When we were planning our trip to Japan, we decided that while we were in Osaka, we would make a day trip to Kyoto! Since Pork wasn’t as interested in exploring temples and the “traditional” part of Japan as much as exploring the city life, we decided to only go to Kyoto for the day. The train ride is only 50 minutes from Osaka. And we started our trip the same way we start every day — with food! At Kyoto Station there was a standing restaurant. Since Japanese businessmen are always on the go, there are these “standing restaurants” located in metro stations where you order outside using a type of vending machine. The process goes somewhat like this: 1. Look at your options, 2. Insert your money, 3. Press the button that displays your choice, 4. Receive a ticket and change (if any). Then you step into the restaurant, hand your ticket to the waitress/chef, and you stand at the counter while you wait for your food. Two or three minutes later, you are served your food and you eat your bowl while standing. Japanese businessmen can eat these bowls in an average of 7 minutes! That’s a ridiculous amount of time to eat a piping hot bowl of noodles!!! I definitely couldn’t handle it. Pork, on the other hand, ordered cold soba noodles so his bowl was a lot easier to eat at a faster pace. He finished before I did so he waited outside for me. Trust me, the struggle was real. I noticed multiple people come in and finish their bowl before I finished mine. Afterward, I didn’t feel so good from eating that fast haha..
The first touristy spot we decided to go to was Fushimi Inari (seen in Memoirs of a Geisha). This is the famous shrine where there is a path of torii (gates) that takes about 2 hours to walk through. We actually didn’t walk through the path because we heard that it wasn’t worth it, especially since we were only spending a day in Kyoto. Statues of foxes are also found throughout the main shrine area because they are considered to be the messengers of the Inari (spirits).
After walking around and taking a few pictures, we decided to head to our next destination, which was the Kiyomizu-dera Temple! Even though it was a cloudy day, it was definitely still humid. On the way, we passed by SO many dessert places and got hungry (ok, let’s face it, I was the one that became weak and succumbed to the delicious looking desserts). So we stopped by a dessert shop and ordered a dessert set with matcha green tea. SO DELICIOUS!
Finally, we got to the temple and found it PACKED with tourists and students. I have no idea what the Japanese school schedule is like but Pork and I were so surprised at how many Japanese students were out during the day. The uniforms looked different so we didn’t think it was just one school that got out early either.
We bought tickets to go inside the temple (I believe it was about 30 yen/person), and one of the first things we saw was this display of shoes and weapons. All of them were SO heavy, especially the one in the middle. I think we only saw one guy able to lift the middle weapon and it literally took all of his brute strength. Crazy how the guards back in the day had to carry those all the time!
I can only imagine what it’s like to be here during cherry blossom season or even Autumn. I hope I can come back to visit during one of those times to see how beautiful it is here.
We finished walking through the temple area, and walked out toward a busy street filled with tourists and students shopping for little knickknacks and mochi! We went inside the busiest looking mochi store and bought a couple of boxes of mochi as gifts! But then, after buying them, we realized they would be pretty “old” and possibly moldy by the time we got back from Hawaii so make sure you plan ahead if you plan on buying food as gifts.
As we were walking to Nishiki market, known for showing Kyoto’s famous goods and food, we met a woman from Canada who was somewhat lost and asking us for directions. It was actually hilarious because she tapped me on the shoulder, pointed to her map, and said, “Excuse me! Do you know if this road is..?” And since we were standing in a really narrow road, there was a car coming behind her and I motioned her to move forward and said, “Watch out!” And she looked at me a little confused and looked behind her, and she said, “Oh! You said ‘Watch out.’ So at least you know a little bit of English.” Then I said, “Oh! We’re from America!” From there, we found out we were taking a similar route, and we shared bits and pieces about ourselves and how we had just moved from Southern California to Northern California as she was telling us about herself and her life in Canada. She was so nice and had such a bubbly personality. At our separating point, we decided we should take a picture together to remember that we had met. Selfie skills FTW!
Once we got to Nishiki market, it was actually mostly closed and most of the fresh things were already sold. So we just walked through, and stopped at a coffee shop for a bathroom break.
We decided to go back to Kyoto station for dinner since we were looking at the map earlier and saw that Kyoto station had a gigantic eating area (those floors that we were talking about in an earlier post). There are several different sections that we were considering, including The Cube Food Court, Eat Paradise, and Kyoto Ramen Koji. We were planning to have a lot of ramen in Tokyo so we opted to look at the restaurants in the other two sections which were across from each other. We decided to eat at a sushi restaurant that had a wait outside.
The wait was about 45 minutes and after being seated, we ordered sake and 2 Chirashi bowls.
We were both pretty disappointed in the quality of the sushi. It was definitely on the expensive side and not worth the price or wait. I think that’s when we learned that Kyoto is actually not known for having good sushi. Since arriving in Japan, we were utterly disappointed that we hadn’t had any great sushi by this point so we decided that we should just not order anymore sushi until we get to Tokyo. Dinner was our last stop and we went home after a long day of walking. Our airbnb host provided this full body towel for all women in the house since the showers were in the common area. I was pretty darn excited to use it.
To end, Pork routed our entire walk for the day! Our feet were really tired, but I guess it’s to even out all the eating/drinking. 🙂
Until next time!