I have to preface this post by telling you that this is going to be a picture heavy post! I took so many photos during day 1 of Kyoto and these are just a handful (large handful) of them!
If you’ve been keeping up with my Instastories then you know I spent the weekend in Kyoto. My family and I packed overnight bags (shout out to the amazing foldable Eddie Bauer bags that zip up in to a pouch that we also took with us to Alaska a few summers ago!), took the bullet train from Tokyo and arrived in Kyoto a little over 2 hours later. We booked a 2 day Kyoto tour through Sunrise Tours. The process from being taken to the station to being picked up in Kyoto and brought to lunch was pretty seamless. Then, we joined a group that had already been sightseeing in the morning – to join them for their afternoon sights.
So to make a long story short – the sights we went to were beautiful. I love history and Kyoto has a lot of shrines, temples, and palaces/castles. It was the capital of Japan for, I think, a 1,000 years. Unlike Tokyo, it still has a lot of historical buildings because it wasn’t touched by air raids during World War II. Tokyo had 2 major disasters that destroyed their buildings – a devastating earthquake in the 1920s killing 100,000 people and air raids during World War II. Anyway, I went slightly off topic – I love history so seeing these sights is amazing for me. What’s not amazing is the 100+ degree temperatures and humidity and being on a tour bus that didn’t have working air conditioning! I was literally dripping sweat (sorry for the visual) and it felt like being on torture on the bus. I could deal with the heat outside if it meant that I was coming back to a nice, cool bus but no. This was for day 1 though. My day 2 in Kyoto is about to start in 2 hours (from when I’m writing this) so let’s hope that when I recap day 2 I am gushing about the air conditioning!
Despite the bus issue, I did enjoy the sights we saw. We first went to Todai-ji Temple in Nara. Nara Park has lots of deer and the deer are sacred. You can buy crackers to feed them and they will bow to you! I didn’t get a video of the deer bowing down to me, but got a super short video of me feeding one. Apparently I’m the only one in my family who knows how to press record on time (note the bitter sarcasm).
Todai-ji Temple is a Buddhist temple and is one of Japan’s most famous. The main hall houses a bronze Buddha that is almost 50 feet high and one of the largest Buddhas in Japan. The Buddha is flanked by two Bodhisattvas.
We then headed off to Kasuga Taisha, a Shinto shrine. Shinto shrines are known for their gates. Less elaborate than Buddhist temples, but beautiful in their simplicity. They don’t have any big statues or idols, inside their temple – which we didn’t go in – is just used for praying. Outside, there are areas for people to make wishes, write down wishes, and hope that the Gods hear them. The big stone lanterns also house people’s wishes.
Our last stop was to a local Nara shop with souvenirs and goods before driving an hour back to the hotel.
After getting settled in at the hotel, which is giving me serious withdrawals of my Tokyo hotel, we went out to dinner at a soba restaurant. All my food photos will be coming in a separate post when the Japan portion of my vacation is done!
So that’s the recap of the first part of my Kyoto weekend trip. Seeing the giant bronze buddha at Todai-ji Temple was definitely the highlight!
Hopefully day 2 has a bus with working ac!