(Above) The Golden Temple in Kyoto
You know the saying: “Better late than never?” Well, this post is the epitome of that. I’m just now looking through our Osaka and Kyoto pictures that we took but never posted last year. *Cry*
There were just so many photos and I got too busy to really sort through them all. Now that I’m on vacation and we’re getting ready to move, I have some downtime and can finally share our trip.
The fact is, we loved Japan so much that we are going there again this year! This time for six days instead of four and we are going to visit the places we missed out on the first time. On our list this year: Kiyomizudera Temple, Fushimi Inari Shrine, Wagyu beef, Instant Ramen Museum, Osaka Castle, and more time at Dotonbori Shopping area. Oh, and I’m super excited to get a Geisha makeover in Kyoto’s Gion area. This is where Memoirs of a Geisha is based and you can still see real-life geishas!
Last year we stayed in Kyoto and had some really fun experiences, including meeting a student tour guide, Sakiko! She took us to the Golden Temple, Nishiki Market, and a beautiful shrine where parents pray for their students taking the high school exam. We had so many delightful things to eat including conveyor belt sushi for lunch, tofu donuts, and ramen at the Kyoto Ramen street.
She made a hand-drawn guide booklet in which she personally tailored our tour and gave specific information and interesting facts about the places we visited. I still have the booklet because her messages were personalized to us and her drawings were very cute. Kawaii!
I highly recommend hiring a student guide if you want to get around easily in Kyoto. If interested in a student tour guide check out the website here for the “Good Samaritan Club”. I believe they are on Facebook as well. You can ask for our guide, Sakiko Mori, by name if you wish. She’s awesome! Did I mention the tour is free? Yes, it is! You just pay for the expenses of travel ($5 for an all-day bus pass) and lunch for your guide.
We went in late February which was the beginning of cherry blossom season.
One thing Mike and I noticed almost immediately was just how clean and quiet Japan was! Also, people were very VERY polite and did not push or shove at all. Such a difference from Korea. (Sorry, Korea! We love you, too.)
Tourists dressed in traditional Japanese kimono, visiting the Buddhist shrine.
One of my favorite places in Kyoto was Nishiki Market. Here we sampled the famous tofu donuts, tofu ice cream, chocolate croquette, and the best thing: salmon roe omelet. So much deliciousness!! It’s a good thing we were able to split our street food between three people.
Chocolate croquette (Basically, fried chocolate!)
THE Best omelette. I think it had crack in it, maybe? J/k Really good, though!
Unfortunately, Sakiko couldn’t join us for dinner but she did tell us how to get to Ramen Street. It is located at Kyoto Station, which is huge and beautiful. You have to go up the most terrifying outdoor escalators, for ten floors! It was a pretty view on the way up, but Mike kept pretend pushing me off which kind of detracted from the enjoyment. Thanks, honey ;p.
Ramen Street – More like an indoor food court
There were many ramen restaurants to choose from and many of them had long lines. We settled on a decent looking restaurant and without the language translation from Sakiko, we made our best guess on buying our ramen tickets from the vending machine before being seated inside.
Select your ramen, pay, and get a ticket before going inside the restaurant
I think we ordered miso and soy sauce ramen. I found it to be a bit too salty for my taste but Mike just loved it. The noodles were nice and chewy. I think I would have enjoyed it more if there were veggies. Instead, this style was very smoky and porky.
There’s much more about our trip that I could talk about, but that would make for a super long post. Instead I will share the link for our Japan Trip album here. If you’re interested in going and have questions or want to share your experiences, please comment.
Some things you should check out that I didn’t touch on here but are in the album:
-Japanese McDonalds! It IS different, in a good way.
-Lawson’s (and other) convenience store foods
-Osaka Aquarium! (Really worth it)
-Japanese snacks and kitkats
-Japanese cream puffs (chou cream) and Dotonbori
-K’s House Kyoto Hostel (our accommodations)