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Saturday, May 7, 2011

May 7th - Heading to Kyoto

When Aaron and I travel, we love to sleep in and have late breakfasts and take our time... but since we only had a limited time in Japan, we got up at 7:30am and said goodbye to Khaosan Fukuoka Hostel and took the bus to the train station so we could catch one of the first trains to Kyoto!

This train was outrageously expensive!  It was $175.00 to ride from Fukuoka to Kyoto Station. The 2 hour and 45 minute ride was wonderful though!  The seats were comfy, there was tons of leg room, and it sure beat a night bus!

The JR bullet train!

I'm on a Japanese train!

The views from the train were beautiful!  When I wasn't playing Solitaire and FlightCtrl on my iphone, I was enjoying Japan's gorgeous countryside!

The train stopped for a brief moment in Hiroshima.  I jumped off the train to snap this picture and almost didn't make it back on!

I was happy to see that Hiroshima is a beautiful city, despite the war all those years ago.

We made it to Kyoto around 11:15am and headed for the main bus stop just outside the GINORMOUS station!  Kyoto offers an all day bus pass for 500 yen a person ($6.20) which is wonderful considering each bus ride is 220 yen!  That could add up REALLY fast without an all day pass!

Our hostel was a short walk from the Gion bus stop.  As we were walking down the street towards our hostel, Aaron spotted his first beer vending machine!  His beer of choice for the trip was the Japanese Asahi.

Aaron was excited about the beer vending machines, but I was excited about this inovative Pepsi can/bottle thing!  It's a can on bottom, but a bottle on top! 

Our hostel owner recommended this Japanese noodle shop down the street to try for lunch!

We were huge fans!  When you walk in, you put your money in this machine, push the button for the meal you want and a small recipt pops out.  The server comes to your table, picks up the receipt and makes your noodles!  It's awesome!

Yummm, yummm, yummm!  Notice, green tea is served in the place of water!  AWESOME!

I slurped my noodles - but it's okay, because they do that in Asia!  Well, it would be okay if I wasn't with Aaron!  It's one of his biggest pet peaves! haha  I slurped quietly though! :)

 As soon as we walked out the door, we spotted this Japanese woman walking down the sidewalk in a beautiful Japanese kimono.  (Credit for this picture goes to Aaron!)

 I loved this antique shop... just didn't love the outrageous prices!  SHAME

We headed over to the nearby bus stop to catch a bus to the Toji Shrine!  I loved this thing!  It showed where your bus was and when it would arrive!

I was so excited to arrive back at the Toji Shrine.  Last time I was here I was terribly sick and had to leave to go to the hospital!  This time, I was good and well, and loved every moment!

This woman was sketching the famous pagoda shrine...

We paid 800 yen each ($10.00) to get into the garden surrounding the Toji Pagoda Shrine, but it was totally worth it!  An old Japanese man snapped this picture for us!  :)

There were so many turtles in the pond!

I snuck up behind this little guy and snatched him up for a picture!  When I placed him back on the rock he had earlier been perched on, he nervously skuttered away and ended up doing a front flip into the water and swimming away!  Sorry little buddy!  Didn't mean to scare you!

There are two large temples near the garden, filled with ancient buddhist statues like this one.

We couldn't get enough of this garden!  It was so beautiful!

Have you ever seen a flower this big?!

 The Toji Shrine Temple...

We caught a bus from outside the Toji Shrine and headed north west to Kinkaju - The Golden Pavillion, but stopped here at Kannon-Ji along the way!  We saw it from the bus and jumped off at the next stop to check it out!

The entrance to Kannon-Ji

Near the donation area of the temple.  People throw 10 cent coins into a trough looking thing and the monks come around at the end of the day and empty the donations into potato sacks!


Goegeous Japanese lanterns line the walkway leading to Kannon Ji.

After leaving Kannon-Ji, we got on another bus and headed to Kinkaju... but once again, we were distracted by something outside the busses windows!  This time it was the Big Boy statue!  We both looked at each other and smiled, got off at the next stop and made the treck back to Big Boy!  It's a novelty from my childhood, so I was okay with the long walk!   Unfortunately though, it wasn't the American Big Boy restaurant!  FAIL!

We finally made it to Kinkaju - The Golden Pavillion, just in time to find out that it was already closed for the day!  The good news was, there was no one on the beautiful pathway leading to the front gate, so we took advantage and snapped a picture!

We hung out outside Kinkaju for a while, chatting and enjoying the gorgeous trees!  Then we got back on a bus and headed for our hostel in the Gion district of Kyoto.  We decided to get off wone stop early to walk across the famous bridge! 

One day, I'm gonna come back to Kyoto, when I'm old and rich, and spend all my money at one of these restaurants on the water! :)

While the restauarant along the river are beautiful, I personally prefer this scene!  This was 1 street away from our hostel, and happens to be my favorite street in all of Kyoto!  Old traditional tea houses line the small canal, and aree romantically lit once the sun goes down!  This is also the perfect area for Geisha spotting!

The steet running parallel to the canal (above).  We love, love, love this street!

This beautiful red lantern welcomes customers to one of the bridges leading to a tea bouse on the canal.

Our feet, and bodies were so tired from all the walking we had done!  So, we stopped in at the hostel to take a little cat nap!  We stayed at A-yado Hostel in a 10 person mixed dorm room and paid 2100 yen a night ($26.00) each.  Lucky for us, there were only 3 other people staying in our room; a darling couple from England and a Canadian girl who had been teaching English in Thailand for the past 2 1/2 years!

We headed back out in search of Geisha!  I loved this gorgeous shrine outside of our hostel!

A random alcohol shop that I thought looked cool.

We walked back across the river and snuck down some narrow back alleys.  Lucky for us, we came to the right spot, because within a couple minutes we had spotted our first 2 Geisha!

In the Gion district of Kyoto.

I realize we're in Japan, and we should eat Japanese food, but we couldn't pass up this Turkish Kabab place along the river! We ordered 2 chicken Kababs and plopped down at a nearby picnic table!

The only thing that would have made our day perfect was to spot another Giesha!  Right after I told Aaron I wasn't gonna take my camera out for the rest of the night, I spotted her!!!  A beautiful Geisha, bowing and saying goodbye to her clients as they piled into a black taxi.

Pure beauty!!

Tomorrow we're heading to Arashiyama!  I'm soooo excited!

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