Earlier this February, I had the opportunity to fly to Asia, spending three weeks in Taiwan and Japan. I didn’t do much planning but the trip ended up being one of the best I have experienced in my late 20s. I’ve seen a lot of Japanese films, listened to a lot of Japanese rock music and eaten a lot of Japanese food, even done a few layovers in Japan — but have never set foot outside of Narita Airport.
My first stop in Japan: Kyoto. From Kaohsiung, Taiwan to Narita Airport, my family and I picked up our Japan Rail Passes and sat through the next four hours of Shinkansen eastbound, as it stopped through various stations in Japan, arriving in Kyoto just in time for our first authentic late-night meal. For the next two days, I would be sleeping comfortably at Resi Stay. Everything from location, to interior design, to customer service, was above and beyond. I’ve seen a lot of Marie Kondo’s episodes and have visited MUJI a handful of times. But everything in real life (I mean physically being in Japan), fills you with a sense of awe.
As first-timers in Kyoto, my family and I did struggle with transportation. Remember when I said I didn’t do much planning? I relied on Google Maps way too much but hadn’t done research on the best ways to navigate through the city — so we walked and bussed, a lot. And honestly, at times, it felt like we blended in.
Must-sees in Kyoto include Arashiyama, home to the Bamboo Forest and Monkey Park, Kinkaku Temple, Fushimi Inari (save some room for food — I’m talking Kobe beef skewers and takoyaki), Kyoto Tower (bedazzling panoramic views of Kyoto; twilight wins me over each time), Don Quijote, Gion District, Mameshiba Cafe and Nikishi Market.
You know that feeling where you fall in love so quickly? Yeah — that happened with me in Kyoto. I fell in love with the city and practically dream of moving there one of these days. Kyoto is so serene. Old and new mix seamlessly. Because of the ad ban and building height changes enforced in 2007, the city focuses on the more important things like preserving its scenery and thus reducing urban noise. A perfect 48 hours spent in Kyoto and I wouldn’t have changed a thing.