SAS: NARA & KYOTO, JAPAN


Day 4:

In one word: Exhaustion. The words on signs began to blur, and we were pushing the edge of our limits, but we still had 3 more cities to go and were not giving up. Excited for Nara, we met another traveller from Toronto, Canada, who decided to tag along. Ali and I had aimed to see two cities that day, so we explained to our new friend Neil that this was speed- temple hopping and if he was okay with that he was more than welcome to join. In less than three hours we had seen the three major temples on the World Heritage list and sat down for a cozy lunch. The highlight of Nara, was visiting the Todaiji Temple. It is the largest wooden free standing structure in the world and houses the largest indoor Buddha. It was incredible to witness. The hand of Buddha was larger than I am.

By 2 pm we were travelling again and reached the destination of Kyoto. This city stole my heart. A mix of modernity and culture, with temple’s surrounding the entire city and intertwined within it. There was so much bustle and crowds of people, locals, tourists, and Geishas.

There was only one thing I wanted to see in Kyoto, even though there are millions of amazing temples and shrines to visit, I not only wanted to, but needed to see the Fushimi Inari Shrine. A shrine for the path lined with thousands of red gates. It is viewed in many films, such as most famously: Memoirs of a Geisha. Walking under the gates along the path, you saw only the structures built more than 2 thousand years ago and the nature outlining it. A must see in Kyoto and breath-taking.

That evening, we had met up again with some friends for a Girl’s night out on the town. We tried to find a nice restaurant for a meal, but the waiters spoke no English, and there was no English menu. So he personally took us around the block, down an alley way, up some stairs and into a little nook in the wall. It was extremely sketchy, but once he opened the door to the restaurant we had hit the jack pot. It was all wooden, with five long tables. We were split up into 3 and 2 at different tables and basically the night ended up as table-hopping. We had made friends with the entire bar, as there was a mix of locals, of students from Europe studying in Japan, some Americans and British who were teaching English. There were the Australian back-packers and Italian professors. By the end of the night, we were all crowded around one table. The A-Bar is famous for it’s diversity because it’s listed as the first bar in the directory making it a popular tourist destination. Due to the extreme diverseness even locals join in to meet some foreigners, such as MeHo and Yugi who then took us out for 3 am noodles.

The night was a success and possibly the perfect ending to Japan. However, we still had half a day left to tour around Kobe so Ali could finally eat her Kobe steak!

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