Mana Tales

~ Japan 2017- Kyoto pt.2 ~

Sunday, October 8, 2017
The second day in Kyoto mainly consisted of visiting the Fushimi Inari Shrine. In theory you can walk there from the Gion area which is about a 50 minute walk. I considered it but because I was dressed up in a kimono (which hardly left any breathing space) we actually taxied instead. Taxi's were relatively cheap in Kyoto and we utilized them quite a bit. Just make sure you know where you're going or have the address in Japanese. 

The entrance into the shrine area. Try to get here early as there were lots of people by the time we got there which was the afternoon, around 1 pm.

The beginning of the walk through the mountain and tori gates. Each tori gate is actually donated and the company or persons name is written on the tori.

You can buy these wooden plaques shaped like a fox, write a wish on them and hang it up.

I only walked a small portion of it although I wish I could've walked the entire thing. It didn't seem to be a difficult walk but not a very short one either. The crowds lessen the deeper you went.

One of the main reasons I wanted to come back earlier was so I could have afternoon tea! While I was walking the Gion districts earlier I had seem a cute shop advertising their afternoon tea. I can't remember the name of the shop but the small cafe is actually behind the shop, through this small garden.

The theme seem to be matcha and I remember almost everything here was delicious! It was a great way to have a bite and rest. However because my kimono was so tight I could barely tell if I was getting full or not!

We tried to make it to Kiyomizu-dera but it closed just as we got there. However it wasn't a total lost as we passed by %Arabica and had the most delicious iced latte ever!

We got there at sunset so we stuck around for some photos and enjoyed the scenery around us. There were guards telling people to leave the temple as it had to close. At the moment the temple is also undergoing renovations and there is large scaffolding around the viewing platform.

At night we decided to head over to Pontocho for dinner and check out the area. The alley was is narrow and easily crowded even where there wasn't a lot of people there- it was just the nature of the street. There were lots of restaurants that had rooms opening right out over the river with a beautiful view. We looked around for one and decided to splurge for a kaiseki meal- a traditional multicourse Japanese meal.

The presentation of each dish was beautiful and the overall speed of the course wasn't too slow. I had read that sometimes these meals can take a long time. However the dishes were too bland and simple for me. One course was boiled tofu. Literally just boiled tofu with soy sauce, something that I don't know how to appreciate. I would be willing to try a kaiseki meal again in the future despite not having such a great one here.

After dinner wandered down the main street and saw a Basket Robins. I had seen how cute the Basket Robin presentations could be so went in to have some. I ordered one of their spring "eggs" and wasn't really expecting it to come in an egg! The sorbet I chose was muscat which was delicious! I LOVE muscat flavored things.

~ Japan 2017 - Kyoto pt. 1 ~

Wednesday, September 20, 2017
      The second portion of my Japan 2017 was spent in Kyoto. I stayed in the Higashiyama district and honestly did not leave it very much other than to visit other tourist spots. I loved this area. It's in the heart of historic Kyoto and right by the Gion district. There was plenty to keep us entertained here that we never left to go into the city of Kyoto. The area has lots of restaurants and small shops. To me it actually had a bit more of a local feel here although the area was filled with tourists.

      Since I didn't rent any pocket wifi I relied heavily on public wifi spots. I usually made a rough itinerary the day before, Googled mapped the locations, and took screen shot of those to rely on throughout the day. 

       I had my first Airbnb experience here and it was lovely. The apartment was clean, cozy, and the location was great. We had a bit of trouble getting the apartment key but the host answered quickly and we were inside the apartment within minutes of his reply. 

I woke up quite early everyday and usually had a coffee and bun from the convenience store before actually heading out for breakfast. I usually Googled up the best breakfast places in the area and narrowed them down from there.

I would highly recommend coming early to visit the shops before they fill up with people. The area is quite quiet in the morning and I really enjoyed the serenity. 

We went to Inoha Coffee for breakfast. The breakfast was well balanced and perfect for my eating habits. I like to eat a variety of things and I definitely got that here. Eggs, ham, salad, croissant, and fruit! I also had coffee and grapefruit juice as well.

You'll see dozens of souvenir and trinket stores lined along the streets. However you'll also see many specialty stores as well. Most are food related buy there was some cute hair pin stores and hand made textile creation shops.

For dinner we went to Izuju which is famous for it's Kyoto style sabazushi- saba sushi. I'm sure just by looking at it you can tell it's different from the regular Tokyo style sushi that we are most familiar with. The saba is strong and pungent but beautifully balanced with the sushi rice. I can't remember what the cubed mosaic sushi in the back was called but it was also good, our favorite was the sweet egg sushi. Make sure you peel the kelp off the saba sushi!

There was a short wait and we were handed menus so we could order beforehand. The sushi came as soon as we sat down. The saba sushi can also be ordered for take out. It wasn't the cheapest sushi meal but it was one that stood out throughout our entire trip. I think there are a few 1 and 2 Michelin star sushi restaurants in the area too!

Last but not least we coincidentally ran into a Studio Ghibli store! The Donguri stores are located throughout Japan and carry official Studio Ghibli merchandise. The store is located inside a small alley, right beside the Hello Kitty store. There's a small sign and shelf when the store is open so keep you eyes peeled.