This is the first picture I took in Kyoto. Seriously, that's not a joke. First picture:
This no-tit-squeezing sign is actually quite symbolic of my thoughts on Kyoto. In my head I had always thought of Kyoto as this ancient city chuck-full of temples and castles. Well, there are tons of temples -- and one castle -- but they are all mixed in and around a metropolis. Being in the middle of a huge city isn't really my thing. Sure I live in Hanoi and love it, but there is something vastly different about the architecture, back alleys and neighborhoods, and overall feel of Hanoi versus Kyoto.
This isn't Kyoto's fault. This is obviously my own fault for having a preconceived notion of what Kyoto was like. The fact that there are gropers in a city that I had assumed was overflowing with monks is kind of how I'll remember Kyoto -- although perhaps the monks are the gropers. All that said, I had a great day in Kyoto.
I arrived at about 6:30 AM on the night bus from Koryama. I immediately went to my hostel, dropped off my stuff, showered, rented a bike, got a map and took off to explore the city. The man at the hostel circled all the places in Kyoto that I should see. He explained to me that they were really far from each other and outlined a two day strategy for bike riding everywhere. Well, Ben August doesn't need two days to bike ride a city. I made good time to the farthest temple on the map to start the day and after that I was a man possessed. At the end of the day I had visited every temple the guy suggested except for one. I ended up riding 10 hours on the bike, literally from almost sunrise to sunset. I also took lots of pictures of myself with the arm extension method:
(PICTURE: The famous bridge in Kyoto.)
(PICTURE: The Golden Pavilion, AKA Rokuon-Ji Temple.)
(PICTURE: Kiyomizu Temple; Masumi and Kensuke's favorite.)
The last temple I went to was probably one of the coolest ones I have ever visited...although it ended up being one of the most miserable. Watch the video: