Tuesday, May 28, 2013

West Japan: A Practical 7 Day Travel Guide for Kansai Area -Day 3 - East and Southern Kyoto

Day 3 - East and Southern Kyoto

Anyway, one of the more value for money places to stay in Kyoto was Hotel Oaks. With Free Wi-Fi in the lobby. With one more day in Kyoto, we had to make the most of it.  
Our first order of the day was food!
Across the hotel was a small shop called Nishinotoin.
It was a small cafe opposite the road and a typical place which was not crowded in the morning
We ordered a couple of items on the menu to sample the various types of dishes on the menu. Something light to keep us going through the day.
From our hotel we headed east to the Kyoto river. The building were all on stilts with people enjoying the river. One thing to note, Japan is surprisingly  clean!
Going further east of Shijo is the Yasaka Shrine. People come here to pray and well wishers donate
Typical of each shrine of temple is pool of water and a ladle. What you have to do is use the ladle to clean your hands, and with your hands, drink the water. This is symbolic to cleanse the hands and mouths of visitors to the temple or shrine
It quite amazing how Kyoto manages to thrive while keeping its tradition amidst the bustle of the city.
There was not much of a crowd there in the morning so it was quite easy to get around

The Yasaka shrine stocks little trinkets or amulets with inscriptions of good luck.
You can choose to buy them as a token.
From the looks of it, most of the charms speak of love and lasting relationship.

The Yasaka shrine is also home to some of the famous bells in Kyoto, which ring loudly for special occasions  like New Years day.
However, tourists can also come to make a wish and ring the bells for a year of prosperity

We took the train down to Gojo-dori and explored east. Honestly, kimonos are a rare sight but who goes to Japan without seeing one!
Close to the area was the preserved old buildings of Kyoto at Higashiyama. The architecture comes from an era two centuries ago but Kyoto has kept its traditional wooden houses intact. We had a picnic in the park for lunch and then it was on the train again.
The next stop was Inari Temple. We took another train with took us south east of Kyoto.
It was couple of steps from the station to the temple, not more than 5 mins walk.
The path lead to the grand The Fushimi Inari Taisha temple.
The next part is even more amazing, every part of this place is breathtaking
The grand entrance of the temple is bright red and vibrant. The entire temple is a dedication to Inari, sort of a patron spirit of foxes and business.
The temple is a huge complex of many shrines, which are built higher and higher up the mountain.

While the temple holds many trinkets of small gateways, it probably has as many huge lifesize gateways which some are 3 meters tall.
What is unique about this place is that is has 4km of individual archways painted bright red all the way up to the temple on the mountain.

Don't miss the the shopping street Shijo which was down the road, leading to the Yasaka shrine due east.
After a whole day of walking, it is time for some early dinner...
Anyway, here's my travel companion - Japan is no fun without someone you can share it with

For our last day in Kyoto, we picked a very interesting cuisine. We had a taste of Italian cuisine with a Japanese twist.
Again, not too expensive compared to what you have in KL in the RM15 range
At this point, you might be asking, Italian? Yes... you can practically get any sort of cuisine in Japan, of course with a local touch.

The final itenerary for the day was back to Kyoto central station. Next to the station was the tallest building around. The Kyoto tower peaks above the skyline and give you a 360 view of the city.

From up here, we watched the sunset and had some ice cream to enjoy a romantic last day in Kyoto. Next stop Osaka!!

Here's the rest of the trip and pictures for each day!

Day 1 - West Kyoto - Arashiyama and the Golden Pavilion


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