Tuesday, 15 November 2016

Osaka Day 3: Arashiyama & Kiyomizu, Kyoto

We knew we wanted to go to Kyoto but we had no idea which attraction to visit until the night before (very unlike me I know =P). After looking at the list of Kyoto attractions that Google came up with, I decided on impulse, based on my gut feeling, that we should visit Arashiyama and the bamboo forest because I thought it was cool (even though it was relatively far away).

We bought sandwiches and onigiri to eat on the train/s as we anticipated that it would be quite a journey to Arashiyama.

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If this is your first time taking the trains in Japan, here's a simple guide:
  1. Arm yourself with a map of the train lines: 
  2. Look at the Information Board above the ticketing machines for the amount that you need to pay based on the destination. 
    • Search for the station number as not every board has English translations.
  3. Learn how to use the ticketing machines 
    • Not every station has a staff available to help you; you may have to figure it out yourself
    • You may require some practice before you are able to fully understand how to use the machine so don't panic
    • If possible, observe how others do it and try to follow
  4. Do note that certain ticketing machines may require you to press the amount first before you insert the money or vice versa (insert the money first then choose the amount)
  5. Once you have inserted the correct amount, the machine will issue you with a ticket
  6. Your child requires a ticket if your child is 4 years old and above (hence my boy is free)
You may also buy train passes for unlimited rides, which may be easier than buying one way tickets like we did. I went with the latter because it would still be cheaper for us since we did not plan to travel to many places (and therefore would not have maximised the train passes).

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The first train we took was the Osaka Subway where we took the Sennichimae Line (pink) from Nippombashi Station to Namba Station and transferred to the Midosuji Line (red) to Umeda Station (cost: 840 yen for 3 adults and 1 child).

Taking the Sennichimae Line from Nippombashi Station (S17) to Namba Station (S16)

At Umeda Station, walk to Osaka Station (JR Line) and board the JR Kyoto Line (at Platform 8) to Kyoto Station via the Special Rapid train (cost: 560 yen per adult/child).

Clockwise from top left: Follow the signs to Osaka Station (Exit 3A or 3B);
You should see the Osaka Station City wall;
After purchasing your tickets and entering Osaka Station, search for a signboard with Platform 7-8 (Kyoto);
When you've reached the platform, board the train approaching Platform 8.
Enjoying our ride on the train, which is so fast that in a blink of an eye, we had arrived at Kyoto!

The journey only took us 25 minutes! I'm amazed that it was even faster than taking the MRT from one end of Singapore to the other end! Amazingly fast!

We arrived at Kyoto Station and asked a staff member who told us to take the JR Sagano Line at Platform 32-33 to Saga-Arashiyama Station.

Clockwise from top left: Arrival at Kyoto Station;
Look out for the signboards that point you in the direction of Platform 31-33;
After we had board the train bound for Saga-Arashiyama;
The journey was so short that we almost missed our stop at Saga-Arashiyama!

On arrival at Saga-Arashiyama Station, you will need to top up an additional 410 yen per adult and 200 yen per child (known as Fare Adjustment) for the journey from Kyoto Station to Saga-Arashiyama Station.

Just head to the Fare Adjustment machines and slot your ticket into the top left slot of the machine. The machine will automatically calculate the amount that you will need to top up and return you the ticket after you have paid.

Clockwise from left: Fare Adjustment machines at Saga-Arashiyama Station;
This is where you need to slot in your ticket and pay the difference in fare;
The ticket I received after I paid the fare.
Exterior of JR Saga-Arashiyama Station

We didn't know how to walk from the train station to the Arashiyama Bamboo Forest so it was Google Maps to the rescue as usual.

Signs on the road and signboards seem to show that Google Maps is showing us the right way

The walk there took us approximately 15-20 minutes. It is not very near so if you want, you can rent a bicycle (you can ride around town after that as well). Very nice weather and scenery for a bike ride in my opinion (I would have done it, had it not been for the mum-in-law and kids).

There were soooo many people at the bamboo forest! It was not easy at all to get a nice shot =(

The Arashiyama Bamboo Forest, such a unique sight that you don't see everyday =)

I half expected to see a Giant Panda to pop out from somewhere but of course I know that won't happen *laughs*

As we walked along the road, we came across Nonomiya, a Shinto shrine in Arashiyama.

Nonomiya
Clockwise from left: A red Torii (traditional Japanese gate) found in most Shinto temples;
Japanese believe that hanging a Ema (wooden plaque) with your wishes on it will make it come true. You will have to hang it on the right board depending on what you are wishing for;
A Shinto purification fountain.

