Wooow, this title is so long! *0* But well, we did so much on this day! Prepare yourself, it’s going to be a long post. ‘Even longer than the previous posts?’ -_-“ Yes. ^^’
On Saturday morning we woke up so early! I believe it was 4:45 am when the alarm clock went off. =_= But well, it was for a good cause because we were going to Kyoto! Going to Kyoto had been our dream for a long time and now we would spend 1½ day there! And we would take the famous Shinkansen aka the Bullet Train there! So we got dressed, got our last things and left the hotel. We bought some drinks from a vending machine and then went on our way to Shinjuku station, from where we took the Marunouchi line to Tokyo station.
Tokyo before 6 am. It was quite peaceful…
Once we had arrived there, the searching began. Our train, the Hikari Shinkansen, would depart at 7:03 am and we had plenty of time, but we needed to find the right platform first. I saw a lot of signs guiding us towards the Shinkansen part of the station, but the signs did not say which ‘brand’ of train was where. So while walking, I kept asking station staff where to go. The more I asked, the further we got. Eventually, we arrived at the right station, 30 minutes in advance! ^^
We made it to the right platform! I was a bit relieved here. ^^
We sat down and had breakfast. It wasn’t a lot of food, but it was nice to finally eat something. While we ate, we observed the people around us. The platform was quite quiet; some people walked around, but not a lot. I had never seen Tokyo so calm.
My simple, but nice breakfast.
Not long after, our train arrived! It looked smooth, futuristic and above all: fast! :3 I forgot to take pictures unfortunately, but on the way back I did. ^^
We entered the train and while my mom sat down at the window, I went to check if this really was the right train (hey, you never know!?). The train didn’t really look like I had expected it: I thought it would look modern and quite luxurious, but these were just… normal seats in a simple designed train. It was quite strange. I wasn’t disappointed or anything, I had just expected otherwise. ^^
The Hikari Shinkansen from the inside. Quite simple, don’t you think?
Some more people joined us in the compartment and after a while, quite suddenly, the train started driving! And even though it was still in the station, it was already quite fast! After stopping at one more station in Tokyo itself, the train shot into the open and drove at full speed. Oh my God, this train is so fast! I thought the Thalys to Paris is quite fast, but it is nothing compared to the Shinkansen!
To be honest: there is not much to say about the train ride itself. We were so tired we slept a part of it and when we didn’t sleep, we just enjoyed the beautiful landscapes we passed. We did squeal when we saw Mount Fuji in the not so far away distance!
Majestic Mount Fuji. I love how the country is all flat around it and then, boom, mountain!
Because we were hungry after all, we got some chocolate, coffee and water from the food trolley (the candy was really good and looked just like the chocolate on the packaging). The trolley lady entered and left the compartment bowing, all dressed in her cute lavender apron uniform.
The almond chocolate was surprisingly delicious!
After a while, my mom got motion sickness from the train movement, so we switched places. Then we slept again, haha. x)
Finally, we arrived in Kyoto! We left the train and found ourselves in a big, bright hall with lots of windows. We made sure we got everything and soon our train departed again without us. I loved how the train conductor hung out of his small window until the train made speed. It looked quite funny. XD
I love the difference between the modern train and the traditionally dressed women in this picture.
We took our suitcases down the escalators and then the searching for our hotel began. We would stay in the New Miyako Hotel, but well… lots of things were called ‘New Miyako’ for some reason. ^^’ I asked someone the way and luckily, the man understood where we wanted to go. We followed his directions and walked through a long hall of shops and restaurants until we walked outside and saw our hotel in the distance!
We crossed the street and entered the hotel. Wow, it was so fancy! There was a doorman who greeted everyone who walked in and out and there were ladies in uniforms who took your luggage for you to your room! There was a courtyard garden* with fountains and the toilet walls were all shiny and pretty. *_* Since it wasn’t check in time for us yet, we dropped off our luggage and sat down in a couple of chairs to make a plan for our sight-seeing day. After looking at my maps, we decided to go to Fushimi Inari first! In case you don’t know what that is: Fushimi Inari is a shrine dedicated to Inari, the Shinto god of rice. It is famous for its mountain trails with thousands of bright red torii gates. You can see them in movies like Memoirs of a Geisha and my mom and I have been dying to see it for a long time! We also decided to go to Kinkakuji, the golden temple, after that. So we went on our way!
