This is an auto-post as we are away travelling again today. Back soon!)
When we decided to take a trip to Tokyo, we thought we’d try and squeeze in a trip to Kyoto as well. MC Senior had learnt a little bit about it in school a couple of years ago and she was very keen to visit.
However, when we started looking for accommodation, we couldn’t find any! It so happened that it was the start of Spring break and the locals were travelling too.
Luckily, as I googled for interesting things to do around Kyoto, I chanced upon the town of Nara, about an hour away. It turned out that Nara is home to some very historical temples, and is home to a community of artists. But the clincher was the photos of deer roaming free within the grounds of the shrine. The MC’s took one look and decided we HAD to visit Nara.
Oh hai! The deer were once considered messengers of the gods and had divine status.
We even managed a day trip to Kyoto, so it all worked out perfectly in the end.
Enjoy the pics!
More gratuitous cherry blossom pics.
Todaiji temple and the Nandaimon gate.
The picturesque grounds of the temple attract artists and photographers.
Inside the temple, we saw a line of people, mostly children waiting to crawl through a hole in a support pillar. Not being able to read Japanese, we figured it was for good luck. However, I have since found out, according to this site, it is believed that crawling through the pillar guarantees you a place in heaven (or should that be nirvana?).
I think this is the first time I've seen Hello Kitty paired with a religious figure! (Souvenior sold in the grounds of the temple.)
Cool kids at the back of the bus. We found the best way to get around Nara was to get a day-pass for the bus (available from the information counter in the train station). That way, we could hop-on and off as many times as we liked.
The Kasuga-Taisha shrine is home to hundreds of lanterns and worth a visit.
The deer roam around hoping to score deer-crackers from visitors. If you don't want to be mobbed, hold both hands up to show your empty palms and they'll leave you alone.
We stumbled upon this ramen shop one night. Nothing was in English but luckily the people behind the counter had enough words to explain what type of soup bases were on offer from a limited menu. It was probably the best ramen I have had. I can't give you an address but I can tell you it was around the corner from the Nara-Komachi Guesthouse where we stayed.
Rather than stay in a faceless hotel, we opted for this guesthouse. It was like a modern day backpackers hostel. We had our own little room with four bunks and a tiny attached bathroom. It was clean, tidy and lots of fun. Our host spoke English and most importantly, he handed us a hand drawn map marked out with lots of restaurants to try (the ramen place wasn't on the map but I'm guessing it was because of the lack of an English menu).
Pretty ladies strike a pose in Kyoto.
In Kyoto, we decided to check out the Kiyomizudera temple and chanced upon a ceremony involving a procession of priests carrying a dragon. Surprisingly, we found it a little more difficult to get around in Kyoto compared to Tokyo and Nara. The train lines within the city were limited and trying to work out the bus routes were a little tricky. We ended up trekking a long way from the train station to the temple, battling crowds of people. After we left for the day, we were very glad we had decided to stay in the "sleepy" town of Nara instead.
Wandering around the streets of Kyoto, we found this cute little creperie (Creperie Garcon) . It fit only 6 people at a time, and we had a delightful tea-time of crepes and champagne (not for the kids!), while chatting to some locals.