Flashback Friday: Kyoto, Japan

lookingatblossoms

Cherry blossom season in Kyoto is magical- and a little crazy.

All over the city from mid-March to mid-April, the blooms take on the most beautiful range of colors from white to pale and bright pink. The trees look like they are cradling fluffy pockets of snow.

temple

kimonotemple

When the wind blows and blossoms flutter to the ground, people stop what they’re doing and immerse themselves in the flowery downpour.
As you might imagine, the crowds come out in full force. It’s such a festive time and there are so many community events going on at the temples. Ladies wear their finest colorful spring kimono and photographers are everywhere.
The best part is that trees look gorgeous day and night. This particular tree is famous in Kyoto. I captured this image at sunset on our first day.

cherryblossomtreenight
With the huge influx of people into Kyoto, hotels book up months in advance and can be alarmingly expensive, averaging $150 per person a night. Starting in January, I tried making reservations at half a dozen places to no avail.

I finally found one budget traditional inn, the White Hotel Kyoto with availability. The receptionist sounded completely wacky on the phone and the Trip Advisor Reviews for this inn were dreadful. Basically, they warned “Don’t stay here!”

But given the price and time of year, we went for it anyway.

futons

Thankfully, the inn suited us just fine. Yes, the receptionist was completely cuckoo and it was cramped and we slept on tatami mats on traditional Japanese futon. But the price was great at only 4600 yen per person (~$50/night), the location near the train station was excellent, and it did have loads of character.
Traditional Japanese inns require guests to leave their shoes at the front and wear hotel slippers inside. One hilarious particular about this inn were the “special” slippers designated for our humungous foreign feet…

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Kyoto Travel Tip #1

The Kyoto White Hotel is a good value during cherry blossom season and the location can’t be beat. It’s a 3 minute walk from the Kyoto Train, Subway, and Bus Stations with loads of restaurants and bars nearby. Don’t be intimidated by the Trip Advisor Reviews, but keep in mind it’s a little bit strange…

Next week’s flashback will feature a Blue Eyed Geisha… who do you think that could be?

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