14 Free Things To Do in Kyoto, Japan

For broke traveler like me Kyoto is heaven. However to find the free and cheap things under all the expensive ones can be tiresome. To safe you from this task here is my free tips to Kyoto. This free things to do in Kyoto, Japan list includes some of my favorite destinations in Japan and maybe in whole world. I even left some out of this list because I would talk endlessly about Kyoto. Still after almost two years I keep naming this city as my favorite travel destination.

(I will add some photos to this post later today or tomorrow… Sorry!)

14. Heian Shrine

White sand, bright red buildings and tourists with cameras. There is 600 yen admission fee to get in the garden but at least for me the free front area was enough. And you should not forget to walk a little farther away from the shrine to see the huge Torii gate and beautiful red bridge next to it. If you want to take photos without other tourists interrupting you, go just after the opening in 6 am. Because I am not morning person I almost visited this shrine too late. It closes already at 5 pm.

 

13. Kiyomizudera Temple

kiyomizu

The temple itself isn’t free but the area around it is enough to keep you occupied for a while. There is souvenir shops, free food samples, smaller temples, pagodas, old buildings and a lot of people. It’s easy to get lost here but you will definitely found something interesting on every alley. I recommend this for those wanting to free samples of local sweets because you can find those from almost all of the souvenir shops. Also if you are kpop, kdrama or Korean beauty product fan, there is interesting shops for you.

 

12. Nishiki Market

Maybe not place to do shopping if you are short of money but still forth of visiting. Nishiki market is street full of fish, sweet and food sellers. Some even have free samples. Opening hours depend on store but I recommend visiting either on morning between 9am to 11am or on afternoon between 2pm and 4pm. Most of the stores are open at that time and they have a lot of free samples. But if you are on budget and trying to find sales go just before closing time at 6pm.

 

11. Gion

gion

Have you ever dreamed of seeing Keishas and Maikos? At Gion it may be possible! It may be hard to spot them and requires some getting lost in smaller streets of Gion. However even lazier traveler may be able to see normal Japanese girls and boys wearing their kimonos. Just don’t be rude and ask before taking photo.

This is place to take pretty selfies and admire the architecture. If you are hungry -and out of money like me- just visit the shops on Shijo dori (from Kamo river to Yasaka shrine). There you can find free samples to try.

 

10. Philosopher’s Path

Beautiful walk starts from Ginkakuji and runs two kilometers along the river until Nanzenji neighborhood. Philosopher’s Path belongs to my free things to do in Kyoto list because it is one of the most beautiful places in Kyoto around the year. However I have two recommendations: spring and autumn… I visited during colorful fall and it was perfect. The trees surrounding this path are cherry trees so during spring and hanami this is perfect cherry blossom viewing spot.

This walk got its name because it is told that one of Japan’s most famous philosophers used to meditate and walk this path. Don’t settle for only walking! There is many pretty shops, cafes and restaurants that you can visit. Also many small temples and shrines welcome visitors.

 

9. Umekoji Park

Around Kyoto aquarium and Railway museum is located Umekoji park. Even if you don’t have money to those two attractions is just enjoying the park nice experience. When I visited there many locals were playing football and walking their dogs. Stop by to buy hot drink from vending machine and took small break from your day. This may not be the most interesting free attraction in Kyoto but good spot to relax for a while. Also the neighborhood around this park is beautiful. There is many small ponds and idyllic forest.

 

8. Nishi Honganji & Higashi Honganji

Honganji temple kyoto

Two huge (and free) temples in the center Kyoto. If you want to take look to older Japan and Buddhism, I recommend to visit these two. At some parts it’s prohibited to wear shoes so prepare pair that is easy to take off an put on. I didn’t want to include too many temples and shrines on this free things to do in Kyoto list but Nishi Honganji and Higashi Honganji are close to everything and easy to access. Also if I should recommend places for day trip in Kyoto, these two would be on my list.

 

7. Kyoto Imperial Palace

Kyoto Imperial Palace is free to visit and offers wide look to Japanese history. There is free English tours but you have to reserve place for one beforehand. A few years ago Imperial Palace was only accessed by guided tours that were hard to book but fortunately nowadays anyone can access the palace’s grounds. This makes it one of my favorite destinations in free things to do in Kyoto list. (I had so many problems booking that free tour during my Kyoto visit two years ago…)

In addition to the palace I recommend walking around the Imperial Park that has many smaller attractions. Also the neighborhood around park is interesting and has many things to see. For example river next to Horikawa Dori is worth of seeing.

