We arrived in Kyoto in the afternoon and checked into hotel Hotel Gracery Kyoto Sanjo. The hotel was in a pretty good location, but it was a bit weird to have a shower in one room, toilet in another, and sink in the main room. The room was also kind of small, but otherwise very clean.
I had to spend a couple of hours working, so the afternoon passed me doing just that and we headed out for dinner around six.
We first tried to get a table in an izakaya called Apollo Plus, but it was fully booked. We thought that this was a good sign and booked a table for our last day in Kyoto. As Apollo was full, we kind of chose a restaurant at random and ended up in another izakaya (I think it is called 居酒屋あんじ 烏丸六角店), where we had to take our shoes off. Note to self, always have hole-free socks or pantyhose when going to a Japanese restaurant. Of course I was wearing pantyhose, which had a hole around one heel, but which wasn’t visible with shoes on. 😀
We were guided to our table and kind of left there. There was a menu on the table, but it was all in Japanese and had no pictures on it. We spent probably 10 minutes trying to decipher the menu with the help of Google Translate and after we were kind of decided on what what to point to the server, we flagged one and they went “Oh, English menu!” and brought us the English menu. 😀 After that it was much easier to order. 😉 The food ended up being okay, but not spectacular.
After dinner we decided to head back to the hotel and remarked how different Kyoto seemed from Osaka and Hiroshima. You could see many more tourists and more English in general, so Kyoto had a different feel from the two cities we visited before.
Next morning we had breakfast at a cafe called Franzè & Evans. Once again, we wanted to go to another cafe called something like Kissa Cafe (which is funny as in Finnish “kissa” means “cat” and in Swedish “to pee”) ;), but unfortunately it was closed and we needed to find something else. The food here was actually quite good and especially cupcakes looked amazing!
After eating we headed to see the Tenryu-ji garden and the famous Arashiyama Bamboo Groves. It was almost an hour bus ride until we reached our destination and you could tell that this was a popular tourist spot. It was a Tuesday, but the area was packed! There are plenty of temples to see in the area, but we wanted to enjoy some cherry blossoms and hopefully some peace.
Tenryu-ji garden was lovely despite some crowds there as well. It was a beautiful day and many trees were in full bloom.
After Tenryu-ji garden, we finally moved to Arashiyama Bamboo Groves and let me tell you that it looks nothing like on Instagram! 😀 There were soooo many people trying to pose in front of the bamboo trees and trying to pretend that there isn’t a huge crowd around them. You could have short moment where you weren’t surrounded by 100 people from all sides, but those were few and far between.
Also, I was imagining walking among the bamboo trees, but it was actually a path on which you had to stay at all times and the bamboo grove seemed to be just planted there as trees were in relatively neat rows. So, as I said pretty far away from what I imagined the place to be and now that I have been there, I really think it’s not worth the visit.
There was also a small Okochi Sanso garden, which had a small entrance fee, which I found to be the best. It wasn’t as spectacularly in bloom as Tenryu-ji garden, but it was extremely peaceful and enjoyable. The place where you could actually hear your thoughts instead of being pissed at people with selfie sticks blocking your path every ten steps.
At the end of the day, we managed to see also the Golden Pavilion. Here it was a bit of the same story. This is a popular sight and there were so many people just trying to get a selfie of themselves in front of the pavilion, that it became irritating pretty quickly. I don’t even mind the crowds, but it seems that I really mind waiting for every person to take their sweet time waiting not to have any other tourists in the photo. 😉
We took the bus back to Kyoto city center and looked for a restaurant serving some Japanese food we haven’t tried yet. We ended up choosing a restaurant called Shin where you can barbecue your meat and vegetables at the table and then you dip them in different sauces. The quality of meat was very good and we enjoyed something different for a change.
The restaurant was located near a very beautiful canal, which had cherry blossoms and the warm night and the moon made it all even more idyllic.
We walked back to the hotel enjoying night lights of Kyoto.