I like to tackle trips with little-to-no planning, so my adventure kicked off with a last-minute dash on the bullet train from Hakone to Kyoto. Being lost is the best way to discover new horizons.
The day started early at 8am. The air is cool and the sun is beaming down on us.
It’s the beginning of May – the perfect time of year to avoid the intense humidity that follows in the summer.
First on our list is possibly the most iconic place to visit in Japan, (second to Mt Fuji). As a passionate travel photographer, I was particularly drawn to Fushimi Inari-Taisha.
This was possibly one of the most beautiful things I saw in Japan.
There’s a very peaceful and calming atmosphere in this place.
Before walking through the shrines, locals ring a bell at the top of these temple-like buildings.
This tradition is a sign of respect, and the sound of the bells calls the gods into the shrine. From there, visitors clap their hands twice and begin praying silently.
Next on our list is the beautiful Bamboo Forest of Arashiyama. Having arrived here in the early hours of the afternoon, the place is filled with visitors.
It made me wonder how people capture shots of this place when nobody else is in sight. Perhaps we got here too late.
When we asked around, the trick is to either go really early in the morning, or late in the afternoon.
The forest welcomes us with a calming atmosphere.
Locals are involved in a lot of traditional activities, like painting, transporting visitors on man-powered rickshaws, and walking around in traditional Kimonos.
Just in time for Golden hour, we moved on to the neighboring Nijo Castle. The sheer size of this place is incredible.
As we walked around, we see the castle is made up of different structures and beautiful gardens.
Nijo Castle belonged to the first shogun of the Edo Period, Tokugawa Ieyasu. After serving as the imperial palace, it was then donated to the city and used as an educational tourist attraction.
As the day closed in on us, we began looking through the city in search of a traditional alleyway bar or restaurant.
There’s no shortage of these in Kyoto. Our day ended with a little too much Sake in our systems.
Kyoto is by far my favorite city in Japan. Maybe even my favorite city in the world.
Kyoto has remained true to its traditional Japanese culture. You can still find locals embracing every part of their traditions – expect to see Kimonos and wooden sandals worn by locals wherever you go.
I’m almost surprised Kyoto is not the capital of Japan.
Who knows? I loved this place so much that my next visit could be permanent.
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