Highlights from Kyoto

I can't believe it's NEARLY been a month since I left Japan.


My friends there are posting up autumnal pictures like no tomorrow, and I'm beating myself up internally for missing all those red maple leaves.

I mean, generally Japan is pretty all year round but this time I REALLY wanted to see a bunch of dying, colourful leaves, being from a tropical country and all.

I got some, but nothing as colourful as the pictures I'm seeing now HUMPH.

Soon my friends will start posting pictures of snow and I'd be like 'I hate all of you right now go away'.

When it comes to traditional Japan scenery, Kyoto immediately comes to mind. I got to stay there for my 5th to 9th day of my Japan trip.

Well, technically I spent my 5th day in Akihabara (which is... TOTALLY maid cafe central and I must have saw 5 - 7 maids just trying to get customers @_@), eating lunch, playing arcade games and the scoop machines (got a My Melody plushie keychain!).

Around mid-afternoon I took the bullet train back to Kyoto. I finally knew how to navigate Kyoto Station!

Rehashing a good old photo.

I was so tired when I got back I just ate McDonalds, showered, and slept.

All throughout my Kyoto trip I basically just played catch-up with my friends from university. On the 1st of November I got up late-ish, and went to meet my friends at their university, before adjourning to the Kyoto National Museum to meet yet another university friend.

Honestly, if you're going to Japan, please get a pocket wifi/ tourist phone SIM card. It will make life SO MUCH easier. I just went where Google Maps told me to go, and voila! I found myself in front of the Kyoto National Museum.

It cost me ¥1,300 a pop to go inside and look at... Qing dynasty ceramics, which I couldn't appreciate very much. I swear I must have been the youngest person inside that place.

The most interesting thing I was attracted to was the English translation/ description of a bowl, which said 'concave angels'. I was trying to figure out what 'concave angels' were by staring at the bowl, before I realised it meant 'concave angles'.

That made so much more sense.

I couldn't take pictures inside the museum, but since I paid freaking ¥1,300 (RM42) to go inside, I'd be damned if I didn't take a few pictures.

The entrance into the museum. The weather was so good that day! Luckily for me most of my days in Japan had good weather, with just two or three rainy days.

I think I need to go back to Japan soon. 

I got excited seeing this sculpture of the Thinker - I got reminded of my first Phoenix Wright game, and how sucked into it I was playing a lawyer on the DS. I don't even have time to pick up a game now, now that I have 'real life' and all.

After greeting my friend in hushed excitement inside the museum, and taking pictures outside, we then left to meet our other friends at Fushimi Inari shrine! *excited* I love my university reunions.

I'm not a shrine person at all - the most I can take in a day is two, maximum. Shrines are mostly for trekking and ooh-ing and aah-ing at the pretty structures, anyway.


This is the side-view of the entrance into the shrine.

Oh, and shrines are for buying o-mamori charms, praying, plus doing your omikuji (fortune-telling) if you're into that thing.

Which I am. I got a 大吉 result, which basically means I am having the best luck for the next foreseeable year THANKS FUSHIMI INARI!

We went inside and walked up past the torii gates, before reaching the lake then giving up and going back. There was no way we were going to trek all the way to the very top, but you are welcomed to if you want to try!

This was taken on our way back down to the train station. There are stalls here selling taiyaki and assorted snacks, but since it was so near dinner time anyway I didn't have any.

Also look at that measly shade of red at the top of the tree. I wanted more! *grumbles*

The next day we all set out to meet yet another university friend (who studies in Tokyo now) at Kyoto Station, before setting out for Arashiyama.

Our motley crew of Malaysian (me!), Chinese-Australian, Indian-Australian, African-Australian, and Caucasian-Australian people got on the bus from Kyoto Station, and proceeded to take a half-hour trip out to Arashiyama.

Arashiyama, in my humble opinion, is one of the prettiest places on earth.

We first made our way up to the Arashiyama Monkey Park. I'm not that big a fan of monkeys, but the view from the top was incredible.

Well. I'm glad there wasn't only ONE monkey at the park.

Hiking up several meters to get to the top. If you're planning on coming here, please wear sensible shoes. My feet was killing me by the end of the day, even though I was wearing Doc Martens.

Also, trees, why so green in autumn!?!?!

*foams at mouth*

We went into the little wooden house at the top, where most of the monkeys were pretty much like "So are you going to give me food, or what?", or just plain giving us the "GIVE ME FOOD NOW" look. Like the one above.

Outside the house the monkeys mostly left us alone - they knew that food could only be gotten from humans inside the house, not the ones outside. Here's one grooming another, one picking carefully through fur while the other was all "Yeah check out my personal slave, human."

Here's a view from the top of the city...

Whereas here is a view of more mountains beyond. You know how in pictures, people tend to paint far-off mountains as blue mountain-shaped bits? I always thought that it was just a quick simple way to signify mountainous terrains. Apparently they look like that in real life too, if they are far enough from the human eye.