We went back to Kyoto station and there I went looking for the right train line. I can tell you in advance: Kyoto station is, in my opinion, much less organized than stations in Tokyo. I’ve had a lot of trouble finding the right trains there, pfew. -_-
Anyway, after I asked someone for directions we found the right train. Luckily we could use our Suicas here as well, that was definitely a plus. We got into the train (after checking again with someone if this was the right one) and two stations later, we got out at station Inari.
I wasn’t sure how far the entrance to the shrine grounds would be from the station, so I was hoping we would find it soon. Not knowing the first tori gate to the grounds was like right in front of the station! That was nice. :3
The first gate, leading to Fushimi Inari!
We walked under the first gate and were already in awe: up the hill we could see the next gate with a beautiful building behind it and the road up there was surrounded by trees and lanterns. Also, the sun was shining and the air was so blue! Everything looked pretty! ♥
My mom and I matched again. ^^
We took a lot of pictures already and reached the other gate and everything was just so beautiful! I have no idea how to describe it. The buildings, the grounds, the surroundings… Everything looked wonderful! I walked up to a water basin where you could wash your hands by using one of those pan-like wooden spoons. I don’t know why, but I love doing it. Also, it was refreshing. ^^
I really love this ritual so much!
We walked on and soon found a map of the grounds (it was quite hard to miss). We quickly found the right way to go to the mountain trails and went on.
This map was so clear and colourful. ^^
We crossed the grounds and passed many beautiful buildings. Usually I try my best to describe what the places I visited looked like, but this… this place is so hard to describe. Just imagine pretty, Japanese-style buildings in lots of red, white and brown colours. ^^
We walked up a couple of stairs, passed some stalls, petted a cute Dachshund (we love dogs too much, what can I say?) and finally arrived at the first row of torii gates. These were really big and impressive and so picture worthy! :3
These tori were really big and impressive!
We walked underneath the gates and then… we arrived at the senbon torii, ‘the thousands of torii gates’. It was so beautiful. ;_; There were two rows of red with black gates that went up the hill and they seemed to never end! The sun was shining through the trees, creating leave-like shadows and the most amazing picture setting. But well… we were not the only tourists there so to say. There were quite a lot of people walking around. My mom asked me:‘Do you have patience?’ ‘Of course!’ I said, so we just stood there, waiting for opportunities to take pictures without any other people. And we got rewarded. :3
Finally, walking under the famous red gates. It was like a dream come true! ✩
We waited multiple times for people to walk on or managed to take pictures in just the right angle. It was amazing to walk underneath the famous torii, it was just so pretty!
After we were satisfied with our pictures, we started following the trail. The atmosphere was peaceful despite the fact it’s a very touristic place. Ugh, I cannot describe how amazing being there was. *_* Of course we took many pictures during the walking as well.
Some nice pictures that give you a taste of the wonderful atmosphere under the tori. ♥
After a long time, we finally arrived at the end of the row of gates, where a small shrine was located. The walls of the shrine were covered in small wooden fox faces that people had drawn on themselves. It looked so cute!
I love how different all the drawing styles are!
There was a stall and a small shop, where I discovered a necklace with some kind of key-shaped hanger. It looked so pretty, I decided to buy it.
We continued our way underneath a row of much bigger torii. Every gate had black writings on the back. I had read that they contain the names of the families that donated the tori. Some gates looked much newer than others. A little further away there was a man who was just painting the writings on a new tori. He was very concentrated!
We arrived at an intersection and decided to go back. I had seen on a map this path would lead us back to the main grounds. Climbing the mountain takes about 2-3 hours and since my mom has asthma and we didn’t have that much time, we decided to return. We had seen what we came for and we were happy, so we walked down the path leading to the foot of the hill. We could see the senbon torii in the distance. They looked strange from the outside. Less magical, but I knew they contained an amazing secret from the inside… :)
We passed a lot of fox statues (foxes are believed to be the messengers of the god Inari) and one of them was holding the same key-shaped item as the hanger on my necklace! Of course I took a picture of it.
