Kyoto & Osaka (Japan) 2017

Kyoto

Kyoto Japan is known for their beautiful temples, probably some of the most beautiful eastern temples in the world, with over 1600 of them scattered all over the city; it becomes quite a daunting task when deciding which to go.

With only a short few days in Kyoto and my ambitious self, wanting to accomplish too much, we only managed to spend two days exploring the temples but nevertheless I managed to play dress up, enjoy some matcha ice cream, shopped around for matcha bowls, bought a few omamori (Japanese amulets), got some great pictures and had some much needed onsen time.

 

Where We Went:  Kyoto – Kameoka

When We Went:  August 2017

Where We Stayed: Ryokan Sumiya Kihoan, Kameoka 3.5 * rating

Our overall rating:  4 stars

Screen Shot 2017-08-03 at 10.36.56 AM

Location – Pros and Cons

Pro

  •  We get to hop on the train and venture out of the tourist area to see what it’s truly like to live in the Kyoto countryside
  • We got to be surround by unlimited amount of maple leaves which is what Kyoto is famous for (especially in Autumn, people would travel to Kyoto to see the leaves turn colour)
  • Offers a shuttle from the train station
  • Offers Onsen

Con

  • Far from the city – approximately 25 mins to 35 mins travel time on top of 20 mins shuttle ride
  • Nothing close to our Ryokan (restaurants or shops)
  • 6:00pm was the last shuttle to the Ryokan
  • Although trees are planted all around the Onsen, it is situated closely to the road (not noticeable at night)

 

Cleanliness

5 stars

Hotel Decor

5 stars

Have the traditional yet modern Ryokan vibe (even has a little store front with lots of cute stuff to buy)

Room Decor

5 stars

Clean, traditional, quiet

Bathroom

5 stars

Clean, cannot comment on water pressure since we showered every night at the Onsen

Onsen

4 stars

Clean, well equipped, loved the salt scrub they offered! We loved it so much we bought a bunch back with us. Could do with a few more Onsen spots though.

Staff

5 stars

Very friendly and punctual (shuttle bus)

Value for Money

4 stars

Must Try Restaurants:

Our Ryokan Restaurant – good quality home style cooking, rice to dieeeee for! I actually asked if I could bring some home with me haha

Fushimi Inari-taisha Shrine Food Stalls – grilled pineapple, grilled meat skewers, sweets potato fries just to name a few.

Photo May 26-2

Must See Places: With our limited time, we were blessed to be able to visit a few of the most touristy places including Fushimi Inari-taisha Shrine, Ariashuyama Bamboo Grove, Kiyomizu-dera (清水寺) and Gion (shopping).

Picture Spots

Kiyomize-dera

Fushimi Inari-taisha Shrine

Ariashuyama Bamboo Grove

bamboo

Shopping Spots

Gion

Kiyomize-dera

All the above places, I would consider Instagrammable

Kiyomize-dera in particular is a wonderful spot to play dress up. There are multiple shops along the way that offer Kimono rentals. For a fix fee, you get to dress up in a kimono of your choice (the prettier the more expensive of course, they are usually categorised in tiers) and your hair done up and experience a few hours of what it’s like to walk around in a kimono in the crazy heat! Haha, it was worth the experience, unfortunately I don’t think my mum would agreed.

Ariashuyama Bamboo Grove’s nearby stores also offers kimono rental. However more people seem to have gone for the bike riding option for this location instead.

Useful Tips: If your schedule is tight and you see yourself touring the city by bus, a full day bus pass is worth the money. Watch out for bus times, as some of the buses stop quite early in the evening.

Must bring items: Bring comfortable walking shoes, plenty of wet wipes, practice your smile and patience and get ready to take lots of photo! If you wish to make lots of wishes (pun intended) at all the different temples, then make sure you have coins.

 

Osaka

Osaka, the second largest city in Japan after Tokyo. Some would say it has now become the new Tokyo. Speaking to a lot of Hong Kongers, it seems like Tokyo has now become the thing of the past for people in Asia. Personally I can’t seem to remember the last time I was at either of these beautiful cities since my teenage years seems too far behind me already, however undoubtedly each city provides an undying charm of it’s own. Vibrant, exuberayting with culture; both old and new.

