Sunday, January 03, 2016

Part 2: Kyoto and Osaka

Continuing from where I left off in my earlier post, with Fujisan checked off our list we headed into the second leg of our trip. Upon C's recommendation, we bought the Hikari shinkansen and hotel package from Japanican to Kyoto for 3 days 2 nights. Our plan was to take a day trip to Osaka using a local train.

As this post is really really late (and I can't remember the details from 2014 anymore), I'll just post my photos and comment on them as we go along.

M had read that there was a famous okonomiyaki place near the Nishiki Market in Kyoto. So when we arrived and found our way to our hotel (which was just outside one of the train stations a couple of stops away from Kyoto Station), we asked for directions from the hotel reception and headed out for dinner. It was well worth the visit - Nishiki Warai.

Okonomiyaki in Nishiki Warai, Kyoto

Much of the travelling we did in Kyoto was done via bus as we learned that their train network was not as sophisticated as Tokyo's. Traveling by bus enabled us to see more views but we had to be on alert of our stops.

The temples we visited in Kyoto were far apart and required us to plan out our routes. We had to axe Kinkakuji (Golden Temple) from our plans after discussing the logistics and time constraint.

We took an old school train to Arashiyama. The bamboo forest was beautiful but our cameras didn't do justice to it. There was a 'village' of shops near the temple where we bought the yummiest melt-in-the-mouth cookies! We bought three flavours - kinako (roasted soya bean powder), green tea and strawberry. Many of us tourist had hunted down some other tourists who had paid to dress up as a geiko and walk a round to the train station and back, just to take a photo with them. I know, a bit silly, but we didn't get to see any locals dress up like that.

At the temple grounds, we bumped into a (presumably) Malaysian family there and it was funny how the grandmother was treated like a maid, pushing the pram and taking care of the grandkids while the couple walked in front without carrying any bags and not inviting the grandmother to join in during photo-taking.

Arashiyama bamboo forest, Kyoto

We should have allocated a whole day at Fushimi Inari Temple as it was a rather long track to cover the whole temple. We did not complete the walk around the hill and turned back half way due to our waning time and stamina. Although it was not a trekking path, climbing up and down undulating stairs was quite tiring. We all had to remove our down jackets part of the way for fear of overheating.

We had inari in one of the small shops during our rest break somewhere up the hill.

This was also the place where I encountered a squat toilet which was quite foreign to me (as in the shape of the toilet and locating the flush button). Funny stories.

Fushimi Inari, Kyoto
At Kiyomizu Temple, M & L queued up at the Otowa Waterfall where they took sips of spring water from three streams using cups with a long handle. The three streams are for longevity, success and love. 

Part of the temple was under repair so it wasn't as pretty as the pictures we googled. The vermilion pagoda at one end of the temple grounds is Koyasu Pagoda. This was pretty as it looked different from the main hall. M & L bought themselves some talisman for health, road safety and love at this temple, saying that this was one of the older temples and because it was the last temple we were visiting in Kyoto.

Kiyomizu dera, Kyoto

We shopped a bit at Nishiki Market, buying some tidbits which later we discovered were much cheaper in Isetan at Kyoto Station. So, do your shopping at Kyoto Station. Some of the sellers in Nishiki Market were from China, as we discovered later.

Nishiki Market, Kyoto

At night we went to Gion, but did not see any geikos as it was quite late. Just old style shops which had closed for the day. Walking around after Gion, we entered another temple in Kyoto city itself, which had a large illuminated tree and some huge paper lantern structures which could be moved with a lever or pulley. These structures were designed by art students and were on display at that time.

During our day trip to Osaka, it rained quite a fair bit so it was rather gloomy. The weather forecast predicted snow the day after. We had a quick lunch in the Osaka train station and it was quite cheap in comparison with the other meals we had had at other places. We targeted to visit only 3 attractions due to the time constraint - the Umeda Sky Building, Osaka Castle and Dotonburi at night.

Umeda Sky Building, Osaka
Osaka Castle
Dotonburi, Osaka - the famed Glico man

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