Feb. 7, 2020
I got to Kyoto in the morning and took the subway to my hostel. It was really difficult to figure out how the transit cards worked there. I ended up getting one that was like buy 5, get 1 ride free. I tried to do laundry when I got there and I spent about $9 for the dryer and the clothes still weren’t dry. So I complained, I wasn’t going to spend anymore money on this stupid dryer. The guy at the front desk couldn’t fix the dryer and it took a lot of convincing but he finally let me hang my clothes up outside.
I met a transgender woman named Avery from Australia, we bothed laughed at the dryer together and also the front desk man’s reaction to my request. Then I went out to buy some dinner of sushi from the grocery store.
I chatted with Avery for a while and a Chilean family brought a whole lot of pizza to share. Then I slept for a really long time because I didn’t sleep last night on the bus.
February 8, 2020
There was a monastery, Tenryu Temple, founded in 1334 about a 20 minute walk from my hostel so I went there in the morning.
My illness was almost over, I thought I could handle the hike but I almost didn’t. I coughed through the whole trail and barely made it to the top. The ambiance was nice, it was shrouded in mist and overgrown with moss. It was as mysterious as you'd expect Japanese monasteries to be. I could imagine being some kind of buddhist monk as I wandered along the trail.
I remember there was a really loud little girl running all around. I could hear her from the top. We met up at midpoint. Her family and I both sat down at midpoint. She really liked hiking and was really into it. She was really excited to be there.
I went back to the hostel and met up with Avery again. We made a plan to go out the next day. I had to change hostels because they were booked up and I had only booked one night because I didn’t trust hostels in Japan anymore. So I went to my new hostel and I booked one night there to just try it out. There was a drunk guy that stumbled into our room about 2 a.m. and proceeded to snore loudly the whole night. At some point I couldn’t take it anymore. I grabbed his foot and shook it as hard as I could. I yelled at him “Sleep on your side”. He just grumbled and went back to snoring.
February 9, 2020
The owner told me that the drunk guy was checking out and I thought the hostel was OK, so I booked a week there. Then, in the morning, (after I booked and paid for the whole week) the old man who worked there (I believe his name was Hiro) became a complete jerk. It was very cramped in the kitchen and I was enjoying my breakfast and coffee. He came in and made a big fuss and shoved me off of the chair I was sitting on because he needed it to reach something in a cupboard. Annoying. Five minutes later, he started making noises at me. I had asked to switch beds and assumed that I would do this at about 10 a.m. (checkout time) after the other people had left. He was telling me to move out of my bed at 9 a.m. I was still trying to enjoy my breakfast and look at the map to plan my day. He would not stop making noises and having a fit at me, until I packed up and moved my belongings. One hour before official check out time. I couldn't take it anymore, so I went to move my stuff. Then, my stuff was not in the exact right place. So he simply grabbed my belongings and threw them against the wall. (I had put them out of the way in a corner, but my bags were about two feet from where he wanted them to be). I think he made calls to the owner, who I believe explained to him that he should not be a jerk to me anymore, as I had told the owner over the booking.com messenger that I would be giving a one star review. Unfortunately, I was stuck there for a whole week at this point. Later in the week he calmed down and didn't try to tell me to do anything. However, one morning my friend wanted to use the hot plate in the kitchen, and the old man had a fit again because she put it on the wooden table and not on a PLASTIC STOOL. He wanted her to put A HOT PLATE on a PLASTIC STOOL. Think about it. So we got in another fight about that. I hope that this guy retires soon, then this hostel will be an OK place to stay in downtown Kyoto. He really should not be doing this job.
After the fight with the old man, I walked all the way to Fushimi Inari Shrine. It was very busy but Avery and I were both punctual and we found each other quickly. Also she is very easy to spot in a crowd. She told me all about the JPop concert she went to the day before. We walked up the small hill through hundreds of orange gates. Each one represents a large donation to the shrine.
There were a lot of cats around and people fed them. Avery really loved cats, we spent a lot of time following cats around. This is a shrine to the Japanese Fox Goddess so there were a lot of cool statues of foxes everywhere. A lot of people also bought toy foxes to take home.
Then Avery and I said goodbye and I walked all the way back to my hostel. There was a nice Spanish lady there named Cristina. I took her to try some okonomiya and walk around at night. We decided to go around to different temples the next day together.
February 10, 2020
Cristina and I went to the Imperial Palace together but it was closed. So we continued to the Golden Temple, Kinkakuji. It was raining a bit, but that was fine.
It cleared up when we got there and then we went right back downtown. We walked most of the way there and I had a granola bar that someone gave me in my pocket. I ate it and my lips felt a little numb so I was a little afraid of having an allergic reaction to something in the granola bar. It was one of those weird health bars. So on the bus back to our hostel, I took an antihistamine and I started to feel a little sleepy. We had a little lunch of grilled eel and then went back to the hostel.
Cristina really wanted to see a temple that she had a photo of but didn’t have the name of it, so we went on a wild goose chase to find it. The only thing she knew was that it was in the Higashiyama district. It’s a really big district. We walked up and down the streets showing people this picture and we eventually found it. Most people didn’t really know where it was. We found it about 20 minutes before it closed.
The sun went down and I wanted to go back. I was still very sleepy, but Christina went on a big walk to Fushimi Inari Shrine. It’s supposed to be beautiful at night but I didn’t care to find out.