We decided to proceed along Sagano Bamboo Road towards Tenryu-ji Temple, which is a Buddhist temple and also a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Lovely view of Arashiyama and the bamboo forest along the way
This narrow "road" had to also accommodate emergency vehicles like fire-engines and ambulances!
We actually had to give way to both! We had to stick ourselves close to the bamboo fence in order to let the fire-engine and ambulance through. It was quite an experience!
Entrance to Tenryu-ji Temple

There was an admission charge (see my itinerary for more details on the charges) so we decided not to visit since we weren't very interested in temples anyway (we didn't really spend much time in Nonomiya either). The exterior was really pretty though so I couldn't help but take a few pictures!

Had to take pictures of the exterior instead =)

We continued to walk up along Sagano Bamboo Road till we reached the top. Whew! *wipes sweat and remove jacket*

The Bamboo Forest gets denser and denser. So mysterious! <3

We decided that we had enough climbing for the day and turned left towards Arashiyama Park, a really amazing park with an awesome view of Arashiyama. Love the colours of autumn! =)

Got a passerby to take this photo of us at Arashiyama Park.
It's a pity that my boy was fast asleep..
There were photo opportunities almost everywhere in this park =)
Love these photos!
You can see a stark difference between the one taken with my Olympus OMD (left) and with a camera phone (right)

It's times like this that I wish I had taken my wedding photos in a beautiful place like this! Oh well.. I suppose a photo with my beloved girl will do as well =P


We proceeded along the pathway until we reached a truly amazing sight: the Hozu River!

Mum-in-law and her precious babies
(the boy had finally awaken from his sleep!)
Mum-in-law managed to capture a photo of our family with the boat at the background. Love it! <3
Clockwise from left: The kids showing some sibling love. Love this photo of them!;
If you have time, take a boat ride! I'm sure you can see more of what Hozu River has to offer;
There was also a miniature toy boat floating around the river! So cute!

You can take the boat ride but for us, we were contented with just taking pictures =)

This board is so cute! Fits my kids just right! =)

If boats are not your thing, you can consider riding the rickshaws as well. The rickshaws will bring you through the bamboo forest so that you do not have to climb so hard like we did.

Rickshaws pulled by very strong men!

There was also a dam at Hozu River, where I took the opportunity to explain to my girl what a dam was and how it generates electricity.

With my kids at the dam and Togetsu-kyo Bridge at Hozu River
A signboard with a bit of history about the Togetsu-kyo Bridge.
Can you believe that this bridge is 1000 years old?!
Admiring the view while the kids watched the ducks swim in the river

We walked to the end of the road and turned left (away from the bridge) and passed an ice-cream store. How can we resist mixed matcha (green tea) and vanilla soft-serve? Sooo yummy! *grin*

So excited for her soft-serve ice-cream

We also bought some of their unique Japanese snacks that apparently is famous in the area.

I LOVE warabimochi so buying this was a no-brainer for us!
I finished both boxes (original and matcha) since no one else really liked it as much as I did and that's how I got fat =(

We were hungry and tired after a long walk so we had our lunch at one of the restaurants along the street (can't remember the name of the restaurant). We chose this one because the prices were really reasonable (most of the main courses were below 1000 yen).

Clockwise from left: Waiting outside while they prepared the table (almost every table was taken!);
We managed to get a corner table near the door;
Pork katsu don with egg. So yummy!
Clockwise from left: The kids ate their usual udon (seriously, they can eat udon everyday and not get sick of it..);
My curry hamburger rice that I love!;
The hubby's beef bowl.

After a delicious meal, we continued on our way back to the train station to head to our next destination. Along the way, the mum-in-law and kids had a whiff of their favourite taiyaki so even though we were already full, we just had to stop and buy some (tell me how not to get fat?! -_-^).

Taiyaki at Arashiyama

Overall, I LOVE Arashiyama! Such a beautiful place! (^o^)

By the way, they also have a Kyoto Arashiyama Music Box Museum which is the same company as the Otaru Orgel Doh music box shop that we visited in Hokkaido; and I only realised it after we returned to Singapore (>o<)!! What a waste!! I can't believe yours truly, the avid music box collector, missed the chance to buy more music boxes to add to my collection! *sobs* (T_T)!!!

Anyway, as it was getting late, we headed to our next destination, the very famous Kiyomizu Dera. We asked the Information Staff stationed at Saga-Arashiyama Station for directions and she kindly wrote them down on a post-it for our reference.

The directions on how to get to Kiyomizu

In case you didn't understand the post-it, we had to first take a train from Platform 1 at Arashiyama Station to Kyoto Station. At Kyoto Station, walk to Platforms 8, 9 or 10, transfer to the Nara Line and alight at Tofukuji Station (cost: 240 yen per adult, 120 yen per child).

At Tofukuji Station transfer to the Keihan Railway and board the train to Kiyomizu Gojo Station (cost: 150 yen per adult, 80 yen per child).

