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Friday, December 23, 2016

Kiyomizu-dera, Fushimi Inari & Nishiki Market

Today we were using our KTP to Kyoto Station ... but because we were using a Limited Express train, we needed to purchase a limited express ticket for ¥510. So, we got to sit down at our assigned seats all the way to Kyoto.

Brrrr. Kyoto was cold. And the wind was strong. 6 - 10 degrees. We shivered as soon as we exited Kyoto Station. Immediately, I had to put on another extra layer of clothing. I'd been alright with 2 layers since arriving in Japan - a thermal and a fleece was normally sufficient. Today, I had to put on my windbreaker on top of my fleece.

We were told to go to the 3rd floor of Kyoto Tower. There was an information centre there ... and the staff were all very friendly and very helpful. Hats off to them. 

Here, we bought bus tickets on the Nohi Bus to take us to Takayama, a highland town in Gifu Prefecture. Initially, we wanted to buy the tickets online ... but did not quite dare to. We tried to buy them when we landed at Osaka Kansai International Airport the other day, but they did not sell them there. We would be going to Takayama in 2 days.  

I enquired about the location of our hostel, because I did not want to get lost like I did in Nara - and the staff printed for me a map for reference. Then, he advised us on how to get there in the fastest possible way and helped us buy tickets too! We were taking the JR train from Kyoto Station to Tofukuji and then changing to the Keihan line to Kiyomizu-gojo station. 

We found our hostel without making any mistakes this time. And there wasn't any need to get the access code to the building in fact. A staff opened the door for us. He was a Caucasian and was rather friendly and told us to return as early as 2 p.m. to check in as it wasn't a busy day for them at the hostel. That was really nice of him. 

Anyway, we dumped our bags and headed to Kiyomizu-dera. Now, Kyoto was very touristy. There were SO MANY PEOPLE at each of the attractions we visited. I'd not come across so many people at the attractions in Osaka or even Nara ... but Kyoto was different. In fact, there was no need to check the map. Just follow the crowd and you would get to the right place. Lol. 

In Kyoto also, there were many kimono rentals ... you can just rent a kimono and wear it all day to visit all the traditional sites. They'd even help you to set your hair! There was no feeling shy about it because lots of people were doing the same thing! I'd do it too if I had a good photographer with me to take my photos. Hee ....

Kiyomizu-dera was about 15 minutes from our hostel .... we had to climb a up to a slope. There were many shops and eateries lining the street along the way. I noticed many shops selling ceramics - lovely cups and saucers and plates in traditional Japanese designs. I just wish I could buy a few home! 


Kiyomizu-dera
See the throng of people! It's like that everywhere in Kyoto! 

Kiyomizu-dera, with its buildings built between the 15th and 17th century is preserved as a UNESCO World Heritage site today. 

As we were walking down in the shopping alley ...... 

Long queue at this cinammon choux shop - pretty crispy choux with intense matcha filling

Nikuman

There's burdock and premium beef inside .... ¥450

Cuttlefish fishcake, ¥450

Next up, we went to Fushimi Inari Shrine - another must-visit place in Kyoto. The shrine dates back to the 8th Century, a very important shrine dedicated to Inari, the Shinto God of Rice. However, people were more attracted to the Torii Gates that line the trails ....

Fushimi Inari is famous for these thousands of red torii gates! So many of them all the way up to the slopes at the back of the shrine ...  

Again, there was plenty to eat along the way .... little stalls were set up on the way to the shrine selling all sorts of yummy stuff. I took some photos .....

Can't leave out the mochi

Beef skewers
They looked pretty good, but we did not try them ...

Daifuku

And finally, we went to Nishiki Market. We got off at the Gion-Shijo Station, and it was crazy cold ... Brrr .....


Kamogawa River
From Sanjo Bridge; so windy and cold on that day .... 

Some interesting alleyways at the Gion area ....

Oooh .... the shopping district in the heart of Gion

Nishiki Market
It's a long, long market that spans a few streets too; its alley is smaller and cramped with people; we got to taste many stuff here too! I do live the vibrant atmosphere here too! 

One of the must-eats is McDonald's .....

At only ¥500, I had a BBQ Pork Burger, McNuggets with Mustard Sauce and Orange Juice; unlike back home, a set meal automatically came with a soft drink and fries; here I got to choose whether I wanted fries, nuggets or salad and I got to choose my drink as well. So cool. 

Loving the pork burger that we don't get back home; reminded me of Ninja-Joe ... heh ... I liked the soft and flavourful beef patty which is slightly on the sweet side; it tasted even better with some mustard sauce .... 

Kyoto was seriously cold that day .... It got to me and when I got back to the hostel, I needed to warm up with a hot ginger drink ....

We did not go to the Gion Old Street, which was just too bad. It's my second regret this trip. :P  

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