Taking a picture of my buddy the messenger fox. :3
We passed a beautiful sakura tree and finally arrived back at the main grounds. There, my mom and I browsed some stalls. My mom bought a miniature tori, but only after I persuaded her. She was doubting about buying it! You cannot leave Fushimi Inari without such a great souvenir! I myself bought some super cute candy and two key chains: one for my mom and one for myself.
We walked down the hill but took a right this time, passing some food stalls. There was one with cute candy, one with takoyaki (I would have loved to buy some, but I never really trust fried food from street stalls) and one with taiyaki! I had been wanting to try taiyaki for ages, so we ended up getting two with some kind of yellow cream. It turned out to be sweet! The hot texture of the cookie-like fish and the warm cream were absolutely delicious! :3
Finally I can cross ‘try taiyaki’ off my to do-list. It was so good!
We found ourselves in a street that led back to the station when we passed a drinks vending machine. We wanted to get something, but we weren’t sure the machine was even on..? So we walked on. Luckily, just in front of the station we found a shop with another vending machine, so we decided to get some coke. But when we pushed the diet coke button, a can of iced coffee came out! O_O I don’t like coffee and my mom didn’t feel like it either, so I decided to ask the shop lady what to do. Well… ‘ask’… With my very limited knowledge of Japanese I tried to explain her I didn’t want coffee, but diet coke. After some very awkward minutes I think she finally understood me, since she walked outside with us and went to look for someone. After a few minutes of hanging around, an older man showed up who got us a bottle of coke for free and we got to keep the coffee! How sweet! ;_;
We entered the station and walked to the other platform via an amazing wooden bridge (well, it was probably not so special, but I thought it looked very old and amazing). Soon our train arrived and we got in. We sat down and the train departed. Suddenly my mom asked:
‘Are there any Lolita shops in Kyoto?’
‘Yes, two,’ I answered. ‘A Metamorphose shop and a Baby, the Stars Shine Bright.’
‘Oh, you hadn’t told me about them at all!’
‘Well, I didn’t think we’d want to visit them.’
And then my sweet mom said that since we were here now anyway, we should totally make use of this opportunity and go to the shops! ;_; Oh my mom… ♥
We arrived back at Kyoto station, where we noticed the amount of money on our Suica cards was going down rapidly, so after some asking around we found a machine to recharge them.
We followed the signs to the bus station. Unfortunately, after asking a friendly man behind a counter, our Suica cards wouldn’t work for the bus. But we could easily buy tickets on the bus itself. After the man explained to us at which ‘bus door’ we had to wait at, we went on our way again. We arrived at a sort of hallway in a concrete tunnel, with several doors with signs above them. Apparently every bus that arrived would stop at its own door. Very convenient! Soon our bus arrived and we got in. We walked up to the driver and asked for two tickets to Kinkakuji, but somehow this wasn’t possible? The bus driver didn’t speak any English (surprise, surprise…), but didn’t want to give us any tickets either! It was quite awkward and neither of us knew what to do, until we got saved by a friendly tourist lady who explained to us that you had to put the right amount of coins into a special little machine at the end of the ride! She showed us what to do and we understood. I was so grateful she was there to
save us! *_*
We sat down and the bus started driving. Riding through Kyoto soon made it clear that this city does not only consist of old buildings made of wood. Many buildings were very modern, but not like… ‘Tokyo modern’.
Finally, we arrived at the right station, gave the driver our money (since we didn’t have coins, but there was a special coins exchange machine, how handy!) and got out together with the nice tourist lady. We stepped into the warm, bright sun and the bus left again without us.
I didn’t have to look around for long, since I quickly spotted a sign that said ‘Kinkakuji’. We crossed the street, followed a line of tourists and soon walked under a gate, leading to some sort of pretty garden. At the end of the path there was another gate, where we had to pay our entrance fees. At first I thought we had to pay 1000 yen each, which I thought was quite a lot. But well, we were there and we wanted to see the Golden Pavillion, so okay. But the entrance fee turned out to be 400 yen each, yay!
