Japan 2012 (Mt. Hiei)

I woke up from my $27 per night 10 person dormitory room and started heading for Mt. Hiei on the northeast side of Kyoto. Since I had no JR Pass this time in Japan, I was free to take any public, private, or subway line I wished. My plan was to take some trains to the trail head and then walk up the mountain. This is when I started realizing how expensive Japan is. Taking a subway just a few stops cost over $2. These little trips can really add up. I decided to get some food since I haven’t eaten in nearly 24 hours. In 7 Eleven, I found a single slice of bread with butter already on it for a little over $1 and a rice ball for around the same price. Wow, if a little bit of bread or rice costs this much, what about a real meal?

I walked along side a river and started going up the mountain. I didn’t see any signs pointing the right way, but I studied a map before I started. After a while, the trail stopped. I looked around but couldn’t go any further. I had to retreat back to the train station.

I did have a nice walk through a neighborhood. I noticed each home takes great care with what little space they have. They will fill the entryway up with flowers and they would take their tiny yard and turn it into a great garden with huge varieties of trees.

Since walking didn’t work out so great, I did have another option which was the tram. I took a cable car most of the way up the mountain and continued to walk. Mt. Hiei is known for its marathon monks. The mountain also has a lot of large old trees, ancient temples, and a nice atmosphere.

After looking around, I decided to walk down the other side of the mountain to Sakamoto. This took a little over an hour. This town is pretty interesting too. A lot of old houses and temple are at the base of Mt. Hiei. I decided to try the Japanese traditional green tea called matcha. At $4 for a little bit at the bottom of a cup, it isn’t exactly good if you’re thirsty.

I got on a train and headed back to Kyoto. In the middle, I had to change trains, so I got out and tried some restaurants. First I had some gyoza which is fried dumplings. Taste the same as the Chinese version. Then I had some soba noodles which I had to order by a machine that worked just like the train ticket machine. Then I took one more subway line back to the Gion district of Kyoto, where my hostel was located. Just a couple days later I learned of a traffic accident that involved 16 people in the same district of Kyoto. I always say crossing the street is the most dangerous thing when traveling.