Last week I wrote about the first part of my Japan Adventure! Here is part 2! Enjoy!
November 6th – Traveling to Kyoto
On November 6th we traveled to Kyoto on a bullet train! It was also the first time we went to Tokyo station, we got lost, but eventually found where we needed to go. We bought two bento boxes for the train ride. Everyone says you need to at least once, and the train station had some very delicious looking bento boxes. The train ride was so smooth and I enjoyed seeing all the scenery.
When we arrived at Kyoto station we went to the JR ticket office and got our tickets for the Sagano Scenic Railway. Once we got those, we headed over to our apartment in Kyoto. Our Kyoto apartment was above a steakhouse, we never ended up going, but it was a very cool restaurant. The apartment was located in the Saga Arashiyama area of Kyoto, it was a perfect distance from most of the historical sites I wanted to see. After we checked into the apartment we headed out to Fushimi Inaritaisha! The Kyoto apartment was only a 4-minute walk away from a train station and it was easy for us to find our route using the Japan Navigation app.
Fushimi Inaritaisha is a huge tourist spot. It’s beautiful but also extremely crowded. If you want to check it out, but prepared for the massive crowd. Fushimi Inaritaisha has a trail that goes all the way up a mountain and all the way back down. It takes an average of about two hours to complete the train. We didn’t complete the whole thing, but the parts we did see were beautiful and covered in temple arches.
While we were exploring this temple and its grounds, we came across some forest kitties! I’m not sure if they live in the temple, or just in the area. Where ever they lived, they were the center of attention. So many people gather around them and gave them food.
On our way back to the apartment we had to change from the JR train Line to the local train line. We had to walk through Kyoto station which has 14 floors. While trying to figure out where we needed to go we realized how hungry we were. We located a map and found that all of the restaurants were on floor 11. The 11th floor in Kyoto station is literally just a floor of restaurants, it’s like you are walking down the street. We decided on Katsukura, which is a slightly fancier restaurant then we had been too. It was the best Tonkatsu we had while in Japan. We ordered the local Kyoto pork and enjoyed our meal. I recommend this restaurant to anyone going to Kyoto or just passing through Kyoto station.
Not only is the Tonkatsu amazing, but the restaurant also offers unlimited refills on the cabbage, rice, and miso soup. It’s worth the cost and the time to find it. After we at we headed back to the apartment and just relaxed. It was a great day and I enjoyed the slower pace compared to the first couple days.
November 7th – Big Surprise in Kyoto
We started our day bright and early. Today was the day that we were going to ride the Sagano Scenic Railway, lucky for us it was only a 5-minute walk from the apartments. When we arrived we were able to just walk and find our seats. The train was very old and charming. There is an option to ride a boat on the way back from the end of the train line, but sadly, the boat rides were closed. It had rained a lot earlier in the week and it caused the rivers to swell. The views from the train were amazing. I loved every second of it.
Once off the romantic train, we had to find our way to the JR rail station and catch a train back to the side of Kyoto we were staying. On our walk to the station, we stumbled upon a truck selling grilled sweet potatoes. I had heard that during the autumn time, people with trucks will go around selling sweet potatoes and I was hoping we would find one. Luckily we did, on complete accident. He was blasting R&B music and dancing. He was great. We bought our sweet potato and made our way to the rail station. The Japanese sweet potato tasted like we were eating candy. It was so sweet and nothing was added to it. It was one of my favorite snacks we had during our trip.
Once we made it back to the Saga Arashiyama area we decided to rent bikes to make getting around the area easier. It was only 10 or 20 Yen to rent a bike until 5 pm, so we thought it would be well worth it. It was so much fun to ride the bike, it cut our 15-minute walk to the Tenryuji Temple to about 5 minutes. Once we arrived back in the tourist area, we found a place to park our bikes and we started exploring. We went inside the Tenryuji temple ground and walked around for awhile. It was so beautiful, we didn’t go in the actual temple because it costs money. But the grounds are well worth it.