We followed our fellow tourists, walked under a gate and immediately found ourselves at a place I had seen in thousands of pictures: standing across from the Golden Pavillion. Sometimes pictures can be deceiving, but this place was exactly like I had imagined. I think our pictures will clarify what I mean: they look like tourist folder pictures!
The golden pavilion, in all its glory! *_*
There really is not much to say about this place, other than that it was gorgeous! The pavilion looked amazing in the sun, against the green of the trees.
My mom being all touristy. ^^
We were definitely not the only ones taking pictures: there were a lot of tourists and school trips. One group of girls asked several Western people to take pictures together and I ended up taking pictures with them too. They were so sweet! ♥
Together with the cute school girls! ♥
Since you couldn’t walk around the entire pavilion, we walked the same way back but went left this time. We walked around the backside of the building and took many pictures. I was really hypnotized by this place: it was as if the pavilion wasn’t really there, as if it didn’t really exist. But at the same time it looked so real!
The pavilion from the back, much closer. Doesn’t it look fascinating?
We walked up a path and ended up at a really old tea house. A little further away was a little bar where you could get green tea and there were some little shops. I bought some cute key chains (surprise) and a beautiful fan as a gift for one of my friends.
We walked down the hill, past several cute food stalls, until I spotted a little ice cream bar in the distance that served typical ‘duo ice creams’, ice creams with two flavours. My mom didn’t want anything, so I bought one for myself. When the boy behind the counter said my ring was cute, I got all flushed. He was good-looking as well! *o*
We sat down on a bench to get some forced rest. We talked, I ate my ice cream and we looked around. A family sat down across from us with their ice creams, but the mom got scared of a pigeon. It was quite funny. XD
I finished my ice cream and we went on our way again. We walked down the hill and left the Kinkakuji grounds.
We walked back in the direction of the bus stop, but when we walked around the corner our bus just left. I looked up and suddenly made eye contact with a girl a little further away… and I let out a scream of surprise and excitement, causing my mom to have an almost-heart attack. It was Lunie! I couldn’t believe my eyes! I knew she was in Japan of course; we had tried to set up a little meeting, but our schedules clashed too much. To meet her here and now was such an amazing coincidence it was almost surreal! We talked a bit about our trips and that we would probably meet again in Paris. It was so nice! Lunie always looks so stylish and she is a total sweetheart! ♥
Ignore my weird face please. ^^’ At least Lunie looks charming as ever! ♥
We said goodbye again and my mom and I took the bus back to Kyoto station. From there, we went on to our hotel. It was past check in time and we wanted to have some rest before we went on for more sightseeing. We passed a cute bakery and got some bread rolls
After we checked in at the hotel, a lovely lady put our suitcases onto a cart and went all the way up to the eight floor with us. She showed us how to use the key and put our suitcases inside. Such service! *_* Our room was really nice, even more spacious than our Tokyo room. It even had a table and two chairs!
The room was cosier than this picture shows you, but just to give you an idea. ^^
We sat down and ate our bread rolls, while I checked the Japan folder on my laptop to see where the Lolita shops were located. Suddenly I remembered my mom had said she would like to visit the Nishiki Market: a very long roofed market with tons of different stalls. Since the market would close down at 6 pm, I suggested to leave the hotel at 5 pm to see if we could catch some of the atmosphere. So at 5 pm we left the hotel again, on our way to the
After we found our metro line (Kyoto station is just… ugh) we got out at Kawaramachi station and quickly found the Teramachi shopping arcade, a roofed shopping street where one of its side streets is the Nishiki Market.
The Teramachi shopping arcade.
Coincidentally, the Metamorphose shop was located in the Teramachi shopping arcade. While we followed the signs to Nishiki Market, I looked around to find the shop, but I didn’t see it. I had heard it was hard to find at first and we weren’t really looking for it yet, so it didn’t matter. We walked into a street on the left and entered the Nishiki Market. My mom got all happy and excited, because this was exactly the kind of thing she likes. On both sides of the narrow, roofed street were little shops and stalls next to each other.
