05 March 2013


So this is travel log numero three-o: Kyoto. I spent 3 days here at the beginning of the summer holidays with two friends and we managed to see more of the sights surrounding Kyoto than the actual city itself. We also ate in McDonalds more times than I care to admit. Sometimes I'm just a bad tourist.

On day 1 my friends and I attempted to see the Kyoto Imperial Palace. As we walked towards it the blue sky changed frighteningly quickly to grey and it began to monsoon on our heads. Sheltering under a tree that did pitifully little to stop us getting thoroughly soaked we decided to chalk day 1 down to misadventure and like drowned rats scuttled back to the hostel to change and try again. Trying again involved beers and okonomiyaki in the Gion district.

Day 2 was a vast improvement weather wise and we hopped on a train and headed out to the nearby town of Arashiyama to go see monkey park. It is, as the name suggests, a park with monkeys in it. On a mountain in the town lives an extended family of monkeys that are observed by zoologists who use the entry fee to the park to further their studies.

And to build this bitchin' monkey swimming pool grotto

Ickle baby monkey
There is also a little hut on the hill top from inside which you can feed the monkeys nuts and watch them fight each other to get to the nuts first. The temptation to put one of the baby monkeys in my bag and leg it off the mountain was fierce altogether but I managed to restrain myself, probably because it was too hot to really walk let alone consider monkey-napping a baby and then trying to run away with it. One of these days though, one of these days... After we were done oogling the monkeys we came back down the hill and strolled along a well-known nearby road through a beautiful bamboo forest.

Sweaty Irish girl for scale
That night we capped off our adventure with a trip to a conveyor belt sushi restaurant that had us order our sushi through a frickin' iPad attached to our table. That was pretty awesome.

Day 3 we left Kyoto once again to go to Nara, a short journey south of Kyoto. Here we went to the famous Todaiji Temple to see the world's largest Buddah. So large in fact that you can fit through his nostrils. How do I know this? Because the monks drilled a hole through one of the pillars inside the temple at floor level that is the same size as his nostril and people queue up to see if they can fit through. I fit, in case you're wondering, but it was a bit of a struggle and I unfortunately (or maybe fortunately, I was pretty red faced by the time I managed to wriggle through) don't have a photo of this.

Todaiji Temple

Nara is also home to a ridiculously large population of wild deer who will follow you around relentlessly if they even suspect you have food on you. My friends bought crackers to feed them which led to groups of hungry deer stalking them and jumping up on them to get to the crackers. One of the deer, in its eagerness to be given a cracker, bit one of the girls. She screeched, I laughed, she dropped the crackers, the deer won. For those of you previously unaware; deer are dickheads.

Adorable dickheads
After returning from Nara we then took a short trip to Fushimi Inari-taisha the famous shrine reached by climbing up a mountain under thousands of red torii gates. Each gate is donated by a group of people or a company whose name is then written onto it and the writing on the gate in the photo below says 'television' on it. As I am too lazy to attempt to translate the rest of it I will assume it is a local television company trying to buy their way into the afterlife to atone for the sin of constantly putting AKB48 members on the air. After coming down off the mountain I headed home to Hiroshima and so ends travel log numero three-o.

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Maira Gall