First Japan Blog post! I have a lot to share and “I can’t wait to get explaining”, as the Pinegrove song goes.
We arrived in Kyoto a few days ago, on our way south to Fukuoka. It’s basically the halfway point when taking the Shinkansen (bullet train) from Tokyo to Fukuoka (~2.5 hours journey either way to/from Kyoto). So we decided to split up the journey - plus we have a few days gap (from Thursday until Monday) before our new apartment rental starts, so there is some time to kill.
We almost went on a bush camping trip?
We originally considered camping somewhere or taking local trains across the country. We both love trains, but that is a silly idea even without tons of luggage since it would be so slow and arduous.
Anyways, before we settled on staying in Kyoto, we looked into camping around the Hakone area and found a very strange chain of campsites with zero reviews on Google Maps, and their website is full of nonsensical stock images with comedic English slogans all over.
Venturing down a bit of a rabbit hole, we found that all of the businesses linked at the bottom of their website were somehow related and had the same style of non-sense stock images and English text plastered all over.
This is the footer of their website listing their other associated “businesses”:
SISTER RELATIONSHIP WITH THEOUT
OPERATED BY HTD COMPANY LIMITED
PRODUCED BY CRAZY STUPID GENIUS COMPANY LIMITED
SUPPORTED BY PRA INCORPORATED ASSOCIATION NGO
The camping website as well as each of those associated websites use this same “screaming woman” stock image.
The reviews for “THEOUT” which is advertised as a “nature healing lounge” were very poor. And all of the campsite photos on their website seemed to just be full bush camping.
Anyways, very odd stuff. It seems like this person or “company” maybe got a bunch of really cheap land and is making money by just allowing people to reserve those places as a campsite?
We were just about to request a site in Hakone when we noticed there was 0 reviews and all the weird stuff, plus we were already sketched out by the photos… so decided we would just go to Kyoto and relax there for a few days.
A rainy Kyoto evening
We’ve been working in our hotel room and haven’t spent much time around the city yet on this visit, but on our second night we went out and enjoyed the rainy atmosphere.
We walked east across town from our hotel and up north along the west bank of the Kamo River (鴨川). We’ve noticed in Japan there’s usually a decent amount of public space along rivers (real estate blocking access seems to happen often in Canada).
The walk was super quiet (and very dark.. no streetlights along the path), and we saw people having their dinner in the restaurants above the walkway overlooking the river. The patios were all closed so diners were sitting inside looking out of the window.
Kyoto’s rainiest months are June/July and September (it dips a bit on average in August). So we’re here during a pretty humid rainy part of the year.
We walked north into the Kiyamachi area, which is especially atmospheric at night.
After paying a visit to Urbanguild (where we saw CRCK/LCKS play back in 2018), we stumbled upon a place called Pontocho Sakaba (先斗町酒場). They were advertising “all-you-can-drink” aka nomihoudai (飲み放題) for 1 hour of unlimited lemon sour drinks with a tap at each table, and a delicious-looking affordable selection of kushi-katsu (串カツ) deep fried meat skewers.
That was definitely enjoyable.
Then as we were paying the bill, the staff insisted that we each take an umbrella (we didn’t come with any). Amazing service and kindness. We aren’t sure if they care or if they just happen to have extra (Umbrellas are often stolen / forgotten at places in Japan) but we are hoping we have time to go back and return the umbrellas tomorrow.
We were immediately very grateful as when we stepped out of the restaurant it was pouring rain.
Then we headed back home - hopping onto the bus along 河原町通 which took us back to Kyoto station, a short walking distance from our hotel.
Thanks for reading and see you in the next post, soon hopefully!
Time permitting I’m hoping to share a new post every other day. Let’s see.