The second part of our trip, Nicole and I took a train to Kyoto, which is only about 2 hours from Hiroshima (by bullet train). Kyoto is the sort of the historical mecca of Japan, so we thought it would be neat to see more of a traditional city.
We stayed in a hostel so we shared a room with 3 other people. It was fine the first night but the second night I thought I was going to freak out. 2 of the girls in our room had to leave at 5 am to catch a train, so they were up til like 2:30 am packing. At that point the money we had saved by staying in a hostel didn't mean a thing. With Hiroshima fresh in my mind, I had to force myself to think about peace. Peace. Peace.
Anyway, Nicole and I saw some very beautiful things in Kyoto. First, the Golden Pavillion, a gilded temple built in the 1200's! It was striking. It was a bit rainy outside, but that only made it look more beautiful and the gold more shiny! On our walk to the temple, a most exciting thing happened: we saw GEISHA!!!!!!! Now, I don't know if you have read the book or have seen the movie "Memoirs of a Geisha", but it sort of was an obsession of mine that I see a real geisha in Japan. We saw 2! It was like I spotted Brad Pitt or something. We casually (but quickly) changed our direction to follow them so we got some pictures from behind and the side. Yippee!! They looked just like I imagined (and in the movie!)
After seeing the palace, we had tea in an open-air teahouse in the palace garden. It was beautiful sitting on the floor, drinking green tea and gazing at the greenery. And boy, was it green!
That night we walked around downtown Kyoto and found some quaint little streets...one had a sort of canal (looked like I imagine Venice to look). Then we walked to Gion, an area that is supposed to have the highest population of geisha in Japan. I don't know if we were in the exact right area of Gion, but it was full of trashy sex shops and hostess bars! We definitely did not see a geisha there! I'm so glad we saw 2 that morning....
The next day we went to a temple called Nanzen-ji. It was one of the most beautiful places I'd ever seen. There were so many plants and trees....it was so lush and green. Our pictures definitely don't do it justice, but it's the Japan of the movies. Amazing.
Kyoto was gorgeous. As you can see in the pics, geisha, the golden palace, and bamboo trees!