The feeling was tranquility.
If you've read my previous three posts, then it's no secret that the Fukuoka leg of my journey didn't quite go as planned. However, I don't want those blogs to deter you from visiting Fukuoka.
Fukuoka City had a lot to offer but due to my poor hostel location combined with Google Maps glitches and bad weather...well, it definitely wasn't my best three days in Japan. That being said, I was looking forward to a change of scenery.
To be transparent, I've been to Kyoto before (in 2017) and I wasn't a fan of the city. To me, Kyoto didn't feel like Japan; I remember an international city full of tourists and tourist activities. The first time I went, I went to the fish market, Kiyomizu-dera temple, and explored the city.
I wasn't inclined to return to Kyoto but while planning this trip, I knew I would have to take a train from Fukuoka to Tokyo and I thought that making a pit stop in-between would make the journey more interesting. And that's why I included Kyoto in my itinerary.
That's why, while I packed my belongings in Fukuoka, I wasn't in a rush to get to Kyoto.
It was a long journey from Fukuoka to Kyoto: first I had to walk about 45 minutes from my hostel to the train station with my bags threatening to pull my shoulders out of their sockets. Then I took a shinkansen and two local trains to Uzumasa Station in Kyoto, and then walked about 10 minutes to my hostel. The whole journey took about 4 hours in total, meaning I arrived at my hostel around 3:30pm.
Rather than staying in the heart of the city like last time, I was now staying in the residential outskirts of Kyoto. The area near Uzumasa Station was quaint and peaceful, a stark comparison to the hustle and bustle of the city center.
I wish I could recommend the hostel I stayed in to you because it was one of the best of my whole trip. But unfortunately, when I searched it to include a link on my site, their website stated that they permanently closed down.
Regardless, this hostel was in a perfect location, only a 10-minute walk from the station and located in the cute, backstreets of Kyoto.
Instead of the capsule-style beds I became accustomed to, this hostel had full-sized beds separated by privacy walls and curtains.
When I arrived at the hostel, the owner spoke to me in English and asked about my trip and the places I'd gone so far; he was very kind and ran the hostel with his family.
After checking in, dropping off my bags and freshening up, I decided to explore the area.
I hadn't eaten since my ekiben (train lunch) that morning and was so excited to learn that there was a locally-run ramen shop right down the street called Tengu Ramen.
You better believe that Tengu Ramen was my first destination after leaving my hostel! (I'm a bit obsessed with Japanese ramen if you can't tell...) The ramen there was delicious! It had a thick tonkotsu (pork broth) base and was complete with chashu (pork belly) and green onions. I'm literally drooling as I write just thinking about it!
The only downside to tonkotsu ramen is that it's really heavy and can make you feel sluggish after eating it. Because of that, I decided to take a walk to burn off the meal!
I didn't have a particular destination in mind, and as I had no plans for this first day in Kyoto, I was free to explore as I pleased.
I chose to walk down the streets behind my hostel because they lead further away from the station and were more residential. There were no famous temples or shrines, no 7-elevens or Family Marts, I don't even remember passing a single gas station or shop. What I do remember was the feeling of ease. I hardly have words to describe these couple of hours but I'll do my best.
The weather was beautiful, about 75 degrees F (about 24 Celsius) with a mild breeze. It was around 6pm and the sun was beginning to set and twilight was approaching. The only sounds that could be heard were the sounds of the wind rustling the trees, wind chimes tinkling pleasantly outside houses, and the occasional whizzing of bike tires as locals made their way home from work. The feeling was tranquility.
I wish I had taken better photos of the area (the one here and the title photo are the only ones I took) but I was so engrossed in the moment that I didn't want to ruin it by being on my phone or focusing on taking photos.
Although these amateur shots don't come close to doing the area justice, just trust me that it was beautiful.
It was in these moments that I came to love Kyoto. I'm so thankful that circumstance brought me back to the city and allowed me to see it from a new perspective. The first time I'd come to the city, I didn't realize that there was more to it than just the famous tourist destinations. There's another side of Kyoto that's nearly untouched by the tourism and I can only hope that the city doesn't grow to envelop the outskirts as well.
After strolling around the backstreets for a couple of hours, it started to get dark and I headed back to my hostel.
I ended up heading to bed around 8pm because I had a day packed with adventures ahead of me and wanted to be fully rested. Stay tuned for my next post because that next day was one of the most memorable days of my whole trip!
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