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In Kyoto we found all those gorgeous things you associate with Japan: ancient temples, colourful shrines, peaceful gardens, cobbled alleyways, wooden traditional houses, cute bridges over canals and beautifully dressed girls in yukata, but we also discovered a city surrounded by lush greenery that leads to serene bamboo grooves, funky train stations adorned with purple trains and art installations, a soundscape of rivers and waterfalls, and monumental hilltop views. I loved the tranquillity, gentle nature, architecture and secret gardens, Jake enjoyed running along waterways and up mountains, and Lola and Albie found turtle stepping stones delightful, water fountain jets hilarious and monkeys enchanting. We all felt a little intimidated by feisty feeding deer at Nara Park! Expecting cute Bambi-like characters, we were taken aback to be greeted by an scrum of deer tearing our maps and behaving with a survival of the fittest mentality!! We were all impressed by some of the high tech low cost restaurants, where you could order food and drink on an iPad at your table whenever you liked and it would get brought to you when you wanted! We tried so many different types of Japanese food this way too, yum! Having spent a week in this charming city, we were all sad to leave, but we are packing in as much of Japan as we can on our 3-week trip here, so off we go…(oh, there’s a separate post about Lola’s 12th birthday in Kyoto, as merited by how gorgeous she looks!!).