I’m writing this in my tiny kitchen here in China, Strong Coffee in hand.
After ten Years of living in Asia people often ask me what’s my favourite place. Well.. I liked all the cities I went to however the best city was Kyoto for a few reasons.
Not to small and not to big
Photo credit wikipedia. Wiki
Kyoto is about a million people it’s just the right size city. Plenty to do but not to crowded or anything like that.
I went to Kyoto when I was living in Tokyo in 2016. I took the Shinkansen train there, which was something I dreamed about since childhood. I loved every minute of that train ride! It was one of the highlights of my travels! My seats were comfortable and nice.
I made it to Kyoto station and was searching for the main area with the super high ceilings. I trekked through the station looking for the grand hall. Finally, I found it! Sorry guys there’s no way to describe this one. You’re gonna have to go there yourself! The ceilings are super high. If birds were to get in there they would think they were outside.
It looks like something out of the movie Blade Runner.
When you step in there it feels like you just stepped into the future. The whole place has a dark element about it almost like a hanger for a space ship or something. It’s the only building interior that took my breath away and I didn’t want to leave. It’s one of the places you have to experience if you travel to Japan.
I bought a ride to my capsule hotel. It was a decent place but I got a cheap rate by booking online. It was very quiet and the beds were comfortable. I laid down to sleep.
In the AM I work up around 9:00. There was a bathhouse on the top floor. I hit the sauna and then the hot tub. I thought how great it would be to have a sauna in my house one day. It’s an amazing way to start the day! What can I say I like to dream big. Then I went to the breakfast area. Japanese business men were eating at tables and watching the news on TV. I grabbed a plate at the buffet and served myself rice and pork and coffee. I watched the Japanese news with out understanding a word. Afterwards I headed out to explore the city and find the Manga Museum. It’s a museum that houses a lot of old Manga comics.
The day was sunny and slightly cold. A lot of tourists roamed the streets, I could tell because they were taking pictures. The streets were nice and clean and the vibe was good. All cities have a vibe and I was feeling Kyoto’s.
It was a bit of a walk from the hotel but I decide to try since it was a nice day. I walked a long and saw salary men, house wives and school kids in uniforms. The city wasn’t crowded and many sidewalks were quiet. I walked and walked.
I came across an old building covered in vines. It looked somewhat abandoned. It seemed strange because it was in a central area of the city. Then I remember that a lot of people here believe in hauntings and ghosts and sometimes they abandon places because of it. Maybe this was one of those, or perhaps the owner no longer kept it up.
I finally made it to the Manga museum and went inside. They had a lot older and new Manga comics. I found the first Ghost in the Shell comic. I flipped though it. It was fun to see the original comic. I looked though a few more books and magazines. People were siting down reading and looking at Manga. Some of them were Western tourists. In another part of the museum they had completed models of planes, robots and tanks on display. The detail was incredible and well worth seeing.
I headed out to find a nearby wooden palace. I walked for a little while and found it. Tons of tourist lined up around outside. I made my way in the palace and the wood floors creaked. I viewed a some wall paintings I had studied in Asian art history years earlier. The ceilings were dark even in the daytime.
A lot of people were traveling with families or with a tour guide or with their wives. I felt strangely alone. I liked it. I thought about getting older and traveling alone when my hair greyed. I would play up my old man-ness and get a pipe and cane. Maybe wear a suit as well. I laughed to myself at my old man plans. This would be the perfect place for and old white guy! I could stroll around and act like I had some place to be in my suit and tie. Which got me thinking I needed to sit down and get a coffee some place.
I found a Starbucks nearby and ordered an ice latte. I sat down with my coffee and flirted with some girls next to me. I felt very content in Kyoto even though things were not going well for me in general. I owned no home or car and I had very little money, I had no girlfriend either, my job consisted of extremely long hours of teaching English. Mindless work that a monkey could do.
I walked around Kyoto some more there were quite a few traditional looking Japanese homes. Some had traditional wooden fencing that surrounded the homes. Darken wooden panels that had been slightly burned as they were in the old days. After a while I grew tired of walking and headed back to my capsule and maybe watch a movie of my computer.
The next day I headed for a rock Garden. It was difficult to get to because there was no direct bus and I had to walk quite a bit. I finally made it to the rock garden I had only viewed in books and photographs. There were tourist surrounding it. Luckily, I was able to get a spot in front to take photos. It was a plane rectangle with some large rocks in the middle. The tiny rocks were raked perfectly to create a smooth plane. Japanese are masters of aesthetics and this rock garden was perfect. The tourists seemed happy to be there. On the way out I bought some Japanese calligraphy at the gift shop. I couldn’t resist.
I headed out and found a bus that took me back to the subway station. I was relieved to find out I didn’t have to walk so far.
I walked around some more. Then went to a ramen shop to get some food. After I ate I headed back to my capsule.
The next day I left for Kyoto station. I was sad to be going back to Tokyo. I had fallen in love with Kyoto rather quickly. The city had seduced me with dim lit nights and tiny homes with traditional roof tops. But now I had to return to Tokyo and my job and my commute and my reality. Kyoto allowed me a little time to relax and think. But now it was time to return to reality.