It is said by all, that when visiting Japan, one must see Kyōto. So when the opportunity presented itself, I hoped on a bus to check out the ancient city. I’d read as well as heard many great things about it, so my excitement was at a pretty high level. Since being in Japan, I’d only seen where I lived (Tokyo) and Nikko, which I fell in love with. So I was preparing myself to be gobsmacked with the feeling of adoration.
Alas, when I got there, there was such an inundation of tourists— Japanese tourists even— and the roads were so jam-packed with tour buses, that I was rather turned off. I suppose it necessary to disclose the fact that I was also on this trip alone, as opposed to with a small group of friends (which probably would have made a huge difference). Suffice it to say, with my limited Japanese and Kyōto having so many attractions, I too got sucked into the tourist role, and found myself traversing from palace to castle, torii to torii, and then to the riverside. Everywhere I went, I ran into tourists, and throngs of Japanese students posing as collectives for what I’m assuming to be yearbook photos.
I suppose eventually, this caught my fancy more than the actual city— the constant monitoring of the people (When I uploaded my photos from this venture, I found more of random people than of Kyōto itself).
Now, this isn’t to say Kyōto isn’t immensely enjoyable— I wouldn’t know, as I wasn’t fortunate enough to experience it in that regard— but I’ll tell you what I do know: it’s vastly beautiful and interesting, but extremely touristy without an insider’s knowledge, or a friend to get lost and experiment with. So if ever I do make it back to Sayuri’s stomping grounds, I’ll be sure not to go at it alone. -VJ