I never really “chose” to travel. It was more of an involuntary decision. It had always been on my mind and I new that I was going to make it happen someway or another. My grandmother is Japanese and she had married my granddad , who is Australian and was serving in the army in Japan when they had met.
I spent years learning about her, her life and her story. I wanted to know her experience of the Second World War. I have always wanted to walk in her footsteps.
Hiroshima too was very emotional for me because my grandmother had seen the bombing and had also walked through the city since then.
My dream of visiting Japan finally happened when my mom planned a trip for us and I got to visit Kyoto, the city I fell in love with.
My flight was from Australia to Osaka. We stayed there for a couple of nights and then made a trip to Kyoto. The amazing train system of Japan helped us in maintaining our schedule. Their precision was extraordinary.
Kyoto’s location was blessed as it was very close to many other tourist destinations and they could easily be visited as day trips.
I always had an insight into Japanese culture but my biggest culture shock was how technologically advanced Japan is today. Yet, retaining their culture.
It is not something new to many people but because my only exposure to Japan was from my Grandmother until then I didn’t expect such technological growth.
The people were very well dressed, well behaved and so sophisticated. They were pretty busy going about their lives. Everyone was very conscious of us as there were not many travellers at that time of the year.
My purple hair colour brought some funny looks from people because it was very uncommon then. Kyoto was more traditional and conservative than the fashion trends you find in Tokyo.
The reactions got more interesting once they found out that I had tattoos. The younger generations weren’t so stigmatized and found it cool but wouldn’t try it.
The age of a person in Japan displayed their thinking. The old, the young, the middle aged all seemed to have a very different approach towards life and the world around them. I was pleasantly surprised when an old lady started a conversation in a train which is not very common.
She asked me where I was from, what I was doing in Japan and how long was I going to be there. We then parted ways. It was a very pleasant experience. Very different from the way things are back home in Australia. Here, everyone is very polite and mindful of everyone else around them, Australians on the other hand are really loud and at times a bit wildly behaved.
The journey back made me feel a bit sad. It was only natural to feel that way when you leave a place that you had come to love. The bright side to leaving Kyoto was that it made me more determined to come and visit the place again.
Here are a few travel tips for Kyoto
– A lot of these shrines, temples and even parks are free to visit. Some fantastic free places to check out include Fushimi Inari Taisha Shrine, Yasaka Shrine, Heian Jingu Shrine, Kyoto Imperial Palace, Arashiyama Bamboo Grove and Ninna-ji Temple.
Use google maps. It is very simple and convenient. You can easily plan your routine and day.
Japan has an exxcellent punblic transport system. Kyoto’s bus services are a fine example of this system. Pick up a Kyoto City one day bus pass, which will allow you to travel almost anywhere within the city. It is very reasonably priced and very convenient for getting on and off the bus with just one touch.
Bring comfortable shoes. You will have to walk a lot because Kyoto is still a place with a lot of small side streets, crossing foot bridges over canals, and wandering down hidden alleyways.
But worry not! The adventure of Kyoto lies in these walks through the smaller parts of the city.
Location and Stay
Kyoto station is not the best place to stay. If you want to have to ease of acess to travel across Kyoto then the best place to locate of base your self is in the Gion station area. . The Gion area is is regarded as the downtown area of Kyoto which makes it a more convenient location for discovering all that Kyoto has to offer.
The prefect time is to visit every month! Visit on the 15th, 21st and 25th of the month to catch the Tezukuri-ichi Flea Market at Chion-ji Temple, Kobo-san Flea Market at Toji Temple and Tenjin-san Flea Market at Kitano Tenmangu Shrine.
Enjoy and stay in Kyoto until you can!
The Graphic image of the traveller , made from the photo submitted, was done by the author, The Brown Nomad.
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Author: The Brown Nomad
Also published on Medium.