Purple has now turned blue... purple is joy, yet blue is hope!


Monday, August 31, 2015

Travel - Osaka.Kyoto April 2015 (Part 2)

Kyoto, a historical and must visit city of Japan. I have been imagining the city setup ever since I read the book - Geisha about 10 years ago. Honestly, it looked more modern than I expected. Of course, the refurbished buildings and architecture still preserved well, the wooden blocks. It was amazing, and I am very much salute the Japanese determination and persistent. Its the right attitude to build positive energy, lock through one's will and work towards it, without blame and hate.

Shrines and temples are the most a must visit around Kyoto. Especially for one who likes photography. If I am walking alone, I will spot and stop longer for "the moment" type of photography. Too bad, time was the limit, and weather did not seemed doing well with us. We had a 5 days 4 nights stay in Kyoto, a little more than Osaka for a stop.

First meal in Kyoto - Ramen at Kyoto train station. I recalled a friend told me about the small shop with vending machine. Upon checking against some Chinese travel guide book, this food court located very much top floor of the station, to access it, it's via the open air escalation way. They have all Japan famous ramen shop, with some brief introduction. I choose the one without bamboo shoots, namely Hakata Ikkousha Ramen. Tasted good! They have its branch in Singapore, should try them.

Ramen vending machine 
Wait to be seated once ticket bought 
Yummy ramen
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Our evening was spent on night Sakura at Kiyomizu Temple (清水寺). The temple don't usually open at night, except some special occasion for visit, i.e. Sakura season. It was crowded, and yet view was stunning. This temple located quite near to Gion. A famous place to spot Geisha. Before heading back to the hotel, we stopped by Daimaru shopping area to spot for my "must buy" shop for Phiten products. My sis blogged on the actual location of the shop, we followed the exact train station to stop, and yet failed for day 1.
Nite sakura
Kiyomizu Temple

Geisha spotted but she walked really fast
Another Geisha at Gion
The following day was raining and we decided to forgo our cycling tour to the following day. I didn't pack my camera at all, walking around with just a Daiso transparent umbrella and raincoat. We hit the bus and trains. Towards the shrine and famous tourist spots, around Arashiyama. We got lost at the train station walked many KMs until we get to the Bamboo garden. Unfortunately, the rain didn't stop at all. We continued our walk around the area. Hopped to Kinkaku-ji Temple (金寺) a.k.a. Golden Temple with its surrounding stunning garden. Again, my only tool was my handphone.

Did I mentioned that touring into the Shrine or Temple, especially those with nice garden requires entrance fees. Hence, plan your trip, unless its necessary for a good sigh seeing, else one may omits visiting those temples.

Bamboo garden

Garden near Kinkaku-ji Temple
Kinkaku-ji Golden Temple
Since the rain didn't go. We decided to hit back to the town center for more shopping, including the areas around Kyoto station, GU and Uniqlo were the hit most shop. Supermarkets were our frequent visiting targets too. Grabbed some good grounded coffee and liquors too. We usually prepare quick bites for next day breakfast, before heading for brunch. Green tea latte sachets accompanied with buns or biscuits had been our must everyday. It's kinda budget travel though.. (shameful smile).

We discovered this simple restaurant while walking back to our hotel. Decided to give it a try, since its kinda budget style. Honestly, we didn't spend a lot on luxury food over this trip, due to many reasons. One of it was time constrain. The shop name in foursquare らーめん恵比朱.

The ramen was simple with lots of huge spring onions. Love the simple soup base. The rice set with pouched egg was wonder too. I just feel comfy with such restaurant. In fact, we had dinner here for 2 consecutive nights.

Ramen and Rice
Unfortunately, the very next day was also drizzling. No other chance or day to spare, except to hit the cycle route with our raincoats. There are many bike rental shops and bike tours around this corner near our hotel. In fact, there are recommendations in TripAdvisor. Perhaps only the Westerners likes nature and venture like this. Typical Asian will not usually do this, they will usually hop on a tour bus or all itinerary spelled tour.

