2nd part of the trip to Japan! 😀 To read about the first part of my trip (Osaka and Universal Studios Japan), click here~
Day 3: Kyoto
Kyoto is so pretty. It is a city conceived to be touristic, because it has so many beautiful spots and monuments to visit. However, it is not very well connected by subway, so one has to rely on the buses. But anyway, traveling by bus also lets you enjoy the view (unless it is so crowded there’s no window view at all, which happened to me sometimes), and you may spot some beautiful shrine that wasn’t on your itinerary and get off anyway to check it out. For Kyoto first-time travellers, I definitely recommend to buy the all day bus pass. It costs only 500 Y (less than 5$) and lets you hop on/ off as many city buses as you want through the day. I am not going to go into detail regarding traeling tips and routes, but feel free to ask me if you need some advice ^^
We arrived to Kyoto by train from Osaka. The main stop is Kyoto station, although there are also some trains that stop in nearby stations. The trip from a city to another is just around 600Y as well, so quite affordable. As this was our 2nd time in Kyoto, we went straight to buy the bus pass (in the plaza right in front of the Kyoto station). There was a line to buy the pass, and the station was quite crowded. Later, we also found lines to get on the popular buses. However, the line went fast and with our tickets in hand, we took Raku 101 directly to the golden pavillion (Kinkaku-ji). Raku buses 100,101,102 are special city buses for tourists. They make less stops than local buses and visit main shrines and spots. It gets really crowded though, at least in tourist high season. The bus takes about 45 min and then you just walk for 5min until the ticket booth of the kinkaku-ji.
Kinkaku-ji is a small temple by a lake. But it’s not a normal one, as it is fully covered by pure golden leaves and attracts 6 million visitors every year. The only complaint is that it is located too far from the centre, and therefore you need to make a detour of at least 2h to visit it (transportation + visit). On our way back to Kyoto station, we stopped by Hirano temple. We had passed it before on the bus, just 2 stops away, and we got amazed by how many cherry blossoms there were. So we walked there and found that the temple has a big garden with tables and restaurants so that locals can eat out and enjoy the Hanami (Sakura observation). it was an unexpected visit that became one of the highlights of our trip!
Our next stop was also far from the centre: Arashiyama. It is actually outside of Kyoto city, but it is fast to reach from Kyoto station by JR. It takes less than 20 minutes and it is a completely worthy half-day trip. Arashiyama has many attractions, starting from the mountain, many zen temples, a mountain full of monkeys (not scared of you as they see you as a feeding source), a river, etc.
We came here mainly to feed the monkeys, as I remember it as a highlight of my first trip to Kyoto. To get there, you go from Saga Arashiyama station to the mountain, passing by the tourist shops street and the river bridge. Once you crossed the bridge, turn right and you will see a small path uphill. You can buy a ticket for 500Y and prepare for a short but tiring hike. After feeding and playing with the monkeys, we went to the tourist street because they have some really cute shops. We had dinner at a Okonomiyaki small local restaurant, and it was great.
[Arashiyama Monkey Park and yummy Okonomiyaki]
[Arashiyama from Victor’s point of view]
At this point, it was already night and we had already walked over 12km., but decided to head back to Kyoto station and take a last bus to Gion area. Gion is one of the last geisha districts in Japan and it’s full of wooden machiya merchant houses and ochaya (teahouses) where some maiko and geiko entertain their guests.
Although seeing a real geisha won’t always happen, the chances are there. If you want to go to a geisha show, be ready to spend a lot of money. Actually, in many cases, money won’t buy your ticket in. Traditionally, geishas would have some regular customers, and they would only accept as new customers people referred by their former customers. However, because of tourism, some ochayas are offering packages to tourist. But again, the price will be steep.
Near Gion there is Maruyama park (behind Yasaka shrine, which you see as soon as you reach Gion by bus), and due to Sakura season, it was full of life and vibe still at night. After walking for a bit more, we decided we were too tired and took the train back to Osaka. What a busy day!
