“It’s hard to forget you, Kyoto. Even till hodiernal”
I tried as much as I could to enjoy my last night in Kyoto. I did pretend to myself that I wasn’t that tired after my side trip to Nara, struggled looking for halal food like a headless chicken in Minamijodocho, and a little ‘homework’ I brought along. I arrived at the hostel around 9pm, dropped my things on the bed, took bath and went to the kitchen to take a cup of dessert I left in the fridge. I met with two young ladies from the UK again at the lounge area and as usual, we shared our journey that day, where we went and other interesting stories from our sightseeings. It wasn’t only with two of them I had conversation that evening.
I also met with a gentleman named Simon that sat on the couch beside those ladies. We suddenly acquainted ourselves and shake hands. Funny enough, I had a little awkward moment with Simon after I asked where he came from and said “Oh German”. Had no clue if my voice tone “Oh German” sounded like I underestimated him. Trust me, what I had in mind when I said that words was “Germany” reminded me of my long-time plan years ago to study the language and there was nothing happened till today so I found it funny for myself. When I shared this story to my best friend who used to learn German, he said that some German men are surprisingly sensitive, oh now I see. They’re a bit different with their neighbor, Austrian, that I know is so much friendlier.
An awkward moment that taught me to learn more about European and their cultures, noted.
“I woke up in Kyoto with a cheesy wish; having a magic wand”
Final day in a city that stole my heart made me a bit melancholy. Like I wish I had a magic wand that could be used to stop the time, changed the day on the calendar and made my stay in Kyoto three days longer.
I woke up by 6am and re-packed my things (this what I called ‘homework) before I checked-out. I had no time to lollygag that morning even just to have a cup of hot tea. I went straight to Kyoto station to drop my new goodie bag
filled with mostly souvenirs, sigh!! and my clothes in a locker and took train to JR Inari Station to explore Fushimi Inari. It was a good time to pay a visit to the important Shinto shrine in southern Kyoto in the morning. When I arrived around 8am and stood under the giant Torii gate at the entrance, I was like “oh this is the famous orange guy I used to see in Instagram and I finally here”.
I was so excited to experience the most Instagrammable tunnel in Kyoto that has thousands of vermilion torii gates with less tourists. And it was another opportunity indeed to photograph the tunnel itself though I had to admit it wasn’t that easy capturing those vibrant orange colors only with an iPhone. I felt like I wanted to swing my magic wand and had Sony a7R in my hand then. Mindless dreaming, I know.
As far as I know, most foreign visitors come to Fushimi Inari Shrine is to explore the mountain trails. I did it too though it wasn’t till up “UP”. I didn’t mind to do morning exercise by walking on the trail then
I’m lying but you know something, when you only have dorayaki for breakfast and sure you’ll be okay to have a pleasant day hike then I can say you’re significantly different from me (read; fake backpacker). I’ll make confession on this post, when I was at Fushimi Inari and walked alone along the upper precincts, it made me felt a bit eery. I couldn’t imagine a mysterious air could be on the various graveyards and miniature shrines along the path in the late afternoon or evening.
At Fushimi I met with three backpackers; Matt who is originally from Birmingham, spent seven months traveled in Asia before went for his master (how I kept silent when he told me how awesome Nepal was which reminded me how many times my best friend, Maya, blandished me to accompany her to that country), Joel who is Canadian that moved to Taiwan six years ago to teach English and currently working there (sure, he speaks Taiwanese and Chinese fluently, me too – Rúguǒ nǐ wèn wǒ yīnggāi wèn shuí – you see?) and another one OMG I forgot his name :P (since he was the only one that spoke Taiwanese with Joel and barely shared stories with me).
I closed my trip at Fushimi with the chessiest thing I ever did
in my entire life to a very new friends (read; iPhone selfie like teens!). I’m deeply ashamed right now that’s why I didn’t blow the picture below :P if I remember why I did that :| though it was just like “can we have a moment before we go guys?” sort of, then.
I left Fushimi Inari past 10am and took train to Hankyu Kawaramachi Station to the next destination which I found later was a dangerous place: Disney Store. It was the easiest meeting point I and Aria had agreed the day before when I shared how exhausted I was, looking for halal ramen somewhere near Nara. I arrived at Disney Store thirty minutes earlier and paralyzed with those stuffs. I felt awry and sorry to myself that I couldn’t even say no to Stormtrooper mug, Darth Vader key chain, and other small stuffs till I got a voucher 25% discount for the next purchase. Aria was laughed on WhatsApp when I told him that the store was dangerous esp for a person who used to be a loyal Mickey Mouse fan years back.
I was so relieved when I finally met Aria with his wife, Atrida along with Kenichi, their cute toddler in Kyoto. It wasn’t only that, I was relieved after I gave the voucher to Aria cause if I didn’t, I would need one more goodie bag for those stuffs. Moonstruck.
Before I entered Disney Store I went to the restroom on the sixth floor and couldn’t resist to photograph an afternoon scene on one part of Shijo Dori street. Somehow I love how the composition of those vehicles was on the picture.
The fact that it was Friday and Aria deliberately took a day off from his part-time job made me felt grateful. One, sure it was an opportunity I finally met him and his little family in another part of the world. Two, I could still go for Friday prayer with him and again, in another part of the world. For me it always be an experience every time I can pray outside Indonesia especially in a country where mosque can be sparse found.
I must write this here, another reason why I felt so happy that day was the fact that his wife, Atrida, is kind of person who is very open-minded. It is the easiest way to guess kind people by the way they smile from the first time you meet them. And Atrida was just like that, very welcome and inspiring in the same time cause
OMG she got her PhD from Kyoto University months ago in a very young age (I asked Aria and Atrida to share some stories while they were lived in Kyoto, I’ll share that too on this blog. Though in the moment they’ve come back to Indonesia, I promise, their story is interesting).
