Osaka – Kyoto

Following the post from “Travel To Osaka Kyoto Nara For Less Than $1.2K Incl. Flights And Accommodation (Singapore – Osaka)“, we head to Kyoto for the next day trip.

Though I managed to explore major parts of Kyoto for 1 day, I would actually recommend at least 2 days in Kyoto at least.

 

Fushimi Inari Taisha

First stop of my Kyoto trip is to Fushimi Inari Taisha (伏見稲荷大社).

From Osaka, take the JR train to Inari Station in Kyoto. Depending on where you are located, you need to change a few lines to reach Inari. Use your Google Map to plan your route. Check out my review of wifi router for Japan use if you need internet connection in Japan.Inari Station Kyoto

You’ll see lots of tourists taking the same train as you. Once you reached the station, the Shrine is just right outside the station.

fushimi inure shrine

I reached there in the late morning, so there are many people already despite the non-peak period.

The shrine is a beautiful place to visit in Kyoto. This is one of the shrines you must visit.

purification fountain

Before you enter a shrine in Japan, you need to purify yourself at the “temizuya” water pavilion.

It is to perform “misogi,” a ritual to purify the body and mind with water before proceeding to stand in front of the deity. The ritual is to wash away impurities in your heart as well as from your physical self.

  • First, scoop up water in a ladle with your right hand and pour water over your left hand.
  • Next, hold the ladle with your left hand and pour water over your right hand.
  • In your left hand, take some water that you have scooped with the ladle and rinse your mouth. Never touch the ladle directly to your mouth.
  • Lastly, using the remaining water, tip the ladle to rinse it off.

*You only scoop up water one time, at the very first step of the process.

 

Senbon Torii

Fushimi Inari Taisha is famous for it’s thousand Torii gates (Senbon Torii).

The experience of walking through the gates is amazing and one have to experience it yourself when you are in Kyoto

senbon torii

If you have the time you can continue to hike up the hill to the inner shrine which will take a few hours. If not you can head towards other attractions after visiting the thousand torii gates.

Walk out to the other exit to the next nearest station, which is Fushimi-inari station. You can shop for souvenirs or have delicious snacks on the way.

takoyaki

I had takoyaki on the way while resting. Delicious! One item accomplished from my checklist!

From the station you can go down the route to other attractions like Kyoto Tower and Gion.

kyoto attraction map

Instead I dropped by to Nishiki Market for lunch.

 

Nishiki Market 錦市場

I stopped at Gion-Shijio and walked towards Nishiki Market. Before reaching Nishiki Market, walk pass the river over the bridge and you see that area lines probably hundreds of restaurants and is very scenic. It would look even more beautiful in the night.

before nishiki market

After a few minutes of walk. I reached Nishiki Market.

Nishiki Market

Nishiki Market is a very long shopping street selling many retail items and also seasonal foods like seafood and many Kyoto specialities such as Japanese sweets, pickles, dried seafood and sushi.

Kyoto pickled vegetables

Over there sells many pickled vegetables for adding to your dishes. Very popular with elders cause it complements well with porridge. There’s just so many different varieties of pickled vegetables!

There are many samples you can try out if you like it.

fresh sashimi nishiki market

And you can have fresh sashimi for a cheap price!

toro

Got to eat toro at 700 yen!

I spent a lot of time in Nishiki market eating. A lot of their fruits and vegetables are local produce and they are fresh. Recommend you come here for your lunch! Note you’ll splurge quite a bit on lunch here though.

At the end of the market is an oyster bar that serves huge raw oysters which you should try if you are traveling in pairs.

After Nishiki market, it’s already late afternoon, I need to choose between Arashimaya or Kinkakuji Temple. I chose Kinkakuji Temple cause it was nearer.

 

Kinkakuji Temple 金閣寺

From Nishiki market, use Google map to guide you to take the bus to Kinkakuji. There is a direct bus there. Should be bus 101 or 12. Look at the bus guide at the bus station.

It cost just 230 yen for the bus trip. If you have the ICOCA card, it is a breeze to take the transport. Just tap the card when you exit from the front of the bus (you board the bus at the back of the bus).

kinkakuji route

Follow the signs and people to reach the entrance of Kinakuji Temple. You’ll need to pay an admission ticket (400 yen) to enter the area.