The Tenryuji temple is extremely close to the famous bamboo forest. Again, be prepared for a large number of people who will be there. It was so beautiful and so worth the crowds. We walked the full bamboo forest trail which spits us out at the top of the main street. As we started walked down the road, my boyfriend got on one knee and proposed!! It was very romantic and I was surprised. Apparently, he had been trying to find the perfect time to propose the whole time! It was such a beautiful spot and I was so happy.
Once I got over the shock of the engagement, we headed down the main street to find some lunch. We ended up going to a place called Obu Cafe and enjoyed a great lunch together. I got the pasta dish, which was amazing and honestly the best pasta I have had in a very long time. While my now fiance got the Japanese style dish. His food was also good. Since we were in a Japanese cafe we decided to get two different Japanese style parfaits and they were amazing as well. If there is one thing I learned while in Japan, it’s that even the cheapest food was amazing. There really isn’t any need to go to fancy restaurants because even the cheapest of restaurants have the best food.
The happiness of the engagement lasted the whole day. It was such a surprise and I couldn’t believe he planned this. I was probably smiling like an idiot for the rest of the day. After our lunch and exploring the Saga Arashiyama area more, we returned our bikes. We then went to the train station and headed over to Nijo castle.
When we arrived at Nijo castle I was in awe. The only castles I had ever seen in person were those in England. They were large and made out of stone, this castle was nothing like what I thought of when I thought castle. Yet, it was still so beautiful. We had missed the tours that allowed you to go inside of the castle, so we wandered the castle grounds and admired everything. I highly recommend checking out this castle, maybe heading over sooner so you can get a tour of the inside. Even if you miss the tour, it’s still worth it. I believe it was only a couple of yen to get in the castle, nothing outrageous. I’d also recommend going earlier than we went so you can eat at the little cafe on the grounds. When we arrived at around 3 pm everything had started to close.
Now according to my itinerary after Nijo castle we were supposed to go to Kiyomizu-Dera, but by this time we were both exhausted. We headed over to Kyoto station, got dinner at yet another western style restaurant and went back to the apartment. It was an amazing day full of excitement, even though my feet hurt, it was well worth it.
November 8th – Rainy Day in Kyoto
We woke up to a very rainy day in Kyoto, but luckily I brought my umbrella with us. The rain didn’t bother us that much, and I personally love the rain. We check out of the apartment and headed to our Ryokan that we ended up staying at. Getting to the Ryokan was a little difficult, none of the train lines went anywhere near it and the bus system was a bit confusing. We ended up taking a bus, even though it was confusing and got to the Ryokan. At that point, we decided to use taxi’s to get around this part of Kyoto, that way we wouldn’t get lost.
Our check-in time for the Ryokan wasn’t until 4 pm, we dropped off our bags and went outside. Since it was raining, I decided that we wouldn’t go to Zenrinji since I knew it was a lot of walking around. We ended up going to the Nishiki market which is covered. We ordered our taxi, it was our first taxi ride in Japan and it was amazing. He was very polite and could speak English very well. He dropped us off right outside the Nishiki market.
We explored for a while until we saw a Tempura stall that had to seat. It was our first time getting Tempura while in Japan and it was amazing. Just like all the food I had in Japan. We ate, then continued walking through Nishiki. I didn’t take many pictures because I was just trying to experience it. It is well worth the time to get to Nishiki Market, there were many vendors selling everything from food to Christmas decorations.
After walking to the end of Nishiki market, we still had time to burn. We walked around outside for awhile until we found a 5 story shopping center. We bought a snack from the coffee shop in the basement and hung out there for a little while. After figuring out exactly where we were, we decided to walk to the Pontocho area since it was not that far away from where we were. Let me tell you, it was crowded. It was beautiful though, even in the rain. We explored until it was time to head back to the Ryokan.
