Diverse Kyoto: meeting great people and joining the natural spectacle

By the time we reached Kyoto, we were already travelling for 7 weeks in Indonesia and Japan so several routines start to occur especially before reaching a new destination: First we do some research on sights, best quarters to stay and restaurants in blogs or in the Lonely planet, followed by an overview of the transportation opportunities (UBER, Metro, scooter, bicycle, walking, tuc tuc?) and last  the options regarding accomodation. Therefore we read reviews of hostels on booking or tripadvisor but the final decision is often made after having a look on our prioritized stays on site to avoid bad surprises.

For Kyoto we were lucky to stay with another workaway-host for 2 weeks so we were warmly welcomed by the team of Gojo Paradiso. This place offers 7 Airbnbs for short- and midterm stays and a nice litte restaurant. The staff is partly consisting of volunteers that stay between 2 weeks and several month to support the little business. Overwhelmed by the nice people we settled down and were happy to unpack our backpack for 2 (!) whole (!) weeks. The next day we started working: for 3 hours/day we prepared the guest houses for the new arrivals. Again we quickly adapted to the new rhythm and were happy about the routine that we gained by the fixed working shifts. You maybe notice already, in daily travel grinds, some routines are worth a lot because it gives me a little stability somehow. In the afternoon we still had enough time to visit the best places in Kyoto like the Imperial palace, the  Higashi Hongan-ji (for free, 5 minute walk from Kyoto station), Fushimi Inari (went there by bile from Gojo quarter, also no entrance fee) and the market Kobo-San (15 minutes walking from Kyoto station) where you can buy traditional porcelain, Kymonos, good food and further local crafts (every 21st of a month, surrounded by impressive temples).
We worked together with travellers from Chile, Australia, Italy, Spain, Brazil, US, Britain, Switzerland, France and Guatemala, and could share our experiences, thoughts and plans what was just so sweet! A real melting pot when it came to spoken languages, cooking habbits and cultural backgrounds! We learnt a lot about Kyoto from the guys that arrived before. We even enjoyed a traveler´s luxury like chilling on the sofa, watching a movie, cooking together or having a beer in our living room. Ha, I´d never imagined that this can mean so much to me but it was great to live together in this colorful and very diverse


Running along the river or renting bikes was part of our daily plans what made this place feel like home within only days!

We were lucky again to join a festival, the Jidai Matsuri where the whole town joins a parade and several fire ceremonies to rememeber the time when Kyoto was capital of Japan. Representatives of every epoche since then walk through the city, wearing the traditional cloths of the ancient times until the croud reaches the Heian Jingu temple.
Especially Arashiyama, a quarter famous for great bamboo landscape fascinated me a lot. Walking along the river, we saw beautiful views with the”momiji”, the changing autumn colors.  Visiting the monkey park next to the river, we got an idea of how Kyoto looked like without the human influence- the flora and fauna is so diversified in Japan, I never saw such a variety before! Especially in spring and autumn, the cherry blossom and the momiji attract lots of visitors, there is even a japanease expression for people following the changing leaves (momijigari) as it is part of japanease tradition. We also enjoyed one day on the philosopher´s path were we were also doing momijigari:o)
Kyoto has so much to offer that it´s impossible to name everything we did and even more difficult to put the impressions in words because it was not only about the great places we saw but more about the vibe, the positive experiences with japanease culture and the lovely relationships we built within our team. We even won a further travel mate, Yasemin who joins us for some more months on our way through Vietnam, Kambodia and Thailand. I am very thankful for this great and haunting time and again it was so hard to say goodbye to all the gorgeous people but this experience gave me lots of confidence for our oncoming destinations as I know I will never be alone but surrounded by impressive people.

How much does it cost to travel in Japan?

And again i have to admitt that i could have done better, in fact i did saved some money on accommodation and at some point on food as we were working for three weeks. But there was still this problem with having to much party and Japan is really expensive 🙂 In total i spend 1361,6€ ( plus 250€ JR Pass and about 120€ sending two parcels to Germany and Mexico). Daily average: 36,8€ (whitout JR Pass and parcels).

