As the old imperial capital city of Japan, Kyoto is home to many world famous sights:
be it the many temples, the narrow Pontocho Alley with its geishas, the Philosopher's walk, or the nearby Fushimi shrine featuring hundreds of red gates. It is also
quite different from Kobe. If Kobe is New York, Kyoto is Los Angeles. Instead of the
tall and compact buildings forced onto Kobe by the thin stretch of land it occupies
between the sea and a mountain, Kyoto is the definition of urban sprawl. While there
is nothing particularly wrong with this, to you as the tourist this means you will need
to travel much greater distances visiting the many highlights.
As I am writing this almost three years later, I no longer remember what hotel we
stayed in. I do remember though that it was quite central and close to a well rated
Gyoza ChaoChao, restaurant specializing in the gyoza "pot sticker" dumplings imported from China. We walked over there the evening of our arrival. The next day
we set off to explore the city. We walked the Philosopher's Walk, although the famous
cherry trees were already past their bloom. We also visited many temples
and got to try excellent tofu.
From Kyoto we next traveled to the village of Kawaguchiko at the base of Mt. Fuji.
Here we stayed in a traditional-style ryokan hotel overlooking the lake. In these hotels,
there is no bed. Your room just contains bamboo mats onto which a mattress is placed
for sleeping. The rooms also don't have any western style chairs, instead you sit on the floor on a cushion with a backrest. Ryokans generally include a traditional style breakfast consisting of various pickles, fish, and a raw egg.
There is more: continue to page 3 for our visit of the snow monkeys.