Kyoto is a fusion of antiquity and progression: ancient temples and Zen gardens are the fabric of this imperial capital of yesteryear, whilst the skyline is scattered with modern skyscrapers and complexes. Knowing full well that it would be impossible to see everything, only two more noteworthy attractions made it into our itinerary: Fushimi Inari-Taisha, the mesmerising hilltop Shinto shrine, and Kinkaku-ji, otherwise known as the Golden Pavilion.
Synonymous with seemingly never-ending bamboo shoots, Arashiyama is one of Kyoto’s most ethereal locales. If you’re looking for solitude, however, there’s a caveat: tourists descend on the bamboo grove in droves during daylight hours. Having gleaned the aforementioned titbit from fellow travellers, we decided to embrace another early morning in the hopes of having the bamboo grove to ourselves.
When Monday rolled round it was time to move on to our next destination: Kyoto. After an early alarm, a speedy automated checkout and a breakfast pastry we bought tickets for the 08:05 Thunderbird Ltd Express service to Kyoto. It wasn’t long before we arrived in the cultural centrepiece of Japan, home to hundreds of ornate temples and shrines, the former imperial palace and a horrifically humid sub-tropical climate.