 

6. Kamo River

free things to do in Kyoto

Join in the locals sitting on the bends of Kamo river. In Kyoto I lived right next to Kamo river so it has reserved its special spot in my heart. There is not many things to see when you first visit and you may even ask why would I include this normal river to my free things to do in Kyoto list. However if you sit down and look around, this is the best place to see local life and Kyoto’s true side. Fishers, families playing around, couples walking around, young adults drinking and having fun.

One of the best things is that Kamo river runs along the whole city and past some of the major attractions. You can walk from Fushimi Inari to Gion and back. If you have bike and time, try day trip out of the town. One man told me about his trip while I was staying in hostel and apparently if you follow the river you can see some amazing and beautiful Japanese views.

 

5. Arashiyama

free things to do in Kyoto

Arashiyama is huge area in west Kyoto. There is many things to see and most of them are free so it is good addition to our free things to do in Kyoto list. Firstly, just walking around the area is interesting experience. Remember to take good shoes because I totally destroyed mine here. Walk bends of the river towards the forest and you will see beautiful photographic spots. Not so many people go there but it is definitely worth it.

Then secondly be part of the tourist masses and visit souvenir shops you can find from the main street of this area. They have tasty free food samples. And thirdly go to bamboo forest (read below) and Kameyama Park. Kameyama Park is extremely beautiful during fall when you can admire the colorful mountains and river from its observation spots. It is accessible from Bamboo forest but not so many tourists visit here.

 

4. Bamboo Forest

bambooforest

This major attraction from Arashiyama deserves its own spot on my free things to do in Kyoto list. Why? It is one of the most popular destinations in Kyoto and maybe in whole Japan. If you have seen beautiful bamboo photos when looking up Japan, I bet those are taken in Kyoto’s Bamboo forest. If you want to have photos without huge tourist crowds, go super early. Also good tip is to walk and walk and walk. Most of the people just visit the beginning of this path in bamboo forest so if you walk more than them you will also find spot with not as many people.

 

3. Kyoto Station

happy_terrace_kyoto

Almost everyone visiting Kyoto will walk around station at some point. I recommend it as the place to start your trip whatever you are seeking for free things to do in Kyoto or want to use as much money as possible. It is a little hard to find but Kyoto station has tourist information with free maps, flyers and helpful staff members. It may sound touristy but there is no better place to start your trip.

When you walk up the stairs of station (often decorated with light show or other decorations) you will find observation deck that is often forgotten. This is good alternative for Kyoto Tower if you don’t want to spend money. If you want to see the station from high, find free Skyway path that walk above the station. Kyoto station has also three shopping malls and even if you don’t want to buy anything it is fun to just walk around. Also find food section and they usually serve free samples.

And the last but not least thing to see in Kyoto Station is just outside the front doors. Aqua Fantasy Musical Fountain Show has amazing name but it describes perfectly what this is about. Colorful lights, water and of course music amaze people on evenings.

 

2. Yasaka Shrine

Known also as Gion temple this shrine is next to Gion area and in the end of Shijo street. It’s big area with people constantly passing by. You can buy food and crafts from small stalls. One of the free and main shrines worth of visiting. At weekends you may see locals wearing pretty kimonos and visiting the shrine. Don’t just visit the main shrine but walk past it and wander around the whole area.

 

1. Fushimi Inari Taisha

Magical Forest Kyoto Torii

My ultimate favorite place in Kyoto, Japan and maybe whole world. I don’t even know why I have so utterly fallen in love with this mountain full of torii gates. It is perfect for everyone from photographers to travelers seeking for free adventure in Kyoto. Definitely one of the best free things to do in Kyoto.

Hike to the top and back requires good health (or many breaks) because it takes about two hours. Fortunately there is many break points and several vending machines. Just remember to take coins with you. In addition to admiring the red torii gates taking over all of the paths you should look for the amazing views to the city. Sunset from mount Inari is breathtaking. If you have more than enough time, try the not so popular paths and you may find secrets… For those interested I have written story from my trip to Fushimi Inari.

