Finally I’m back from my long overdue vacation. This time my wife & I went to Osaka & Kyoto. The scenery is fantastic in Kyoto and Osaka is a nice place to visit particularly Umeda.
We took the afternoon flight from Hong Kong International Airport to Kansai Airport and experienced the most amazing quiet and nice flight ever in my life! No chatty people shouting out loud across the corridor between seats. No shouting kids. No people kicking the back of my seat. That’s probably due to there were almost all Japanese on the plane! I love & miss that atmosphere on the plane!
Anyway back to my trip. We arrive at 9pm-ish and took the airport limousine at 9:45pm to the New Hanyku Hotel at Umeda (梅田). Since our hotel is one of the bus stop, we bought the round trip ticket 2700 Yen each (vs the single trip ticket 1500 Yen each).
The ride is very comfortable. After about 1 hour, we arrived at our hotel’s door step. Bravo! But that’s 11pm so there wan’t much to see. We went to a convenient store nearby to get some snack – fruit jelly. Yummy.
The next day, we visited the Yodobashi Umeda across our hotel. The whole building sells all kinds of electronic goods. Many good stuff & a comprehensive collection of all sort of products. At the 2 top floors, there are many restaurants & the Sweet Museum for those with sweet tooth.
Had a quick lunch at the Hankyu San Bangai (阪急三番街).
There are still much to see to there but we went to Namba (難波) as we planned. What are the attractions there? Kuromon market & toy stores. And there are a lot of toy stores there! From vintage toys to latest figures of Kamen Rider to Gundam. You name it, they have it. They don’t come cheap I have to warn you. Amazed by the collection they have in each stores.
After a long walk and gazing & dwelling upon the toys, we walked to Dotonbori (道頓堀), then Shinsaibashi (心斎橋). There are a lot of restaurants & shops of all kinds. But we aren’t their targeted age group 8p
It’s like Mongkok there. Scarily jammed with people makes you suffocate in 37˚C. So we went into a green tea house to chill for sometimes called 宇治園. The green tea ice-cream with jelly and an cold green tea is so refreshing! They also have a lot of tea & tea related products there.
After the refreshment, we headed to the Apple Store in Shinsaibashi. Crowded there. They got a lot of the Magic Trackpad in stock on the shelf but I couldn’t see one in demonstration so I couldn’t lay my hands on it 8(
We then had sushi for dinner at 本福寿司 nearby. Though not as surprised as we hope it could be.
On the third day, we took the JR to Kyoto early in the morning. It was an exhausting hiking day!
First we dropped off our luggage at the Hotel New Hankyu Kyoto, then took the bus at the bus terminal in front of the Kyoto JR station to Kiyomizudera (清水寺). But don’t get it wrong, you can only get to the foot of the mountain of the temple!! Took us 30 minutes or so to ascend to the actual Kiyomizudera. It’s beautiful there. There are a lot of souvenir shops to keep you busy as well as the old Japanese style building in the whole area.
Then walk to Ryozen Museum (靈山歷史館) for another uphill hiking for 20 minutes to see the 大龍馬展 第Ⅱ期 「翔る！龍馬」. The exhibition shows the artifacts and the assassination of Sakamoto Ryoma (坂本龍馬). We briefly gazed at the historic items and amazed by the organization at the cemetery across the exhibition of all the reformers / anti-government participants.
We then headed to Yasaka Shine (八阪神社) through Maruyama Park (圓山公園). That’s a really long walk from Ryozen Museum. While at the park, we took some rest before entering Yasaka Shine.
Next stop is Gion (祇園) where you could meet some geisha. But it was just 6pm-ish when we were there, we didn’t see any sight of geisha. But the buildings there are very surreal that made us feel like walking in a studio set of ancient street in Japan.
We then went for dinner at Matsuno (松乃) for grilled eel. Its taste & texture is fantastic & fresh like no other eel that I’ve ever eaten. You definitely should try this restaurant. After that we head back to Kyoto station for a walk before calling it a day.
It was another great day starting by taking JR to Arashiyama (嵐山). We’ve bought tickets for the Sgano Romantic Train so we tried to get there early but we took the slow train. That took us almost an hour to get there. If you can catch the rapid train (not express train which costs extra), it should only take 30 minutes.
Since we arrived early (still), we went for a walk to Togetsukyo Bridge (渡月橋) before we get on the Sgano Romantic Train. It was even quieter there but then you could probably see a lot of 人力車. These guys are very nice and helpful. I got the direction from one of them. He spook rather decent English that I believe most English speaking visitors can communicate with them.
After a quick detour at Togetsukyo Bridge, we went back to the train station to catch our ride. The scenery was great. The train passed by the bamboo groves before it went up the mountain. We were greeted by the summer breeze. It was refreshing in such hot day. Along the ride, we could see the river in the valley and the boat ride that you could take at the Kameoka station. And there were some people wakeboarding along that river too.
We took the same train back to Saga to enjoy the scenery one more time before we went for lunch. Then there was more sight seeing along walking around the area. It was so peaceful & beautiful. We then headed back to hotel to refresh ourselves before browsing in the Kyoto station complex.
Original plan was to visit Nijo Castle (二條城) but it was closed that day! So we took the bus to Kinkakuji (金閣寺) instead. Suppose the best time to see its true beauty is at sunset. But under the bright sunlight, the temple shines as well. It’s a giant zen garden.
Leaving the temple, we went for another cold noodle lunch to chill ourselves. The restaurant nearby was marvelous. They serve cold tea in such hot day. Totally love it. Their noodle was great well. We enjoyed the lunch very much.
Then we finally had to say goodbye to Kyoto and head back Umeda before evening.
The last day there. We took everything slow to enjoy our trip. Very relaxing. So by the time we checked out, it was 10am-ish. Then more browsing in the shopping mall nearby and a final visit to Relax Kuma. Had our lunch at a sushi restaurant. The meal was a great value for money. Delicious plate of sushi. Yum.
The hotels we stayed has free boardband access in the room but I didn’t bring along my Mac. Nonetheless their locations are convenient and very close to the main station, particularly the hotel at Umeda.
That’s our summer trip. Enjoy the photos!