|Nara Park map.|
Upon reaching the station, we headed for Exit 2 in order to get to Nara Park. Getting to the park was pretty easy as from the station, there is a main road heading up a hill or turn right into a covered shopping arcade that will lead to the second, less crowded park entrance on the left.
Turned off by the uphill walk, we headed into the shopping arcade and came out on the other end, turning left into a short street with quirky shops before we found ourselves in the Kofukuji temple area. The temple area once consisting of over 150 buildings, now contains three buildings; the Eastern Golden Hall, Five Story Pagoda and the Southern Octagonal Hall.
|Eastern Golden Hall and Five Story Pagoda|
Nara Park is also home to a lot of free-roaming deers that are fed and cared for by the locals and regarded as sacred deities. So if you are the kind who squeals in fear at the sight of a deer coming towards you, then maybe you should give the park a miss because the deers are everywhere. And I do mean, everywhere.
|Oh deer me.|
|Camwhoring with a deer.|
|Nara information Center.|
|Hours:||9:30 to closing time of Daibutsuden Hall (admission ends 30 minutes before closing)|
|Admission:||500 yen (museum only), 800 yen (museum and Daibutsuden Hall)|
|Map of Kyoto.|
Kyoto Tower offered a 360 view of the city and even gave me a glimpse of the several attractions such as the ever crowded and popular Kiyomizu-dera temple and the huge burn marks of the Gozan no Okuribi (Mountain Bon Fire) on the hillsides surrounding the area.
|Hours:||9:00 to 21:00 (entry until 20:40)|
|Closed:||No closing days|
|Admission:||770 yen (700 yen with online coupon)|
|Kyoto Tower and its sights.|
|Kiyomizu-dera attractions and ticket.|
One of the most famous temples in Japan, Kiyomizu-dera is a UNESCO world heritage site and is known for being made without the use of nails, including the wide balcony wooden stage that extends from its main hall. As a popular tourist spot, there were a lot of locals and foreigners wearing yukatas or summer robes for picture-taking purposes.
|Cloudy view from Kiyomizu-dera.|
|View of Kyoto Tower from the temple.|
|Hours:||6:00 to 18:00|
|Closed:||No closing days|
We left Kiyomizu-dera by 5pm as we wanted to head to Gion to do some Geisha-hunting and down again we go along the street filled with shops, stopping now and then to buy souvenirs and food. By luck, I stumbled upon Sannenzaka and Ninenzaka street. I love this area as there was something zen and traditional about the green willow trees hanging over the stone walkways and wooden shops on a downward slope. It felt as though I had stepped back in time into into ancient Japan especially with the locals dressed up in their traditional outfits. A lot of shops there offer traditional items and souvenirs from fans to handkerchiefs to kendama toys. There were also hidden stalls and shops selling specialized stuffs like collector figurines and anime toys.
|Sannenzaka and Ninenzaka street.|
Considering there are very few geishas and maikos operating in Kyoto now, I counted myself fortunate to have see four apprentices. To tell apart a maiko from a geisha, just look for their red collar. Maikos also tend to wear more elaborate and colourful kimonos than geishas. You can also tell them apart from their hairstyle and makeup.
|Note their nape makeup.|
Gion district was our next objective but after seeing the maikos, I decided to forgo it in search of food. From the Shijo road, our food hunt took us to the Kamogawa River that was a popular spot in summer. Restaurants lining the river have opened up a balcony for guests to enjoy the sights and sounds of the river while dining at an increased rate of course.
|Kamogawa river, Izumo no Okuni statue and Yasaka Shrine.|
By luck, I also chanced across a cat cafe, Nyan Wan Chu in the Shijokawaramachi shopping district but the cafe had just closed. No matter because I managed to visit another cat cafe in Osaka the following day. But for Kyoto visitors, Nyan Wan Chu was one of the popular cat cafes to drop by for the cat lover.
Because my relentless whining for food, my mom finally settled for Matsuya, another restaurant with the menu/ticket dispenser and we shared a plate of delicious Japanese pork curry rice. Between the both of us, the plate was wiped clean. If you are interested to give it a try, it is along the same street as Nyan Wan Chu and near the main road.
Our feet were aching from all the walking we had down so we took a bus back to Kyoto station and boarded a train headed for Nara where we switched over the Kintetsu line heading for Osaka. After a near-stranding incident where we got off at the wrong station in the middle of no where, we were back in Osaka and ready to crash for the night.
|Kyoto Tower at night.|
That was the end of my second day in Japan and I could strike Nara and Kyoto off my to-visit list. The next two days it would be all Osaka for us.
|A preview of Day 3.|
Transportation around Osaka tips - Getting around and about Osaka
Osaka 2013 Day 1: Shinsaibashi and Dotonbori
Osaka 2013 Day 2: Nara & Kyoto
Osaka 2013 Day 3: A Day in the City
Osaka 2013 Day 4: The Last Day and also, Momofuku Ramen Museum
Osaka Flight & Accommodation: Osaka Flight & Hotel package