 

These were my favorite free things to do in Kyoto. Do you have any additional tips? Or maybe favorite places in Kyoto? All comments are welcome like always. Also if you are interested I wrote this short text about my home country Finland. Or if you are interested to read more about Kyoto, here is my top 10 things to do in Kyoto list.

I hope you are having an amazing day!
With love

Viivi Severina

10 Things to do in Kyoto, Japan

To my own surprise after  wondering what would be my top 10 places to visit in Kyoto most of them were free things. It’s not only because I’m broke and cheap (okay, maybe it has something to do with that fact…). Kyoto just has many free and beautiful attractions!

So here is my top 10 list of things to do when visiting Kyoto (most of them free or cheap). I spend almost two months in Kyoto so I visited most of them several times. If I had only a one day in Kyoto these are the ones I would be considering to visit.

10. Philosopher’s Path & Ginkaku-ji

 Whatever you were deep thinker or just doing touristy things around Kyoto Philosopher’s Path is something you shouldn’t skip. I recommend visiting during fall (the colors are BEAUTIFUL) or during cherry blossom season. Philosopher’s path follows small canal for two kilometers.

There is cute small cafes, shops and small temples to visit during your walk. Or if you are deep thinker you may want to follow the foot steps of Nishida Kitado who is one of Japan’s most famous philosophers and who used to walk this route and meditate. Philosopher’s path starts/ends to Ginkakuji temple that is place worth of visit on its own.

 

9. Kyoto Aquarium

Kyoto, japan aquarium

It may seem stupid to include aquarium in this list because you can find them from anywhere in the world. Fortunately I am not one to follow general opinions. I think I have said this before but if you want to make me fall in love with you just take me to the aquarium. Seeing colorful fishes, sharks, etc. is amazing what ever country you are currently.

Penguins, jellyfishes and pet a sea animals corner made me spend too many hours in this dark huge aquarium. There was also dolphin music show and a lot of souvenirs to buy. I recommend this for all fellow aquarium lovers!

 

8. Train Station

happy_terrace_kyoto

This may sound lame but Kyoto’s train station was one of my regular places to wander around. There is three shopping centers, countless restaurants and city’s best tourist information. One of my favorite things to do in Kyoto was to eat evening snacks in the free observation deck after I had bought them from the basement floor’s food stalls. (BTW. free food samples are offered there if you go on the right time.)

You can use hours after hours just getting to know all the shops and trying different foods. Get your the best city tips and current events from tourist information. And like I said that observation deck and its Happy Terrace are one of the secret wonders of Kyoto.

 

7. Manga Museum

My plan was to visit here on my last week in Kyoto but then I didn’t have a time. I can however recommend it for everyone because I did hear so many good reviews of it by the other hostel guests. Manga museum is just what it sounds like… building full of mangas you can read! Majority of the books is in Japanese but there is also section for other languages.

Manga museum is located in old elementary school so in addition to all the mangas you can experience the atmosphere of Japanese school life. Admission costs 800 yen (and special exhibitions have their own prices). However there is “special” days when the admission is free for everyone.

 

6. Gion

gion

Let’s play association game once again! When I say Japan what do you think? I would guess that at least some of thought beautiful geisha. If that is what you wait from Japan then going to Gion is your best bet of succeeding in ‘geisha hunting’. (Don’t hunt geishas please… They are working so if you see them be considering).

Gion is often referred to be the old district of Kyoto. The buildings are photogenic and the shops offer free food samples of traditional Japanese snacks. There is one ‘main street’ but don’t be scared to part from it and wander around the smaller streets. I don’t recommend eating here even if the restaurants seem tempting (the prices are totally touristy/expensive).

 

5. Kinkaku-ji (Golden Pavilion)

Travel Year 2016: Japan Kyoto

The Golden temple is one of the most touristy places in Kyoto. It is still worth of visiting. The main thing to see is the gold-colored temple in water. Just to take pictures with that temple is worth of paying the 400 yen entrance fee. -That however is just my opinion…-

Be aware that there will be a lot of people and possibly waiting to get in. In the end of this walk through the area you can find small food and souvenir stalls. Don’t just run past them even if I don’t recommend buying anything (the prices are high). Try the free food samples because they have some options that aren’t so popular in other parts of Kyoto.

