Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Japan Trip 2014 Day 3 - Kyoto

Onwards to Day 3! (After loads of procrastination *cough*). Here's the itinerary for Day 3

  1. Kiyomizu-dera
  2. Ginkaku-ji
  3. Hounen-in
  4. Nanzen-ji
  5. Gion (Night)
Up early in the morning after we took breakfast, we proceeded to depart from Osaka to Kyoto. Osaka to Kyoto is quite a short distance, we took the express train (via JR Kyoto Line) and it's only about 30 - 45 minutes away from Osaka. After we dropped off our luggage at our hotel, APA Villa Hotel Kyoto Ekimae, we made our way to Kiyomizu-dera.

In Kyoto there's an easy way for tourists to travel around. There's the all day bus pass for only ¥500. You'll be able to use any bus within the city centre for the whole day for only ¥500! Definitely a cheap deal for tourists :D

There's also a bus line called Raku bus in Kyoto and Raku buses are numbered in the hundreds, Raku bus #100, #101, #102. All three raku buses stop at tourist destinations so there's nothing much to worry about getting lost there so long you know which bus you should hop on. Since a lot of people would be having headache on how to travel around Kyoto (I was having a major problem trying to figure out how to work my way around in Kyoto when I was doing the planning), at the end of this post I'd put up my travel details :D

For more details about Kyoto's bus system and Raku bus destinations visit here!

This is the ¥500 bus pass. There's also the subway AND bus all day pass. However that would be ¥1,200 per day. After a lot of researching the roads here I decided the bus pass would suffice and true enough I didn't have to buy the latter!

After we left our luggage, we hopped on to Raku bus #100 which is bound for Kiyomizu-dera.

I love the streets of Japan. Quaint and friendly neighbourhoods! As Kiyomizu-dera is located uphill, the walk would make you break a sweat!

As you approach closer to the temple, you can see loads of shops on both sides of the walkway. The shops mostly sells Wagashi (Japanese sweets), souvenirs, and some even have yukata rentals! For a certain amount, you can rent the yukata for one day and return it back later. Great for tourists who wants to have a feel of how yukata is like.

At the top of the hill, tadaa! The red entrance gate greets us :D

The back view. Although we visited on a Tuesday, there's surprisingly a lot of people. I came at a somewhat odd timing, this is the period where most of the schools organize field trips in Japan. You get to see a lot of students clad in uniform at tourist destinations. 

The entry ticket for Kiyomizu-dera.

The main temple building which also has a large grand stage theater looking outwards of the hill.

This is the view from the edge of the stage theater. Need a better look at the overall structure of the building?

It looks magnificent! It's a building amongst that lush greenery! It would be spectacular if it's turned autumn already. I came at a timing too early.

Usually in the month of October-November, once the trees have turned into autumn colour, they would fix lightings at night and open the temple for people to visit. It would look something like this.

After we finish taking pictures and admiring the scenery, we start to go downhill, exiting the temple.

The walk downhill :D

Little statues lining the walkway.

We have arrived at Otowa waterfall! As the line was too long so I didn't get to try drinking from one of the streams D: Each stream has it's on benefit. From longevity, to success in your studies and lastly your love life.

We proceeded to visit Jishu Jinja which is just next to Kiyomizu-dera. You definitely won't miss it when you're on your way towards Kiyomizu-dera's stage. Jishu Jinja is notable for it's two matchmaking stones.

You close your eyes and walk from one stone to the other in a straight line. If you did it successfully, your fateful one would appear before you soon enough!

At the top of the shrine, there's also various shrines which is said to help you in finding your true love. From writing your wishes on a paper and let it melt away in a water basin to drinking water from a fountain. 

Amongst the small shrines, there's one which intrigued me. I'm sure most of you who watches anime or reads manga have heard about jealous ladies in the olden days hammering away dolls on a tree to put on a curse on someone. Well, this Cedar tree speaks for itself!

This tree is located at the back of Okage Myoujin shrine (おかげ明神) so do try and look for it and witness this tree for yourself!

After we finish visiting Jishu Shrine, we concluded our trip to Kiyomizu-dera and started downhill once more.

As it was also lunch time we thought it would be perfect to spend our afternoon here at this tea house just at the side of the walkway.

I've always ALWAYS wanted to do this!!

I ordered Hiyashi Udon, cold udon noodles. As you can see with that shaved ice on top. It's a perfect meal of a summer day.

My dessert was Matcha Dango. This one was particularly chewy and more towards the tough texture for a dango. 

