30 kinds of wonderful: 17. Kyoto.

OK, so I’m doing this thing where I’m counting down to my 30th birthday with 30 kinds of wonderful. If you need to catch up, just start here.
Now let’s go!

17. Kyoto

You’re probably thinking “Lady, haven’t you done Kyoto to death already? And furthermore, aren’t you 30 yet??? This is taking for ever“.

Well, if you’re not thinking it, I am. And furthermore, 30 is an awful lot of wonderful, isn’t it? I’m really feeling it right now, but I promise you, there’s more gold in them there hills.

True that.

So yeah, Kyoto blah blah. But the thing is, Kyoto is not blah blah at all. It really is quite magically wonderful, especially if it chooses to snow while you’re there.

Here are just some of the ways Kyoto is not blah blah.

1. Geishas.
(Sorry for the teeny photo. Blame facebook. And my poor image filing systems.)
Geisha stalking is pretty much mandatory on your first trip to Kyoto. I wasn’t convinced but got sort of swept along in the whole thing while we were out stalking a meal. Then we saw a geisha and I got so excited that I dropped (and smashed) my camera, which was about three hours old at that point. Nice job, huh? Good thing it captured this on the way down.

2. Ryokans
For the uninitiated, these are traditional Japanese inns where you retreat to soak in warm mineral spring baths (onsens) and eat seasonal banquets prepared in-house (kaiseki). A truly deep sense of calm settles upon you as you leave your shoes at the front door and lingers with you long after you leave. And aren’t these the most superb sweets ever?

3. Amazing (and exclusive) bars
Bars are a real experience in Japan. You pay a hefty cover charge just to get through the door (about $20 Australian when I was there) and the drinks aren’t cheap thereafter, but you do get this master craftsman chiselling you a bespoke ice cube and that’s got to be worth the extra dollars, right?

4. Delicious street snacks complete with pornographic decor
Okonomiyaki  (often called “Japanese pancake”) is more commonly associated with Osaka, which coincidentally is also awesome. However no Okonomiyaki we ordered in Osaka came with these delightfully pornographic wall shingles.

5. Shrines to everything
(including mice).

6. Magical, mystical, mountainside hot spring bath houses
I mentioned this already in my Spirited Away post but here is a bit of a photographic record of what we found. Unmarked, halfway up this mountain path was a  snow covered lamp post (how Narnia!), a ladder and a screen offering privacy to those who wished to partake in a natural hot shower. Quite, quite incredible!

So. Kyoto Kyoto Kyoto. Go there you must. (Sorry Yoda).

To be continued.

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~ by Niccola on January 19, 2012.

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