It’s amazing what difference a week can make. To your body. To your soul. To your heart.

I’m sitting here in the same spot as I sat when I arrived in Kyoto one week ago and I feel like a different person. A physically stronger, prouder and more determined person (if that is even if possible).

I’ve spent one week in Kyoto sweating as I push my boundaries hiking in the thick humid air, eating in kitchens that I do not know (a big thing for food allergy sufferers) and getting to know the flow of this extraordinary city. I have learned to trust my instincts more and be proud of my ability to see more of a place than the average tourist. To see below the shiny surface and find out what makes a place really tick.

I leave Kyoto knowing that if I had more than one week here without Anai I would probably end up in hospital. I push myself way too hard and the hills here are just calling to be walked. I need Anai to tell me when to call it a day. To give my body a break.

I have learned that I want to see the world, but with my love by my side. Even if that means slowing down from the super-human speed I tend to have when left alone. Having her here to share these moments with is well worth it.

I will miss this great city. The history it hold, the beauty at every corner and more than anything, those night-time strolls along the river in the summer warmth that is just perfect after the sun goes down.

The last time I was in Japan I was a teenager and was much more interested in seeing Harajuku on a Sunday and cute incorrect English translations on t-shirts than I was in getting to know the core of this country. I feel like having spent time in Kyoto I will see Tokyo with fresh eyes. I also know that I want to see much more of the regional areas of Japan next time.

Yes, I will be back. Japan, as much as it has its challenges for me food-wise, needs more exploring. My week I’m Kyoto taught me that have not yet even scratched the surface of this bold, dazzling and contradictory country.

Thanks Kyoto, see you soon.

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