Kinkakuji

Kinkakuji is a zen temple located in Northern Kyoto which the 2 top floors are covered in gold. Very beautiful place. In the hot summer, once you walked into the place, you can feel the coolness in temperature and feeling peaceful as you walked around despite a huge number of people.

*Interesting note: Do you know there is another temple in Kyoto which is called Ginkakuji? The temple is covered in silver instead. Gin (銀) is silver, Kin (金) is gold.

After Kinkakuji, I walked and took the train towards Arashimaya.

taking train kyoto

Taking the train in Kyoto is very enjoyable as most of the trains travel above ground. So you get to see scenic sights along the way.

 

Arashimaya 嵐山

Reached Arashimaya Station, it’s almost 5pm. Arashimaya is a beautiful place to visit if you are in Kyoto. There are many scenic attractions such as the Togetsukyo bridge, Tenryuji Temple and the famous bamboo groves.

to tenryuji

Wanted to visit the garden in Tenryuji, but it was already closing time by the time I reached. So would have to save the trip for the next time instead.

Best time to visit Arashimaya and Sagano would be during the cherry blossom period.

One of the best ways to explore is by renting a bike. You can rent a bicycle at the Arashimaya station and cycle all the way north. Shall do it the next time I’m here.

As it was approaching night and dinner time, I decided to have dinner here.

 

Eating

Unagi Don

There are many restaurants in Arashimaya. You should try their famous tofu dish. The other dish you should eat in Arashimaya is the unagi don at this particular restaurant named Unagiya Hirokawa.

unagiya hirokawa

This restaurant is famous for their unagi don and you’ll know why once you have tried it.

Make no mistake if you want to eat here because the queue is very long. I was lucky as walked in at their opening hour and I had to wait for an hour during non-peak period. I read some might need to queue 2 hours for lunch time period.

unagiya hirokawa inside

It is quite high end restaurant and is quiet and good for a rest. I ordered the course A set which cost 3,900 yen.

unagi don

First sip on your green tea while you wait for them to prepare your food. Enjoy when it is served because this is one of the best unagi don you will ever eat.

unagi don

The Unagi is soft and fresh, the grilled part is so well caramelised that isn’t burnt at all. There was no burn taste but a sweet taste of the sauce that is layered over the unagi.

The fragrant rice complements the unagi so well you just want to keep eating the unagi and rice together.

The side dishes are also worth mentioning.

uzaku

The Uzaku are pieces of grilled eel and under is cucumber in sweetened vinegar. Loved the cucumber.

koi no arai

Koi no arai consist of slices of half-boiled fresh carp with miso based dipping sauce. Take the slice, add the yellow wasabi and dip it into the sauce. Love the taste of wasabi in this dish.

pickles

The pickles are nice complement to your rice.

clear soup

The clear soup was refreshing to drink. It’s light which washes away the heavy sauce of unagi, in the soup I found bits of citrus skin (I assume yuzu) which made the soup refreshing.

This is the place you must eat at when you are in Arashimaya. It’s quite affordable to eat too. Worth the waiting time if you want to eat here. You might want to make a reservation before coming if you can speak Japanese.

Location
Unagiya Hirokawa
Japan, 〒616-8374 Kyoto Prefecture, Kyoto, Ukyo Ward, 嵯峨天龍寺北造路町44−1
Phone: +81 75-871-5226
Opening Hours: 11.30am – 2.30pm, 5.00pm – 9.00pm
Website: http://unagi-hirokawa.jp/english/index.html

It’s already night after the dinner and I head back to Osaka to rest for the next trip.

Took a leisure walk to the next train station after crossing the Togetsukyo bridge and took the train back to Osaka.

hanky arashimaya station

 

Osaka – Nara

The next day is for a trip to Nara! For Nara, I just plan for a half-day trip there cause there is a ramen stall which I wanted to try out on route to Nara.

So I took the train and alighted at Tomio Station.

tomio

After a few minutes of walk, I reached the ramen place.

Eating

Mitsuba (ラーメン家 みつ葉)

Mitsuba

The ramen place is called Mitsuba, it’s one of the top ranked ramen place in Nara in tabelog.com.

Tabelog is a Japanese community food review website which has food reviews contributed by it’s readers. Highly popular website which lists almost everything that you want to eat in the whole of Japan.

Mitsuba is ranked no. 1 for that neighbourhood. Their speciality is their frothy Shio or Shoyu soup base and char siu.

Open only for lunch from 11.00am – 1.30pm, that means you have only a limited window to eat at this place.

