Yesterday, after our visit to the atomic bomb site, we started making our way northeast, driving to Kyoto from Hiroshima. We spent most of the afternoon on the road as the journey between these cities is pretty much only mountains and tunnels. It’s a beautiful and scenic route but took almost 5 hours to cover just 380km. Upon arrival in Kyoto last night, just before dark, Elaine and I dropped our bags at the hotel and took to the streets to absorb the local culture. We grossly underestimated the driving time and would have wanted to spend more time in Kyoto, but hey, life happens. One of the reasons we decided to visit this city is because it’s considered to be the cultural capital of Japan that plays host to numerous Buddhist temples, Shinto shrines, palaces and gardens which millions of tourists come to visit each year. The city, even at night, is beautiful and you can hear the laughs echo through the streets as people enjoy their dinner at the street cafes and restaurants.

After we explored a few blocks on foot, we stumbled upon a small restaurant which was the perfect spot to enjoy the local cuisine. As we walked into their open-plan restaurant (that is actually quite cosy), literally all their chefs and waiters stopped what they were doing, looked at us and yelled: “HALLOOOOO!”. We instantly felt welcome and for some reason, they were super excited to host us.

The waiter presented us with an all-Japanese menu but could quickly gather from our not-so-subtle facial expressions that we were completely lost and replaced our menus with a pictures-only version that allowed us to simply point to the items we wanted to order. A super basic system that proved to be very effective. Ask yourself this, if a Japanese national that only speaks Japanese, rocks up in South Africa (or any other country for that matter), how many restaurants would be able to serve them without speaking a word to them? Welcome to Japan, the ONLY nation we’ve seen (so far) where communication is no problem and speaking is optional. Arigato!

Today we need to cover another 400km, heading northeast to Mount Fuji. The weather is not looking too great to be honest, so we hope to make it to Japan’s most iconic volcano on time for that perfect sunset photo (if the weather holds), but let’s see how it goes.

Some pics from yesterday and last night.

Chat soon!

Look at the family behind Elaine. Can you sit like that for 1-2 hours during dinner?
A road trip is all about the snacks
Elaine has no idea what she’s about to buy but she’s excited!