kyoto on foot

Confession: I never thought it was physically possible for me to walk as much as I did in Kyoto. While the city bus is probably the most convenient method of transport, walking between certain attractions is totally doable and definitely has its perks. For one, it means you can discover the little things you wouldn't otherwise. In particular, the Gion area has countless walkways to eat, shop and explore your way through. Not to mention, if you're anything like me you'll be stopping every five seconds to take photos!

My friend and I decided to try out these tofu and pork buns while we were strolling around, and they were piping hot! There was definitely no shortage of treats to choose from though; Kyoto is a city famous for its traditional crafts and handmade sweets.

Some of the shrines we visited were so small, I didn't even catch the names of them. And yes, apparently there's a wheel used in Buddhism that has the same name as me! You never know what you'll discover while travelling...

Without even planning it, my friend and I found ourselves at Heian Shrine (平安神宮) after a lot of wandering through Kyoto's tiny backstreets. The place gave me some serious palace vibes, and for a pretty good reason too! Apparently the buildings are actually modelled after Kyoto Imperial Palace, so the architecture mirrors the style of the 11th-12th century.


Lucky for us there happened to be some sort of lantern performance outside the shrine's entrance, even though they're usually reserved for Gion Matsuri. Passersby were even invited to take pictures with them while they were being suspended, haha!

The larger than life torii gates that can be found just outside the shrine. Anyway, while you may think I've already featured most of Kyoto's shrines and temples so far, the truth is you haven't seen anything yet. Until next time!
Posted by : Mani


While I could rattle off a list of my favourite places in Japan, Kyoto in particular holds a lot of fond memories for me. When I first visited years ago I spent a good amount of time there, and it really is a place of wonder. For one, there's no shortage of shrines and temples to explore, with countless ones not marked on the typical tourist trail. There are also plenty of mountains and greenery to be found, the total opposite of Tokyo's concrete jungle. Once you look past the insane crowds, there's a serenity to the place I don't think I'll ever get sick of.


I ended up travelling solo because I knew if I didn't, I probably wouldn't get the chance to visit Kyoto at all this year. To be fair I wasn’t alone the whole time, and was lucky enough to have friends to meet up with along the way. But it was the first time I planned everything on my own, and for two days I was pretty much left to my own devices. Let me tell you, it's incredible how much more you can see when you're able to travel at your own pace. That's a whole other topic I won't get into now, though!

Anyway, my first stop after arriving in Kyoto was the ever famous Kiyomizu-dera (清水寺). The name literally means clear water in Japanese, and actually originates from a waterfall within the area. Since so many people were lining up here my friend and I thought this was some kind of wish-granting fountain, but nope! Apparently it's just a much cooler way of cleansing yourself before entering the temple.

While Buddhism and Shintoism are the two main religions that are practised in Japan, you'll find that they're actually intertwined in more ways than one. It's not rare to find Shinto shrines that actually exist inside Japanese temples, which is exactly the case at Kiyomizu-dera! You'll find a small shrine in there dedicated to enmusubi, or all things love and marriage-related.


This is koi uranai no ishi, or basically a stone that will tell your love fortune. There's an identical one ten metres away, and apparently if you can walk straight from one to the other with your eyes closed your love wish will be granted. I'm not exactly sure what the rules are, but I was pretty amused to see some school kids trying out their luck with a teacher guiding them along the way haha!

A pagoda overlooking the Kyoto cityscape. Since Kiyomizu-dera is pretty much on top of a mountain, don't forget to bring your walking shoes with you! The journey to the top was definitely a bit of a hike for me. Anyway, stay tuned for more pictures from my trip soon!
Posted by : Mani

the halfway point

The concept of time is such a weird thing when you're studying abroad. There's so much pressure on this year to be the best experience of your life, but the reality is that you'll laugh. You'll cry. It's not perfect, and there'll be times when all you want is to come home to mum's cooking waiting on the table. Yet, there's so much more to gain from living in a new country that makes it all worthwhile. You meet so many people you never imagined you'd meet in your life, and are forced to push yourself way outside of your comfort zone. Now that I've reached the six month mark here in Japan, I find myself wondering if a year really is enough to complete everything I want to achieve here.

Anyway, it's been a minute since my last update but not without good reason! Autumn is synonymous with back to school season, and I've been busy with new classes and the challenges that come with them. I've also said goodbye to some of my closest friends, and said hello to the new faces that have popped up around my university. Even though I barely have enough time to do my laundry (I know, totally gross) it feels good to be busy, even if it's tiring at times. There are so many inspiring people around me who are in the same boat as me, and they push me to keep learning, keep improving my Japanese, and keep finding joy in the little things that make this country unique.

Moving away from the cheesy stuff, I still have so much to share from my summer break, which included a short stint in Kyoto! In fact, I went a little overboard and came home with over two thousand photos to sort through. It might take a while, but I definitely haven't forgotten about my dear old blog. Bear with me until then, and look forward to some fresh travel posts soon!
Posted by : Mani