A large part of travelling for me has always been about the food, and just like all my other trips, this one was packed with delicious food!

Here’s a little Osaka break down!

Where we went:  Osaka – Namba – Shinsaibashi Area

Shinsaibashi is one of the two main areas of visit within Osaka (the other being Umeda), known for the long Shinsaibashi strip with over ground and under ground shopping on both sides. It is also surrounded by an array of different Japanese cuisine, from little holes in the wall to bigger more well known restaurants; where a 30 minute would be your lucky day.

Shinsaibashi-suji-Shopping-Center

When We Went:  August 2017

Where We Stayed: Hotel Nikko Osaka 4.5 * rating

Our Overall rating: 5 stars

 

 

Location

5 stars

Located at the middle of the Shinsaibashi strip, you just need to decided whether you want to go left or right

(special tip – request a high floor because the view of the city is breath taking)

Cleanliness

4.5 stars

Hotel lobby needs a bin

Hotel Decor

3.5 stars

A little on the darker side and a little dated

Room Decor

5 stars

Clean, modern and bright

Bathroom

5 stars

Modern, clean, very large and bright (love the soft close sliding toilet room door)

Staff

5 stars

Value for Money 

5 stars

 

Must Try Restaurants:

Japanese Barbeque – Matsuzakagyu Yakiniku MPersonal Favourite from the ENTIRE TRIP! Hands down BEST Japanese BBQ for me Overall – more than 5 stars

 

 

Location

Price – $$$

Ambience

4 stars

Quality of Food

5 stars

Value for Money

5 stars

Why We Love It

  • Quality of meat matches up to the Price Tag
  • Some of the BEST cuts of meat I’ve ever had

(special tip – double check your location after you make your booking because there are 4 different branches within the Shinsaibashi area)

Crab Feast – Kani Doraku – Overall – 5 stars

 

Location

5 stars

Centrally located, grab your waiting ticket, do a bit more shopping then head back closer to your wait time

Address: 〒542-0071 1-6-18, Dotombori, Chuo-ku, Osaka-shi, Osaka

Phone Numer: 06-6211-8975

Price – $$- $$$

Ambience

4 stars

Quality of Food

5 stars

Value for Money

5 stars

Why We Love It

Crabs are very fresh and they offer a range of options to prepare it to enhance the crab flavour. Definitely good value for your money! With such a range of prices, you can feast on a large scale or just grab a smaller more budget conscious meal.

Ramen

Photo May 20

Location – Shinsaibashi

Price – $

Ambience

4 stars

Quality of Food

4 stars

Value for Money

5 stars

Why We Love It

A little hole in the wall with a narrow staircase and a self serve ticketing machine (where you order and pay for your food) when you finally make it to the top. A single server that speaks Mandarin and not your typical Japanese; immediately it comes to mind, ‘hmm, I wonder if it’s authentic’. Surprisingly it is more than meets the eye. The broth rich in flavour and the noodle cooked perfectly, simple with no frills or fancy but definitely satisfying. What a find!

Must See Places: I would say, go to the department store and look at all the amazing food options each department store offers. From the fruit section to the savoury snacks to their traditional cakes and desserts. Simply mesmerising! The details that goes into every piece. The craftsmanship; every piece like a piece of art.

We even did lunch at one of the department store! It was perfect for someone like me, who just wants to taste and eat a little bit of everything.

Photo May 26

Instagramable Spots: The most Instagrammable Spot in Osaka for me, was the view from my Hotel (spent a little too much time eating and shopping). I am sure there were many places I didn’t get to explore during my short trip. Do share with us, what some of your favourite spots are!

Useful Tips:

Shinsaibashi is most famous for the shopping, a lot of tourist enjoys shopping at the drug store (not a personal favourite for various reasons, i.e. animal testing is still quite big in Asia), there are plenty of them scattered all over the place, prices are similar so I wouldn’t worry too much about finding the cheapest store but rather save the time.

Must bring items:

  • Comfortable walking shoes
  • Light jackets since some of the restaurants air conditioning can get quite cold

 

Hope you’ve enjoyed my mini Japan Trip!

with love & quirks,

Iris xxx

 

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