This is a detailed post of my 2 weeks long solo backpacking trip to Japan. Please see preview and itinerary/index of my complete trip on this post.
Day 5 – Kyoto
Rain rain go away
Its was 7AM and it was raining heavily outside. I found no reason to get out of my warm and comfy bed. I pulled over my quilt again and dozed off till 9AM. It was still raining outside. Anyways my hostel had a checkout time of 11AM and this was my last day in Kyoto so I had to checkout. As per my daily schedule I made myself a warm mug of coffee and a breakfast of granola. I left my hostel at around 11AM. It was still raining pretty heavily. I did not have any umbrella and had no intentions to buy one as I did not wanted to increase an item to carry. Thankfully I had a rain protection poncho, which I bought from Singapore, for an emergency situation. Poncho was large enough to cover me with my 65 litre rucksack bag. Bidding goodbye to my excellent host for last 4 days, I made my way to the nearest bus stop for catching a bus to Gion area. Poncho was covering only my upper body. So by the time I reached my bus stop, my sneakers and pants were terribly wet. Clearly poncho was not able to save me from heavy rain. I decided to throw my poncho and buy a umbrella once i reached Gion.
Phew! rain did not subside even when I reached Gion. My plan for the day was to shoot Yasaka Shrine, then go to Keage Incline ,then head to Fushimini Inari for sunset and finally leave for Lake Kawaguchiko area near Mt Fuji using an over night bus. I deposited my luggage in coin lockers in Gion Shijo Station and just carried my camera and tripod bags. Search for buying a umbrella began and lo i found a abandoned umbrella. Someone left it, probably because the lock that keeps the umbrella folded was broken. I waited for a while to see if someone would come to claim it but no one came. I wont mind taking it! Anyways I had no intentions to increase my load and carry a umbrella after using it today. And who knows if rain subsides in few hours.
This was one of my buffer days. I planned to click few places again as I was not satisfied by my pictures from earlier days. I headed to Yasaka Shrine first to see if I could click some photographs while light was just okay. It was raining hard. Local and tourists alike were all struggling to reach their destinations. Well I did not spend much time near Yasaka Shrine. No point taking chances with my camera in rain, I thought. Though D750 is weather sealed and can take some beating but little moisture can put my entire trip in jeopardy.
Win a few, loose a few
All of my days in Kyoto have been fantastic so far. I got more than expected. I totally loved the laid back setup. This day was however different. My movement was restricted by rain. You can not win on all days, some days are meant to be lost. Probably this was one of those days. Its okay you win a few and loose a few, that’s life. isn’t it? I decided to take a break and have something to eat. I went to a small local Japanese eatery and ordered some fried rices and vegetables. Everywhere in Japan I noticed eateries display a sample of dishes on order. So its easy to visualize what you are going to order even if you can not understand what is dish name (written in Japanese). Hot food and hot Jasmine tea were relaxing. It was cold outside. To make matter worst, my jogger pants and shoes were also wet. I devoured the hot food and took longer than usual to complete my meal. Old lady serving at the eatery was kind enough to refill my cup of tea. At ~500Y local food was quite budget friendly everywhere in Japan.
Sakura lined Keage Incline
It was already 3PM and I had no where to go. Rain had no plans to subside it seemed. I decided to head to Keage incline. Keage incline is one of the best places in Kyoto to enjoy Hanami (Sakura or cherry blossom). It is a old, unused track with cherry trees on both sides. Even a unused carriage is left for display. Keage incline is very popular among tourist for cherry bloom. And on a normal day (when it doesn’t rain) it can get really crowded. But today it was not crowded. Barely few tourist like me who were on their last day in Kyoto would probably venture out. I put my camera on a tripod to click some pictures covered in umbrella. I had no time to come back to Keage incline and a few customary pictures were mandatory. Continuous rain from morning had resulted in falling of cherry flowers. I came to know later that this was the last days of cherry blossom in Kyoto actually.
Okay I give up. No more Fushimini Inari for me. I had to travel entire night on bus so I decided not to go out and instead take sometime to dry up my jacket, shoes and pants. I was almost completely drenched by now. I was not carrying any spare pants and shoes. So had no options of changing them.
I took shelter in a coffee shop and had some hot coffee and toast. And then another coffee. Hot coffee was amazing and gave me instant relief from cold. Coffee shop had a nice seating area with power points on all seats. I put my phone and camera batteries for charging. Lets make use of time when I had no options to go out. And I found a shoe dryer in restroom. I am never able to dry my hands in these hot blowers, so probably these are shoe dryers 😉 In a few attempts I was able to make my shoes just wearable and bearable. Before some of you complain on being unhygienic, i cleaned the dryer with a wet tissue after (mis)using the dryer. Desperate times calls for desperate measures!
Good bye Kyoto
It was around 7PM when I left the coffee shop. Rain has stopped for the day. I had to catch a overnight Highway bus from Kyoto Station to Lake Kawaguchiko. Bus, I booked, was run by Fujikyu company. I called their call center yesterday and made a reservation. Thankfully they had a English speaking person on call. However they did not take any online payment, instead they asked me to pay to bus captain directly. Please note bus captain has no change so give him exact amount. I paid 6200Y for one side journey. Right now their contact number is +81-555-73-8181. But I suggest checking their website for updates. Click this link for online booking.
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