The weekend following Tokyo, Edgar and I took a shinkansen (bullet train) straight into Kyoto. Taking the bullet trains typically provides you with two options: the "Ordinary Car" and the "Green Car" -- we opted for the latter since we were on vacation (after all). Not only did we get reserved seating (ordinary cars have a first come, first serve basis and we did not make earlier reservations at all), but we were also in a quieter and more spacious part of the train - where attendants would also push carts of food, beer, and alcohol down the aisles for sale. Like all the other commuters though, we purchased 1000 yen bento boxes prior to boarding the train and ate our lunches en route to Kyoto, which took about 3 hours (Edgar claims that riding the bullet trains was one of his favorite things we did).
I have been to Kyoto back in the fall of 2012 when I went with my sister, and it was exactly as I had remembered it when I returned. Except this time when we went, the sakura (cherry blossoms) were in full bloom and the city was bustling with so many more people from all over the world. All of Gion and every temple we visited had its own festival or hanami (cherry blossom viewing parties) occurring at all times of the day. It was seriously amazing from beginning to end. If you find yourself traveling to Kyoto, make sure to visit every inch of it and to eat/drink all staples: matcha (everything), kobe beef, beef belly soba/ramen, Kyoto-style sushi (it is different!), and tofu (Yelp recommendations attached).
Since it was such a peak time to view the blossoms, the whole city of Kyoto literally dressed up in kimonos and traditional ware (locals and tourists alike) to celebrate. We decided to partake! It was such an incredible experience to get to wear a kimono for the entire day; surprisingly it was super comfortable, down to the slippers that we walked in all day. I give major props to the ladies of Yumeyakata for being so efficient, diligent, and thoughtful when dressing us up! Dressing a person in a kimono is seriously the most intricate and most complicated process I've ever been a part of. It truly is an art.
The best compliment I definitely received though, was this adorable old lady that passed by me in one of the temples. She stopped and then told me in Japanese, "You look so beautiful in this kimono!" -- I'll take it!