So much to see, so little time: Let’s waste no time and spend few days in Japan’s Ancient Capital.
Summer was around the corner and we had decided to go to: NIPPON. Kyoto, Nara, and Osaka particularly. Four days is a very short time to see the best of Japan. Still, we did explore and visit some iconic landmarks in the cities. Some things and places had to be left out, but we still managed to feel the euphoria for stepping our own feet on the land of The Rising Sun.
Finding affordable hotels in Japan might not be easy, but how about staying in ryokans? Oh what a really nice choice! We stayed in a ryokan that we had booked from Airbnb. Since we split up the ryokan for 6 people, price is no longer a big deal.
Kyoto is a wonderful city full of historic and strong culture. It’s so captivating that I wish we had some more time to stroll around the city. people often wear kimonos to walk around the streets. The locals are all welcoming and polite at the same time. They behave and act in a modest manner that we all should look up to.
So let’s kick off the day with one of the most iconic district in the world: Gion. Gion is a district that accommodates people to get to the main shrine, Kiyomizu dera, up in the hilly area. But the thing is. Gion isn’t an ordinary street that you can find in the other part of the world. The atmosphere is somehow so traditional and pleasant. I haven’t been to the other part of Japan but Kyoto feels like the real Japan lol.
We strolled around the alleys wearing kimono and yukata from Okamoto. It was around 5 layers of fabric (!!) but don’t ever think about it cos they look really nice on pictures. Okamoto provides many kind of kimonos but they got different price for each (mine is 4000 Yuan, hairdo not included), so you better choose wisely.
The basic kimonos (like the ones we wore in the picture) are actually pretty nice, it’s just the matter of how smart you combine those colours, because I found that my kimono was even better than the expensive ones hahaha :p
The hike to Kiyomizu dera Temple wasn’t that steep but a bit exhausting because of the crowds. We can buy any typical Japanese gifts along the way. The price is a bit pricy in some shops, think and choose what you wanna buy. Compare the prices, and come back to the cheapest shop once you are heading back from the temple!
Gion is all about the combination of culture, history, and business, which make it a right place for photographers. Since it’s summer, taking pictures in the afternoon might not give you the best result. Just wait until one or two hours before the dusk and you can definitely see the difference.
Kiyomizu dera, with over 1200 years of history, is one of UNESCO world heritage’s in Kyoto. It’s a beautiful giant Buddhist Temple which offers a beautiful view of the city.
Before getting back to Gion, don’t forget to experience the “Sound of Feathers” waterfall, where three channels of water drop into a pond. Locals believe that it brings them blessings and prosperity, but..you can only drink the water from 2 waterfalls. If you are greedy enough to drink all the 3, then don’t blame anybody if you got a bad luck! 😉
Eating is the best thing we can reward ourselves after a long tiring day of sleeping in the airport, travelling, and walking the whole day. We took the train and walked up to Kyoto Style Gyukatsu – Wagyu Beef, Aging Beef, while the other guys were checking our luggages in to the ryokan.
Anyway, I ain’t talking nonsense, but this is literally the best katsu I have ever tasted in my life. Ever. I have no idea how they make it raw and fried at the same time, but it tastes amazing. The beef cutlet meals which came with rice, cabbage salad, soup and tea were delicious and of great value too! Quick and friendly service. The restaurant has no English signage, but we can recognise it by the long queue line.
I’m searching up for the same katsu in Hong Kong and Jakarta, but there’s none of it. Make sure you pay a visit once you are in Kyoto!
Our second day is all about temple and temple and temple. We visited Fushimi Inari to start our day. Lays in the southern part of the city, the unending path of over 5000 red torii is the main entrance of the famous Shinto Shrine. The uniqueness of Fushimi Inari is the fact that each torii is donated by an organization or a company for their thankfulness and in hope to get fortune and prosperity in the future. They do this in order to worship Inari, the god of rice.
I really hope that I could read all the kanji engraved on each gate, but for now, it remains as a beautiful artwork representing Japan’s history.
Back to one of those iconic Kyoto places, Kinkakuji Temple, or the Golden Pavilion is a zen Buddhist temple placed in the Northern part of Kyoto. The top 2 floors are fully covered with gold leafs. It’s not that big but a really famous and leading temple in Kyoto.
After doing an online research, I just found out that the temple was constructed by Yosimitshu, a Japanese shogun (anyway this reminds me of Tekken #lol), but it has been burnt down several times during wars and other conflagrations. However, it was under a major reconstruction and improvement by UNESCO and hence, its beauty and history becomes one of the main attraction in the city.