Accommodation: This time we slept only in bunkbeds for two weeks. As we didnt book anything in advance we might payed more than others. So here the first advise: In Japan you have to book at least two months in advance! The last three weeks we got free accommodation as we worked for two workaways.


Transportation: In Germany we bought the JR Pass for 7 days (250 €).This pass does not cover all train connections.Trains, buses and the subway are very expensive! We took only once a cab (600¥) as we couldnt find the way back “home” after a halloween party. We rented some bicycles or got them for free. Mostly we walked and once we took a Highwaybus from Shizouka to Kyoto (46€). If you look for traintickets the number one website is “Hyperdia”.

Food: cooking, cooking, cooking. And if we did not cook we were surounding the foodarea at the supermarkets like hungry animals. At about 7 pm they drop the prices for take away food up to the half price. An when this moment comes everybody (even japanese) just run for it. Surviving of the fittest, would Darwin say.
Of course we also did go out for dinner,mostly we ate Sushi, but we rarely paid more than 1000¥ for a meal.The category Shopping covers mostly food, water, sweets and sometimes even liquids (beer, sake)!

Nightlife: covers drinks, entrance fee to club, entrance fee to a karaokebar and cigarettes.

Extras: This time i did buy some souvenirs (kimono and obi 6000¥, tea, pottery ect.) for my boyfriend, my parents and myself. I send a package of sake to mexico (2360 ¥) and one parcel to my parents to germany (11500¥, 8kg not mentioned in cost overview).

Sightseeing: Tokio,Nikko,Hakodate,Toyako,Kamakura,Kawaguchiko,Shizouka,Kyoto and Osaka. Many temples and buildings are free of charge.
Thx Adelia

Hiking In Japan

NIKKO- Senjogahara trail

This half day trip takes you to a beautiful marshland and forest along two waterfalls. At the end you find yourself relaxing in a natural hot spring, a real japanese onsen.

We start with a bus ride from JR Station in Nikko (to Yumoto-Onsen). It takes about 50 minutes to go to the bus stop Ryuzu-no-taki ( 850 ¥), this is where the trail starts. Ryuzu-no-taki are two waterfalls. Between this two waterfalls the rocks appear like a dragon head. Thats why its called the “dragon head waterfall”. As we visited Japan in late October, the leafes started to change their color already. As the trail marks are written in japanese i really recomend to get a hiking map before, there are several other hiking trails crossing the Senjogahara trail. Anyway it’s possible to manage it without. This trail is easy as there is no significant elevation. Mostly you follow the small river by walking on wood. We really enjoyed thiis walk through the marshland and took many times the chance to rest and just to enjoy the view. All this yellow-golden colours made us forget the clowdy day. After crossing the marshland the trail leads you through the forest. End of the trail is the Yudaki waterfall. The shop near the waterfall sells giant mochis stuffed with sweet beans, give them a try :). It took us about 2 ,5 h ( 6km)to get to this point but i have to admit that we walked quite slow and made several stops. We extended our trail by hiking up the stairs to and along the Yumoto lake as we wanted to go to the Yumoto-onsen yumorika maya. This is an additional walk of about 25 minutes. This onsen isnt big but has a cozy atmosphere .The tubes are private and through the windows you can observe the nature around the onsen.It is located at the end of the village.We paid 500 ¥ admission for one hour and as it was so relaxing we forgot about the time and must be reminded by an elderly women that the time is out 😛
The bus stop is just a few minutes walk and takes about 1 1/2 h ( 1350¥) back to Nikko.

