Two-day itinerary in Kyoto and Osaka, Part 1

by - Tuesday, July 17, 2018

After my short but unexpectedly fun trip on Awaji Island, here I am now finally ticking the list of my dream Japan destinations one-by-one. For my second and third day stay, I've basically planned to immerse myself in the old Japan culture by visiting Kyoto and Osaka.



Just a back story, never in my wildest dreams have I thought of traveling abroad for leisure. I've always been the person to literally strive hard to achieve all my tangible wants in life. During this time, I'm still over the moon thinking what have I done in the past to deserve such blessings my way. 

Sayōnara Awaji,
Ohayō gozaimasu Kobe!


Passing through the Akashi Kaikyō Bridge, the suspension bridge linking Awaji Island to Kobe
As soon as the sun is up, my sister, her husband, and I headed to Sumoto interchange in Awaji to ride a direct bus headed to Sannomiya station in Kobe. This station will be our jumpoff point to Kyoto and Tokyo later on. They arranged the ticket reservation ahead of time which is why it was a breeze getting on the bus to Kobe. The bus conductor simply needed to inspect our tickets before we boarded.

Japan is also famous for their creative location-based manhole covers. 😅
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The first order of business as soon as we reached Sannomiya station is to buy an ICOCA card (similar to our Beep card here in PH) and look for the coin-operated lockers where we can store my 20 kgs luggage. It won't be practical lugging this huge bag around since I will be going back to this station anyway two days from this day. In this same station is the bus station where the night bus headed to Tokyo is located. The coin-operated lockers vary in price depending on the size of the locker a person wishes to avail.


Fushimi Inari Taisha 伏見稲荷大社



Prominent for the thousands of bright, orange torii found from the base all the way up to the smaller shrines of Mt. Inari, the Fushimi Inari Shrine serves as the head shrine of the god Inari and takes up at least two hours to hike.

Map of the Fuhimi Inari-taisha Shrine
All visitors are first expected to rinse both hands properly as a way of purification before entering the shrine. I find this a humbling experience as I pay homage to another religion while learning their culture at the same time. 


There are various activities inside the shrine to make most of one's visit and one of them is called the Omikuji. This is some sort of fortune-telling in Japan and is found in shrines and temples all over the country. A person has to pay ¥100 for a "fortune", shakes a box full of numbered sticks, and selects a fortune (written in a paper) based on that number. 

My sister discouraged me from paying for one because the fortunes are written in kanji, which she cannot comprehend. While writing this blog post, I found out that there are actually english translations of the fortunes online to those who can't read the language. Guess I'm doing this next time I'm back in Japan! 😅 


It is true that the higher you go up the mountain, the lesser people you'll bump into. So expect this surge when entering the first few torii gates from the base of the mountain. Like in any tourist spot, I would advise you to visit this beautiful place early in the morning for a convenient photo opportunity.



The tourists can enjoy street food just outside the shrine to make up for the lost energy from hiking up the mountain. 😛 


Kiyomizu-dera Temple


Next stop is my first temple visit for this trip which is around 40 minutes away from the Fushimi Inari Shrine. While on our way to Kiyomizu-dera temple, our group realized that we may have gone down earlier or later than the station where we're supposed to alight causing us to walk more than the estimated kilometers initially mentioned in Google maps. 


The road to this temple is steep which made me wheeze halfway the trek up. I can still recall how tired and hungry we were as soon as we've reached the entrance of the temple. Good thing I have a trusty onigiri in my backpack ready for consumption in times like this. 😉

Since our level of tiredness went from thirty to one hundred real quick after settling, we've decided not to visit the actual temple anymore. It may be a failed mission this time but I will come back again next time with a lighter bag with me and enough cardio in my system. 


Similar to Fushimi Inari Shrine, there are also lots of stores just outside the temple for tourists like us. I saw myself devouring in their local pork bun that I bought in one of the kiosks on our way to our next location. 

