Travel - Aug 11th, 2018

The Best Of Kansai - Kyoto/Nara

Walking in Kyoto street will make you feel as if you are living in the traditional Japanese way of life. Surrounded by shrines and temples, we were being brought into to our spiritual and unpretentious self. Here we experience our first temples hopping, kimono experience as well as the deers encounter in Nara Park.




Fushimi Inari Taisha

We arrived there about 730am and we were the first few visitors. At the entrance of Fushimi Inari Taisha, you will be welcomed by two guardian foxes. They are believed to be the guardian of this mountain as back in the days foxes always came out of the mountain to hunt for food. Walking through a thousand of orange gates surrounded by forest, and birds chirping around.. the tranquility when walking in a shrine like this was amazing. If you're up for it, you can hike all the way up to the summit. We hiked for 30 minutes and decided to descend because we were too hungry. 

  • Come early and you will not regret it! We always got asked 'why wake up so early just to take photos? Isnt travel supposed to be relaxing?'. For that our replies will always be - the experiences are always much ( a lot ) better as you can experience the authenticity of the place instead of a tourist attraction. 
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Marshmallow pancake

Gram pancakes has always been on my to-eat list and I must say amazing is never enough to describe it, it is heavenly. It tastes somewhere between a spongecake and marshmallow, topped with butter, maple syrup and whipped cream. It just melts when it touches your palate and tastes nothing like usual pancakes! This premium pancake is only limited for 60 orders per day with 20 orders allocated to each timing at 11am, 3pm and 6pm. Obviously, we were the first to queue for the first time slot haha! The queue got crazy 1130am onwards. We ordered a normal bacon & scrambled egg pancake too but it completely lost out after we tasted the premium pancake!

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The most celebrated Buddhist temple in Kyoto

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Not sure if it was school holidays in Japan during the time we visited, everywhere was so packed with students out for excursion. In Singapore/Malaysia, I have never been to any historical place for excursion during my schooling days. I am sure that I could score 100 marks for my history if my teacher was to bring me to all these places haha. Here we were - Kiyomizudera, the most celebrated Buddhist temple in Kyoto. The temples are located on the edge of a mountain, after 20 minutes of walk uphill through all the old streets and staircases, we found ourselves welcomed by many bright orange painted temples.

Walking past the old Kyoto street as we descended down from  Kiyomizudera temple, we found % Arabica cafe. HP bought some coffeebeans as souvenirs for his colleagues. Surprisingly we did not have to queue for this outlet, totally opposite with the one at Arashimaya bamboo forest which was so crowded and full.

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Strawberries all day err day

Known as 'Kyoto's kitchen', Nishiki market is a retail market that sells all kinds of locally produced food. It also sells various seasonal and local specialties like dried food, pickles and all sorts of ingredients that we are not even familiar with.
Tako Tamago ( quail egg in an octopus head), strange but delicious!

I could not help myself but had at least one box of fresh strawberry everyday in Japan and I regretted so much for not trying the white strawberry which is only exclusive in Japan. Strawberries here are super cheap and there is no way you could get a sour or spoilt one!!

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Wandering in Kimono

Arashimaya Bamboo Grove is quite far from the place we stay as it is at the weatern outskirts of Kyoto. Had no choice but to wake up at 4am for our departure but thanks God we were able to catch some sleep during the 1.5 hour of train journey. The crowd started kicking in when the clock past 7am . So get your camera ready all the time and snap as many photos as you can because as you were hesitating which spot to take, what to pose etc, you will notice people are already swarming in.

The lesser known spot most tourists miss when travelling in Arashimaya - Kimono Forest. Variety of kimono patterns stand in rows like a mystical path leading to Arashimaya Station.

I wanted a kimono experience so badly and it took me so long to convince HP to wear it together with me haha. We made reservation online with Wargo Kimono Rental because they have the most positive reviews. As you entered the shop, males and females will be separated at different levels to get dressed. Hadagi (kimono underwears) will be provided and you get to match your internal linings, obi (the outer layer) as well as the ribbons wrap with your preferred colour. After dressing, you get to choose your complimentary hair accessory, bag and sandals. The kimono was then tied tightly to avoid wrinkles and supposed to make you a demure lady. But for me, I fell at least 5 times? so I had to walk slowly like penguins because demure is just not my thing haha.

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The golden pavilion

You need to purchase a 400 yen ticket to enter to the garden of this extravagant Kinkakuji. It is not possible to enter to Kinkakuji, you can view it from across the pond. First time in our life seeing a temple covered in real gold, such pleasing to our eyes!

Had our dinner at Kyoto station before back to Osaka. Our initial plan was to have our dinner back in Osaka, however we were too hungry from walking endlessly in our kimonos, we decided to eat at Kyoto Station. The restaurants in the mall were so highly priced that we planned to settle with convenient store until we spotted 喜多方 ramen!! Their big and succulent pork chasiew as well as their afforable price are so highly raved online, we were really surprised to have came across this restaurant unintentionally.

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Nara day trip

Nara is located just less than 1 hour away from Kyoto and it makes the perfect day trip as it is very compact that it is possible to finish all attractions within a day. Nara is an award-winning city as 8  sights are declared as UNESCO world heritage site in a small city like this!!

Enjoyed the entire Todaiji temple by ourselves in the early morning hehe. Nara was very comfortable to walk around as the weather was much cooler than in Kyoto and the locals (people and deers) will greet you in the most welcoming way. The deers in Nara were fearless towards human. Thinking you may be holding any food, they would come within inches close to you. Those younger and smaller deers were much gentle than those with antlers. Some adult deers are really aggresive and pushy when asking to be fed.
Within the grounds of Todaiji Temple, you can find Todaji Nigatsudo easily with signboard. Walking up through the mountainside, you can enjoy the sweeping view of Nara. Also the deers are roaming freely all across Nara and you will find them everywhere you go.

Special deer crackers (Shika Senbei) can be purchased from stalls nearby for about 100-150 yen. Deer feeding was no where close to exciting or adorable, they were so pushy and violent in getting the crackers from my hands. They'd use their antlers to attack you, or worst, bite my pants. Look at how scared I was (until my double chin made an appearance haha!) as I was surrounded by several deers and one of them was even bigger than my size. I got laughed by passer-by (look at the uncle pointing at me ugh) including HP refused to lend a helping hand but laughing off his ass.

Yomogi mochi at Nakatanidou. This mochi shop stands a place due to its fastest mochi pounding in the world. We did not manage to see the mochi pounding but the delicious mochi was enough to make us satisfied. It is made of yomogo, coated with soybean powder and filled with redbean. Very chewy and fragrant!

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