A little look into the atmosphere of the Nishiki market.
Even though lots of stalls were already getting ready to close down, the market-like atmosphere was still very present and we passed the most amazing stalls. They sold the weirdest things, from food that looked like cucumbers dipped in peanut butter to potatoes on a stick. And even though lots of stalls sold fish, there was no nasty fish smell. We walked and walked, there didn’t seem to be an end! Not that it was a bad thing, because the market was totally awesome!
Some examples of shops and stalls we passed.
At a certain point, my mom nudged me towards a shop that sold all kinds of socks, including the most amazing transparent ones! I was so glad my mom had shown me: I ended up buying six pairs! They were just too cute. ♥ The shop owner was also really kind. ^^
Eventually, we arrived at the end of the market. My mom bought a cute make up bag in one of the last shops (where we encountered some fellow Dutch people, but they weren’t very… enthusiastic).
Since we had walked down the entire Nishiki Market, we had to walk all the way back to the Teramachi street to find the Metamorphose shop. We decided to walk back on the outside street, which was very nice as well. We passed a lot of nice shops, including a Lush with a weird, tube-like entrance.
We arrived at the Teramachi street and entered. We looked around well, until my mom finally spotted a glass window with a Lolita dress behind it. Yay, Metamorphose! We walked up the stairs, entered a tiny hallway with a Metamorphose letter box, entered a tiny elevator and arrived at the Metamorphose shop, ‘very hidden’ as my mom would say.
We entered the shop and were greeted by an adorable shop girl in a sailor outfit. She looked really cute! There was also another customer, wearing awesome shoes.
The shop was very beautiful: there was a lovely red carpet and the white cupboards and mirrors with golden frames gave the shop a vintage look.
The Metamorphose shop in Kyoto! ♥
I browsed the clothes a bit with my mom. Metamorphose dresses are always a hit or miss with me: either I hate it or I love it. There were some really lovely items, but nothing drew my attention in particular.
My mom was a bit tired and asked if she could sit on the chair close to the door, which was fine. I browsed the accessories when suddenly, I spotted a beautiful long chain necklace with a silver chandelier hanging from it. I immediately fell in love! They also had a gold version, but my mom and I both agreed the silver version was the prettiest. While I was paying, I complimented the shop girl on her outfit. Did I mention she was really cute? *o* ♥
After we were done, the shop girl guided us back to the elevator and waved us goodbye. This was not my first time being guided out of a shop after making my purchase, but being guided back into the elevator was a first. XD It was nice nonetheless. Once downstairs, I had to take a purchase picture of course. :3
My very first brand new Metamorphose purchase! *o*
We exited the Teramachi shopping street and entered the street where Baby, the Stars Shine Bright was supposed to be located. But it soon become clear this was not the right place. We walked around the building I had marked on my map and entered a very normal shopping centre. I had no idea whether Baby would be located here, but we tried anyway. We took an elevator up to a floor that sounded the most logical out of all the options (ladies’ fashion), but nope, no Baby. Back at the elevators I tried to find the shop’s name on the floor guide there, but I couldn’t remember the right katakana signs. Luckily, there was a girl standing next to us who was also looking at the floor guide, so I asked her if she could find it and she did! ^^
We went up to the right floor and we found the shop. It seemed to be in the middle of a shopping aisle surrounded by very ‘normal’ stores, but it was unmistakably Baby, with its red carpet, recognizable logo and (two) cute shop girls. My mom and I browsed the shop and admired some dresses, but again: nothing caught my interest in particular. Until my mom pointed out a beautiful, big, white square bag with a bow on it. She suggested I could use it as a school bag and when we read the price, the deal was sealed! Especially because some of the other, smaller and simpler bags were much more expensive!
The sweet shop girls wrapped the bag beautifully, guided us out of the store and thanked us for our purchase. *^^*
With my purchase! You can see the Baby shop in the distance.
What we should have done at this point was looking for a restaurant and have dinner. That’s what we should have done. But when we exited the shopping centre I noticed how close Gion, the Geisha district was, and we were too excited to think rationally. So on our way we went, which turned out to be… a bit of a mistake. Oh well.
