Wednesday, July 24, 2013


Since we didn't find Mr. Miyagi and Daniel-san in Okinawa we said goodbye and headed to Kyoto on July 16. We took a flight to Osaka and then a train to Kyoto. What we really should have done was stay in Osaka first and then head to Kyoto but the all resourceful internet led us astray. For some reason we thought there were no bullet trains from Kyoto to Tokyo. But that's not true. After waiting in a fairly long line to get train tickets, we made it to Kyoto station. Our hotel was conveniently located right across the street (at the Kyoto Tower Hotel) so that was nice since it's been over 5 weeks since we really had to carry our packs like backpacks. We're out of practice.

There are stores like this everywhere - usually the same kind of store next to each other

You know you're in Japan when there's a Pokemon plane on the tarmac

Bye bye Okinawa

Kyoto Station

We stayed at the Kyoto Tower Hotel - conveniently located across from the train station!

Kyoto Station

The next day on July 17, we headed out for some sightseeing.

We walked by the Higashi-Honganji Temple

You could see the Kyoto Tower in the background too

We happened to be here for the Gion Festival Parade

These floats, called yamaboko are two stories high and often referred to as "mobile art museums"

Parade participant

There were a lot of people in each

The floats were pretty cool looking - this one has a gold eagle!

We eventually made it to the Nijo Castle...but not before Paul did a little browsing at a sword shop.

We wanted one just in case of the zombie apocalypse but these were only decorative

Outside the castle

Inside the grounds of Nijo Castle (a UNESCO World Heritage Site)

Ninomaru Palace in the shoin-zukuri architectural style with Nightingale floors (they chirp when walked on) - that way the ninjas can't sneak up on you...just watch Ninja Assassin and you'll understand

Entering the Ninomaru Garden I caught Paul smelling the pine trees

The garden is a special place of scenic beauty (says the brochure)

Ninomaru Garden

Gate to Honmaru Garden

Here's a close up of the gate

Looking over the Honmaru Garden with mountains in the background

Mt. Atago in the background

Just reading the paper under a tree

Honmaru Palace

Ding-DONG! Anyone home? 

Seiryu-en Garden constructed in 1965 - one of two teahouses used for receptions for honored guests

We then headed towards the Kyoto Imperial Palace but made a pitstop at a pet store.

The most adorable puppy I've seen in a long time

I love this puppy - check out the video of them here

You weren't allowed to enter the Imperial Palace but we walked around the grounds.


Turtle just basking in the sun near the Itsukushima Shrine

He started to stare me down as I took more pictures

Walking towards the Imperial Palace

In front of the Kenrei-mida Gate

Ringing the bell at Seiwain-gomon Gate

Walking towards Gion (Geisha-town) the view of the mountains looked like a painting

A couple of geishas walking around

Some folks from the parade

I liked this building

Where's Paul?

Locals dressed in traditional clothes

On July 18, we visited the Fushimi Inari-taisha Shrine.

Inari is the god of rice - this shrine was founded in the year 711

Walking into the grounds

This fox is called kitsune and is regarded as a messenger

Torii - traditional Japanese gate

Double torii paths

Each torii is donated by a local Japanese business who wishes to have success

Business names engraved on the torii

Paul really loves this pose

It was pretty steep but we've climbed steeper

Paul says it's really no big deal

Here's the view from the top

Walking back down

Really pretty among all the trees

Then we kind of got lost in the forest

But found some lovely bamboo trees

We eventually found the train station

After our adventure at the Fushimi Inari Shrine, we headed back towards the city to see the Shosei-en Garden.

This garden is supposed to be prettier in the spring or fall

You could see the Kyoto Tower

Paul is too tall for these structures

Since we stayed at the Kyoto Tower Hotel, we had free passes to go up to the top. At the height of 100 meters, you could see the entire city!

Kyoto from the observation deck

Paul can't contain his excitement

It was a really clear day

Pretty views all around

All that green is the Shosei-en Garden

That's the Kyoto Station

Paul wanted to be the mascot, Tawawa-chan's baby

The mascot was surprised at Paul's violence

We got a free photo (wallet size) of us and Tawawa-chan

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