The view just by the entrance of the Kiyomizu-dera temple

The world's first Tatami-style Starbucks in Ninenzaka


As soon as I was booked for Japan, I knew that I needed to visit the Starbucks Coffee branch in Ninenzaka because it is hailed as the world's first Starbucks with tatami. Apart from that, this western coffee shop is located inside a 100-year old traditional Japanese townhouse making it worth the visit!

Since Ninenzaka street also leads to Kiyomizu-dera temple, we were able to reach the cafe in no time. However, while I was still admiring the facade of this unique Starbucks branch, my sister told me that the branch is currently closed for maintenance. In this case, I had no choice but to only take photos from the outside. 😭 


Late lunch


Still broken-hearted from the bad news, we strolled around the streets of Kyoto and looked for a place to eat our late lunch. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to take note of the restaurant's name but I still want to share the unique experience we've had in this place.


Basing from the food illustrations in the facade of the restaurant, we knew that we were in for a treat. What we didn't know is that there is more to the scrumptious food photos outside. There's actually a garden unique to the aesthetic of Japanese.


At this point, I knew I was ready to challenge my appetite since I'm already lucky to be tasting authentic Japanese cuisine. Needless to say, I ordered my first-ever Unagi rice meal and people were right when they said that all the food in Japan tastes amazing. This meal is one for the books and I would hunt for this place again to try the other food that they have to offer. 


Gion District & Yasaka Jinja Shrine


A tourist dressed as a Maiko in a rickshaw
While looking for our way back to the station, it stumbled upon me that we're in Gion district already. This district is renowned as a place where Geiko (Kyoto dialect for geisha) and Maiko (geiko apprentices) entertain. This isn't part of our itinerary but I am still happy to personally wander in this famed location.

 

When we asked for directions, it was mentioned that we had to pass by the Yasaka Jinja Shrine also known as the Gion Shrine. Most people visit this place to pray to the shrine's god for protection from disaster and for familial prosperity. Before leaving the place, I rang the bell and said a little prayer.



The view just outside the other exit of the Yasaka Jinja Shrine
Since there's a Starbucks branch towards the station, we made a pit stop just so I can finally drink their featured Sakura Strawberry beverage that season. It felt like I'm in my second home knowing that I'm getting the same kind of treatment in Sbux back in PH.



Since there's a Starbucks branch towards the station, we made a pit stop just so I can finally drink their featured Sakura Strawberry beverage that season. It felt like I'm in my second home knowing that I'm getting the same kind of treatment in Sbux back in PH.

Konbannwa Osaka!


After a bearable train ride from one city to another, I finally had a tourist shot by the famous Glico man sign - meaning I've officially landed to Osaka for the first time. 💖 


Dōtonbori & Shinsaibashi Shopping Mall




As soon as I've reached Osaka, visiting Dōtonbori is the main priority over all my to-do list in this city. It was a different kind of rush as I gaze in the different street food available from left to right. 



Even if I wanted to go on a gastronomic experience from one kiosk to another, I had to look for the big octopus signage and try their local Takoyaki. If authenticity had a taste, it would definitely be this snack because of its generous octopus serving on top of an oozing batter. I would have another round of this ball-shaped snack if it weren't for the fact that we're headed to a local ramen place for dinner.

 

Ramen Todai


The smartest way to battle the single-digit temperature on this evening is a bowl of a hearty ramen. Highly recommended by my sister, we went to Ramen Todai in Dōtonbori to try their well-known Tokushima-style ramen paired with their signature ramen. I guess its main difference from other ramen is that a raw egg is added on top of the noodle soup and not boiled.

The guests need to fall in line to the vending machine to order. After securing their meal stubs, they can direct to the staff by the door to look for a table to settle. Japanese people are systematic which is why they're efficient in the things that they do. 😊



End of Day 1


Before officially calling it a day, we went to a nearby convenience store to buy breakfast food for the next day. The convenience stores in Japan offer a wide array of cup noodles that I think it'll take me a month to try them all. Haha



I initially thought I can fit both my two-day itinerary in one blog post but I was wrong. I find this blog post long enough that adding more items to the list will make this article dreading to read already. I will update this post as soon as the second part of this feature is already up. 😅

 

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