Kyoto was very different from Tokyo. There were bridges, a lot of bridge over a lot of rivers everywhere, big and small. Kyoto is also home to temples of all sizes, and I saw lots of shrines located in small neighbourhoods.
I saw this shrine in the hostel’s neighborhood, near Shichijo station. It’s just on a small, regular street. Fresh flowers, so someone must be maintaining this.
Stray cats are not rare
Small bridges over a river. They were all two seconds away from each other. Why?
Kyoto is definitely a lot quieter than Tokyo, in general. Not so many people in suits. Of course, it’s very city-like near Kyoto station, but other than that, it has that countryside calm.
I had arrived at Kyoto station from Osaka around 2pm. Since I had no idea what I wanted to do on my first day, I dropped my bags off at the hostel and walked around the area and in the general direction of Kyoto station for fun.
Creative signage. The sun casts a shadow of the letters onto the fabric handing behind the glass. A very pretty shop with lots of expensive craftswork, near Kyoto station.
An expensive inn near Kyoto station. They had a whole zen-garden ecosystem going on in that glass room for all passersby to admire.
Oh, you thought temples only used regular old electricity? Nah, they harness energy from the sun. Get on that level.
Near Kyoto station, I found this alley I nicknamed the Sexual Harassment Alley.
Never judge an alley by its dim, horror-movie atmosphere. This was the famous alley that I had seen on TV, a collation of cozy (and by cozy, I mean tiny) bars that can each seat only 5 or so people.
These bars in the alley were almost all owned by the middle-aged to seniorites, and frequented by clients of the same age group. It was only 5:50pm when I stumbled upon it, so it wasn’t busy.
The alley had a communal washroom at the middle, and it had no doors. I legit saw a grown man take a piss (with his back facing me, of course) in the urinal as I passed by in horror, not knowing that it didn’t have a fucking door. He didn’t even seem to care. As I write this, I can still hear the acoustically enhanced and echoed trickle of his piss, as I passed by quickly, my ears and eyes widened in horror.
Strangest alley experience of my life. But it wasn’t the bad sort of strange. It was the “transported to another world” sort of strange. This alley was a few-seconds walk away from the main road near Kyoto station, and it was strange to suddenly enter such a quiet and stagnant atmosphere, away from the cars and big shops with colorful signs.
I didn’t take any pictures of the bars, as they are all so tiny and grabbing a picture meant having the owner’s face in it, and I didn’t think they’d appreciate that.
I wanted to have a drink at one of these bars (when will I ever stumble across something like this again?!), but it was definitely not a place for a young female traveler to fit in nicely. This was one of the few times during my 30 day trip that I wished I had a local friend, so that I could have someone to share this intimate drinking experience with.
After this frozen-in-time kind of moment in the alley, I continued with my walk and strolled into Yodobashi, a multi-floor shopping centre right across from Kyoto station.
The store directory said that they had a food court on the 9th floor. Only when I went up, I saw that it surpassed a regular food court. It was a floor of smartly curated gallery of full-sized sit-down restaurants that you could have a nice, middle-income family meal in.
Yodobashi The Dining, on 9th floor of the Yodobashi shopping centre across from Kyoto station.
Is this real life? A DIY deep-fried skewers buffet. I went with two friends from my hostel two days later.
You can drink an unlimited amount of alcoholic or virgin drinks for an hour for 980 yen ($9 US). IS THIS REAL LIFE?! This all-you-can-drink system is called “Daisen”. I love how the red text on the sign says, “You can’t drink all day if you don’t start in the mornin’. Making your friends and your family more interesting“. You get me, Japan. I really wanted to do this, and internally cried that I didn’t have a friend to do this with me.
Fake food display at a Japanese Italian restaurant. They had fusion pasta, like salmon cream pasta, and pollock roe cream pasta.
Okonomiyaki! My okonomiyaki experience in Osaka was quite underwhelming and it hadn’t tasted very good (overcooked and dry), so I had been wanting to try it again. And here was a nice looking okonomiyaki restaurant while I was hungry. This was fate.
After walking around for an hour on that one floor of food heaven, I decided on Okonomiyaki for dinner for my first night in Kyoto. More on this later…