Right now I am currently staying at my relatives house in Oyama to spend the New Year’s with them before I move to Tokyo to attend a language school from January to March. I still hope to be able to catch up on my posts from the first semester of JSP before the next semester starts. I finally made it to November though! Since I am typing this on my phone rather than on my computer as I usually do, the format will be a little bit different.
This post will be talking about my trip to Kyoto I took with my study abroad program from November 2-4. Together with 9 other students and our tour guide, we travelled to Kyoto Station by Shinkansen.
When we first arrived we were picked up in a shuttle outside the train station and were taken to the restaurant where we would be eating lunch. We were given a lunch set and not told what it was so everyone just had to guess.
After we finished lunch then we went to a yatsuhashi making lesson. Kyoto is famous for yatsuhashi which comes in two varieties. There is the hard, cinnamon-like yatsuhashi which is supposedly in the shape of a koto (traditional, long 13-stringed harp-like instrument) and there is also a softer yatsuhashi that is like mochi with different fillings. Background of yatsuhashi.
The soft yatsuhashi is what we made. It was pretty funny because some peoples ones came out kind of ugly. Mine wasn’t too bad I guess but I didn’t eat it because they had anko (red bean paste) in them.
Once we made the yatsuhashi we got back in the shuttle and were taken to the station again. From there we went to our hotel to drop our bags off before we headed to an area called Arashiyama. Arashiyama is famous for its bamboo forest and the bridge called Togetsu-kyo.
Once we got to Arayashiyama our tour guide told us that we were on our own, which surprised me considering we were told that we would be taken back to the hotel by our guide if we wanted to. Instead she just pointed in the direction of the train station and then said bye. But that was fine with me. Once she left then I split off from the rest of the JSP students and went exploring on my own. I got to see the rickshaws that Kyoto are famous for lining the the streets.
I also found “yuba” which is one of Kyoto’s specialties. It is made from soybeans. Basically when soy milk is boiled a thin film rises to the top and that is what yuba is. I didn’t actually eat it but I had heard about it during Japanese class and was interested in seeing if I could find it while in Kyoto.
Across the street from the yuba place was Tenryu-Ji Zen temple which is a designated United Nations World Heritage Site. Unfortunately by the time I went it was already closed, but it was still very nice looking with the autumn leaves starting to change color.
Once I was done looking at the temple I wandered over to a nice looking area which had many different food shops and souvenirs shops all in one building. I decided to buy tsukimi dango and was able to enjoy it while sitting outside on one of the benches. It was dark outside and everything was lit up with red lanterns so I really felt “ah, this is Kyoto.” It was a really nice and relaxed atmosphere.
Since it was starting to get late and I was by myself I decided to try and head back towards Karasuma-Oike, which was where our hotel was. It took a while and I was a bit confused because I couldn’t use the bus/train pass we were given but didn’t know that so I tried anyways. Once I got back to Kyoto Station I decided to go to Kyoto Tower since it was right across the street.
I was able to see a really pretty night view of the area around the station but there wasn’t that much to see so soon I was done and moving on. At this point I was pretty hungry and tired so I decided to go and find food. I ended up eating inside the food court at the nearby mall at a Korean restaurant. After that the day was pretty much done. I just went back to the hotel, made a snack run for ice cream and an onigiri, and then planned what I was going to do on 11/3, which was our free day.
This post ended up being longer than I expected so I am going to write about days 2 and 3 separately. If you read this, thank you!