I've decided to extend my trip to another region of Kansai this time round. Kyoto had always been on my bucket list but strangely this was the first time I'm visiting although it was already my 10th trip to Japan. There are just so many places that I'd loved to explore in Japan! The JR train is making many trips heading towards Kyoto from Osaka as it's only one hour ride away so I took my own sweet time packing up and checking out from the hotel.
Due to my aching knee, I was trying to find a metro entrance with escalator or lift. From my previous experiences in Tokyo and Nagoya, out of so many exits and entrances, there will always be a possible route with lift or escalators all the way. However, Osaka is not quite the same, I remember I could not find one from last year's hotel and this time its the same. I walked around some buildings, cross some roads and saw many metro entrances but its all stairs and more stairs. Finally I gave up and just moved down slowly with my luggage and it was not as bad as I thought. The luggage already slowed me down anyway, so there's not much difference having my aching legs or not. I took the metro to Shin-Osaka and it was a really big station, there was a dedicated platform for heading to Kyoto and Nara so I took the train from there.
|The Garnet Hotel|
I always imagined Kyoto buildings to be all Takayama style but Kyoto itself was also a big and busy city. Nevertheless, I fell in love with the quaint atmosphere of the ancient city once I arrived. Kyoto station was very big but with the help of Google map, I managed to exit from the right place and headed towards my hotel for the next two nights to drop off my luggage. The Garnet Hotel Kyoto Station was about 200m away from the station, its not too far off but just sitting at the quiet corner away from the station. I'll write a proper review about the hotel at the end of this post, but I was pretty impressed when I arrived at the hotel and the ladies at the front desk could speak quite good English. I read from reviews that there are shuttle buses from the hotel bring us to different places of interest in Kyoto (Gion area, Arashimaya area and Kinkakuji), I saw the information on the front desk, so I asked the helpful lady about it. She told me that the check in time at the hotel is 3pm but I could go back to the hotel to catch the 1.25pm bus to Arashimaya area since I was planning to visit the place. She even offered to show me places where I can have lunch in the mean time, but I thanked her and told her I could explore the area on my own.
I was really happy as I did not do much research about Kyoto, but I'd only sort of planned to visit Arashimaya and Kinkakuji, the two famous tourist attractions while I'm here, but now that the hotel shuttle can drop me off at both places, it saved me the trouble of trying to get there by bus or train. I was quite hungry by this time as I did not have time to grab any breakfast before heading to Kyoto, so I ventured into the Avanti mall just 100m down the road from the hotel. It was a pretty old mall but there were the usual rows of restaurants at the basement area and these had just opened with the lunch crowd going in. I walked one round and decided on a ramen eatery, it was vending machine concept and I saw many locals heading in. It was a simple cafeteria and many workers or business people were there for a quick lunch. I ordered a spicy ramen as I missed the chilli tasting meals at home, but I cant remember how much I paid and even forgot to take a picture as I was so hungry and just wanted to quickly devour the meal. When I paid at the vending machine, I did not see how it was inside, the waitress was busy and the cafeteria was a bit crowded, so I just sat at an empty table, albeit like fast food places style. The ramen was filling enough but I still prefer the Ichiran one.
After the meal, there was still sometime so I decided to walk around. I saw a 7-11 in the building so I went in to get some snacks for my trip. Just next to 7-11 was the bus waiting area and I realised that that was the information office of Keihan Bus services, which has different routes to other areas. The airport limousine service to KIX caught my eye and I thought it will be a good idea to just take the bus from there instead of pushing my luggage all the way to train station. I booked my ticket for Wednesday then and earlier I also saw the service to Itami airport at another bus bay.
|The shuttle bus which sent us to Arashimaya|
20 min before 125pm, I walked back to the hotel and waited at the lobby. The lady even asked the bus driver to drop us at the area closer to the Arashimaya bamboo grove as it would be a long walk if he drop us at the other side of the river. She also passed me a map which was really helpful for my navigation later on. There was only this other couple on the shuttle service with me, it took us one hour to get to Arashimaya area so I was really glad to get this chance to rest and I fell asleep on the way.
