Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Kyoto + Shinkansen (Bullet Train) to Tokyo

I've been lagging with my Japan (Japanagon) posts and I have so many reasons up my sleeve. These include work-related posts that needed to be accomplished first, or the many photos from the trip I had to sort through before making the post -- which takes a lot of my time!

Anyway, I am expecting another travel soon, so I have to finish all these Japanagon this week. I know the cherry blossoms had long vanished to make way for summer (and even summer is almost concluding!), but let me take you back on that beautiful Spring day for just this one last time...

So my sister and I finally saw sakura trees at their best (or in "full bloom") on our second day in Kyoto. We dropped by the Kyoto Imperial Palace and saw the park's trees covered in pinks and whites. I especially love the trees with branches scooping down, almost touching the river. Ate is the craziest when it comes to cherry blossoms sighting. We stayed in this park for an hour or so!

Cute black hachi, so shiny!

We also saw the Kinkakuji Temple, or the Temple of the GOLDEN Pavilion because its top two stories are covered with PURE GOLD! Yamanin! The Kinkakuji is a Zen Buddhist Temple surrounded by a complex and beautiful garden design from the Muromachi Period (classical age of Japanese garden design). I imagine dito pineg the landscaped gardens in some houses.

Next stop was at the Ninomaru Palace, which served as the shogun's residence and office when in Kyoto. It still has its original form: from floors that squeaks when stepped by intruders, down to the tatami mat covered floors, sliding doors, and decorated ceilings.

Ninomaru Garden outside the palace, another traditional Japanese landscape garden:

Parang pang fairytale book cover, hehe!

The Nijo Castle, just outside the compound.

We took a break from all the morning walks and cultural tour, and spotted a Coco Curry by the bus stop. I love Coco Curry! They have so much options, even for vegetarians like me. 

We took the JR train to the Inari Station to see the famous Fushimi Inari-Taisha.

These orange structures are called the torii. Each of these torii were donated by different Japanese merchants and manufacturers because they believe that the Inari is the patron of business. They said that it will take 2 hours of walk in this trail of torii, leading up to the Inari shrine just at the base of a mountain.

During our Fushimi Inari hike, we saw an ongoing pre-nup shoot:

A Japanese barkada cladded in traditional geisha uniform:

Peg ko siya!

To make the most of the day, we also visited the Arashimaya, the famous bamboo forest in Sagano, Kyoto Japan. It was getting dark when we arrived in the area:

There are bike rentals when you exit the JR Sagano Line (Saga-Arashiyama Station), but Ate and I decided to just walk (hindi din ako marunong mag bike kasi, haha).

There are other attractions in the Arashiyama district, like the Mount Arashi, the Oi River, and the Monkey Park, but since it was almost nighttime and we went there for the bamboo groves - we settled for that for now.

The place is otherworldly, and quiet (even amidst tourists bustling and popping here and there). I love breathing there, there's a nice clean scent that comes from the multitude of plants and bamboos surrounding us. Wind is cool, and vibe is as if it's about to drizzle at any moment.

For the whole trip, the Kiyomizudera Temple was the hardest to find. We got lost looking for this on our first night, so we decided to attempt again that day. The Kiyomizudera, or the Pure Water Temple, is best visited at night for the special evening illuminations. You can also view the city of Kyoto at a distance.

I didn't want to leave our Guesthouse on our last day in Kyoto, but oh well, all things even the good ones must come to an end. Said goodbye to the hostel's kind owner / front desk person, and she handed us free plastic umbrellas as presents before leaving the place. It was also rainy that day.

One final walk along the Philosopher's Path, and saw pretty, quaint things from boutiques to flowers.

Another good deed our hostel did for us was they booked our giant maletas for a pick-up going to the Shinkansen station, so we don't have to lug around our things. We event visited a few more spots before leaving Kyoto:

Ninnaji Temple:

Most probably my favorite, the Rock Zen Garden or the the Ryoanji Temple. A nice idea for minimalist fans like me, I enjoyed this simple and fuss-free dry landscape garden.

My last meal in Kyoto. I wasn't able to get the restaurant's name, but went there alone since Ate looked for her own katsu place. I love the little plates of dishes, and mis of different flavors!

This was supposed to be where Ate's trip will end, me riding the Shinkansen to Tokyo, while she's off to Manila for her full time work. Ate decided to extend her stay, though (nainggit? hehe!). And mabuti nadin! I can't imagine going through the loops and process of getting a ticket for the bullet train -- my sister is the best when it comes to these things!

Y 13, 080 from Kyoto to Tokyo (around Php 4820 - like an airplane ticket nadin). We lined up at a ticket counter, then Ate saw vending machines nearby so we tried it and got this:

The cool rides of the future, haha! These punctual high speed Japanese trains connect Tokyo to other major cities at 320 km/h! Stops are super bihira (Kyoto - Nagoya - Tokyo). Since we weren't seated together, I just slept a lot during the ride.

We took the ordinary seat class, which comes in rows of 3 seats side-by-side. There are no seating assignments but the train is full. By the time we were in Nagoya, we transferred to the front nearer our luggages - which we just left sliding around the divider area near the sliding doors (haha)!

It was nighttime na when we arrived in sparkly, lively, dream-come-true Tokyo! The Japanagon's final leg, Hehe. We got lost looking for the train station exit going to Ate's friend's condo (where we crashed for our remaining stay in Japan). After hours of going around and asking every train guard that we saw, we finally made it to the condo (super next to the station lang, hindi ka na tatawid, cool).

Ate's friend offered us this bread with pressed Cherry Blossom flower, hehehehe. Welcome to Japan!

Read more of my posts for: Japan 2015.

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