This is the first of a series of posts about my 6-day stay in Kyōto.
For Golden Week, Mike and I traveled to 京都 (Kyōto) via 新幹線 (Shinkansen: bullet train). Golden Week occurs during the first week of May each year. It’s the culmination of several holidays, including Showa day. As it is a national holiday, many 日本人 (nihonjin: Japanese people) travel at this time.
Mike actually tapped me on the shoulder to point out one of these trains passing us and when I turned around it was out of sight.
We stayed at the lovely Hana Hostel (link HERE). I highly recommend it. The first thing we did? Ate ramen, of course! On our first night we visited Gion, the supposed Geisha district. We didn’t see any, but this might very well be because of a certain style establishment in the area which accepts customers on a referral-only basis. Patrons, usually men, drop hundreds of dollars and pay by tab, so the restaurants are obviously wary of newcomers.
After getting the lay of the land we decided to visit しゅず (酒 SHUZ: the name of a bar), but since we were a bit early popped into the nearby ゲム センター (gemu sentaa: arcade). I’ve written about the photo seal booths before, but in case you’ve forgotten… Japanese girls and women get dressed up, put on loads of makeup (yes, more than usual. I didn’t think it was possible either), and take photos with their friends.
This was the entire basement floor of the arcade. What was strange was the large, prominent sign at the stairs explaining no men were allowed downstairs unless they were part of a couple. Halfway down the stairs was a woman’s toilet with a similar sign: no men allowed, and you’re currently on camera! I found it all extremely creepy.
I also saw this guy:
Before we left I tried my hand at a ￥100 ice cream crane game, and luckily snagged this!: We got sake at the bar and some free grapes; ate ’em with the skin on – 外人 スマシュ (gaijin smashu: Mike’s coined term for when we do something a foreigner would do).
Day 2 • Day 3 • Day 4 • Day 5 • Day 6 • Part II