series : my spring in Japan 7

18th May…

Nishiki Market is located downtown Kyoto. Its around five block shopping street lined by plenty of shops and restaurants. There are plenty of things sold in here, start from food to clothes. Of course they also sell souvenirs. Last year, one of my good friends travelled to Japan. She mentioned to me that its cheaper to buy souvenirs in Nishiki Market compare to Tokyo. I never really checked it by surveying both places, but i think it make sense.

The next destination is around North Kyoto. I explore Kyoto by clustering it into several clusters, like South, West, East, and North Kyoto. Depends on the number of places i would like to visit, one cluster can be visited in half or one day. It minimise the distance of travel along with its cost and also focused time to explore each area by walking.

North Kyoto means visiting  Kinkaku-ji or the Golden Temple. Like Ginkaku-ji, Kinkaku-ji is also the top tourist destination in Kyoto. I think i forget to tell you in previous post. Most of touristy temple has an entrance fee. In average, it is 500 yen. For more updated fee, we can browse to a Japanaese tourism guide along with its opening hours.

Once i step in the complex, i can see lots of international tourists and domestic tourists. The domestic tourists i see in this time is more on the students, i recognise them by their uniform. Some of them become a tour guide. They try to explain the history of Kinkaku-ji to the international tourists in English. Once they finished, they ask the foreigner to fill out a form and sign it. If i guess it right, i think this activity is part of their school work. A very good one because they can practice English with potential native and at the same time they learn about their own history. I can imagine this idea is implemented in Indonesia. A bunch of student in front of Borobudur Temple in Yogyakarta or Monas Tower in Jakarta.

Kinkaku-ji also known as the Golden Pavilion. It is located in the edge of a small lake and in the middle of Japanese garden. Yes, you read me right. There are lots of garden in Kyoto, which is really lovely. Japanese garden is a bit different than an Indonesian or Western garden. It has a sense of balance. What i mean of balance is the composition of the garden, such as the plants, rocks, and water. Most of the plant are trimmed well, meaning each of plant height and size is well-put to form a garden.

I remember i once sat with a Dutch woman while watching Bromo sunrise. She mentioned that Indonesia is beautiful. Since i did visit Europe once, i complimented the same to her, that her home beautiful too. Later, we discussed this further and agree that both places are beautiful in different way. Indonesia landscape is more wildly beautiful while Europe landscape is more preserved-ly beautiful – i hope its the right word. Its the same thing that i feel in here.

Once i satisfy with the moment i have there, i continue my journey to Ninna-ji Temple. Its a bit different and less popular temple than Kinkaku-ji. But also less crowded. For some people, up to this point, they start to get bore with the temple. But for me, each of the temple is different and beautiful. Each of the site is worth seeing. Anyway, its a holiday, do not think too much and enjoy the scenery as much as we can.

Another ramen that pretty popular in Jakarta is Santouka Ramen. Luckily, there is one shop available in Kyoto near the Kawaramachi area. Meaning, its my lunch. Its is different taste than Ippudo. In fact, each of the region has different taste of ramen, its the like in Indonesia, gado-gado maybe has different ingredient and taste in each province of Indonesia. If you are interested in ramen, there is a Ramen Museum in Yokohama that serve different kind of ramen. We will go to that point in the next posts, i promise.

I come back to the guesthouse in Gion and check in to another hostel in Nishiki Market. This hostel is a modern hostel, a bit different than the previous ryokan guesthouse. What make me interested to this hostel is its kimono bed for its female dorm. Its a nice private bunk bed. It has a standard wooden bed with a small table, a small desk lamp, drawer, and power plug.  The bunk is wrapped with kimono fabric. It also has a small Japanese slide door. That make the bed is covered well and has a sense of privacy. The only thing that you need to be careful is not to hit your head to the wooden low ceiling of your own bed. It happens to me – twice. Ouch!

Another unique thing i find in this hostel is it has a mosque sign in the reception. It says “Assalammualaikum. Kepada semua pelanggan Muslim yang dihormati. Untuk sebarang pertanyaan, sila beritahu kami. Terima Kasih”. I think its is in Malaysian which in translation, “Assalammualaikum. To all Muslim’s customer. For any question, please let us know. Thank you.”. For my Muslim friend, it means that this hostel is Muslim friendly and most importantly i think they know the direction of Makkah.

After a good power nap, i walk to Nijo Castle. It is already like 5 pm in the afternoon so i can’t go inside. But, see it from the outside already make me happy. On my way home, i get lost a bit. I should turn in one intersection, but instead i keep going. Nothing to worry, like my friend always say in Melbourne, if you get lost in CBD (Central Business District), just turn right three times in the next block and you will find the same spot you were. It is a square.

On my way back, i find fresh food store where they sell strawberry. Another suggestion from my friend is to taste the strawberry. It is sweet not sour. And, this time i am curious whether it is true or not. So i buy one box of strawberry. And she is right.

I think i mostly share the story about lunch but not dinner – only once with Jin Suk. How i usually get dinner in Japan? It is in its convenience store like Seven Eleven or Watson. They have wide range of dinner, like Japanese bento to pasta. More importantly,  they taste good and cheaper compare to a restaurant dining. The price varies from 300 yen to 1200 yen.

The dining place is mostly the dining room in the hostel. It’s the perfect place and time to mingle with other travellers. This time i meet Justin (fiction name). He is from Canada and he has travelled Japan for 1.5 months. I also see a guy who working in the hostel for free accommodation. Its a similar thing like Melissa and Olivia do.

Day has turned into a night and i start to get sleepy. Thats all for this day, and see you in next post! :’)

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