The great thing about Osaka is that it’s extremely well-connected to other places of interest, such as Kyoto, Himeji, Kobe and Nara. Hop on one of the many trains and you’re some place else in an hour or so, which makes for plenty of fun day trips! One of the must-go places would naturally be Kyoto, the old capital of Japan, with its numerous shrines, temples and beautiful architecture.
The Fushimi Inari shrine in Kyoto, supposedly Japan’s top attraction, was an incredible place to visit. There are no words to describe what it felt like to be walking through all these classic Japanese Torii gates in the quiet wilderness of the sacred Mount Inari. Torii gates are part of Japanese tradition, marking the transition into a sacred place, so they are typically found at the entrances to temples and shrines. It took us over an hour to climb up to the top of Mount Inari and then back down again, but it was well worth it because the trail gets quieter and quieter the higher you go (most tourists give up a quarter of the way in because they’re just there for the photos really) and you get to experience the peace and tranquility of this sacred mountain. Plenty of fox statues here and there too, supposedly representing the fox guardians of the mountain.
Kyoto itself was a sight to behold, with bits and pieces of Japanese tradition and culture seeping through every nook and cranny. We explored the entire district of Gion, where there’s still plenty of traditional architecture and geisha houses around. With some luck, we even managed to catch sight of a couple of geishas clad in their beautiful kimonos with their faces intricately painted! #MemoirsofaGeishamoment Some tourists actually tried to ask a geisha for directions (see woman in pink in the photo), although I reckon it was just an excuse to talk to her.
Another stop we made in Kyoto was at the Arashiyama bamboo forest, which was way beyond expectations. Despite the place thronging with tourists, walking through the bamboo forest was still a pleasant experience (save for the few screaming kids and bulky rickshaws here and there). Also, plenty of tourist shopping, which was always welcome 🙂 The picture on the right is of the most amazing bowl of ramen from Ramen Sen no Kaze Kyoto, a tiny hole in the wall ramen shop near the famous Nishiki market. Run by just two lovely ladies who handle everything from cooking the broth to roasting the pork to attending to customers and cleaning the tables, it was one of the best recommendations I had from a friend so do pop by for a bowl if you’re ever in Kyoto!
There should be one final Osaka entry coming up, so stay tuned! 🙂