Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Japan Day 4: Journey to Kyoto

Day 4 at Japan started with us waking up to this wonderful view outside our guesthouse:

Yes, it was so cold outside but such a beautiful view, no? I think it would look even better during summer. Behind the bamboo fence lies the outdoor onsen that we had the privilege of enjoying the night before.

We decided to change our plans and to leave for Kyoto that very morning. Initially, I had planned for us to go sightseeing for Hakone but seeing how weather can be so erratic I didn't think it would be a good idea. If you would like to visit Hakone, it is advisable to get the Hakone pass which gives you free access to all modes of transportation within Hakone area. I think the 2-day pass costs 3900 yen.

We went to the Sengokyoro-mae bus stop and waited in the freezing cold for the public bus that would take us to Odawara station. No joke, it was so freaking cold just standing and waiting. When you are walking, you do not feel as cold but if you are just standing there...wtf. I think we waited for half and hour or so but it felt like hours.

At Odawara station, we changed our JR train tickets and opted for an earlier train to Kyoto. Hungry, we decided to have breakfast at Beck's Cafe.

My breakfast set that costs 610 yen (~RM21) but man, I was seriously craving for coffee
It felt awesome to have some western breakfast instead of always having onigiri. All the patrons were so disciplined even in the cafe. After eating, you are supposed to place all your cutleries and plates and whatever rubbish on the tray to be handed to a waiter standing behind the counter. 

After our hearty breakfast, we did some shopping at Odawara station before searching for our train platform. Actually, we got a little lost inside the station and by the time we reached our platform we were about 2 - 3 minutes late. To our disappointment, our train has already left. We were all like WTF? So we learned a lesson here: Japanese trains are very very very punctual!

We went back to the JR ticket counter and purchased another set of tickets to Kyoto. Lucky for JR pass if not we will have to fork out another amount of money (or no need? I also don't know). Fortunately, shinkansen to Kyoto runs quite often and within half an hour, there is another train so we didn't have to wait for long.

This also meant we had more time to camwhore at the train station wtf.

One of the sceneries outside our train as we journeyed to Kyoto
I love the shinkansen train so much lol. It was so roomy, we can hang our coats and put our chairs as far back as possible without disturbing the person behind. At one point, Mei Chen discovered that the seats can be turned 180 degrees to face the people behind you, great for people who travel in groups and would like to converse in the train.

Unfortunately, we left our playing cards at Tokyo so no Cho Dai Di for us. Instead, we (or maybe just me) slept. The train was also really warm, so warm that I had to take out my sweater wtf. Note to self: Next time no need dress so thick when going in the train. 

Clara going head-to-head with Kimono Lady
I think the journey took about 3 hours, we reached Kyoto in the afternoon. After that, we went to search for Tourist Information Centre at Kyoto Station to purchase our bus pass.

Kyoto Bus Pass costs 500 yen and can be use for any Kyoto public buses within that one day period. Since Kyoto buses cost 220 yen once you entered the bus (regardless of how many stops), it is actually a good idea to get one. It also comes with a map teaching you which buses to take to all the famous attractions at Kyoto.

Our first stop upon arriving at Kyoto is to visit Fushimi Inari Taisha shrine.We placed our luggages inside the very convenient coin lockers at Kyoto Station and use our JR pass to take the JR Nara Line train to Fushimi Inari station.

Fushimi Inari is famous for its red torii gates
As usual, with any temples, you have the obligatory cleansing water
I always love written boards like these at temples.
There are a variety here too. Some in pictures of snake (as it is the year of the snake 2013) and some in shapes of Torii gates.

And some like these, in pictures of foxes.
I have no idea why foxes are famous in Fushimi Inari. Perhaps I will google about it later lol.

Love that Japanese can be so creative and can definitely see all the anime influence in their drawings too.

This was ours lol
We decided to get one board ourselves to write our wishes. After that, Suzane and I volunteered to be the "artists". She drew one eye and the lips whilst I drew the other eye and nose. Can you guess which eye she drew and which one I drew?

Here are some of the boards that captured my attention:

Handsome one
Pervert one. We were all like wtf when we saw this
So you have the cute ones, the good-looking ones and the perverted ones lol.

Rows and rows of Torii gates

It was almost sunset as we walked through the many torii gates that lined the pathway.

Spotted a really cute kid trying to walk down the steps with his short legs. It felt like he was jumping from one step to another instead of walking lol.

I didn't realize we had not have any lunch so when we spotted this takoyaki stand nearby the temple, we just had to try it. 500 yen for 7 takoyaki balls. And the balls are bigger too, unlike those in KL.

A funny incident that happened when we were waiting for our takoyaki to be done: Few guy tourists (maybe Hong Kong, I don't know) stopped by this same takoyaki stand and I think they didn't know we were tourists because they started talking in Cantonese with one another. They were saying how big the takoyaki balls were in the funniest way ever. In awe and amazement, with slight pauses. Ho tai lap, ho ho tai lap. (Very big, very very big). 

I swear, their whole conversation was basically about the size of the takoyaki. It was about 5 mins or so before they left. Right after that, we all burst out laughing. Seriously, I have never heard anyone being so over-exaggerated lol.

Btw, the takoyaki deserves two thumbs-up!

Still hungry, we searched for food at Kyoto Station. The station is really big because it is like a shopping mall itself, with numerous shops and even an Isetan too. We decided to try another Japanese specialty dish - Tonkatsu.

Too bad we weren't such fans of deep-fried dishes but I think the batter is really good. The cheese croquette left me a little underwhelmed though.

Hehe this shot is quite cute I think
Walked around Kyoto Station after dinner. Weather really really cold that night.

Kyoto station
We decided to check into our hotel - Kyoto Royal Hotel and Spa, which is within walking distance from Kawaramachi-sanjo bus stop.

However, we opted to take the subway to our hotel. We took the Karasuma Line from Kyoto Station to Karasuma-oike and then transfer to Tozai Line to Kyoto Shiyakushome station. 

Got a little lost but glad we finally found the hotel. And it was really roomy and comfortable too!

Although we were quite tired but the night is still young so after freshening up, we went out in the chilly weather and explored the Gion district.

Kyoto Tower
Everyone knows everyone goes to Gion just to see geishas lol. But Clara said that best time to spot geishas would be around 5-6pm so we were way past the time. 

The Minamiza Kabuki Theatre was nearby the Gion bus stop and has wonderful architecture.

We kind of got lost again looking for the street where geishas usually visit. Instead, we stumbled on a shady road with lots of nightclubs and bars lol. Since it was also so late at night, we decided to just return to the hotel.

As we walked along Kawaramachi road back to Kyoto Royal, we could see many Pachinko outlets and games arcades along the way. Finally, we decided to enter one of these arcades. I really wanted to try Purikura in Japan because one of my friends did that when she visited Japan. 

So many purikura booths
There were so many Purikura booths everywhere. We were spoilt for choice. And then when we finally chose one, we had language barrier so this is what came out:

We took 6 shots but only 3 came out well. So sad T__T. The reason being we didn't know where the camera was and it was so fast we didn't have time to get ready. After the first 3 failed shots, we finally got it and hence, the last 3 were quite great group shots.

A random pic of a flight of stairs at the train station. How creative is that? But it was way too tiring carrying a heavy bag acrosss the stairs so I opted for the escalator T____T. I know.

Okies, that is all for Day 4. Very long. #ootd for that day:

Grey pussybow blouse: Isetan; Green sweater: H&M; Red jeans: unbranded
I was wearing another wool long sleeve blouse inside lol. Btw, I hate my sports shoes so tacky. Need to get a new pair but still broke TT_______TT.

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