Today, was our last day in Hiroshima and the start of our Kyoto adventures. We left at 8:45 in the morning after our Western/Japanese style buffet breakfast and headed to Hiroshima Castle by bus. The castle was a military base before it was destroyed by the Hiroshima Atomic Bomb in 1945 and now holds many artifacts of the samurai. Things like samurai swords, military guns, armour and clothing were on display.
After exploring the castle, we were on our way to the Shinkansen headed towards Kyoto. We made a quick stop at the convenience store and bought some snacks for the 2 hour bullet train ride. Unfortunately, we were all scattered around the carriage, not sitting together, as the Shinkansen are heavily booked during a string of public holidays called “Silver Week” this week. We transferred Shinkansen at Shin-Osaka and then completed our last leg by a quick 15 minute ride to Kyoto.
After arriving at Kyoto, we headed off to Kiyomizudera Temple, where we spotted many people dressed in traditional Japanese clothes called kimono. Rhiannon, Evelyn and I took various selfies with them which was lots of fun. They were all very nice, looked beautiful, and some even wanted photos of us as well! Also because of Silver Week it was extremely busy and crowded.
We slowly made our way up to the Kiyomizudera Temple (it was up a steep hill and several flights of stairs) and paid our admission fee to enter. There were spectacular views all around us of mountains, the trees, and Kyoto city below. After visiting the temple, we made our way down the hill, occasionally stopping at the traditional shops on either side to take a look at the trinkets and souvenirs they had. One shop we stopped at had sold souvenirs and fabrics for 6 generations, with the same family still operating it! The owner told us that he hand-made all the things being sold. It was very cool and some of us made purchases there.
Afterwards, we made our way to Gion by bus to go Geisha spotting, but Hyde Sensei surprised us yet again! She had organised for us to meet a Maiko (an apprentice Geisha, or Geiko as they’re known as in Kyoto). The Maiko, Tomitaie made us traditional green tea and danced for us. After this, we asked her questions about her life as an apprentice Geiko, and took photos with her. This was a great opportunity for us to practice and show off our language skills! It turned out that she was the same Maiko that the Japan tour group met on their last tour two years ago! She told us that as of next year she will become a full Geiko after intense training as a Maiko for 4 years. It was very cool and such an amazing experience to be up close and personal with her. After our visit, she had to leave quickly for an appointment so we all said goodbye and attempted to find something for dinner before going to our new hotel which is a Japanese style Ryokan.
We walked around trying to find a place for Aidan as he begged Hyde Sensei to eat meat for dinner, but after almost half an hour walking around trying to find a shop that didn’t seems to exist, we gave up on our efforts and went to a cute little place that has been selling soba, udon and tempura for 35 years. It was delicious and Hyde Sensei and Mr Rosenblatt said it was the best tempura they have had on this trip so far! We made our way to our new hotel (we got our suitcases back; what. A relief!) after a long and full day of adventure, we are ready for our second day in Kyoto tomorrow.