Tenryuji Temple & Zen Garden
We spent 2 days in Kyoto, I know it won’t be enough for some of us but if I have the chance to go back someday, I will:
- Visit Kyoto during Spring or Autumn! When the temperature is much lower and we don’t need to get sweaty. Anyway, Spring and Autumn provide great atmosphere for photo hunting, the view is definitely better than during the summer
- Spent some more days because 2 days in Kyoto is simply not enough! Too many places to go but too little time.
- Visit Arashiyama in the noon for best lighting (not before sunset)
Anyway, we went to Nara and Osaka for another 2 days, but we didn’t really explore the city due to the limited time. I don’t have much to say about both cities, and still, I don’t want to pour things up by copying from other websites lol. But Japan is definitely worth a visit. I’m pretty sure I’m coming back someday! Here are some EXTRA PICTURES that I got!! (click it to see a better resolution)
Yomogi Mochi at the Nakatanidou
Famous for its fast making technique, Yomogi Mochi lays in a small alley in Nara. You can always notice it by the crowds, or, if you’re lucky enough, by the loud shouts of the mochi makers.
Deer Park & Todaiji Temple
Nara is always known by its famous deer park, but for me, the main attraction isn’t the deer park but this giant Todaiji Temple. The beautiful entrance gate fascinates me the most, but compared to the whole temple, it was nothing.
It couldn’t be more different than the other temples. Its beauty doesn’t come from fancy and new architecture but from old and small details.
I visited the temple on Saturday and it was full of students. So if you want to have a look then you need to put it on weekdays in your itinerary because Japanese schools do their field trip on weekends.
Umeda Sky Building
– Arrived in Kansai Airport (Osaka), shower (500¥) & breakfast
– Drop luggages at station (700¥ for 2 medium luggages or 1 extra large luggage)
– Rent Kimonos at Okamoto (4350¥ for ladies, hairdo included)
– Gion street
– Kiyomizu dera
– Return kimono, see geisha in Gion (after sunset)
– Dinner at Gyukatsu (¥1000s per portion but WORTH it)
– Check in ryokan (https://www.airbnb.com/rooms/8848226?checkin=05%2F20%2F2016&checkout=05%2F22%2F2016&guests=6&s=QZF0Kzd3
– Breakfast (fastfood near the ryokan)
– Fushimi Inari Taisha
Train to Fushimi Inari Station
– Kinkakuji Temple (¥400 adult)
In front of Kinkaku-ji-mae Bus Stop, Kyoto City Bus 205 from Kyoto Station
– Lunch at Togakushi, 300s meters from Arashiyama
By JR Train from Kyoto Station: Take the JR Sagano/San-in Line to Saga-Arashiyama Station and walk for about 10 minutes.
By subway from Kyoto Station: Take the Karasuma Subway Line to Karasuma-Oike Station and change to the Tozai Subway line heading west. Get off at the last stop, Uzumasa-Tenjingawa and change to the Randen Street tram to Keifuku Arashiyama Station.
– Tenryuji Temple & Zen Garden (closed after 5pm)
– Arashiyama Bamboo Forest
– Shopping at Kyoto Station
– Dinner at Kyoutokimuraya Honten (booked)
Shabu-shabu dinner ¥2500
DAY 3 :
– Check out & breakfast (fastfood)
– Train to NARA (approx 1 – 1.5 hours from Kyoto)
– Purchase one day pass for bus ¥500, drop luggages at station
– To Isui en Garden: Mochi at Nakatanidou
– Nara Park: deer feeding
– Todaiji Temple
– Lunch at Isui en Garden
– Stroll & shop around the streets
– Train to OSAKA
Daikokuchi Station to Umeda Station (Midosuji Line)
– See sunset at Umeda Sky Building
Try to arrive at least half an hour before the dawn.
– Dinner at Dotonbori (ramen and the other street snacks)
15 minutes walk from Umeda
– Shopping: biscuits, chocolates, kitkats in a shop in Osaka. I can’t remember the name because it was unplanned but it’s relatively cheap and big. You can notice by the crowds
– Stay overnight at apartment in Osaka https://www.airbnb.com/rooms/11541879?checkin=05%2F22%2F2016&checkout=05%2F23%2F2016&guests=6&s=IVDMaOc4
– Breakfast (fastfood near the apartment)
– Osaka Castle, we took relatively a long time inside the museum cos we read the history and backround of the castle and the war
Osaka Business Park Station / Tanimachiyonchome Station
– Lunch at Endou Sushi, traditional and made by the ‘sushi master’ himself, ¥1000s for 5 sushis
Walk 15mins from Osaka Castle
5F Keihan Mall 2-1-38 Higashinodacho Miyakojima-ku Osaka City
AM11:00-PM10:00 (Last order PM 9:30)
– Buy foods, cakes, or gifts around Osaka streets
– Check out from apartment
– To airport, shopping at the Airport, Flight back to Hong Kong
ありがとうございました for your time. See ya on the next post.