Since I landed in Japan it’s been all go. Every day has been full of stuff, lots of walking around which is totally understandable because I’m on holiday and I’m like thousands of miles away from home. Today I got three trains for a 4 hour trip to the next destination Fujinomiya. I’m staying in this little, old hotel that is super dated but at least clean. But I got here at like 2 pm, got into my room and just lay down. Mount Fuji is under a blanket of clouds, it’s going to rain heavily all afternoon and honestly, I just need a little break. So today I will eat food and chill out and sleep heavily so that tomorrow I am ready to run around seeing if I can will all these clouds away and perhaps explore Fujinomiya a little more. Just for the record, I knew Mount Fuji was big but up close it’s absolutely massive. Even covered in clouds it takes up the whole horizon.
You want to hear about yesterday though. Oh, Kyoto. I love you and you tired me the hell out from all the walking. My number one thing to do in Kyoto was going to Fushimi Inari Taisha and walk all the way up the mountain through the red gates. I know this is a super popular tourist spot so I was up early and out to get a good start on everyone. Honestly, this place is so magical. I’ve seen lots of these torii gates on my travels but to see so many set out in such a way was just awesome. Walking through them was like entering another world. The path is dotted with tea houses and rest stops, where you can have ice cream, a drink and catch your breath. I was on my own most of the way up with maybe a handful of people passing me by every now and then and it was so peaceful. I was on the lookout for monkeys because I AM ALWAYS LOOKING FOR MONKEYS, but alas there was none. I am proud of getting to the top and not needing my inhaler. I’m a super out of shape person with a respiratory issue and I made it to the top, so if you’re thinking it might be too hard think again.
After that, I had a slight panic attack because there was too much to see and not enough time and I felt like I was just wasting time by not planning better. But honestly, all the planning in the world couldn’t fit everything I wanted to do into one day unless I had a car. I stopped at a little side street stall and had a roasted chestnut soft serve ice cream and calmed down. Sometimes you just have to do what you can and I decided to walk around and visit shrines and temples on the way to Gion. I’m glad I calmed down and got back on track because I saw some absolutely beautiful places. Some were very full of people out in kimono and having photo sessions and some, one temple, in particular, were entirely empty and it felt like I was just walking around by myself in complete calm. Take more days in Kyoto than I did, take a whole week, stay there and never leave.
Gion is a super interesting place because you feel like you’ve gone back in time. Walking down all these winding side-streets that are accentuated with bright pink blossom poking over high wooden fences. It’s a wonderful place to just wander around. I stopped in to the Starbucks, which is built to reflect the old Japanese architecture around it, and had a Sakura Latte which was just a very comforting sweet milk drink. Gion was where I’ve actually encountered the most tourists including one family of like 20 people who took about 30 mins taking photos on a bridge. Everyone does their holidays in their own way! I have seen some people doing really dumb things though, touching and spinning exhibits in museums that have large signs in English saying DO NOT TOUCH, or puling at the bamboo again where it says DO NOT TOUCH, or putting their feet up on super old structures to tie their laces where again it is signposted to not do so. It’s very easy to be courteous to the place you’re in and I am shocked when people just ignore things.
I went to the Kyoto International Manga Museum after this. Being in Japan has sparked my drawing light again and when I’m in Tokyo I’m going to pick up some supplies to take home. The Manga museum had a collection that you can read, which is the main attraction here. They have rooms where they have cosy looking places to lie down and read and the whole place is full of comfy chairs and spaces to sit and read. There was also a great exhibition on the history of Manga and how it has spread internationally. At the end of it, I got my portrait done by a manga artist, and although my mum thinks the nose is all wrong I think it is all perfect and I love it! The shop was full of good things but I’m holding off till I go to Akihabara. GOD, I HOPE THAT HOODIE IS THERE. I am dreaming about that hoodie I saw the other day.
It’s been a jam-packed and fun few days in Kyoto but I am still shattered from it all and am going to take my low key days in Fujinomiya and Atami to the fullest and relax before my last jam-packed week in Tokyo. I’ve been a little worried about Tokyo. The punk festival was canceled because of coronavirus and then Disneyland closed too which was our backup plan. But I’m confident whatever happens we’ll have the most fun! Looking forward to being back in Tokyo and being able to sort out all my luggage.
AH MY HERO ACADEMIA IS ON THE TV! I AM SO EXCITED. OKAY BYE. OH NO I DON’T THINK I’VE SEEN THIS ONE AND NOW I KNOW WHAT HAPPENS TO ERI-CHAN. It’s kind of cool just stumbling across a show I love on regular TV in Japan.
Maryam Hassan is a 32 year old Photographer, Montessori Teacher, Wearer of Yellow from London who transplanted herself to Chicago in 2015. She likes punk music, hash browns, animal facts and mangoes.
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