We have finally arrived at Kiyomizu-gojo

Our main aim was to visit the Kiyomizu Dera, also a UNESCO World Heritage site but we ended up taking more pictures with Otani Honbyo Temple as it was located closer to the main road. Having said that, do be prepared to walk uphill from the train station for 10-15 minutes in order to get here.

At the beautiful bridge leading to Otani Honbyo Temple
Otani Honbyo Temple

As we were exploring the area in search of a shop that rents kimonos, I found one just along Gojo-zaka road.

Left: Yume Kyoto, the kimono rental shop is located at level 2;
Right: Me after a very experienced obasan expertly helped me to put on my chosen my kimono fabric.

Let me tell you, it is not easy to put on a kimono! There's so much skill involved to do tie the layers of cloth and get the length just right! I have so much admiration for the obasan who helped me put on my kimono.

By the way, full day rental of a kimono was charged at approximately 7200 yen (inclusive of hair) but since I only have 1.5-2 hours to the shop's closing time, the lady charged me half the price at 3500 yen.

A staff tying my hair up
(photo taken by my girl, who is my photographer in training) 
You can see her learning how to position and take a good photo.
She does not have a natural propensity for this (like her dad unfortunately) so she needs to try harder in order to get it right. The important thing to me is that she tries =)
The finished look! (^_<)
(the shop also loaned us the bag and slippers)

I actually like the bag (bought myself a similar one in a different pattern as a souvenir) but found the slippers super uncomfortable (guess I'm too used to comfy Fitflops).

Because the sky looked like it was going to go dark any minute, the hubby suggested that we quickly head back to the nearest attraction, Otani Honbyo Temple, to take photos instead of trying to hunt for Kiyomizu-dera.


Lovely photo of the girl and I with such a nice background
Pretending to be a Japanese for 1.5 hours. So fun! *grin*

I've always been the photographer (and therefore hardly have nice photos of me cos let's face it, I take the best photos in our family *laughs*). It's nice to be the focus of the photos for a change! (^,^)

Taking as many photos as we can to maximise my kimono rental =)

The winds were getting too cold for the boy so we settled the mum-in-law and kids at Kihachiro Beef Bun where they rested while the hubby and I hiked to Kiyomizu-dera.

Super expensive but very delicious beef buns.
This place is a good rest stop as there's free wifi as well =)

It was a good thing that we didn't bring the kids to Kiyomizu-dera because pushing a stroller uphill was no easy feat!

Pitstops along the lane leading up to Kiyomizu-dera
(check the map if you're lost)
Left: With a giant Hello Kitty in a kimono (people say I'm a closet Sanrio fan. I think so too!);
Right: We made it Niomon gate, the entry to Kiyomizu-dera.

Kiyomizu-dera temple is only opened at night for a short period of time between mid-November to early December; hence, although it was a weekday night, the temple was crowded with locals and tourists alike trying to catch the temple's illumination. The illumination is already really pretty at Niomon, I'm sure the actual temple and its surroundings will be even better!

Unfortunately, as I've got a kimono to return and kids to take care of, we never actually made it to the temple itself. We were just contented with at least joining the crowd in enjoying the atmosphere near the temple =)

Returning my kimono back to the shop.
You can also rent kimonos for your kids but do note that it is MORE expensive! We decided to use the money to buy a yukata (summer kimono) instead.

After returning my kimono, we went back the same way that we came except that we took the Kyoto Line from Kyoto Station back to Osaka Station before changing to the Osaka Subway back to Nippombashi Station. Kyoto was a beautiful place and I'll definitely go back again!

As usual, we roamed Dotonbori for something light to eat for dinner since we already have our nightly complimentary ramen. We decided on okonomiyaki from Nishiki-warai (錦わらい) because it seems that they've won an award before.

The shop front along Dotonbori with a poster displaying their win at the entrance. Seems legit (don't understand completely what it is saying)..
We bought the original and the veggie one

I do like a nice okonomiyaki! Yum!

We also ate the snacks we bought at Arashiyama
Clockwise from top left: In order to allow you to keep warabimochi for longer, it is sealed to ensure freshness;
The only difference between matcha and original is the powder topping;
After opening, you'll need to cut up the warabimochi into smaller pieces;
Pouring the powder over the warabimochi.

So yummy! There's really no way for me to maintain my diet while I'm here! *sigh*

Oh well.. (^_<)


Continue to >> Osaka Day 4: Osaka Castle & Tempozan Ferris Wheel
<< Back to Osaka Day 2: Nara Park


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OR
Visit MADPSYCHMUM TRAVELS for the rest of my posts on Osaka (Nara & Kyoto), Japan 
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