Guess you learn something new every day. Or relearn, in this case.

After the trek up to the monkey park, we just wandered around Arashiyama looking for the bamboo forest.

The bamboo forest was pretty far away from the monkey park on foot, so that quickly took up most of the afternoon.

It was quite dark by the time we left the bamboo forest. We then got on the tram and navigated our way to dinner in the city, a tabehoudai (all-you-can-eat) place, before going for karaoke then going back to collapse in our  beds.

On the 3rd of November we went to Universal Studios Japan. Ugh. Theme parks and weekends. Not if I can help it again. No pictures from me plus USJ is strictly in Osaka, so onwards to the 4th of November in Kyoto.

Luckily for me, the Kyoto palace grounds was opened to the public over the weekend while I was at Kyoto. The 4th of November was a public holiday as well, so the grounds opening extended until then.

According to that description (it was another sunny day, yay!), these three rooms were waiting rooms for guests of  the Palace. Which room you were received in indicated your rank and status as seen by the royal house. It's a pretty subtle way of telling people whether they were important or not, I suppose.

Palace grounds were seriously huge! I don't actually see the appeal in staying in a big place, though. So many other people to have to live with, plus cleaning must be a pain. Sure, life would be cushy if I was royalty, but more than likely if I were born in those times I'd be a chambermaid or something.

Okay, maybe a lady-in-waiting.

It's hard to tell from the picture, but this is where the Imperial Throne is.

I do, however, see the point in having a beautiful garden like this! If I had a garden like this (and hopefully an army of five gardeners to help me look after it), I'd just sit around in it all day reading books and looking at the lake. Bliss.

I can only imagine how it'll look like in autumn, since the above picture may as well have been taken in summer.


After walking around the building structures of the imperial palace, we went outside to take a walk around the palace parks instead (Kyoto Gyoen Park).

Behold, a photo that I adamantly took in Kyoto Gyoen to prove that I was in Japan during autumn.

You see that?!?! YELLOW LEAVES. Thank you for obliging my wish to see some dying leaves, dear tree!

I also took a picture along Kamo River (Kamogawa), with some red leaves peeking out from beyond.

I feel that if I live in Kyoto, I'd be imbued with this sense of tranquility and peace quite often, just looking at the beautiful scenery and gorgeous shrine architectures.

Last touristy place worthy of note that I visited before moving on would be Kiyomizudera.

I too, got my fortune told at Kiyomizudera.


I got bad luck.

So now I'm opting to believe the Fushimi Inari one instead. I will have GREAT luck for 2014, thank you very much.

Here's the view from Kiyomizudera after you've gone up the steps. :) Despite the lack of autumnal trees, the sun set pretty quickly in Japan. 5PM would roll around and then POOF! Wait, where did the sun go?

A view from the top. The place where people are congregated around is the Otowa waterfall, where three channels of waterways lead to a pond. Drinking from the water is said to have wish-granting powers.

I wish that my books will have the selling power of Harry Potter.

Actually I should probably wish that I can finish writing my novels first, instead of writing them all enthusiastically for the first 10,000 words, and then letting them trail off in the dusty recesses of my laptop.

Yep. Let's take baby steps first.

Here's how the waterways look like up close. I totally got in line and drank the water, of course. It was really fresh, cold, and tasty!

Oh, and for all you lovelorn people, Kiyomizudera is also popular for romantic luck at the Jishu Shrine. You can pray here and hope that your true love will come around.

Here it is! I didn't go there, because I have long assigned myself to the fact that I will most likely end up an eccentric hermit cat lady.

Plus it's kind of sad to head over there when no one else that is there with you is interested in praying for romantic luck.

Oh well.


I did catch one of the best views from Kiyomizudera, however, the sunset! I went too early to Kyoto - around the 15th of November Kiyomizudera opened up for nighttime autumnal viewing, and it was apparently really pretty.

That's it. Next time I'm going to camp myself in Japan from October to February (next time being when I have that kind of money, which may be a long time from now) and catch all the kinds of things that people from tropical countries can't experience.


But I digress.

I really loved watching the sunset at Kiyomizudera. Here's why.

Kyoto is definitely one of the best places to be reminded how beautiful Mother Nature can be. (^_^)v

The next day after a long sleep I went off to visit my host family in Akashi. Definitely felt like I had not seen enough of Kyoto - I still wanted to go to Gion and Ginkakuji, but didn't have the time or the energy to make it.


In any case, I'm glad I got to stay longer at Kyoto this time around. Scenery-wise, these were the best of Mother Nature I've seen throughout my trip. The other cities have their own charms, but Mother Nature does not come up tops there.

Thank you for the memories, Kyoto (and of course my university friends who made it all the more fun with our stupid in-jokes and reminiscing of days gone by)! Keep yourself beautiful.