Read about my adventure to Golden Pavilion

 

4. Kiyomizu-dera

kiyomizu

I tried to not put too many shrines and temples to this list but with Kyoto it is impossible. I would do own list for those because I visited so many on my time in this historical city. Kiyomizu-derra is place I hope I could have found earlier during my stay. It’s not even the temple that charmed me but the area around it. All the small shops, tiny alleys and old buildings. 

Even if you feel like paying the 400 admission fee is too much for you to handle I recommend visiting the area. You can’t see the main temple but there is a lot more for this place. There is also many pop culture (and kpop culture) shops for those who share my interest in this area.

 

3. Arashiyama

bambooforest

Arashiyama is area in western Kyoto. There is located two must to go places: Bamboo forest and Monkey park. Also the area of Arashiyama alone is fun to explore. There is a lot of souvenir shops, temples/shrines and free food samples. Just be careful or you will get hopelessly lost…

When you see cool Japan travel photos with bamboos I would bet they are taken in Bamboo forest. It is one of the places Kyoto is popular for. Warning: Its popularity means too much people and if you go wrong time you probably can’t take that perfect bamboo photo without dozen tourist heads disturbing you. I recommend morning or just before sunset. 

 

2. Kyoto Municipal Museum of Art

At first I was surprised that Kyoto doesn’t have that many museums. But after visiting the ones this traditional city has I didn’t have any more complaints. Municipal Museum of Art was amazing and I didn’t even go inside the museum. Unfortunately when I meant to visit I hadn’t checked the timing correctly and it was already closed. However you can always visit the museum’s garden and let me tell you it was enough art for me. There was countless amount of modern art pieces during my visit.

And when you are at it Kyoto Municipal Museum of Art is located perfectly. It is separated from Kyoto’s National Museum Of Modern Art by huge torii gate (see photo above). Close to the museum is also Kyoto zoo and popular Heian Shrine.

 

1. Fushima Inari

torii

My favorite place in Kyoto, Japan and maybe even in the whole wide world! If you have learned about Japan and/or about it religions you have probably seen photos of Fushimi Inari and its endless rows of torii gates. Fushimi Inari, Fushimi Inari Taisha or Mt. Inari is mountain dedicated for fox god. The mountain paths are surrounded by thousands of red gates that are donated by Japanese businesses.

Hike up the mountain is going to be tough so I recommend good shoes and a lot of snacks. Don’t be scared to take the not so beaten path because this mountain is full of surprises and secret wonders.

Read about my adventure to Fushimi Inari

 

I know, I know… Once again I was late with post. Sorry, but I think you are already used to me not following my own rules. I’m waiting excitedly the day when I can write all my posts on the right days. We are going there (slowly) so please bear with my laziness for a little while longer.

Like always comments are welcome! Have you visited Kyoto and what were your favorite places? Or would you like to visit there some day?

With love,

Viivi Severina

Story Time: Problems with Police

The story of me in abandoned amusement park continues…

Part 1: Lost In Abandoned Amusement Park

Part 2: Abandoned Beauty

 

Like I said I had just visited the broken mirror house and was now walking towards the beautiful huge princess castle. It was amazing. I climbed up the stairs and was welcomed by graffiti and sunshine. Up there I was able to see the whole park. Even the gate I saw my two new friends walking towards. They were leaving and I thought it was my time to leave too. But like the saying goes curiosity killed the cat.

Abandoned Amusement Park Adventure

After taking in the park around me I decided to climb down and continue my trip around Nara. I was just ready walk outside from the castle when I heard some noises. Automatically I hid behind the abandoned castle’s door. I may have also chanted “there is no such a things as ghosts and paranormal” in my head while listening the suddenly too quiet park. I decided the noises must have been caused by wind and continued my way out of the abandoned park.

Abandoned Haunted House In Abandoned Amusement Park

Then I saw funny witch and haunted house. Of course I decided to take closer look! Probably bad decision but I am good at making those so get used to it.

After exiting the haunted house (super haunted and scary!) it was time to leave. I started to make my way towards the front gate when I saw other people between me and the gate. Once again I hid. No way I would go and say hi to randoms in abandoned place! I’m not that crazy…

So I walked towards the other way wondering what should I do. Then I saw car driving closer to me and I knew that I was in trouble. I had a few seconds to decide should I hide or stood there and wait for the inevitable. There was no way I would exit this park trough the front gate when there was people and I wasn’t going to hide in abandoned amusement park waiting for darkness. I stood there and was ready to panic when the car stopped right next to me.

