(Shoes and tights from yesstyle)
Our first full day in Kyoto! Or seventh day in Japan. Errr… how confusing.
After a great, well needed sleep at Heianbo, Napkin and I decided to get moving and check out Kyoto. The Kyoto Imperial Palace was only a couple of miles away (I can’t stress enough how perfectly placed Heianbo is… please keep it in mind if you’re looking for a Japanese Style Inn!) so we decided to walk to it.
Kyoto is absolutely beautiful. And totally different from Tokyo. Kyoto gave me the feeling of being in a really neat college town and it was so quiet compared to Tokyo!
The walk was a long, almost straight shot on Karawamachi Street and there were a lot of signs telling us which direction to go. Finally, an arrow led us off the main street and to the “mansion site” at the front of Imperial Palace. I had absolutely no idea how huge the palace was actually going to be. It spread out over nearly a mile.
When we got to the mansion site, we learned that we had, by chance, decided to visit the palace on one of the few days where the palace was open to the public– for FREE!
Thank yoooou, universe!
I’ve learned that visiting the palace is an otherwise complicated ordeal, involving passports, notice time, etc. — but for us– we basically signed our names on a guest book, took off our shoes and went exploring.
Napkin is a pretty big dude– and so it was especially funny when someone had to go get him a special pair of indoor slippers… that still didn’t fit.
The mansion was full of a lot of educational stuff that was really interesting (for example, the palace had burnt down eight times– it was rebuilt for the final time in 1855.) After that we figured we had seen the bulk of things (little did we know…) so we wandered away from the mansion site and into some of the most beautiful gardens I have ever seen.
Take a look!
The gardens took us to the main entrance of the palace (which was a total surprise to us!) and we stumbled into a fall festival!
There were lots of kiosks selling Kyoto-centric snacks and things.
Then we found a little inside cafe area where they were whipping up small dishes of food. Napkin and I decided on a little egg dish. The most interesting part is that no one ever took your order as you were standing in line. You decided which dish you wanted, chose a token that represented your choice, handed it to the cashier as you paid– and then the kitchen would prepare it for you. I thought it was incredibly efficient. (But– it’s Japan. So everything is efficient.)
Here’s what we ordered! (Anyone know what this is called?)
Afterwards, we meandered away from the festival (which was still on the grounds of the palace but off to the side) and we were lead into the main court! Here’s a hint of what we saw:
One of my favorite things about all of this is that we were able to wander around at our leisure. There was no time limit, or place to be– and I was able to really let the gravity of our surroundings sink in.
Here’s a photo dump so you can experience some of the same things we did:
(My favorite part of the whole palace… the Sento Imperial Palace gardens. Totally breath taking.)
That was what we spent the majority of our first day doing… after the Kyoto Imperial palace– we had one of the best meals I’ve ever had in my entire life. So good, in fact, that I am dedicating the next post for it. So be on the look out!