Stepping out onto the streets of Nakagyo-ku, you are engulfed by a sense of adventure and freedom, all mixed into one.
The buzz of energy created by the cars and noises and lights seems chaotic at first.
We don't really know where we want to go, just on an exploration of sorts. I say to mum that I know where we're going, and mostly that is true. I have dreamed of walking these streets and in my mind they seem familiar, a surreal experience coming to life.
I have heard of these pocket-sized shops along an arcade near the Nishiki Market. We head towards Teramachi Dori and stumble across Urban Research: an uber cool hang out with a tiny cafe serving a variety of ice teas. Tea drinking happens to be my favourite past time, along with stationary shopping. Both are plentiful in this neighbourhood. Meandering the laneways for the rest of the afternoon is a joy of discovery.
The next day we hop a train out to a Natural Onsen (hot spring) Resort about 3o mins out of town. It is called Sumiya, near Kameoke station. Soaking ourselves in the steaming waters whilst glorying in the arms of nature's sublimity, we reconnect with ourselves as all our troubles float away in the soft mist.
Our relaxing day continues as we spoil ourselves to a six-course meal of the finest Japanese cuisine. Most of it I can't even begin to recognise, but the tastes are exquisitely strange, and we enjoy it in our zen-like state.
As our train pulls back into Kyoto station, the sun is going down amidst a stunning array of colour. It has been a perfect day, and we can't wait to see what is in store for us tomorrow.