Abandoned Amusement Park Japan Nara

Angry looking older Japanese man stared me and tried to communicate with me using word “stop” and Japanese that I couldn’t understand. I kept apologizing because I had no idea what else to do. The moment was totally chaotic and the man seemed to be as panicky as I was. Apparently tourist girls don’t usually get lost to abandoned amusement parks.

(Why only boys have privilege to do reckless adventures?)

At that point two more guards arrived with their cars and there was more angry babbling in English and all I could understand was that English speaking police was coming to make everything better. Great, I was totally in huge problems. We waited for a few minutes me apologizing and the guards trying to look angry before the first polices arrived.

Abandoned Roller Coaster Japan Nara

This duo of two males was like straight from Japanese crime dramas. If I hadn’t been too busy to apologizing I would have probably found it amusing. Of course these two man didn’t speak English except for few basic words.Another of them was talking to the guards while the other one tried to calm me down despite our language barrier.

Then a few more polices arrived but they didn’t speak English either. At this point someone was trying to inspect my passport while calling to someone and other polices where just hanging around. And then there was those two polices that had first arrived who still tried to come up way to communicate with me. It was total chaos.

Abandoned Amusement Park Nara Japan

Finally young police woman arrived with her perfect English. She explained that I couldn’t be here and tried to ask where my companions were staying. It took too long to explain that I was totally alone here and that I really wasn’t hiding someone somewhere. I of course told them that I had seen other people here today and they weren’t even surprised about that. Apparently they get asked to come and make people go away every day.

I have to say I was finding the situation rather strange than scary. I was standing in colorful wonderland with eight polices and three guards. Did they think I was some kind of super villain? I mean who needs so much forces to escort traveller girl out of abandoned amusement park? But I grant them that if I had decided to run at least they would have had enough people to catch me…

Abandoned Amusement Park Ride

After short interrogation (that felt more like friendly conversation) I was made to apologize once again. I had done it constantly after getting caught so one more time wasn’t problem for me. Then the two first police men and the English speaker promised to drive me to the shrine I had tried to find in the first place.

We went to the police car and right away I got asked too many questions. Why are you travelling alone? Why Japan? Where have you been and what you liked most? How old are you? Wait, you can’t be that young and travelling alone? Are you really travelling alone? What about your parents, aren’t they worried? And the questions went on and on.

Then we had to stop because two traveller boys were walking towards the amusement park. One of the two policemen opened his window to ask where the boys were going to. We all know what their destination plans were but of course no one said anything. Then the polices asked them to not visit the amusement park because it was dangerous and they would get in trouble. The policeman gave knowing look towards me and that must have scared the boys who promised to not go and continued their way quickly.

Temple in Nara Japan

After that I got some tips where to visit while being scared for my life. Japanese streets aren’t made for cars… And finally we found the shrine that just happened to be wrong one but I didn’t dare to tell the truth to the kind polices. However it was beautiful place so I have to thank them taking me there.

In the end the trio wished me good luck and made me promise to share this story with my friends. Apparently they wanted everyone to know how kind and friendly Japanese polices are.

 

So, yeah that was the too long story of me getting in trouble with police for the first time. I hope you liked it or at least enjoyed the photos. Next Friday I hope I can write something more travel related or Christmas themed. See you then!

With love,

Viivi Severina

Story Time: Abandoned Beauty

So last time I ended my story to the point where I was deciding should I go to the abandoned amusement park with these people I have just met. In the end it wasn’t hard decision (sorry mum…). Of course I went in! You only live once or something like that…

Part 1: Lost In Abandoned Amusement Park

Part 3: Problems with Police

I will again mention that you shouldn’t be like me. Later on this story I learn that visiting abandoned Japanese amusement park in fact is illegal and you will get in trouble. However I also learn that Japanese people and police are so kind and understanding. And I also may learn that there is something charming and special in abandoned places. It’s feeling I can’t even describe. So I hope you like this long boring story of me being totally lost like usually. Enjoy!

