[KANSAI 2012] DAY 4: Kyoto, Gion

DAY 4 (1 February 2012): Kyoto & Gion
- Checked out of Carpe Diem 
- Checked in to Watazen ryokan (kinda) in Kyoto

- Kyoto Imperial Palace

- Kinkakuji Temple 
- Gion

Sadly we had to say goodbye to Carpe Diem after a one night stay :'(

But not before we take loads of pictures :D Thanks to Misa's lovely husband for agreeing to layan our camwhoring ways. The garden would've looked beautiful during spring! I recommend for a stay there, loved the experience. Room might be small - but when you come to Japan, you've to set your mentality to accept that all the standard-sized rooms there will be small by normal comparison.

We made our way to Watazen ryokan, which is situated between alleyways in Kyoto. We got off at Shijo station and made our way to the hotel - along the way, I finally found a much-needed coffee boost at Starbucks! Starbucks was pretty hard to come by in the area. We arrived too early to check in, so we left our luggages and made our way to Kyoto Imperial Palace.

Now, to visit the Kyoto Imperial Palace, you absolutely have to have an appointment first - it's free. Just go to the linked website, pick your date and the time and they will email you a confirmation. Print out the confirmatory email for your visit and you will have to be on time! I can't stress on this enough - Japan is all about punctuality. If you're late, you won't gain access into the Palace - come earlier than the appointment time and they will bring you to a waiting room before the tour starts. The guided tour is only 60-minutes long and will take you through the whole palace grounds, and is only available in Japanese or English.

There are two timings for the English tour, 10am and 2pm We made our appointment at around 2pm as we didn't want to rush from Carpe Diem. So we walked around at a leisurely pace and ate lunch first along the way there before we took a bus there and walked the rest of the way to the palace.

Sorry to the guy who had to constantly keep watch on us as we were fooling around a lot and camwhoring all over the place OTL

Case in  point

The Palace was beautiful and vast - goes without saying, but the enormity of it all really hits you as you're walking through the Palace. During our visit, some parts of the garden was undergoing maintenance works. I love that Japan is so conscientious of maintaining and preserving their cultural heritage, it really shows their appreciation of their past, whether it be pleasant or otherwise.

Afterwards, we rode a bus directly to Kinkakuji Temple (400 yen). In Kyoto, many of the tourist attractions are only accessible via bus, taxi or walking, so do plan ahead for your Kyoto visit. The easiest one is by bus, but you'd have to check the bus schedule at the bus stands!

Around nighttime, we decided to call it a day and made our way to Gion by bus to walk around the area and have our dinner. It was too dark by the time we reached Gion to see all the alleyways, sadly. Managed to snap a few pictures and saw a maiko walking to her next appointment (I think she was a maiko anyway, she might've been just dressed as one I suppose), and we went to a nearby restaurant for dinner.

Some much needed grub
We were recharged by dinner and took a bus to our ryokan hotel area - where there was a shopping street called Shinkyogoku Shopping Street. Of course we couldn't resist.

When we finally got tired and decided to tuck in for the night, we finally checked into our room and loved it! As you can see there were no before pictures, we basically crashed the futon when we got in.

All was well until we found out they had complimentary yukata for the night. Couldn't resist!

And that concluded our 4th day in Japan.

Go to Day 3 (Osaka) | Go to Day 5 (Nanba, Osaka)
Kansai 2012 Masterpost