When we arrived at the Ryokan they took us to our room. The rooms still used physical keys, which I thought was cool. All the hotels I’ve stayed in used key cards. It was nice to have this experience. Our room was way bigger than I thought it would be. When you entered the room there was a hallway. The first door on the left had the toilet, there were two sliding doors after that on the left which was our sleeping area, a little further down the small hallway to the right was the wet room which had the sink and bath.
It was beautiful, the room was lined with tatami mats and even had a TV! Which honestly surprised me. We hung around the room watching TV and looking at pictures for a couple hours. Until we got hungry, we headed out. The Ryokan owner requested us to return our key while we were out, which we did without issue. The only places around the Ryokan were a ramen shop and chain restaurant called Royal Host. Since I had never been to Royal Host we decided to eat there. I know there are tons of amazing restaurants in Kyoto, but we just wanted something walking distance and went there.
The food did not disappoint and I enjoyed myself. We got an appetizer of calamari. For our main entrees, I had a Japanese style Hamburger and my Fiance had Thai style curry. We got another Japanese style parfait, which was more of a western ice cream Sunday but it was shown as a parfait.
We ate and then went back to the Ryokan where we relaxed the whole evening. It was nice to have downtime without worrying about rushing everywhere. We packed our bags in preparation for the morning.
November 9th – Traveling back to Tokyo
As part of our room rental at the Ryokan, we got a Japanese style breakfast. Breakfast culture isn’t very big in Japan, so it’s hard to find restaurants that serve a traditional Japanese breakfast. When I was looking at Ryokans to stay in this one one of the things I wanted to make sure they had. When we checked in to the Ryokan we had to choose a time when we would be served breakfast, we chose 9 am because we had to head over to Kyoto station and catch our bullet train. We woke up, packed our remaining items and headed down to breakfast. It was beautifully prepared and it was so much fun to experience that. Sadly, I didn’t really eat much of it. It wasn’t something my western taste buds could enjoy that early in the morning. I ate what I could and we went back to our room.
We gathered our items, checked out of the Ryokan, and called a taxi. The taxi driver was so polite and he dropped us off right at the bullet train section of the train station. Which was super convenient. As I said before, I didn’t eat much for breakfast so I was hungry. We searched around for a breakfast restaurant and found one that had more of a western style. We took our time eating because we still had about an hour before the train was scheduled to leave. I had french toast with a Matcha latte and my fiance had eggs, toast, and a coffee latte.
After breakfast, we headed to the bullet train track and waited for our train. The train arrived exactly on time, our seats were on the side of the train that was going to pass by Mt. Fuji so I was excited. It was near the end of our train ride that we passed Mt. Fuji and I got some pictures. I was so happy. I wanted to go to Mt. Fuji but we waited too late and were unable to get a spot on a tour. Next time we go to Japan we will go to Mt. Fuji.
Before I knew it we were in Tokyo again. While navigating the train station to get to the right track, we passed a Japanese style bakery. I had heard about how good food is from the bakeries in Japan so we bought some things and headed to the apartment. I was feeling pretty sick at this point, I had caught a cold and it was gradually getting worse. This day I was even more drained.
Once at the apartment, we unpacked out small Kyoto luggage and ate our bakery goods. I grabbed a bunch of random things so I’m not sure exactly what we ate. I know we ate a curry bun and some pizza, but I’m not sure about the rest. Whatever we ate, it was really good.
Our day was just a resting day because I wasn’t feeling very well. We laid around the apartment and played video games until dinner time. Which, I’m sure you could guess where we ate. That’s right, Coco Curry. After dinner, we just went back to the apartment and rested more. Up until this point, we had days of nothing but running around, it was nice to have a day to just enjoy being in Japan.
I’m going to end this post here. It was longer than I thought it would be and I don’t want it to be too long. I’ll come out with part 3 soon and I hope you’ll read it! Thank you so much for your support and I hope you have a great day!