the infamous orange gates. However, the higher I went (I started having flash backs to the stairs to the temple in Bali) the less crowded it became. The views of the city below were amazing and I was so impressed by the gates that led all the way up. I snuck off the path for a bit and it was so incredibly quiet. I sat and relaxed for a bit (I also wasn’t in the best hiking shape after last night) before heading back down.

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Zen and games.

Zen and games.

I was happy to see a communal breakfast table as I had just spent 6 days solo in Tokyo and I was looking for some socializing in Kyoto. While a few people sitting there invited me to join them at Nora National Park, I was itching to go to Arashiyama today so I stuck with my plan. I took the train there in the AM, it was just a short 15 minute ride. The town was very cute and I enjoyed walking through it on the way to the first temple, Tenryu-ji. What I liked about this one was the garden area. It was very zen and beautiful even though it was just starting to turn green again. I walked the garden path and it did feel like a moment of meditation. From there I stopped at a cafe to have a little cup cake and matcha green tea.

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To Kyoto at bullet speed.

To Kyoto at bullet speed.

I was very paranoid about missing the Bullet Train to Kyoto. My tickets were non-refundable so I didn’t want to risk being late. Therefore, I showed up 3 hours early ha. I was able to leave my big bag and a small shopping bag at my hostel which helped. It is possible to take luggage on these trains from what I read, but it’s a hassle. There isn’t a ton of room and there are a lot of stairs. Basically, you can do it but everyone what look at you annoyed. I’m sure that’s not the case when you know what you’re doing, but for a newbie I didn’t want to risk it. UPDATE: Having done it now, I totally could have brought my bag on. Actually, it would have been nice to have my other things, but at the same time it was nice not to have to lug it around. 

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