|Fried stuff that tasted really good|
|Piping hot fried cheese yuba|
|Loved the matcha mixed soft serve|
|Many young handsome rickshaw lads at Arashimaya|
|Togetsu-kyo Bridge better known (to me) as 渡月桥|
|Very awesome autumn colours|
|The very beautiful autumn leaves|
|Entrance to the garden of this temple is chargeable|
I was really glad to have the map with me and after poring over it for a short while, I decided to go down another path away from the shops and the bridge. It led me down a very beautiful path and there were autumn leaves in different shades of red along the way. I've never seen such nice autumn scenery before, but I could only stroll down slowly and try to make sure this stay imprinted in my mind as long as I could.
|The entrance to Tenryuji Temple|
|Very nice autumn leaves in the garden|
Many of the temples there only allowed tourists to go in for a nice stroll in the garden with an entrance fee, the main scenery is not so much of the shrine but the autumn leaves in the quaint gardens. I did not have the luxury of time to visit these gardens so I kept walking and only took photographs from the main walking path.
As Tenryuji Temple 天龙寺 is world heritage site and the most important/famous temple in this area, I paid the entrance fee to go in for a tour. The famous Arashimaya bamboo grove is also right at the exit of this temple, so I rather go through the temple instead of going around it to get to the bamboo grove.
|I tried to cut away the images of people below|
|Very crowded with tourists|
|Most satisfying photo with the bamboo and autumn leaves|
I finally get to see the Arashimaya bamboo grove which has quite a magnificent and zen feel to it, with the many bamboo growing densely and they stretched all the way up to a few storeys high. It was always recommended in tourist guide to get there as early as possible before the crowd terrorise the place as it is one of the most popular attractions in Kyoto. When I reached there about 4pm, the walking path (of about 100m or so) was quite packed with tourists, everyone trying to take photographs and selfies of themselves with the bamboo, but to no avail as everyone got into the way one one another. I also gave up trying to take any nice pictures after awhile and just enjoyed my stroll through the place. The only picture I was actually satisfied with was taken within the temple area before I headed into the bamboo grove.
There were many tourists dressed in pretty light kimono (or yukata?) walking down the streets of the Arashimaya area so it was quite an interesting sights as some most of these were foreigners. I initially thought they were Japanese wearing traditional clothes to the temples, until one of them started talking in PRC accent.
|The signature rickshaw rides with handsome young lads pulling them|
|Ema boards for marriage/love and studies?|
|Very special and iconic torii gates|
|Nonomiya shrine 野宫神社|
|Randen tram line station|
|The Kyoto Tower|
|Water dancing to Xmas songs|
Hotel Review: Garnet Hotel Kyoto Station
|Good use of space, modern design|
|Green efforts, I put out the orange card the second day|
|Loved the layout and design|
|Standard shower/toilet area|
|Nano face steamer and smartphone|
|Standard design for Japanese hotels but quite modern here|
I'm not a superstitious person but I've heard some weird encounters and 'hantu' stories about Kyoto so my impression of Kyoto is a really old and ancient place but it turned out very different from my imagination and I slept very well in this city. Something weird about Osaka was the fact that I heard emergency vehicles at night/ late night on several occasions (for 2017 when I was walking back to hotel) so that made me a little paranoid when I'm traveling solo. But that didnt happen at Kyoto at all.
|Very carbo loading dinner but satisfied my craving|
|Tried the Panosonic nano steamer on my face for two nights|
Some hotel guests had a Panosonic leg massager in their rooms but I was in a smaller room meant for solo traveler, so I had this nano steamer which was something new to me. It had the same function as the facial steamer we used for facial but its in smaller capacity here, we could use it to steam our face for the pores to open up and then put on the facial products for better absorption. Since it was there, I just tried it out and played with the gadget for the two nights during my stay. During my June trip to Hakone, the ryokan also provided this handy phone (for surfing internet, making calls etc) but I did not make use of it since I had the wifi router.