Aria and I prayed at イスラーム文化センター (Kyoto Prayer Hall) located at the basement of the Islamic Kyoto Centre. A very small space yet special cause it is the only mosque you can find in Kyoto. After we finished praying, Aria asked me which way we should take to our next destination. Either we walked straight or came back to see Kanogawa River where we passed on our way to pray, in case I wanted to spend minutes to see the famous river in Kyoto. I said wherever we were convenience with I was OK, then we went back to the river. Aria and Atrida told me how beautiful Kamogawa will be in spring where all you can see is “those greens will be all pink and you can imagine how your day will be under the cherry blossom trees”. “I’ll come back for that season, buddy” an answer I said with a smile on my face and an imagination for my Hanami picnic.
Sometimes I have no idea how life spreads surprises. At Kamogawa where we met with fellow Indonesians after Friday prayer, Arya introduced me to Fahmi, a PhD student that surprisingly is my best friend’s best friend, Ayos. After Fahmi shared memories he had with Ayos in the same university I and Aria went too, I asked him to take a picture together and sent to Ayos. He was so surprised how we met just like that in Kyoto and said “it was like serendipity“.
I like how “serendipity” just like that (and the best reason why I had to write it on the picture below when I realised that Zara-tee made me looked a bit fatter than the actual, no way!).
Right after we spent an hour at Kamogawa river, we took bus to a sushi restaurant called Musashi Sushi for a lunch. That is the best thing when you have friends who are living in a country you’re traveling to. They can take you around to the best spots and share so many stories about the people, the places, the culture and the food. What do you expect more in the afternoon in Kyoto rather than having fresh sushi for lunch with good friends?
Aria and Atrida told me that Musashi is one of the must-try sushi restaurant in Kyoto, it’s affordable, reliable and fun and their sushies are fresh indeed. Even though I can find kaiten-zushi at sushi restaurant in Indonesia, but experienced it in Japan was another impression. I could see how sushies are made more than just a ‘food’, but it is a revered form of art.
Sushi done, we moved to Pontocho. Though we couldn’t see much in the afternoon, but I still remember vividly how beautiful the alley was. Pontocho could be one of the main reason why I love Kyoto more than Tokyo, those traditional restaurants, shops, tea houses, no cars allowed and no modern buildings. It’s kind of magical place I will definitely revisit if I travel to Japan again.
Next time will be in the evening where I can see is my imagination of Japanese street like I have imagined before; a narrow alley after rain, cold, fluorescent lanterns, Japanese kanji, and Geisha.
Pontocho wasn’t the end of my trip in Kyoto. Aria and Atrida brought me to one of the most famous tea store in Kyoto, Tsujiri. If I mentioned that Disney Store was a dangerous place where Japanese ¥ could fly away to the cashier, Tsujiri was more than dangerous. In fact it’s kind of place where you are allowed to say ‘I don’t care, please take all my ¥”. You really can, Tsujiri matcha is the main reason why I think it is worth it to spend Japanese ¥ because the products are amazing. And for me and Aria who used to study Product Design would be on the same page to say that Tsujiri’s packaging design is absolutely spot on. EVERYTHING is well-designed.
I was puzzled when I was there. Not because I was worried about my Japanese ¥ cause I had to come back to Tokyo for two more days but “where would I put all those teas in my suitcase if I bought too many? without destroying the beautiful packages? All I saw there was BEAUTIFUL indeed OMG”. I said to Aria that one of my mistakes when I traveled to Japan was I brought a small suitcase and he said “I’ve told you, Zis”.
Tsujiri done, we strolled casually at Gion then moved to Kyoto Marui. It was another dangerous place where again, you are really allowed to scream “I don’t care, please take all my ¥”. No, I’m not trying to tell you lies but if you are there you’ll say the same, trust me.
Aria and Atrida brought me to Loft, where you know, if you are like me who can be crazy for some well-designed stuffs, you will always cheat yourself because you’ll never say no to take some stuffs for yourself (oh hello Toy’s Story iPhone case! why I left you in Indonesia…). Aria was very kind when I was in Kyoto but he wasn’t really ‘REALLY’ KIND! because he pushed me to another dangerous place where I realised I’ll never be a real backpacker called Seria, 100 yen shops that is so much better than Daiso I went at Takeshi Dori.
Kyoto Marui was the last stop and the end of our small reunion in Japan. I had only seven hours with them but it was one of the highlight of my trip if I may say. Aria and Atrida (and you too cutie, K) was very VERY kind when I was in Kyoto. It was a moment I won’t forget, also their hospitality I won’t take for granted. Atrida used to write on her Instagram page when she shared her first trip to Tokyo after three years lived in Kyoto just few days before she and Aria flew back to Indonesia that three things a person would need to travel are money, time and health. Sometimes three of them can’t meet on the same thing called an opportunity. And for me, had a short time in Kyoto and met them in the end was a very, very beautiful opportunity.
I had to say goodbye to Kyoto and took Shinkansen back to Tokyo by 8pm. I was almost late cause I had to look for one more Starbucks tumbler for my very best friend, Maya, as promised. Fortunately I was still on time on my way back to Kyoto Station. Inside Shinkansen, I never stopped smiling and gazing through the window, There Is Much More To This, All To Well, and Dear God on my playlist, with a box of bento for my dinner.
There days in Kyoto was one of the best life experience. Even though I really wish I had a longer time but there was nothing I regretted for any single thing I couldn’t achieve during my short stay. All the memories of Kyoto will stay forever in my heart and mind.
Kyoto, you will be one of my favourite city in this world.