We crossed the river and kept walking while it became darker and darker. To be honest: I had no idea where we had to go at a certain point. Suddenly we spotted a gate and entered a beautiful, what seemed to be a very old street. I had no idea where we were or whether this was the actual Gion area, but it did resemble pictures I had seen, so we continued walking. Thinking about it now, I think we were in Hanami-koji, which was exactly the place I wanted to visit, so that’s a good thing!
Hanami-koji. It looked almost magical in the dark!
The street was lined with old houses with rice paper blinds, there were lanterns everywhere, posters of geishas… and cars. We didn’t understand it at all, but for some reason cars were allowed in this beautiful street with no clear distinction between side walk and car road. And they drove pretty fast! But well.
Despite the darkness, we managed to take some pretty nice pictures! It was amazing to walk there.
One of the houses we passed. It looked so amazing, almost… unreal!
I was just thinking of how amazing it would be to encounter a maiko or a geiko, when suddenly I spotted one in the side street we just passed! I think she was a maiko. She wore a beautiful light green kimono and looked overall amazing. Since I didn’t want to throw my camera in her face but politely ask her for a picture, I carefully approached her and started my question. Buuut she fully ignored me and walked on. XD Oh well, I cannot blame her. I’ve heard stories of rude tourists ambushing maikos and geikos, but still… I really wanted to ask for permission. ;_;
This beautiful poster was everywhere. I thought this one looked particularly enchanting, illuminated by the red lantern.
We walked on for quite a while, went into a side street, went back to the main street and that’s when we started to realize how tired we were getting. We had been up since a ridiculously early hour of course and we hadn’t eaten that much. So we decided to go back in the direction of the Teramachi street and find Pontocho, a famous small street with lots of restaurants.
Somehow the walk back seemed way longer than the walk to Gion. My feet and calves were hurting so much from all the walking. Finally, we arrived at a street with a banner hanging above it and after asking, I confirmed that this was in fact Pontocho.
A look into Pontocho.
Now, it truly was a lovely street to walk through with lots of cute restaurants and buildings, but… at this point I had gotten so tired I couldn’t think straight anymore! I just wanted to eat and then sleep! So when I discovered all the menus were in Japanese only (or you had to go inside and ask for an English menu) and there were no windows with fake food anywhere, I didn’t know what to do anymore. Eventually my mom, who was exhausted as well, suggested to go back to Kyoto station and find a restaurants there, which I accepted gratefully.
So we took the metro back and slumped through Kyoto station. Now, at this point I was so tired I was at the verge of crying, so as a last resort we decided to go to McDonald’s. But when we entered the restaurant and there were no empty seats left and the beeping of the ovens seemed to be ten times louder than usual, I just wanted to sit down against a wall with my arms over my head and wait until it was over. I was starting to have a serious
‘You pick something,’ I told my mom. ‘I can’t go on anymore.’ So my mom took me to the pasta restaurant across from the McDonald’s, where I gratefully sat down on my chair and didn’t have to think about anything other than what to eat anymore. We had crossed our lines. We should have known better.
The only thing I can say is that we learned the hard way that we need a resting point somewhere during the day and that we need to have dinner on time! The days after, we finally took some more wise decisions. ^^’
I chose a pasta with red sauce and mozzarella while my mom chose pasta carbonara. I was so happy when our food arrived! And even though it was probably because we were super hungry, the food tasted amazing! ♥
Finally, food! ;_;
After dinner we slumped back through the restaurants corridor, stopped by the bakery to get some bread rolls and jelly puddings and then finally, we arrived back at our room and fell down on our beds.
Despite my super tiredness, the bed worked wonders and I soon felt better. We ate our bread rolls (Melon pan for me, although it didn’t taste as good as the one from the Hokuo back in Tokyo) and our jelly puddings. Since we had forgotten to bring spoons, we ate them with the small plastic coffee stir sticks that came with the hotel tea- and coffee set. Later we discovered the bakery staff had put plastic spoons into our bags. Oops. XD
We skyped with my dad and brother at home, I took pictures of my purchases and then we went to bed. It had been an awfully tiring, but fantastic day!
Purchases of the day