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).

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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.

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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.

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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.

-K

 

9h Capsule Hotel Experience

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?!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

-KB

Farewell Tenri

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.

-KB

Maple Syrup : the Canadian Gift

A fortunate element of my time in Japan was the opportunity to exercise the ability to just do nothing. Honestly it is something I always try to do when I travel now and that’s to just exist in a place and not do anything. Yes, I acknowledge that it can be a waste of money and time to go somewhere far away and sit around and do nothing, but to me it’s acknowledging that being on an adventure also means just taking a break. Taking a mid day nap is not something I can do back home while I’m working and being able to do that while on vacation is a luxury.

Finally, Calpis you will forever be a very strange drink. I do not understand you.

 

-KB

Nabe is the best!

Some days are actual roller coasters. It all starts at the top of a sky scraper, then you plummet down to reality where time flows as it wishes and the clouds look so much further away. Your feet meet the ground and your bank account suddenly has limits and your ability to forget about the common problems comes rushing back like the Japanese humidity. It’s an inevitable reality for someone who was just out of school and traveling on a budget. However even today as someone who has been working for 6 years, I look back on the Park Hyatt experience as unique and burnt into my memory. The elevator rides, the sound of fine dinning, the smell of the pool, and most definitely the view. All these memories are complied into a single entity. A single feeling. A gift to myself.

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Final look out of Park Hyatt Building

Not everything in a “commoners” life is bland or insignificant though, it really just depends on how you manage your perspective and the company you keep.  The family that welcomed us to Tokyo the first time round had yet again offered to shelter us for 2 additional nights. I was beyond myself when they welcomed us back and how much they were willing to go out of their way to take care of us. I’d imagine it would be a hard sell to take in 3 relative strangers into ones home and offer them such hospitality. At the core of their structure I could tell kindness as a key element. It was evident by the way I could hear them speak to one another through the walls and how they interacted from afar. Yes people tend to put the best versions of themselves forward in the presence of visitors but sometimes you just know.

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Park Hyatt Tokyo – Upper Floor Lobby

I am so thankful to them.

-KB