February 11, 2020
We tried again to go to the Imperial Palace but there were no tours until late afternoon so Christina wanted to see a bamboo grove and I really didn’t care what we did. I have seen a million of them but there was nothing else to do in Kyoto for me so I went with her. It was so commercialized and busy all because of some bamboo. It was very strange.
All the food was overpriced, everything was expensive so we didn’t stay long, plus we had tickets for a tour at the palace. We made it back just in time for the tour and saw some more gardens and old buildings.
The most interesting thing was the riverbank full of smooth rocks. It was made by rocks that the workers in the garden brought in every day. If the rock was perfect enough they would get paid a certain amount for the rock.
We were starving after that, so we went for Ramen and then went to bed.
February 12, 2020
I went on a little architecture tour to the train station. There are a whole bunch of escalators
and a garden on the roof.
Then I went to the tourist info centre where they booked me a kaiseki lunch and I got a cheap ticket to go up the Kyoto Tower. It always pays to go see the tourism ladies but you will always leave with a handful of pamphlets that you don’t want.
It was just before closing time, but I made it to one more temple. The temples are a little bit different in Japan because you have to take your shoes off even if it’s cold. So every time I was at a temple my littles tootsies were freezing….
I walked back home and Christina had this idea to go back to Spain because of the virus and she was also tired of Japan, like me. A group of us from the hostel all went out for dinner together to say goodbye.
Feb 13, 2020
I had a reservation for Kaiseki at lunch so I put on my new kimono. It took 2 hours. The other Japanese lady in the dorm didn’t know what she was doing either. She tried to help. It was a nice sunny day, so I walked over in my little costume but I wasn’t the only one. Lots of young Japanese women put on Kimonos to take pictures at the temples in Kyoto. I was the only one at the restaurant so I had a hostess and two chefs to myself. It was good but I wouldn’t do it again. There were 8 courses. Every other course was paired with a different sake. They also gave me a big box of rice to take home. The service was nice and pleasant.
I just hung out in the hostel that night. Somebody was making chocolate chip scones for valentine’s day and they gave me one.
Feb. 14, 2020
Finally I could leave this hostel and I would never have to see that old man again, however, I had an interview just after check out time. It seemed like the old man waited until I was mid way through my interview to unplug my computer and start vacuuming because of course there were no other plugs he could have used. I finished the interview and then I started getting messages on booking.com app, the owner said they were going to call the police because I stayed too long after checkout and used the power and internet too long. So, of course, once again. I had to pick up all my stuff really quickly and run away. I have never had to do this in any other country.
It was still a really long time before check in time at the next hostel so I thought I would walk there. It was a good choice because the hostel was located on the Philosopher’s Walk so I had a nice stroll.
I checked in and everyone was really nice here even though I had arrived early. I hung out at the hostel all night long with friendly staff and guests in the common room.
Feb 15, 2020
I met another Canadian who was working in China and also stranded. Geoff. The staff at the hostel told us about a crazy art exhibit at the Kyoto University of Art and Design. So we went there. Geoff stayed until lunch and I stayed for about 6 hours looking at all the crazy stuff the students made. This was their graduation show so there was every kind of art you could think of, video games, board games, ceramic, architecture, regular paintings, performance art, digital art, industrial design, marketing type stuff, that’s why it took all day.
Feb. 16, 2020
It was raining but I felt like going to see some temples and gardens while they wouldn’t be busy. I went to Nanzenji Temple which has a fancy gate
a fish pond
and a strange shrine you can find in the back. I went there mostly for the shrine. People go there so they can take a naked shower in the waterfall but no one was there while I was there, it was too cold to try.
I went to another zen garden, still didn’t get it. I decided that was my last zen garden. Kyoto is supposed to have the best gardens in Japan. I went to two of the best zen gardens in Kyoto and still don’t get it. So I decided that was the end of that.
Feb. 17, 2020
Didn’t really do anything today. I went to the 7 Eleven to print out stuff to get my Myanmar visa. I probably just hung out with Geoff in the hostel.
Feb. 18, 2020
Geoff and I went to english talking group. He took me to his friend’s noodle shop. Apparently he comes to Kyoto every year for Chinese New Year so he was stuck longer than he expected, just like I was.
I had just been assigned a report to do on another restaurant and I was looking for someone to go with me. It’s not required but it’s preferred to bring a guest as it is less suspicious. I went to the common area and the first person I saw said he couldn’t do it. The second person I saw said that he could do it so I immediately made a reservation with his special diet request. When I came back out to remind him to wear nice shoes and a jacket of some sort and he told me he couldn’t go suddenly. So he assigned someone else to go with me after flaking out. I was really annoyed. Someone cancelling is one thing but then assigning someone else to you is super annoying. I was going to ask Maka anyway but it was annoying that he assumed I would.
Feb. 19, 2020
I didn’t do anything this morning. I waited for Maka to come home and then we walked for one hour all the way to the restaurant. We had a really great meal. We spent $300 and had a great time.
Feb. 20, 2020
I spent my report payment on sushi and sake dinner after I finished my report.
Feb. 21, 2020
I was completely out of ideas for things to do. Whenever that happens, I climb a mountain. There happened to be one down the street. So, I climbed it. When I got to the top, there was an English couple and they had an actual map so I followed them down the other side instead of coming down the same way and it was a lot prettier. I was glad that I met them.
Feb 22, 2020
I slept in until check out time, in the afternoon I took the bus to Osaka. I walked all the way to the bus station because I had nothing else to do. The walk was completely uneventful...finally.