Kiyomizu Dera

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.




Ghibli Museum

The Tokyo metropolis is nearly 2,200 square km and holds nearly 14 million people in its boundaries, and yet in the middle of it lays a small city called Mitaka. What’s significant about Mitaka you say? It’s just the location of a museum dedicated to one of my favourite storytellers of all time and the company that he predominately built from scratch. That’s right folks there is a museum dedicated to Hayao Miyazaki & Studio Ghibli, and it’s tucked away in the core of Mitaka.


A bike prison in the heart of Mitaka

We also discovered that Mitaka is home to Production I.G. which is the animation studio that makes Ghost in the Shell and many other anime shows. Knowing we were going to be able to at least walk by that building meant a lot to me because GITS was a shows that changed the way I looked at animation. Production I.G. showed me that anime could be complex, mature, and push the boundaries of our own reality. Even though we couldn’t get any closer than the lobby, it was still an experience I hold close to my heart.


Abandoned pool in Mitaka

After we found the Production I.G. office we started wandering around Mitaka as we had nearly 4 hours to spend before it was our time to entre the Ghibli museum. The first thing I came across was this abandoned pool which was both an eerie site but also one of deep contemplation. I grew up around pool as a competitive swimmer and it was weird to find one that’s been completely abandoned and expected to just wither away. Joe took much more time here and made a short film about it, have a look if you got time:

The pool was the location where our little trio would actually part ways for a bit. Joe remained to film while Kaz and I went off to find what else Mitaka had to offer. The results of our exploration were rather underwhelming to start. We discovered that the majority of the main tourist attractions were closed…we never really found out whether it was due to a holiday or just because it was a Monday.


Public fountain in a park near the Ghibli museum

Kaz and I walked for an hour around a generic park thinking we’d have to waste the day until the museum. Although before our enthusiasm was extinguished, Kaz noticed a path that led into a huge forest and we decided to go explore. That’s when we fell upon Inokashira Park, a beautifully hidden oasis (at least to a bunch of uneducated visitors.) The park is a collection of bridges that expand over the Inokashira pond and the beginnings of the Kanda river. The park is also home to a shrine dedicated to Benzaiten, ” the Shinto Goddess of everything that flows: water, time, words, speech, eloquence, music and by extension, knowledge.” – Wikipedia


Statue near the entrance to the Benzaiten Shrine

After Kaz and I combed through the majority of the park we felt it might be a good idea to check on Joe, who at this point could be anywhere. We eventually found him, went to the museum, watched an exclusive Ghibli short film, paid a lot of money for Ghibli swag, and checked off a major bucket list item. Mitaka was a day to remember and I’m still very pleased to this day that we found a way to get tickets to the museum and got our butts out there to experience it all!



Ghibli robot on top of the museum