Long time no see! I hope everyone is doing fine despite the global condition we’re going through right now. It’s a little bit late, but I want to share my trip to Japan in January. Please enjoy it!
I went on this trip with my husband for fourteen days to Japan. The itinerary was Tokyo – other cities – Tokyo. I will divide the post into cities rather than a timeline. It was winter, but we barely see any snow for those two weeks. So, about the weather, it’s almost the same in every city, around 7-12° C. I only bought the seven days JR pass, so we decided to make an itinerary like this. As for Tokyo, because it’s not our first time there, we didn’t go to many tourist attractions places. It’s either sightseeing or shopping in Tokyo. After all, it’s a massive metropolitan city, so shopping is a must there. We’ll share a full itinerary at the end of this travel blog series.
Let’s start with Kyoto!
Kyoto is a city in the Kansai region, southwest from Tokyo. We took a Shinkansen train from Tokyo to Kyoto using the JR pass. If you want to secure a seat on the train, you should book the train one day before your departure. We took off at 9 AM and arrived at 12, just in time for lunch. One of our favorite food in Kyoto is Oyakodon at Kyoto station. It is located on the basement floor of iSetan. Oyakodon is a rice bowl topped with fried chicken and egg. What’s special at this place is the ume (plum). It gives a bit of sour taste and freshness to the dish. The stand only has a few seats, so make sure to eat fast and consider other people who are queuing.
Oyakodon lunch set.
After lunch, we checked in to the hotel room. We booked a room near Kiyomizu-dera and took about 10 minutes by bus from Kyoto station. We bought the one-day bus pass because we have a plan for touring around the city. After check-in, it was already noon, and we decided to just stroll around Shijo street, Karasuma, and Nishiki market. We had dinner at a Gyoza chained restaurant and then head back to the hotel.
On the second day, we got up early to go to Kiyomizu-dera. This place tends to get crowded in the afternoon, that’s why we decided to go here first. It was a little cloudy, and even though we got there around 8 AM, there was no sun yet. We walk from the hotel, up to the temple. It was peaceful and memorable because when we first visit the temple, years ago, it was very crowded. There are a few people already, but it was still a lot better than coming at a later time.
There are several temples inside, and it takes a while to explore all of it. Unfortunately, the Main Hall was in renovation, so we cannot see the grand architectural details of the temple structure.
Jishu-Jinja Shrine (left); 清水寺 三重塔 (right).
Ema is picture tablets found at Japanese shrines, that contain messages and dedication to the gods and act as a form of prayer. Within Jishu-Jinja Shrine many small boards with pictures of Okuninushi-no-mikoto and a rabbit can be found hanging from the rails – these are Ema. The wooden tablets are letters to the gods, and visitors to the shrine may use them to enter the wishes they hope will be sent. (source: jishujinja)
We went up to Kiyomizu-dera through Gojobashihigashi and went back on a different trail, which is Matsubara-dori. On the way, we visit some old alleys and temples.
Hōkan-ji Temple – Yasaka-no-Tou (left); Sanneizaka (right)
We went back to the hotel to get ready for lunch and a trip to the outskirt of Kyoto. Before that, we had lunch near Mototanaka station. We found a Ramen restaurant, and it was actually good. I ordered a Shio Ramen that has a really light and fresh broth but so flavorful. And other things we love about it is the owner. They’re very friendly and lovely.
A cup of green tea (left); 麵屋とも (right)
The next destination is Kurama and Kifune temple. We took a local train from Mototanaka station to Kurama station. The train ride takes about 30 minutes. We can pay by cash (by taking a ticket on the departure station) or with the Suica card.
Kurama Station rail.
Kurama temple has a trail that is connected to the Kifune shrine, on the other side of the mountain. First, we need to buy an entrance ticket. There are several shrines along the hiking trail, and they gave us a map, so we knew where we were. After a little walk from the gate, we can choose a path of whether to go up with a cable car or no. We pick the cable car, of course.
Kurama-dera entrance stairway.
Cable car ticket.
View from the cable car.
The cable car only cuts several hundreds of meters off our journey, but it was worth it because the path is uphill. There’s still a looooooong way to go to Kifune after that.
One of the shrines along the track.
Hiking track along the hill.
Hiking track surrounding.
Street near Kifune.
From the Kifune shrine, we need to catch a bus to the nearest train stop to Kyoto downtown. It also takes about 30 minutes to come back. We headed back at around 4 PM, and it’s already dark once we arrived at Kyoto downtown. After that, we only had dinner and headed back to the hotel. That’s it for our days in Kyoto. For the next two days, we still spent the night in Kyoto, but we had a one-day-trip to Osaka, Kobe, and Kinosaki Onsen.
View from Kyoto station.
Photos are taken in January 2020.
Text and photo by Ayu S.