Bianca: Andddd we’re back to our regular programming. Our Japan adventures continue in Kyoto. Kyoto is considered the cultural capital of Japan and was probably my highlight from our Japanese trip.
After dumping our bags at the hotel (too early to check-in) we walked over to the Imperial Palace, the former ruling palace of the Emperor of Japan. The gardens are gorgeous and you can easily while away the hours exploring.
The weather in Kyoto was much milder than Osaka but still warmer than we were anticipating. Cue our hotel check-in. The Cross Hotel Kyoto was ultra-modern, comfy with all the mod-cons and the bathroom alone was worth the $$$.
After washing the days travel away we made our way over to the Nishiki Markets. All of the action ends by 6pm, so I do recommend visiting in the early afternoon (4-5pm) that way you see the markets in all it’s glory. We had some SUPER AVERAGE tempura from a stall along the strip so I would say to be wary with some of the eateries along the strip.
Four days into our Japan trip and we were on the hunt for sushi. My google searches led us to Sushi Otowa. Pretty as a picture but we paid close to $50 for this meal and it hardly touched the sides…
A trip to Kyoto isn’t complete without visiting Pontocho alley. One of the most atmospheric strips you’ll ever come across.
It is touristy so be prepared for crowds, our recommendation… Hello Dolly, a jazz and whiskey bar. It’s moody, pretty kitsch and totally worth the stop in.
We were feeling a little peckish after our light sushi dinner and drinks and on a recommendation from Alana Dimou Yanagikoji Taka, a small yakitori bar. We popped in at about 10pm on a weeknight and it was standing room only. Simple in premise but the skewers were delicious.
A quick coffee run before we set out for NARA. Weekenders Coffee is a cute little coffee shop, set back off the street in an unassuming car park. If it’s busy prepare yourself to linger, no takeaway coffee cups to be had here.
A short 60-minute train journey from Kyoto to Nara.
Nara is truly picturesque. Set aside at least a full day to explore the sights. The deers are obviously one of the largest attractions in Nara and understandably so. They’re truly majestic animals! Perhaps steer away from the ‘deer crackers’, Jules bought some and was almost gored in the butt butt because they got so excited… they weren’t even Ritz crackers…
Wander over to the Todaiji, with the main hall being the Big Buddha Hall.
The views from the Nigatsudo Hall looking out over Nara city are unparalleled…
The Ukimido Gazebo and Sagiike Pond were like something out of a still life drawing.
Back in Kyoto, straight off the train, we headed to Gogyo.
I loved it in Sydney and knew that it could only be better in Japan. The Kogashi Miso is what dreams are made of. The charred miso base is what sets this apart from any other ramen you’ll ever eat. If you haven’t been to the Surry Hills location, you need to!
The next day we picked up a Suzuki GSX-S1000F, with a hit-list of locations to see we set off. Our first stop was Nijo Castle. As we were on a mission and Jules had already visited we just toured the purdy gardens.
It was a particularly beautiful and scenic ride up to Mount Hiei, a mountain to the northeast of Kyoto.
Then a quick dash over to the Temple of the Golden Pavillion, a zen Buddhist temple.
Julian was set on the Takaosan Jingoji Temple but it would have meant missing out on Arashiyama. Alas, we ended up exploring kiosks and restaurants below along the Kiyotaki River.
Arashiyama is a must-visit. It’s touristy as all hell and you’ll be pushing through crowds. But the sights are well worth it.
Delicious Sakura ice-cream in Arashiyama.
It wouldn’t be a trip to Japan without visiting Shake Shack. The Double Shackburger for Julian.
And the SmokeShack for moi. Plus a small Cheese Fries. With a Small Iced Tea, the meal ended up costing us 2786 YEN ($40 AUD at time of conversion).
And for the Nintendo folk. The Old Nintendo Building. Besides the two plaques bearing the name of the giant gaming corporation, it looks like a regular (rather clinical) building.
Walden Woods was another recommendation by Alana Dimou, photographer kween! The cafe itself is signless and minimalist.
And our last meal in Kyoto before jumping on the Shinkansen to Tokyo. Breakfast at Kawa Cafe. Writing this post I had a read through some rather vicious reviews on Trip Advisor, both from customers and the owner. I can only speak from my own experience and we had a rather good one at Kawa, the food was tasty and the waitress very friendly.
We opted for the Kawa Cafe Brunch for 1600 YEN ($22 at time of conversion). It included Fruit Salad & Yoghurt.
Bacon, Scrambled Eggs, Maple Syrup Pancakes, Orange juice and Coffee.
Yes it majorly freaked me out to have all my food so close to each other. Pancakes and eggs DO NOT MIX. Full stop! In saying that, I ate them separately and they were tasty!
And with that, we set off for Tokyo!