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.
I think it’s fairly easy to say that Kyoto is an exquisite city. The mixture of old and new is embraced by its citizens, and as a traveler I couldn’t help but stare with unapologetic eyes. To be in such an environment where ones culture and past is so commercially intertwined with the contemporary development is admirable.
Kyoto is a city built on history. It feels as though time permitted the city to morph into this specimen that organically grew like moss in the forest. Everything gradually combined to create this web of modern civilization with scattered bits of ancient history.
With October on the horizon Kaz, Joe and myself finally arrived at a momentous occasion on our trip. Tenri would no longer be the base camp for some time. The three of us had spent nearly 17 days in the safety and comfort of Kaz’s family’s company, and inevitably we would be setting off to spend the next saga of our trip in a variety of hostels, and other unknown accommodations.
Day 17 was a fairly uneventful day although the constant pressure of finding a useful method of obtaining money was smacking Joe and I in the face. We were planning to get the necessary funds for the next 7 days before we left for Kyoto. Except for whatever reason our cards didn’t co-operate with the ATM in the Tenri post office.