04.01.2014 - 05.01.2014 6 °C
Kyoto was next stop on the journey for the next couple of nights. We arrived around lunch time on Saturday, and spent the afternoon wandering around the shopping area through narrow arcades well in everything from local sweets and dried fish, through to shoes and beanies. With some bargains on offer, we spent some time looking at and trying on some shoes. Whilst I was quite happy with the couple of pairs of shoes I picked up, Sam was becoming increasingly grumpy as it became apparent shoes in her size are difficult to find in Japan. One size bigger than the maximum women's shoe size here, yet also one size smaller than the men's shoes, she was trapped in shoe purgatory.
Whilst I was pleased with the shoe purchases, I was most excited about finding a specialty knife shop in the Nishiki markets. Buying a handcrafted carbon steel knife was one of my key items on my list for this trip, so I was pretty chuffed to pick up not only a general purpose double edged knife, but also a single edge sashimi knife to take home with me. Fortunately the man at the store wrapped them up fairly tightly, so I am not tempted to try them out whilst still in Japan, which my fingers and travel insurer is probably most happy about.
That evening Kurt, Yuka and Luca made the journey up from Osaka to meet us for dinner, which was good to be able to spend some time with them again before we headed off towards Tokyo and then onto home.
The next day in Kyoto we had an early start for our cycle tour. Whilst it was pretty chilly on the bike (about 4 degrees and a few snowflakes) it was a nice change up from walking and a good way to get around the city and visit a couple of temples and shrines. Our guide was fantastic, and as we were the only two people booked on the tour we were able to customise it a bit, and we stopped off for tea and local Kyoto sweets to warm up during the tour.
Following the cycle tour we ventures south to he Fushiinari Shrine, or te shine of a thousand tori gates. It was jam packed with both tourists and locals as part of new year celebrations, but it was a pretty cool shine to visit and quite unique. From there it was onto another unique temple, this time to the Kinkakuji temple with the golden pavilion.
For the evening, we spend some time wandering around the Gion area, hoping to catch a glimpse of a geisha along the way. As the main school is currently closed for New Years we were told it would be difficult to see any this time, however luck was on our side and we were fortunate to see one geisha in full dress along the way.
It's now back on the Shinkansen, next stop Hakone.