Hokkaido, Mt. Usu and Lake Toya

As Melanie and i dont really book accomondation in advance (very bad idea in Japan though) we did not stay at the beautiful Lake Toya cause the most hotels were booked out or were just to expensive. We had a quite cheap hostel in Hakodate and had to wake up very early to go by train to Toya-ko ( 2h with JR Train plus 25 min by Bus).
At the tourist information center (ask for discount coupons for the rope) we got a map and decided to walk all the way to the Mt. Usu ropeway, passing by the 1977 volcano remnants park. There are many hikingtrails which are better than the one we took, cause most time we did walk on the street and the last 1 1/5 kilometers you re walking by a very busy street, what isnt really fun. The way to Mt. Usu took us about 3 hours. We walked along the lake, passed by a few free foot onsen. We reached the volcano remnants park after about 80 minutes. We were the only one at this place and so we took a “deeper” look even inside the leftover of the hospital, which was destroyed by an volcanic eruption. Next highlight of the trail was Mt. Showashinzan right in front of Mt. Usu and of course the ropeway (1350¥) to the top of Mt. Usu. The view was amazing! Unfortunately we didnt had enough time to hike further as we prebooked our train back to Hakodate. On the way back to the train station we tried hitchhiking cause we run pretty late, but unfortunately no one stoped ( maybe three people are too much?) …anyway we were just in time for our train back and took a long nap 🙂

Hokkaido, Hakodate

It was 12th October 2016, a very rainy and a very very cold day, but we decided to “climb” the Hill of Hakodate, with its one-million-dollar-view ( by night tough). It took us about 45 minutes to get to the top of the hill, and yes its a really nice view from the top, probably better at night as during daytime! As we were about to freeze and to die up there we took the ropeway back to town ( 680¥). We walked around the orthodox cathedral as Mella and Oliver heard me screaming: ” Oh my gosh Piraschki!!!!!” There was a tiny little restaurant selling authentic russian food. Piraschki (salmon, deer, apple) and Borsch (soup). I would have stayed there forever but we had to catch our train to Tokio so i bought just one Piraschki (200¥) and ate it inmedeatly after leaving the restaurant. On the way to the train station i felt so horrible. Why didnt i buy more?I really wanted to eat more, and i tried to rebuy it from oliver who was clever enough to buy at least two Piraschki. I offered him the double price 🙂 and at the end he shared his delicous piraschki with me for free.



I loved Kawaguchiko, it is a lovely place and offers so many hiking trails.The most popular, surprise surprise, is Mt. Fuji, but the hiking paths are closed by end of september. I heard that many travellers are still going on top of the mountain, but this is strictly forbidden and is due weather condition also very dangerious.
There are various other options to hike, and lets be honest, climbing up Mt. Fuji is great, but climbing up onother mountain with a spectacular view on Mt. Fuji is the best 🙂

We stayed at K’ s Hostel mountain view ( 2200¥, there are two locations of that hostel, we stayed at the one which has the view at Mt. Fuji) and felt like home. Stuff was very helpful, the dorms spacious and comfortable. Our first hike took us to the Aokigahara forest (suicide forest/sea of trees). There are many legends and even Horrormovies about this forest. And so we felt even more excited to go there. At the train station we grabed some hiking maps (free) and bought 2 day tickets for the green and red line buses (2000¥) . 35 Minutes by bus and we stood at the begining of the trail. As soon as we entered the forest we felt beeing far away from reality. This forest is so dense, that if you leave the path you might get lost very quickly. The roots of the trees seem to connect the whole forest and the moss covers all like a green blanket. On the path and around the forest there are many caves, we decided to have a look at one which is on our way ( we took the path right trough the forest) and free of admission. This cave was not mentained, but we took the risk :). Leaving the forest we decided to head to another trail which connects the Aokiogahara forest with three mountains (Koyodai to Ashiwadayama) . The last one offers an overlook to Mt. Fuji but as it was very clowdy we couldnt see him. Descending the mountain was really adventirious. We had hold on ropes to get all the way down, it was very slippery. Apperently we took the wrong way (which wasnt even on our map) but anyhow we got out of the forest just by sunset and close to a bus station. This hike took us about 5 hours of walking.

On the second day we took the red line which ends on the other side of lake Kawaguchiko. There is a hiking trail which leads you to Mt. Kurodake (1,700 meters).
It took us about 80 minutes to hike all the way up. On the top we enjoyed our lunch with a beautiful view on Mt. Fuji between Lake Kawaguchiko and Lake Saiko. Aaron, whom we met at the hostel had to leave early to get his bus to Tokio. Later he told us he was so in a hurry that he made it back to the bus station in only 30 minutes. He might run all the way down. Melanie, Oliver and I stayed there for about 90 minutes as we could not get our eyes of this beautiful view!This hike took us in total about 3 hours without break.

Kiss n Hugs