We started our morning with a buffet breakfast (which the Japanese do pretty well) before taking our chances with navigating Kyoto by bus.
First we went to Higashiyama to visit Sanjūsangen-dō – a Buddhist temple which is known for the 1001 life-size wooden statues it houses. We were asked not to take any photos whilst inside the temple out of respect so I have none to show you here, but I would definitely recommend visiting this temple if you’re ever in the area.
We also managed to buy some souvenirs which are meant to bring good luck, good fortune, safe travels and the knowledge and wisdom to chase your dreams. We spent a little bit of time taking photos in the gardens surrounding the temple.
Afterwards we walked to the train station to make our way to Fushimi-ku to see Fushimi Inari-taisha which is a Shinto Shrine which is best known for the path of hundreds of torii gates.
We walked up the path for about half an hour before heading back down to make our planned tour to Nara from Kyoto station.
We took a coach with our tour to the Todai-ji Temple which houses the largest bronze statue of Buddha in the world. There were also other statues and replicas around the temple that we got to enjoy.
It took us a few tries to get this photo right, but it was totally worth it:
While we were walking around, we saw the cutest little shiba-inu! We were trying to subtly take a photo of the dog without disrupting the owners who were walking away (with the absolute lack of shame that most tourists have), and when the owners realised what we were doing, they actually stopped and got their dog to pose for us. They even thanked us for taking a photo of their dog! They were some of the loveliest people I met whilst in Japan, and I only wish there were more people like them in the world.
Once we finished up at the temple, we headed back towards the entrance to Deer Park to feed some deer! It was impeccably difficult to get a proper photo with them, and the second that we had food in our hands, we were surrounded. Some took a very polite approach, and if you bowed, they would bow back to you (super adorable!). Others would attack you and headbutt you literally by slamming the top of their head against your butt. Whilst a little bit terrifying, it was mostly pretty hilarious.
They were so friendly! Our tour guide mentioned that many deer have adapted to the tourists that visit, and even pose for photos and cozy up to people by sitting or bowing near them because tourists will often end up feeding the ones they can get good photos of. This lovely girl followed us around for a while until she realised I had no food.
After struggling to take photos with the deer, we headed to Kasuga Taisha (Kasuga Grand Shrine), famous for what must be hundreds of bronze and stone lanterns that lead up to, and are inside, the shrine.
After the shrine, we headed back to Kyoto station for a delicious udon dinner. After a long day of walking around in the cold, this was the perfect dinner to end the day. One day, I will learn to make udon just like this.
Then headed back to the hotel to celebrate an 18th birthday! This cake was on another level – it was some sort of strawberry and cream sponge cake that is beyond anything I’ve ever tried before. We ended the night with some sake (because why not?) before heading to bed.
The plan for the next day was to see some monkeys and I was past excited!