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Travel & Food | Kyoto, Japan

If you read my first post about my husband and my trip to Osaka, this is part 2 of our trip. You can check out our experiences in Osaka and Nara by clicking on the links provided.


What we did

  1. Fushimi Inari Taisha Shrine. The home of the red torii gates that pretty much everyone has taken a picture of/with. The path with the torii is long. There will be more people towards the bottom, and fewer people as you make your way to the top (if you want to get that picture with no one in it!). But keep in mind, you'll have to make your way down too!
  2. Heian Shrine. In Chinese, it translates to ping an (safety) shrine. After visiting many shrines thus far, the husband and I decided to put up our own little wooden board with wishes written on it and hang it up at this shrine.
  3. Philosopher's Path. A path that a famous Japanese philosopher was said to take en route to school. The path will take you between two different neighborhoods (if you go the whole way). The path is narrow and there are no safety bars, so do take caution when walking! There are restaurants, cafes, and boutiques along the path if you want to make pit stops. The husband and I made a pit stop for a cookie at one of the cafes along the way.
  4. Tenryuji Temple. A beautiful temple with a garden where you can see part of he hills in Arashiyama! The timing of our visit was just right and not too late at all to catch the fall leaf color change.
  5. Chasanraku Tea House. Curious about the traditional Japanese tea ceremony? This is the place to experience and understand it! Aside from getting served some tea during the ceremony, you'll also be able to actively participate in the process and understand the etiquette as the tea hostess explains the customs to you. If you're hungry and want to grab a bite to eat, they also have a menu with traditional tea dishes (chazuke).
  6. Yumeyukata (Kimono Rental). They have many packages for kimono rentals! I rented a kimono and had my hair done. For the kimono rental, they have standard or fancier styles (of course, the fancier ones cost more). I rented a standard kimono and was honestly content with being able to wear such a beautiful outfit! The ladies at the shop were nice and helpful. You basically chose your package, then they take you upstairs so you can pick what colors you want for certain layers of the kimono (yes, there are several layers to the kimono!). Along with the kimono rental, you can also borrow a bag to keep any important items in. The rest of your stuff (ie. clothes, backpack, bag, etc) will be stored at the shop, so be sure not to lose that ticket! The husband and I also got one free professional digital photo of us in our outfits emailed to us. There were packages to get more photos/purchase more photos. I love and appreciate the uniqueness of each country's traditional clothes, and the work it took to wear the outfit made me appreciate the outfit even more!
  7. Nijo Castle. The closest landmark to the kimono rental shop. It's a beautiful castle, and has a garden and moat. There are plenty of opportunities for pictures!

Where we stayed

  1. Ryokufuso Ryokan. Definitely a must-try experience when in Japan! A ryokan is a traditional Japanese inn, where you get to experience what it is like sleeping on a mat, wearing a yukata, and eating a multi-course traditional Japanese meal (included with your stay). Each course comes out one at a time, and it's fun trying the different foods and textures and seeing how they mix together.
  2. The Ritz Carlton (Kyoto). By far, the fanciest/nicest hotel the husband and I have stayed at (for free because of points)! Of course, I wasn't dressed as nicely as other guests (I typically dress casual/in workout attire), but the staff was professional and didn't treat me any differently.

What we ate

  1. Japanese Ramen Hiwamatanoboru Noodle Soup. A delicious ramen place! The husband and I made a pit stop to this ramen place after we climbed (most of) and descended the Fushimi Inari Shrine.
  2. Japanese Rice Cracker. Now this is not your average rice cracker that you find at a Japanese supermarket back home. The rice crackers at this shop was fresh made, and they had several flavors to choose from. The husband and I tried the classic seaweed one, and wow! It was so fresh!
  3. Matcha Soft Serve. The husband and I got some matcha soft serve from a small, local shop after leaving Tenryuji Temple. I didn't get the name of the shop, but the line grew after we ordered and stood around to eat!
  4. Chasanraku Tea House. The husband and I had tea from the tea ceremony and tried their chazuke dish (see the "what we did section" for more about the tea ceremony). Their chazuke dish was simple, but flavorful and different! With the side dishes presented as well, it was really about enjoying the flavors and textures of the seasonal ingredients. The little mochi dessert (also made with seasonal ingredients) was the perfect cherry-on-top for our dining experience!
  5. Gontaro. For the noodle (especially udon) lovers out there, this is your place! The husband and I each enjoyed our own bowl of fresh udon noodles, and one bowl is plenty (especially if you're trying/snacking on other goodies)!
  6. Daifuku (Stuffed) Mochi. The husband and I passed a street stall that was selling this (and was almost sold out)! We had to get our hands on some to try! Of what was left, there was a pack of 4 or 6 daifuku mochi, and the shop owner was nice enough to repack the mochi for us into a pack of 2. She had different colored (and flavored?) daifuku mochi -- white, pink, and green. The husband and I opted for the green ones, since we think it's colored by matcha! It was a great treat as we traveled on foot to our next destination. Oh, and the mochi was stuffed with red beans!
  7. Miyako Yasai Kamo. An all-you-can-eat restaurant featuring organic vegetables. The food was good and solid, despite being healthy (hehe). The main reason we came here was to eat something light. This restaurant had lots of soups, vegetables, bread, meats, and etc. The husband and I stuck with the soups, since we ate quite a bit during our time in Kyoto.

I hope you enjoyed reading about our experiences in Kyoto! Stay tuned for our next post about our mini day trip to Nara, or if you haven't been following along, check out our previous post about Osaka!

- Nicole G.

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