Kyoto – the Canberra of Japan


Kyoto has thousands of years of history, beautiful temples, and many links to a long-forgotten world when samurais roamed the land and ninjas chucked shurikens at any dickhead stupid enough to walk past. And while I respect that, I also found it to be one of the most boring cities I’ve ever visited. No, it’s not as bad as Huddersfield, but it’s also not a place I’d care to return to.


The main things to see in Kyoto are the temples. There are heaps of them dotted around the place, and it’s a unique experience to see these ancient buildings popping up amongst a modern city. Many were built more than 1000 years ago (although most have been rebuilt more recently), which makes them a similar age to the stupas of Bagan, but the experience of visiting the two sites couldn’t be more different. Whilst the ancient Burmese city has barely been touched by the cruel fingers of modern life, Kyoto is now home to 1.5 million people.


The thing is, the first temple is interesting, the second less so, and the third as boring as batshit. They mostly look the same, and all are crawling with disinterested schoolkids and tourists who look as if they’re only traipsing from site to site out of a feeling of obligation. Some of the temples cost money to get into, but fuck that, there are enough free around, so put your money towards beer and chicken nuggets instead. Trust me on this one – I’ve got a degree in history, so I’m an authority on these sorts of things.


There’s just not much variety between the various temples. The ancient Japs should’ve shown a bit more creativity by having one shaped as a banana, or one with heaps of naked chicks drawn on the side, but instead they just sorta went with the same design over and over. They were repeating themselves like a drunk in a bar.


The best way to describe Kyoto is that it’s a lot like Canberra. Sure, there are worthwhile things to see but, like the Australian capital, none of them are really all that interesting. Kyoto’s temples provide no more entertainment value than Canberra’s National Mint, Lake Burley Griffin or the Rock and Bark Museum – and that’s saying something. And at least Canberra has a really shit surprisingly good football team.


Kyoto even has a tower that’s every bit as underwhelming as Canberra’s Telstra Tower. The Kyoto Tower is only 131 metres from top to tail, but it does light up like a UFO at night, which is pretty cool. By the time I rocked up I was on my third Chu-hai and, believing a group of children dressed as Pokemon to be invading space aliens, started shouting for everyone to run away. I caused a mild panic and several dozen Asians were trampled – the majority not to their deaths – and then, after becoming bored with the situation, bought some friend chicken and went back to my room to watch a few episodes of popular reality television series Catfish.



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