I arrived at before 11am and there’s already a queue in front of the restaurant. The queue is made up of Japanese only as it is only known by the local Japanese.

So I quietly queue up waiting for my turn. Was handed the menu to decide what I want to have.

mitsuba menu

Truthfully, I can’t really understand the whole menu. However, thanks to past experience of learning Japanese, at least I can read some words in hiragana and katakana and piece them together. Thank Google translate too!

So the first 2 lines are shoyu (soya sauce) soup base. The 3rd and 4th are Shio (salt) soup base. I decided I want to eat the Shoyu char siu ramen (2nd line).

For 950 yen, it’s worth the price which you will see.

Once it’s your turn, you’ll be ushered to place your order in their ticket vending machine. Then they will issue you a number slip which will tell you what time to come back to the restaurant.

So after taking the slip I took a walk and come back later. Nearby there are supermarkets which you can shop around and rest if you like while waiting.

Once back in the shop, I waited for my number to be called and was ushered in to take a seat. A small typical ramen place, you just sit in front of the chef and see them while they prepare your ramen.

shoyu ramen

This is ramen unlike the normal ramen you have ever eaten. It is just so heavenly!

The soup is blended to have a froth. The soup itself is thick but the froth allows it to be light when you have your bite. The noodles are slightly thicker type.

The meat is deeply flavoured and lots of fat tissues. The exterior is peppered with pepper and herbs. Best of all there are 5 big pieces for you to enjoy!

It’s so good that I finished up the soup!

Totally recommend this place if you know how to speak and understand a bit of Japanese and you are on your way to Nara.

Location
Mitsuba (ラーメン家 みつ葉)
3丁目3-15-1 Tomio Motomachi Nara Nara 奈良県 奈良市 富雄元町 3丁目3-15-1
Opening hours: 11:00am – 1:30pm (or till sold out)
Closed on Sundays and public holidays

 

Nara

After a satisfied lunch, I continued my journey to Nara.

nara station

Reached Nara station. Nara is a nice place to visit for it’s famous Nara Park and Todaiji Temple.

From Nara station, just walk straight towards Nara Park.

First temple you will reach first is Kokufu-ji temple. It’s a very big place and zen.

kokufuji

Along the way you will meet some deers. Nara is the place where you can see deers roam freely as they are considered the national treasure.

nara deer

The deers are tame and you can purchase deer crackers (150 yen) to feed them. Some of them may bite you to pester you to feed them when they see you holding the crackers. Feel free to pet and take pictures with them. Some of them would even bow before you to ask you to feed them.

Walk a bit more and you’ll reach Todaiji Temple.

 

Todaiji Temple 東大寺

todaiji

Todaiji is one of Japan’s historical and largest temple in Japan. It is really majestically huge and you’ll be awed by the sheer size of the temple. You’ll need to pay an admission ticket (500 Yen) to get in.

The main hall of the temple, the Daibutsuden (Big Buddha Hall) is the world’s largest wooden building. Inside sits one of Japan’s largest bronze Buddha statue.

buddha hall

Around the hall you can find other buddha statues and deity guardians.

Inside there is another popular attraction which is a pillar with a hole in its base that is said to be the same size as the great Buddha’s nostril. It is said that those who can squeeze through this opening will be granted enlightenment in their next life.

passing through pillar

After a walk in the temple, feel free to sit and enjoy the breeze with the company of deer.

deer 2

After the trip in Nara, I went back to Osaka for the night and ends my Kyoto and Nara trip.

Though it was a short trip, I feel that more days are needed for Kyoto for exploring the place. So plan for at least 2 days for Kyoto.

Here’s what I spent in these 2 days.

Cost

Kyoto
Breakfast ¥218
Lunch ¥1,450 (various food in Kyoto and Nishiki market)
Dinner ¥3,900
Attractions ¥400
Transport ¥2000 (recharge)
Souvenir ¥2,480

Nara
Breakfast ¥218
Lunch ¥950
Deer crackers ¥150
Todaiji entrance ticket ¥500
Transport ¥1000 (recharge)

Total ¥13,266 (about $177 SGD)

The cost will probably be more if you spend more days in Kyoto. But it’s really cheap to travel in Kyoto and Nara. Usually the higher costs will be food and souvenir buying.

Here you go, have fun planning for your Japan trip! You can check out my Kyoto map to help you plan your trip.

Check out my vlog for Osaka, Kyoto and Nara!

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