Usually, Kyoto offers a lot of options for accommodations. That weekend though, I didn’t have much choice when I picked my hostel. It was the spring holidays’ long weekend and a lot of Japanese people are visiting Tokyo during that time. I booked waaaay too late (a couple of days before) and everything was full. I finally found a place near the Kyoto Imperial Palace which had a few beds available. It was… ok. I’ll leave it to that. I arrived Saturday afternoon and, after checking in and relaxing a bit, I went scouting for running spots. While walking, I eyed a few restaurants and ended up going with misokatsudon. A good choice in retrospect. Unfortunately, my ankle was acting up and I was a bit worried about the next day’s run.
I walked all the way to the Kamo river and, despite the dark, I could tell it would be a great place to run.
Sunday morning: Beautiful day! For the first time this year, no jacket was necessary. I left my hostel and headed straight for the Kamo River. It really is a great place to run. There are many other runners, some families, some cyclists ( the trail is probably pretty bumpy for them at some places), many ducks and herons. I was really enjoying the sights during this run. It’s a shame my ankle was messed up; I would have liked to keep going south but I decided to turn around after about 5.5 km. It was a very slow run.
On my way back, I entered the Kyoto Imperial Palace’s garden. It is huge! You could probably complete a good mid size run there. It’s mostly loose gravel; something I’m not used to run on, but I didn’t find this to be a real problem. I was running so slowly that nothing could make much of a difference. I ran up to the gates of the Palace and found them closed. I later learned that the palace is closed on Sundays, but the garden is still accessible. That makes it perfect to run. I only saw a handful of people while I was there. It’s so big though, I’m guessing that even with a lot of people, it would still be pretty easy to run through.
Kyoto is definitely a must see in Japan and is incredibly rich in culture and traditions. This was actually my second time visiting the city. The first time (in 2008), I spent my trip visiting the most famous temples and shrines. which was awesome. It gets pretty crowded though. I would not recommend trying to run on the sidewalks in the downtown area. Also, drivers in Kyoto seem to be pretty intense. It was the first time for me to see such aggressive drivers in Japan. Especially motorcycles and scooters. I’ve seen some pretty wild manoeuvres. As usual, I think the river is the best way to go.
In the evening, I randomly went into a pub called “Slowhand” (obviously a Clapton reference) where they often have live performers. Unfortunately, there were none that night and the place was almost empty. The owner was very cool though and I played a few songs on the “stage” with a guitar they had lying around. That got me a couple of free beers 🙂 . Fun!
Next stop: Himeji!