Sayonara, Kyoto!

I still can’t believe that the time passed so quickly and that tomorrow is our last day in Kyoto.

I’ve been very nostalgic these past days, taking long walks and late-afternoon rides with my bike, trying to keep every detail in mind. It still feels strange to think that so soon we’ll no longer eat ramen and sushi, hear the chicken waking us up at 7 am, take the bike for every visit in the city or any hike, being greeted with the ubiquitous “Irashaimasse!” (Welcome!) whenever entering a store, a restaurant, a bar.

So, dear Kyoto I write this to you to say that I’ll miss every part of you and every single day spent here, but mostly I’ll miss:

– your calmness and your 2,000 temples full of history and tradition

– your lush green hills and mountains, so close to the city and with some of the most lovely hikes 

– go running in the evening by the river banks and take a glimpse of the beautiful geishas, sitting graciously in the fancy restaurants that line the river

– being surprised at the sight of the deers that would sometimes appear in the evening in the middle of the river

– riding my bike home from an evening in the city and having to stop suddenly to let a snake cross the narrow path along the river

– the hundreds of public workers that just stand near the crossroads or construction sites to show you the way, with a deep bow

– the ceaseless afflux of traditional greetings that you hear when entering every store or restaurant

– your always on-time buses and their drivers wearing white gloves

– your quiet streets and quiet people; I’ve never heard any car honks or people quarelling or shouting to each other. Never.

– the beautiful Japanese girls, stunning and elegant sometimes, cute and childish at times,  loud and colorful some other times, always wearing  their high heels proudly

– the arts and crafts stores where you can spend your entire day

– the beautiful and elegant kimono’s and yukata’s that color every corner of the street

– exploring your narrow, quiet stone streets with Minty ( my bike:))

– savouring your delicious sweets, bizarre at first but so good after you get used to the red beans taste, matcha or mochi texture

– admiring your stunning crafts and beautiful patterns  in any form (from pottery, to paper objects and delicate artifacts such as fans, textures, or adorable chopsticks rest).

Until we meet again, I take a deep bow and I whisper ‘Sayonara, Kyoto’.

Kyoto or Welcome to Wonderland!

Our long awaited 5 month adventure in Kyoto has finally begun.

We arrived a couple of days ago in Kyoto and because it was Sunday, our flat wasn’t ready so we had to stay at a hostel for the night. Or so we thought. Actually, it turned out we were staying at someone’s house. Literally.

So we got out of the rail station, tired and drowsy, and we started to walk down Kyoto’s tranquil back alleys. The only audible sound was our luggage rolling on concrete. 15 minutes later, we manage to find the house, Guesthouse Kanwando. Small and cute, hidden by the trees, it looked like we were in Alice’s Wonderland. And I was small enough to fit through the door!

Kyoto, new experiences, new life, Japan, interesting people

And there we are,  waiting in front of the door with our bags. The owner spots us just as we’re about to knock. He tries to help us with the luggage. But it’s quite impossible, the guy is stick thin, and our suitcases are too heavy (like the dutiful girl that I am, I thoroughly complied with the 30 kg weight allowance). We finally manage to drag the bags into the house, and we’re in.

And what a funky place it is! There are dozens of shoes carefully lined up at the entrance and we remembered that in Japan it is very rude to enter someone’s house with shoes on. Fine, shoes off then. We enter the main room and manage to get a better look at our host: a mixture of John Lennon and Bob Marley, the Japanese version. Shiny long black hair down to the waist, soft voice and hippie allure, speaking just a hint of English but enough to get his sense of humor across.

He shows us to our room, Japanese style with a futon (mattress on the floor) and some funky wall decorations, relaxing music playing in the background. He explains the basic stuff: operating the shower, using the right slippers for the toilet, cranking up the A/C to heat up the room. All well and good, but he forgets to explain how to shut the door. There’s just a curtain and no sign of a door. He laughs and then does some magic: he slides the door out from inside the wall, and then just steps out of the room. He goes upstairs to his own room, and we fall to sleep almost immediately to dreams of zen Japanese villages.

Kyoto, new experiences, new life, Japan, interesting people, dreamworld

Kyoto, new experiences, new life, Japan, interesting people, dreamworld

The next morning, we wake up early due to the jet lag and also because we need to check into our new apartment. We’re about to leave the house when we realize a funny thing: our shoes’ position had been changed overnight. We had left them facing inward, and now they were facing outwards. Bob Marley must have discretely switched them overnight, while we were asleep. I like to think of him as a dreadlocked shoe fairy, going about in the middle of the night fixing ignorant foreigners’ mistakes.

No doubt this looks like the beginning of a beautiful Japanese experience.

More to follow.