My trip from Kurashiki to Kyoto by train

Ok, let’s give another try to the onsen in Kurashiki, I woke up early and since the shower is something that must be done, so, let’s try it again. My experience was a bit different this time, way more relaxing (probably because I was still sleepy) and my expectations about the onsen were now gone. Maybe that’s the way to do it, don’t over think about your travels, what is good for some might not be good for you.

Preparing to leave Kurashiki

One detail about Japan that Elma mentioned is the trash, there are very few trash cans around, and oddly enough for an European, there isn’t litter either! So basically, if you can create trash you also can take it with you until the next trash can. We, westerns, have a lot to learn with these fellas! And another interesting thing I noticed is, that when you buy food at a convenience store, they always give you a wet tissue for cleaning! This seems so normal, and though, in most places I know you should be happy if you get a piece of paper that won’t even take the dirt from your face!

Again, back to a train station… Having the JR pass means that one will use the trains quite a lot… Another odd thing I realized, the repetitive sounds of birds. Not the enjoyable sounds you hear when you are in the country side, but instead a very repetitive sound of a bird tweeting! I guess they do this to help people to clear their heads… Big cities, lack of nature, so they create their own artificial nature… This indeed might sound interesting, but for me, nothing can replace real nature!

Inside the train

On my way to Kyoto from Kurashiki, with my reservation made way in advance because of the Matsuri festival I intended to see, I tried to book the next places, Koyasan and “the next one”. Not only book, but also trying to decide what to do next, and having a HUGE déjà vu with all those tunnels and the double bookings I ended up doing, and then I had to cancel them, and thankfully all of them wouldn’t charge a cent for cancellation in advance. Still, annoying!

My trip from Kurashiki to Kyoto by train
My trip from Kurashiki to Kyoto by train

Koyasan is one of the places I have high expectations, and the onsens with the monks is an experience to try, don’t ask why, that’s what I read! But there is a detail…, I have a tattoo, and while reading all the reviews I felt the discrimination towards people with tattoos, there is a good reason for that here in Japan, but still, it is a discrimination. Usually people in Japan don’t have tattoos, and if they have, are small ones. The exceptions are for the yakuza, that’s where this discrimination starts, to avoid having yakuza at their onsens, they decided to forbid people with tattoos. Again, this is what I read, not sure if this is the real reason, but there is not doubt that there is a stigma.

Kyoto Station

And now in Kyoto, hugeeee station with several floors, shops, lines, restaurants, a huge mess! Basically, a small city there, I think I even saw a hotel inside the train station! I just had to figure out how to get to the train station closer to my hostel, but luckily I had the Hyperdia app on my iPhone, that tells me which line and which direction to take! But still, Kyoto station is really big and a bit scary for a hillbilly like me!

Do not travel without Travel Insurance!

I highly recommend World Nomads, travel insurance oriented to travelers. Well detailed before the unexpected happens!

Finding my hostel was really easy, the instructions the host provided on airbnb are very straight forward, and google maps also took a big part helping me finding it. The entrance isn’t that obvious, but his instructions have it clear. The place is great, a more than 100 years old house, renewed from inside but still with the classical Japanese style, not the best for people with reduced mobility due the stairs and the Japanese futon, but I loved the place and I would definitely go back. I surely recommend it! The only less good thing is the distance to the city center, I thought it was closer than it actually is, but the transportation in Kyoto is really good and there is a bus stop a few seconds away from the hostel. Though, I have to admit that at first I actually considered to rent a bike for the next two days…

By Gil Sousa

Portuguese expat in Cork, traveler and food enthusiastic.

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