WIT Agent Katrina returns with more stories from her travels to Japan late last year!
This is a continuation from a previous post by Katrina, which you can read here.
After spending the day with Matthew, I then took the high-speed train Shinkansen to Kyoto. Kyoto was once the capital of Japan and it shows in the city’s elegance.
I stayed at Enso Ango Fuya II, a 5-star Hyatt, which was smaller and more traditional than my stay in Tokyo. Lots of earth toned colors mixed with clean lines, and an atrium in the middle of the building with a delicate Japanese garden.
My room continued the theme. The bathroom was black. Black floor, ceilings, walls, and toilet. The shower was flush with the bathroom floor, separated only by a piece of glass. The sink was located in the main part of the room by the entrance and had ample counter space.
What I enjoyed the most was the window. The Enso didn’t have the luxury of amazing views like Tokyo, so what they did instead was frost the windows. It was both futuristic and comforting in a I’m-in-a-safe-little-pod sort of way. It felt like complete privacy, while maintaining bright natural light. You really felt the aesthetic of the room, secluded away from the real world.
The Breakfast, though quite small, more than made up with its ambient music. While you chew, you get to listen to whales over the sound system. It was, to say the least, a unique experience.
The only thing I’d say the two hotels have in common, is a great location. In Kyoto, the room came with a map of several neighborhood walking routes with little shops and restaurants circled along the way.
I walked all over Kyoto while I was there. I found countless shrines and temples (naturally, it is Kyoto after all), street markets, malls, and all the popular sites like the Philosopher’s Path and Fushimi Shrine.
I had 2 pre-scheduled tours for Kyoto, both booked through Avanti Destinations. The first was a 5-hour shared Nara Tour. I had a little trouble finding the tourist office to begin the tour, but I asked a stranger and they were kind enough to point it out.
The tour was to Nara, another ancient capital of Japan. Sixty of us tourists climbed onto a large coach bus and set off to experience two World Heritage Sites. The first was Todai-Ji Temple which is where the massive gold buddha statue resides. The other was Nara park where the wild deer roam about freely.
The temple looked ominous alone on a hill against dark grey clouds, but the Buddha sat grandly. Far taller than I’d previously imagined.
Unfortunately, since it was outdoors and there were so many of us, I had a difficult time hearing anything the guide said about the site. So, I primarily just wandered around and enjoyed the beauty.
To her credit, the guide sought me out while we meandered the deer park to chat. She showed me where to buy deer cookies and said that I was brave for feeding them.
In her experience, some of the deer can become a little aggressive when they know you have food. They will try to get it from you by nipping at your clothing to get your attention! I took her warning under advisement, but come on, when else would I get to hand feed and pet a wild deer? Definitely not in Portland. Thankfully, the deer and I got along just fine.
My second tour was a 5-hour private tour. My guide met me at my hotel and took me to Arashiyama. is a district on the outskirts of Kyoto, whose bamboo forest is famous for its beauty.
The guide was very knowledgeable and told me little facts here and there about the history and culture. He explained how the mountains are famous for their colors in the fall because there’s so many variations of reds, oranges, and yellows that paint the landscape. But he confessed that it’s not a natural occurrence, it’s man-made landscape design.
He offered to take me off the scheduled tour to show me snow monkeys, since I showed interest. It was quite the hike to get to the top of the hill but seeing the monkey’s made me forget it really quick!
Wild monkeys were all over the place and there was a little shack where I was able to buy a small bag of peanuts to hand feed the monkeys through a fence.
We ventured to multiple shrines and temples which were all gorgeous in their own right, and lastly, we went to the famous bamboo groves which were stunning.
When I left, I took the train to the Narita airport outside of Tokyo. All in all, I enjoyed Japan very much. I’m glad I took my friend’s advice to include Kyoto. Having the balance of the modern massive city with the quieter and more traditional Kyoto.
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