I want to remember the way Kyoto makes me feel.
Warm and welcomed despite the 3-degree temperature, tired yet in awe of all the beauty it has to offer, filled to the brim with amazing food and hungry for more adventures.
Despite not understanding a word while I was in the city, it made me feel at home.
On our way to Kyoto via the Shinkansen from Tokyo, we witnessed snow fall against a little town. White dust fell outside my window, making me feel a little unprepared yet excited for what’s to come. When we arrived in the city, a little lost and directionless, we hopped into a cab and were driven to our Airbnb. It was a 100-year old traditional Japanese home with steep stairs, compartmentalised spaces, beautiful antiques and a bathroom that would never fit a sumo.
Over our 6-day stay, we travelled to Nara and petted some cheeky deers, braved the crowd at Kiyomizu-dera and watched an old world blend with the new. We got stuck amongst strangers at Nishiki Market who were attempting a last-minute shop before their New Year Eve dinner.
We walked alongside a self-proclaimed “last Samurai”, met fellow Aussies who made us forget we were some place new. We sampled sweets, sake and the best salmon ever. Ever.
We made soba and new friends, chatted till midnight, counted down to a new year before a stunning temple. I remember walking back to our Airbnb that night wanting so bad to frame that moment there, forever. I wanted to remember the way Kyoto makes me feel.
I wanted to remember the organised yet care-free nature of the people, the purpose behind everything that exists, the chaos and calm that you’ll find in temples, the awkward misunderstandings, the endless bows and extreme politeness. I want to remember understanding each other without words or extending graciousness and gratitude across cultures. I want to remember being loved in the city that never even knew me.
I want to remember zipping up my coat as I skip my way home, because that’s how Kyoto makes me feel and I know, I’ll never find that anywhere else in the world.