We have finally arrived to the conclusion of my Japan vlogs, and it seems bitter-sweet. I’ve been working on these vlogs and this blog for nearly 6 years and there are just so many things I wish I could have expressed or mentioned but couldn’t find room. All vlogs are between 5-35 minutes but I had nearly 1 hour+ of footage for each episode. Editing is a skill that requires sacrifice and I have certainly developed painful truth over the years. Even though film making is my occupation, these vlogs have always been a fun project to remind me how story telling doesn’t need to be perfect or calculated. It just needs to have structure and good pacing.
I’ve learned so much about myself from creating this series. It’s a strange thing watching yourself for hours and hours. You go through different stages of acceptance and criticism. First, you hate the sound of your voice or how you fidget with your hair, then you develop insecurities about how you look, then you learn to accept just how nerdy you are. The analysis really takes you to a place where you get to know yourself and how you want to present yourself to the world. I appreciate that I’m able to grow from these experiences and how they will forever be apart of the online world.
Lastly I want to thank Kaz and Joe for being such great friends and travel partners. Without them I know that I would have had a very different experience, and not for the better. I think I’ll make a little highlight video but that’s only going to go on my YouTube page so if you want to keep up with future uploads be sure to subscribe.
It was the last day in Kyoto and we weren’t going to waste it. When I say last day I also mean a measly 5 hours as we had to catch the shikansen back into Tokyo in the early afternoon. This meant that Joe and I had to make the most of the time we had left, and that we did. After waking up and checking out of the 9h capsule hotel, we took a brief stop at a MOS burger for breakfast and started making our way to Kiyomizu -Dera. After trying to hike our way up toward the temple, Joe and I realized that the incline was far too steep and exhausting for us as we were carrying 20kg of gear. We paused briefly and decided to take a bus the rest of the way (best decision all day).
Elevator at the 9h Capsule Hotel in Kyoto
The grounds were busy with school children and their teachers. I’m not sure if it was the season for the locals to visit or if it’s just that busy everyday but it was one of the most crowded locations we had visited. Additionally the veranda and main hall were then being renovated which limited the amount of photo locations I was going to be happy with. Ignoring my hobby, the temple itself is beautiful and a masterpiece of Japanese ingenuity and wood work.
Locals praying in the main hall
Joe and I didn’t particularly like being around the large crowds so we ventured off into the then leafless forest that surrounds the main hall and explored a bit. My favourite shot of the day was of this small shrine. It was just tucked away from everything and looked undisturbed.
Small shrine at Kiyomizu Dera
Then the “reality wall” hit, and it hit hard. Once we left the temple we’d be officially done with our tourist activities. The rest of the journey would be happening on trains and planes, and would be far less exciting than wandering around local streets. From what I remember I was conflicted because on one hand I was excited to go home and see my family, while on the other I never wanted to give up on the perpetual adventure. Travel can be addictive, it’s the constant motion forward, the exciting unknown. I hope more adventures are to come, but who knows cause the world is an ever-changing place and life has a way of making barriers. As a Canadian I hold a very special ability and privilege to visit the majority of the world without much cause for concern. It’s been 6 years since I was in Japan and I have had other adventures since then, but none have been as influential.
Back in 2011, capsule hotels were a strange concept to Western countries. They weren’t as widely known and I felt compelled to experience something so uniquely Japanese. Who would pay good money to rent out a coffin like tube where you slept in the presence of other people who would be stacked on top of you? Right?!
It turns out that the 9h capsule hotel in Kyoto was the strange experience I was looking for. The process for checking in and utilizing the space felt very much like a hostel with the exception of being designed by someone who loved 2001: A Space Odyssey. Admittedly I was fond of how they supplied absolutely everything you’d need to have a satisfactory night of sleep. Immediately after checking in you can unlock your personal locker, which contains a set of pjs, shampoo, conditioner, tooth-brush, tooth paste, and towels. The washroom was very clean and I appreciated the standing showers. Something that was unique to 9h was how you set your “wake up” call. Each unit is equipped to illuminate at a set time, and due to the capsules translucent/reflective material it blasts a very warm light to wake you up.
The only serious criticism that I had would be just how late people were wandering into the hotel. I remember waking up at 3 am as some other travellers or business women were making their way into their capsules. In hindsight I would have brought some ear plugs and that would have made my stay that much better. There does need to be warning that if you do suffer from claustrophobia this would not be the place for you, but over all the capsules themselves are pretty spacious for what they are.
I never asked Joe about his experience or whether or not he had any problems but I’d say for $50 CAD a night it’s equivalent to any Japanese hostel but with better beds.
Kyoto yet again proved to be one of my favourite cities to visit, and tagging off the capsule experience just made it even more satisfying.
*I’ve also always wondered if we made it onto Japanese TV.
Our time is coming to an end in Japan, and day 41 was the day to say good-bye to Tenri. We took an opportunity to thank the wonderful group of people who hosted us and made us feel very welcomed. Even today I still have fond memories of our hosts and their accommodating hospitality. 2018 holds a small glimmer of hope for a visit, but life is always uncertain till it’s certain.
What do you do when you only have a few days left in Japan but have only set as side a small amount of cash to gifts…you go to Nara! It’s a tourist friendly town, and is only a short train ride away from Tenri. I liked Nara a lot, and could have spent more time there purely to explore the city, and of course check out more of the smaller temples and shrines that are sprinkled around the city. With a population of less than 400,000, Nara is also a “slower” city in comparison to Tokyo or Kyoto which matches my personality quite well.
After picking up a small bag of goodies for the parents and friends back home, Joe and I found our way back to Tenri (after a bit of translation woes.) We practice packed and took the evening to relax and reflect on the trip. The following day would be our last full day in Tenri and the haunting realisation that our trip was coming to an end hit full force.
If you ever get a chance to deviate from the bigger cities I would highly recommend going to Nara even as a day trip. You won’t regret it.