Day 4: Osaka Museum of Housing and Living & going home
Final day! We decided to meet up with a girl who was traveling Osaka by herself, and she had recommended to go to the Osaka museum of Housing and Living, because we could try on a Kimono there. My original plan was to stay in Kyoto rather than Osaka, and wear a Kimono on Saturday, but the accommodation issue and the time constraints didn’t allow us to do so.
Therefore, I was really eager to go to this museum and finally try on a beautiful Kimono~ this museum is a reproduction of Osaka from the old days but as I said, the highlight is that you can try Kimonos for just 200Y (on top of the entry of 600Y of course…). There was only a problem. Korean people everywhere. The main language i was hearing inside the museum was Korean. They all came to try on the cheap Kimono rental! We had to line up again, and this time it took 1h before we could put on the Kimono.
The museum is quite small, with one floor of life-sized buildings for pictures, and one floor with small scale maquettes, so we finished seeing everything before we could try on the Kimono. Also they only have a limited number of models per size, and in my case there was no kimono of bright colors left. Must say though, we had a lot of fun wearing the kimonos and taking pictures!
[Mimi playing around]
After the museum we said bye to our friend and went eating and shopping for the last time in the trip on Tenjinbashisuji Shotengai, the longest covered-shopping street in Jaoan with 2,6km of length. See you soon, Japan!
[Cute food souvenirs]
*Credits for many of the pictures to Victor Chen*
Día 3: Kyoto
Kyoto es una ciudad preciosa, perfecta para hacer turismo porque siempre hay un parque, templo, o jardín por descubrir. Sin embargo, a pesar de no ser tan grande como Tokyo u Osaka, el metro no funciona tan bien, pues no llegan a la mayoría de sitios turísticos. Por eso, si van a Kyoto de visita, les recomiendo que usen la red de buses (guaguas), para lo cual pueden comprar un pase de 1 día por 500 yenes (menos de 5 euros). Vale la pena porque los sitios clave a visitar están cada uno por un lado diferente.
Llegamos a Kyoto desde Osaka en tren, que se tarda poquísimo y es barato (unos 40 minutos desde Osaka station a Kyoto station y unos 600Y). Nada más bajar, entendimos que nos esperaba otro día de colas como el previo día en USJ, pero aún así no se nos bajaron los ánimos, pues teníamos muchas ganas de dar vueltas por Kyoto!
En resumen nuestro itinerario del día fue: por la mañana Kinkakuji (el pabellón de Oro), un templo forrado de oro. Después paseamos por el templo Hirano, pues era plena temporada de Sakura (los arbolitos rosas) y este templo tiene un parque que se pone precioso. Comimos lo que pudimos y fuimos al castillo Nijo (Nijojo) pero no entramos, sino que pasamos de largo y entramos a un templo/parque muy pequeñito justo al sur del castillo. Desde Nijo cogimos un tren rápido a Arashiyama (monte Arashi), que está fuera de Kyoto pero es muy famoso por su río, por los Sakura, y porque hay una montaña con monitos. Después cenamos Okonomiyaki (tortilla a la japonesa, digno de probar y muy diferente a la tortilla española) y volvimos a Kyoto, donde dimos un paseo por Gion (la zona antigua donde aún existen geishas).
Día 4: Osaka y a casa
Originalmente, queríamos dar vueltas por Kyoto en Kimono, pero nos dimos cuenta del poco tiempo que teníamos, de la de gente que había en la ciudad, y de lo chungo que sería caminar por ahí con el kimono. Pero teníamos muchas ganas de vernos en Kimono, así que antes de marcharnos fuimos a un museo donde te puedes poner un kimono y andar por el museo, que recrea Osaka de muchos años atrás.
De nuevo, colas larguísimas y esperando 1 hora antes de probarnos los Kimonos. Además, el museo tiene una colección bastante limitada así que no me convenció mucho el que me dieron. He de decir que al final, en las fotos,si que me gusta ^^ Bueno, hasta aquí mi resumen. No se olviden de mirar las fotos de arriba! 😀