We landed with Nanakomachi 七小町 Bike rental for whole day, return by 7PM was affordable. The only downside for cycling around was the parking fees. Yes, not a surprise as Kyoto has strict municipal council where bikes are not supposed to park along side of the road or even shop lots verandah, especially near Kyoto station or any tourist spots. We targeted back the Kiyomizu Shrine area, and ended up parked our bikes with almost a typical Shrine entrance fee (500yen). Nevertheless, it was a great experience, especially with the old fashion Japanese bike. Don't underestimate how these bike can go, it's light and very easy to control. Perhaps these had been re-engineered type.

Upon heading back to the city center, we needed (in fact was instructed) to push our bikes along a stretch with crowd along the Damaru shopping center. I was hoping to find my Phiten HQ, but to no avail. :( *sad face*

Bike rental and tour shop
If and only if the weather was good. We wouldn't need to get wet, and so do the ease of maneuver around the nice temples area.... with just our raincoats, we walked around the nice tourist spots, seeing others in their rental kimono, walking down the streets.. I was rather *sigh*, couldn't present any photos of myself with that Japanese traditional dress. Till then, next time. :)

Kiyomizu area - day time
Tourist streets
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Love cherry blossom
Kimono rental
White cherry
Poor me on double rain coat

Our biking route
Weather the following day was shiny! Oh gosh... how nice if were to cycle that day. Don't be happy too early, the weather turned ugly again when we were in Fushimi Inari Shrine. This is a nice place with a little of hike. It's a one way walk, while you will ended up in another exit. Weather was good when we headed in.. but it drizzle when we were at the peak of mountain.

Fushimi Inari route map
The classic icon of Inari Shrine
Wolf based wish cards
Kimono based wish paper cards
Off Inari Shrine - Sweeten Sweet Potato
Japanese House
Ready to grill - unagi
Since we have done with the must go Shrines... We headed back to Arashiyama for Sagano Romantic Train. The train ride was awesome, scenic sakura and cherry blossom along the way. Choose the open air ride, worth the value.
Sagano Train beer

Sagano Romantic Train
Kameoka houses
Kameoka Station
Rented bike while waiting for train interval
Went again - Bamboo Garden 
Couple on Wedding shot 
Matcha Green tea Pao 
Sake Ice cream 
My favorite Japanese biscuits
We headed to somewhere near Kyoto Tower and surrounding. Heard its an old town, the feel of this town is just like pre-WWII. Walls and some historical stories were there to tell the stories for Kyoto tower, apparently it was a rebuilt after WWII, because the previous tower metal steels were tore down for war use. 

Kyoto Tower
Our dinner - Japanese noodle
Old locks
History of Kyoto Tower
Following day, we headed out to Kobe via train. Thought of having a good slice of Kobe beef, but we were just too full for a lunch. Instead, we tried whatever we found around the station underground shopping mall. There was nothing much in Kobe. Besides beef, they are famous for coffee. Great for my shopping.. added more weight to my luggage! ;)
Japanese set lunch
The display
Kobe Coffee
My collection

Before we called a day, we made a last try towards Phiten HQ. Guess what?? We finally found, and I was super excited. The building was renovated and they didn't have the signage clear enough, its at the ground floor of a college. But, but. but... the shop is close every Wednesday 3rd week of the month! Exactly on the day before we leaving Kyoto. OMG!!! What type of co-incident? Anyway, I will try my luck in Osaka. Knowing there is one small shop in Namba. But I was still aiming a store/shop type for more selection.

The same building - Fukui Bank
It was close :(
Here are some souvenirs we got from Kyoto. Nice and unique place. They even have own plum wine. 

Kyoto Pickles
Kyoto plum wine

Our to-go breakfast and snacks. 
Bottle of hot coffee & my rice
Green tea Oreo

Last part will be Nara before heading back to Osaka for shopping!