After waking up a bit and getting some caffeine and food from the cute little onigiri stand by my hotel into my gullet to power me through the unavoidable hang over from my long night drinking and socializing with the crew at Pan and Circus guesthouse, I ventured forward on my rented bicycle from 9Hours capsule hotel and pedaled out into the city. Make no mistake, Kyoto is an absolutely beautiful city! Even on a cold, dreary winter morning the architecture and cityscape were lovely to take in. The sky was bright and weather crisp, making it an especially good day for a bike ride. I completely adored exploring it by bicycle, even when my dumbass decided to visit Kiyomizu-dera first thing in the day. The large, beautiful temple just so happens to be situated high atop a rather steep hill. Getting there was quite the journey and my glutes were on FIRE, but the trek heading back down the mountain was a blast!
Despite it being a cold wintery morning, visitors were flocking to the famous temple en mass and it was surprisingly crowded. From school children to girls in stunning traditional Japanese robes (which can be rented for the day from many small shops), foreign tourists and curious locals. Even with the horde of visitors, I managed to find a safe location off the heavily traveled path to park my bike and ventured into the melee for my own glimpse of the famous locale. Small shops were abundant, selling various omiyage (locally sourced souvenirs) or snacks. Omiyage culture in Japan (and in Korea) is something else- it's an unwritten cultural mandate that for any vacation you're lucky enough to go on, you must bring back some kind of rarified local specialty as a treat for all those left behind, from coworkers to friends. Because this is such a widespread obligation, many, many shops and train stations (for those last minute shoppers) carry large packages of prepackaged locally created specialty goodies for easy dispersal among all your cohorts back home. All the food on sale looked so amazing, from fish on sticks grilled over charcoal until their skins grow crisp and the smoke-infused meat drips juice with each crackling bite to large steamed dumplings stuffed with a medley of delicious fillings bursting from their centers.
Between the majestic mountain views and ancient, ornate temple buildings it was an extraordinary place to visit. Well worth the sore legs!