Osaka for me was pretty cool, from what I saw, when I was actually awake. The area I was staying (where I luckily found a last minute bed), was in the ‘Americamura’ area, a very trendy, ‘Harajuku’ kind of place, surrounded by bustling streets lined with famous designer shops and also filled with small streets lined with small hippy boutiques playing catchy music as you walk by. The river running through the area was beautiful at night and the people that surrounded the area seemed to be very much the cool kids, hip and trendy with their own Japanese style which is exactly what I had pictured. I briefly met a girl here who I chatted to about Kyoto and immediately I wanted to go there. Having downloaded a super handy app called ‘Triposo Japan’, I read about a place called Nara, nearby Osaka which sounded right up my street. It was said to be filled with temples, have a relaxed country atmosphere and was a very nice place to experience culture. I took the train to Nara where I stayed in a lovely homely guesthouse of a Japanese husband and wife who upon my arrival were very helpful and friendly. I rented a sweet pink bicycle and with my map in my basket I was ready to head off exploring. I spent 2 nights in Nara and the second day I met two lovely French girls Sabine and Angela, who I spent the day/evening with doing more exploring, by foot this time, followed by a lovely dinner that evening. It was short but sweet and these girls were such a nice addition to my trip. They gave me tips on Kyoto and I promised to visit them in Paris. Nara was so pretty, the national park was filled with friendly deer, pagodas, temples and tree lined walkways which could captivate you for hours, and they did! My next stop would be to Kyoto where I didn’t get off to the best start. After an hour on a local bus, which was the right one to take, but turned out to be going the opposite direction, I finally came to my stop, thanks to a lovely Japanese woman who translated for me. We chatted for a while before we got off at our separate stops, but It was clear that the Japanese people would go out of their way to help you. It was so nice! I stayed in Kyoto for 2 nights at the Santiago guest house, a very luxurious hostel in a superb location right beside many famous attractions. My first day was spent exploring the beautiful temples, the big Buddha, the incredibly unique backstreets lined with wooden Japanese houses and taking photographs with Japanese students. Eventually that evening after a brief trip back to the hostel, I set out again to explore one of the famous temples that reopen at night and are beautifully lit up. I decided on Koda Ji temple, that I had skipped earlier that day and lucky enough because seeing it that night was so magical and special to me. I followed the route around the temple that led me over tiny bridges, through bamboo forests and to a beautifully lit up lake which had perfect reflections of the autumn trees around it. The next day I took the train to the Fushimi Shrine which has bright orange shrines leading all the way to the top of the mountain. I walked to the top of the mountain despite the rain, and wearing flip flops and it was so cool to stop along the way and see the shrines. Kyoto was so amazing and was one of the most special places I have been in the world. It’s a must for everyone!
Just like I do!