Or how does it feel to be (almost) the only foreigner in Kyoto.
Traveled to Kyoto last week without using the GoTo Campaign. Booked a cheap business hotel and Shinkansen and went by myself.
Although some areas in Kyoto had local tourists and school trips, some touristic spots were almost empty. I personally enjoyed it, but it demonstrated to me very clearly the financial pain that many restaurants, Hotels, Taxis and more are having these days.
But let’s describe it step by step … maybe too much information.
Shinkansen: The Shinkansen to Kyoto had more than 50% capacity on a weekday.
Kyoto Station: Was quite busy. Obviously less than last year, but more than I expected.
Lunch: Had lunch at Mimiu 美々卯 . Probably my 4th time there and it was packed and delicious as always. Most customers were older than me, which felt quite safe.
三十三間堂 (Sanjusangendo) and 清水寺 (KiyomizuDera) : Walked from Kyoto station. It is usually not a busy street, but felt less busy than usual, less taxis roaming around the streets. 三十三間堂 had some tourists, but definitely not busy. Had lots of time to spend in front of the statues and watch them carefully, maybe for the first time. 清水寺 had more tourists, but again it felt empty compared to previous years, with many shops empty and some even closed.
Walked to 高台寺 (Koudaiji) and from there to Gion.
On the second day, I decided to go to 金閣寺 (Kinkakuji). I usually try to avoid it, since I have been there several times, but wanted to use this occasion that it has few tourists to take photos. To my surprise it turned out that it is covered and cannot be photographed.
A walk to Ryoanji （龍安寺). While I was walking from the street to Ryoanji, I was very surprised to be the only person walking there. I asked the ticket counter if they are open as I do not see anyone. She told me it is a bit early and that there are a few people already inside. Spent there about 40 minutes, when I arrived there were about 5 people which increased to about 10, which allowed me time to relax, enjoy and take photos.
From there I walked to 妙心寺 （Myoshinji). I think it was my first time there, but did not spend a lot of time and went to 二条城 (niJouJou) . Again, quite empty with one school group that kept watching me as I was the only foreigner in sight. Could not find many restaurants around 二条城 so went to a Ramen shop which was rather empty.
Obviously enjoyed my trip, enjoyed that fact that there were no foreign tourists, but I am certain that many companies, restaurants and services which grew significantly in the past few years are suffering a blow. Have to minimize their expenditures or even close. Certainly hope that Kyoto will return to be busy, but also hope I will be able to go and visit Kyoto without standing in line.
For more photos see my flickr account