(In the first post I meantioned that I had lost almost all my abandoned amusement park photos. However, now I found a few photos more so I hope you will like them!)

Dreaming in Dreamland

abandoned roller coaster nara dreamland

So I was standing next to the abandoned amusement park and the couple I had just met stared me expectantly. After I answered for them all three of us approached cautiously the park’s gate. There was huge gap in the gate and we went inside without any problems.

My first look to the park made me breathless. Cute pastel houses, colorful plastic balls and eerie huge pink princess castle. It was perfect sight and I immediately knew I had done the right choice coming here. We started wandering around and checking what we could find. The couple was taking photos like professionals while I was just staring everything in awe.

After walking around for a while I decided it was time to part from that kind couple. After every minute I was feeling more and more like third wheel. After our goodbyes they continued towards the castle while I decided to wander deeper to the park. When their voices had faded to the distance I felt the scary “I’m all alone in this world” feeling hit me.

nara dreamland

I couldn’t hear birds, traffic or anything except my own breathing and wind. I have never really experienced anything like that so I decided to enjoy every moment and thing there was to see. First I found old roller coaster loop. I think photo of this exact spot is in every abandoned places article/video there is in internet. I hope I had all my photos because it was beautiful. (I don’t know how the heck did I lose half of my abandoned amusement park photos…)

I just stood there staring in awe and not even wanting to continue. How would anything I saw be more beautiful than that? Sun was shining behind the roller coaster and the sky was blue without any clouds. Once again perfect day and perfect moment.

abandoned_cars

After that I saw so many beautiful sights that lose the count of them. Huge swimming pool and water park are with its colorful slides and small food stands. Abandoned cars just being there behind every corner. Building after building full of stuff.  Park tickets, colorful props and dust covering everything except the foot prints wondering back and worth the floors.

It had been over hour at that point and I haven’t even seen half of the park. I saw some kind of  pond and decided to take closer look to it. The ride was adventure and amazon themed. There was sinking colorful boats in the small lake. Then I turned to look the ride’s ticket booth and at the same second started to run and hided behind wall close by. My heart was beating too loudly and for moment I was sure this place was cursed.

I tried to glance the sight that had scared me almost to death. It still looked same. There was someone sitting in the ticket booth. Someone without head and looking like rotten body. After I had evened out my breathing I decided to take closer look. My reasoning side told me there was no way that it would be real body. My more imaginative and scared side was sure it must be zombie or cursed traveller.

abandoned japanese amusement park

I went closer and closer and soon realized theobvious truth. The scary headless zombie body was just prop or decoration for the ride. Someone had propably stolen its head and arranged it there to scare all the intruders like me. The whole situation was making me laugh and I was letting out the sigh of relief when weird noices broke the silence and made me jump back to my hiding spot.

After listening closely the weird noices seemed to be car driving by except I didn’t see anyone. Later on I will realize that it must have been the guard but at that moment I just tough there may be road close by. The noice was gone almost as fast as it had began and I was ready to continue my exploration.

abandoned mirror house nara dreamland

I saw some more interesting thins: merry-go-round, more rides and another roller coaster. It was silent everywhere. Next spot I spend more time in was mirror house. Once again I was strugling with easy question: to go and adventure the inside or stay safely outside? The broken mirrors and messages left to the walls made the place look like scene from horror movie.

I had to jump over some broken pieces so I didn’t get wounds through my sneakers. I got totally lost. There was mirrors everywhere – some broken and some colored with spray paints. I kept walking around not understanding how would children’s amusement park have this place in it. Then I realised every now and then there was small arrows pointing the right way out.

After exiting the house of horror mirrows I continued towards the huge castle I had decided to visit last. I didn’t know how wrong the end of my happy day in abandoned amusement park would soon go! (Well, I had fun and can now laugh for the things that happened but at that time it was horrible…)

mirror_house2
“Not scared at all!”

So well… I may have problem with writing too long stories… Because of that you have to wait until next week to read the ending of my story (and also the main point where I get caught by Japanese police…) I’m sorry, I’m bad at not sharing too much boring things. But I hope you enjoyed my story or at least the photos.