I couldn't resist when I saw this on the menu. Matcha!! It's a kind of drink you'd see them whisking away with a brush in a cup and they would usually serve you a sweet on the side to clear up the bitter aftertaste from the matcha. The match wasn't bitter at all for me :v I ended up saving the sweet as my snack later on LOL

After we swiftly finished our lunch, we did a little window shopping at those shops we saw on our way up to Kiyomizu-dera. Tried some samples of Yatsuhashi but we didn't buy any as these sweets couldn't be kept long. If we bought then and there it wouldn't last when we get back to Malaysia D: Yatsuhashi are quite interesting, they have plenty of flavour, when I say there's plenty, it's really a lot. From salted yatsuhashi, to matcha, to chocolate, vanilla, chocolate banana. strawberry, ramune (Lemonade), sweet potato, chestnuts and many more!

We took the same bus (Raku bus #100) to Ginkaku-ji.

Ginkaku-ji is a villa built by the late Ashikaga Yoshimatsu. It contains a beautiful sand garden, moss garden and some exhibits that you can visit if you pay a small fee.

I swear entry tickets in Japan are so beautiful it's a souvenir on its on. The Ginkaku-ji ticket is what they call a charm/tasliman (札, fuda). Ginkaku-ji's ticket blesses you the safety of yourself and your family. So don't simply throw away the ticket!! 

Upon entering the villa grounds, we're already greeted by a lot of greenery!

And we arrived at the first scenic spot, the sand gardens.

Unfortunately as it was raining the previous night, they had to rebuilt the sand gardens. Much hardwork.

Another shot of the zen sand garden.

These old buildings in Ginkaku-ji are considered as national treasure of Japan. Ginkaku-ji, literally translated as silver pavilion, was modeled after Kinkaku-ji (Golden Pavilion). Most people would visit Kinkaku-ji first but as I wanted to have a easy travel via Raku Bus, I decided to visit Kinkaku-ji the next day.

Walking through Ginkaku-ji using the paths provided and look at the breathtaking view of the moss gardens.

Best photo that I took at Ginkaku-ji!

After we finish visiting Ginkaku-ji, we took a (long) walk to reach our destination. We walked on Tetsugaku no michi (哲学の道), known as the Philosopher's Walk. It's a long 3km walk which is next to a canal from the end of Ginkaku-ji to Nanzen-ji. Along the way there's a lot of small cafes and shops and also small shrines where you can take a detour and visit them all.

One of the shops putting a chairful of teddybears fishing :D So cute! P.s: There's actually fishes in the canal XD

One of the shops which produces glass items. You can also ask the owner for a demo tryout on how to make glass items. But of course, for a price :P

Obligatory huehuehuehue

Sand garden at Honen-in. A maple leaf symbolising autumn :D

Little mosses.

It was a very tiring 3km walk though with the heat LOL

And we've finally arrived at Nanzen-ji :D

Greeted by the spectacular Sanmon (The Third Gate). You can go up the Sanmon for a little fee.

Autumn leaves starting to show :D

The main temple!

In Nanzen-ji, it's famous for it's aqueduct structure. It is used to transport water and goods from one end to another back in the meiji days.

Very very beautiful *w*

Soon after we exited Nanzen-ji we went back to our hotel to take a rest.

At night we went to Gion's Hanami-kouji, the geisha street of Kyoto. This place is lined full of geisha shops. They're very very expensive however. Most of the shops only have a one kanji title as their shop's name and it's very secretive to the point that you won't even see any details about the shop and the shops' door is always closed. No pricing or whatsoever. Usually geisha shops you will have to make reservations to book yourself a session.

Luckily enough as me and my parents were exiting Hanami-kouji, we managed to catch a glimpse of a maiko dashing through the alleys. She wore high geta slippers and thick kimono! As maikos (geisha in training) are supposed to be a high refined art, they're not allowed to openly be photographed by people outside. The maiko I saw walked past so swiftly I only managed to see her for about 3 seconds. Dannggg.

And that concludes my Day 3 in Japan!

As promised here's how to get around Kyoto with my itinerary!

  1. Kyoto Station -> Raku Bus #100 -> Kiyomizu-dera
  2. Kiyomizu-dera -> Raku bus #100 -> Ginkaku-ji
  3. Ginkaku-ji -> Philosopher's Path -> Honen-in and Nanzen-ji
  4. Nanzen-ji -> Raku bus #100 -> Kyoto Station (I went back to my hotel)
  5. Kyoto Station -> Raku bus #100 -> Gion
  6. Gion -> City Bus 206 -> Kyoto Station
Until next time, when I have the motivation to continue *cough*


  1. I love kiyomizu dera temple. Omamori of this temple is aivalable on ... I hope one day to return to Japan

  2. Is the raku bus flat rate applicable for full day regardless the number pf trips?