Kyoto pt. 2: Mt Hiei, Laundry, & Book Store Adventures



Traveling to Mt. Hiei was, like most of our travels in Japan so far, pretty painless. We had to change trains once and then arrived at Hiezan-Sakamoto station. We opted to take a cable car up the mountain because it was the fastest and most scenic route.

Cody Note: Nick always does a good job writing these, but I wanted to give my two cents too.

The weather was perfect, and as we got stepped off the cable car we were greeted with a gorgeous view of Sakamoto and the surrounding areas that was lightly covered with mist. I brought our new Gopro (very small and portable camera) this day so I took some video while Cody snapped some photos.


The main destination was Enryakuji (try saying that 5 times fast), which is more of a temple complex than one single temple. It has 3 separate areas you can walk to once you’re inside the main grounds, and each area has its own group of 2-3 temples (each with their own red seal!). We spent close to 3 hours hiking around the mountain, taking pictures and video of the temples and surrounding areas that were blanketed in fog.


I’ll edit my Gopro footage into a video when we get back home, but for now enjoy some of the photos we took:

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We descended the mountain and headed back to Kyoto. We attempted to visit the Inari shrine, one of the main tourist attractions in Kyoto. We apparently chose a terrible time to go, because it seemed like everyone else in Kyoto had decided to go at the same time. The shrine was packed, and we quickly decided to leave and come back the next morning for a less crowded visit.


After leaving, we came across a store called Book-Off, which is like a Half-Priced books but for manga comics. Cody really wanted to find a Gundam Wing manga, but that proved challenging as absolutely everything in the store was in Japanese. We tried asking an employee for help, but the language barrier was too much so we ended up just scouring the shelves for anything that looked like Gundam Wing. As it turns out, book shopping in another language is really hard. We spent close to an hour across both floors of Book-Off, but we finally found one!

Cody Note: I like how he says “we” had to ask an employee, when it was this girl who had to ask 3 people. In Japanese. For a comic book that was about 20 years old and no one who worked there was even alive when it was written. Haha, but it was actually kind of fun. It was like a scavenger hunt except you didn’t know what anything meant.

That was enough adventure for one day, so we headed back to the hotel to relax for the evening.

The next day we had to check out of the hotel we were staying at, the Westin Miyako, and had to check in to another hotel for our last night in Kyoto. We were now masters of the Kyoto subway, so we donned our backpacks and headed to the Crowne Plaza 3 stops away. Our room wasn’t ready when we arrived, so we dropped our bags off and went out for lunch.

The Crowne Plaza was right across from Nijo Castle, which was built in the 1600’s, making it one of the oldest untouched castles in Japan. Many castles were destroyed in previous wars.

Cody Note: Fun fact- Nick kept pronouncing it ‘Ni-ho Castle’ like you would in Spanish.


We wrapped up our castle visit and decided to do a little shopping. We made another stop at a newly opened Pokemon Store, and then headed to a sword shop to look for a gift for our friends dog-sitting Vito. We ended up finding an awesome looking Tanto, which is a very short sword, with a imitation blade, complete with a seal of authenticity of Japanese origin and a customs form. The sword is a replica and the blade is made mostly of zinc which renders its cutting and slicing potential totally useless.

Cody Note: We’re keeping it. Sorry Josh and Angela.

We purposely only brought 8 days worth of clothes with us to minimize the size of our luggage, so we had to do laundry before going to bed. We found what is possibly the smallest laundromat ever a short walk away from our hotel; it had a grand total of 3 washer/dryer combos, and 4 stand alone dryer units. The combo machines both washed and dried your laundry in the same machine, so you didn’t have to change machines to dry your clothes. We quickly found ourselves wishing we had these back home.

I took this photo from almost the back wall of the room.


That about wraps up the last two days in Kyoto; next up, Osaka!