I hope you are having an amazing week!
With love,

Viivi Severina

Story Time: Lost in Abandoned Amusement Park

Hello everyone! And mum if you are reading this you should probably stop now. Because today after a long time I am going to share with you fun story/memory/warning example from my travels.This is going to be story of me getting in trouble with Japanese police, getting lost in abandoned amusement park and doing everything solo travellers shouldn’t do.

So be prepared once again for too long story from my crazy adventure! (I accidentally wrote so long story that I will publish it in two parts… Sorry, not sorry! And because I have mystically lost almost all my photos from this adventure enjoy the other Japan photos I have picked out for you. Enjoy… )

Finding Abandoned Dreamland

Japanese Abandoned Amusement Park

Even after spending two months in Japan I still hadn’t learned to not trust the free tourist maps. Deciding to visit Nara was kind of quick decision (someone told me about the cute deers and I wanted to go and see them right away!) so I didn’t have a lot of time to research things to do in the city. Then one person from my hostel showed me photos of small Kurokamiyamainari shrine with beautiful long torii walkaway. He even showed me the place from my Nara map I had gotten from Kyoto’s tourist office. It wouldn’t be that hard to find before going to see the deers, right?

When I got off from the train and continued exploring Nara towards the shrine I didn’t have clue that my day would soon turn to thrilling adventure. I kept walking around and at first everything went well I knew exactly where I was and the Nara around me was charming like Japanese cities usually. And then I was lost.

Japanese Forest Path torii

On my left side there was huge amusement park and on my right side huge parking lot. Neither of them was on my map. Because I’m good at getting lost this didn’t cause a lot of panic for me. Confidently I walked the road I thought would be right one and ended to the huge parking lot. I think it was that moment when I realized this must be Nara Dreamland the abandoned amusement park everyone is talking about.

Because I had no idea where I was and around me was just wild abandoned looking area I decided to sit down and eat the breakfast onigiris I had bought from the station. There I sat with my map looking totally lost when group of locals at my age appeared from the same road I had used. Because I wanted to find my way out of this frightening abandoned place I decided to approach them.

Japanese red shrine
I have still million photos of Japanese temples and shrines that I have not shared with you. So here is one more of those photos!

I didn’t get a lot of help. Apparently they weren’t as interested about shrines as I was. But we had a small conversation and they told me they were going to the abandoned huge amusement park next to us. They even asked if I wanted to come with them but I declined. I was left standing alone to the parking lot when they walked in from the huge hole in the main gate. They had probably done this several times before.

I really wanted to go with them but decided to just find the shrine and not do anything stupid. So I continued walking around until older man stopped me and asked if I need help. Another thing I had learned but forgotten while in Japan: don’t trust blindly the people helping you. That old man gave me advice and because of it I got even more lost and walked for three extra kilometers until I somehow found myself again from the same abandoned parking lot.

Nara cute tame deer
Here is one of the so famous Nara deers. I think it wants to kill me…

So there I was again standing on that parking lot staring the amusement park’s gate. Maybe I should go in? If you had been next to huge abandoned Disneyland looking amusement park and the gate open what would have you done? There was no way I would not go in.  This was my adventure and even if I knew it was stupid I really wanted to go in.

Hostel life eating problems
This funny photo is my lunch. If you wonder why there is my name and room number, you have never lived in hostel!

Because I am coward I sat there once again eating and staring longingly towards the hole in the gate. Then I saw once again people coming towards the amusement park. I stood up to say hello (because I didn’t want to seem like suspicious person just staring at them). When they saw me they got totally spooked out. They hide behind one of the buildings close by and I was left there alone like an idiot.

For a moment they kept glaring me behind the building. (Maybe they tought I couldn’t see them?) And then they decided it was safe to come and say hi to me. We talked for a little and like I had guessed this American couple with design clothes and huge camera were headed to the amusement park next to us. 

Once again I was asked to come and do something probably not so safe. (Abandoned places are full of death traps…) If you want to hear the rest of this story I will publish it next Friday. Then you will get to know if I really went in to the abandoned amusement park. (SPOILERS: Of course I did! I’m a little bit crazy like that.)

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By the way this is first time I’m publishing my own photo in this blog. So, hello everyone!

Have you ever been visited abandoned places? And what would you have done in situation like this?

Part 2: Abandoned Beauty

Part 3: Problems with Police

I hope you will have an amazing weekend!
With love,

Viivi Severina