Friday, 20 February 2009


Going from one extreme to another we left the futuristic madness of Tokyo and headed west to Kyoto. There just seemed to be endless amounts of temples, palaces and pagodas in Kyoto to the point where it would take a good week to fit them all in. We were going to have a pretty busy few days there as we wanted to fit in as much as we could.

First thing we did was to head over to Kyoto`s imperial palace. I decided as the weather wasn't too bad we may as well walk there. From our hostel it was a pretty long way but thought it would be a good way to see a lot of the city at a pretty decent pace. Well after the 45 minute walk on arrival we found out that you needed a permit to enter from the"Imperial household agency of Kyoto" and at the time had no idea where it was so scrapped our plans to go there after wasting about an hour finding the place. After a quick check of the map we saw the Manga museum for fairly near by so headed there to hopefully learn a bit more about the Japanese wonder that is Manga.

The Manga museum was pretty decent really although I would have described it as more of a library than a museum as while there were several rooms detailing a bit of history regarding Manga it was mainly just full of bookshelves of Manga which people could come and read as they wish. There was a small English section in the library so I looked through a few of the tittles and found Battle Royale vol.15. I`d seen the film so I thought I'd give the Manga version a read. I managed to read the whole thing in about half an hour and while I probably wouldn't have been able to work out what was going on if I hadn't see the film by the end of it I had got well into it and really enjoyed it. I`ve always been fairly interested in Manga so it was good to finally get the chance to sit down and read some properly but I don`t think I will be making a habit of it.

After about a hour or so at the Manga museum we grabbed a bit to eat and headed off to see Nijo Castle. Luckily you didn't need a permit to get in just 600 yen. The castle was nice although you we rent aloud to take photos inside which is always rubbish and also like most places in Japan you weren't allowed to wear shoes inside and I had to wear these stupid one size fits all slippers which turn me into a total spaz so either lose one or stumble every other step. Despite that thought the tour was awesome and you got a real sense of the grandness of the whole place. The castle had some pretty big gardens attached to it. It was a pretty cold and miserable day while we were there but were still nice to walk around.

While in Kyoto we also made our way to the Kinkakuji Pavilion. This was an amazing golden pavilion at the very top of Kyoto surrounded by awesome gardens. This has probably been my favorite sights out of all the things I've seen here it was quality and it just didn't look real. It Took about 2 hours to work there though which was a right mission considering I could have just got the bus but the pavilion looked so good it was totally worth the ridiculous walk.

We were staying in the Gion area which is quite an old skool district where it isn't uncommon to see geisha walking around. We thought one evening we would go see a geisha show at Gion corner. It's cost ¥3000 and was a total waste of money. Was far to short only like 40 minutes and showed a traditional Japanese ceremony, some Japanese comedy and dancing and music which was nice by for the money was definitely not worth it. Got my photo with some geisha though, although I think I look a bit scared to be with them though.

On the last day before me headed off to Hiroshima we managed to acquire a permit to go round the Kyoto imperial palace. Unfortunately we could only get a Japanese speaking tour so had no idea what was going on. The place was alright. I thought as you needed a permit it would be pretty sweet but no, it was good but you'd think if you had to apply for entry it would be unreal. Best bit about it was when Tommy on the outside breached the perimeter fence setting of an alarm and a voice to come on over a loud speaker saying something in Japanese over and over. I LOL'ed.

Looking back Kyoto was great. Was a bit disappointed how built up it was but the temples were surprisingly peaceful which meant you didn't really feel like you were in the city which did make up for I guess. Definitely pleased I went though.