Saturday, September 13, 2014

Japan 2014 - Day 9: Osaka - Ramen Museum, Kyoto Hanami & Kiyomizudera Night Illumination

Our last day in Osaka and it was pouring. However, that didn't hinder our plans to head out of Osaka to visit the Momofuku Ramen Musuem in Ikeda and back again to Kyoto for the Kiyomizudera Night Illumination that only happens for a short period four times a year. Unfortunately my friend wasn't feeling well and opted to stay in Osaka and relax there and Cousin and Sister became my travel companions for the day.

Using the Kansai Thru Pass (as it can be used on non-consecutive days), we took the subway from Namba to Umeda and hopped on over to the Hankyu train, taking the Takarazuka line. Ikeda was about 10 stops away and took approximately 40 minutes. As I have visited the museum on my previous trip, I knew exactly where to go. 


Although we had headed out quite early, that Sunday saw large hordes of tourists, local and international heading to the Momofuku Ramen Musuem. As we entered, there was already long queue for Create your own Ramen’ workshop. It was so long that it extended into the lobby of the museum and eventually the staffs had to open up the second floor to accommodate the crowd.
 

We waited an hour in the queue before it was our turn to sit down with our 300yen cups and started decorating it with the colourful markers provided. It was a good way for us to commemorate the trip as we unleashed our creativity on the blank cups.

After decorating it, we had to queue yet again to get to the ingredient stations but we didn't mind. It was a good way of killing time while it continued to drizzle outside. The process was still the same as my previous trip so I shan't go into it in detail. After we had bagged our ramen cups, we headed to the canteen to take away some instant ramen from the vending machines there as they are cheaper there.

With our bags of ramen, we boarded the train again and headed back towards Umeda but disembarked at Juso to transit over to the Kyoto line that would take us to Kawaramachi. Luckily this time, we boarded the semi-express train so it didn't take us too long to reach Kawaramachi station, right smack in the middle of Kyoto. As we were lucky to have gotten cushioned seats, we snoozed all the way and by the time we arrived in Kyoto once more, it was 1pm and the rain had finally subsided.

We stored our ramen cups and umbrellas in the station lockers before taking a leisurely stroll over the Kamogawa river and through Gion street to Yasaka Shrine. Even as we exited the underground station, we caught a glimpse of Japan's iconic flower blooming over a small canal running through the city.


Because the cherry blossoms were blooming (the other reason we opted to return to Kyoto), there were many stalls opened to cater to the hanami group and one of those stalls was selling Kobe beef!



That was the perfect meal to warm our tummies as the meat served hot off the grill and while it was still succulent and flavourful with black pepper sauce. The term 'melts in your mouth' rang ever true with Kobe beef, a consistent feature with the one I had in Osaka a year ago and the best part was it only cost us 500yen (RM15).

We headed into Maruyama park right behind Yasaka Shrine and it was cherry blossoms galore! The tall weeping cherry willow tree in the middle was blooming with white and pink flowers as was the surrounding trees and bushes. I never knew there could be so many types of cherry blossom types in one spot. Naturally a photo-shoot/petal hunting occurred.










After some navigating, we found ourselves on the old traditional streets of Sannenzaka and Ninenzaka. Because of cherry blossom season and the Kiyomizudera's night illumination, the shop hours were extended beyond their usual 9am-5pm hours. There was plenty to see, eat and buy and once again, we lucked out and saw two Maikos taking a leisurely stroll through the streets as well. They were even nice enough to stop and let tourists take pictures with them.







Along the way, we munched on seasonal Sakura-flavoured cream-puff that was similar to the vanilla cream but with a fragrant aftertaste.


 Taking our sweet time, we eventually made our way to the entrance of Kiyomizudera where a line had formed for the special Night Illumination. In anticipation of the crowd, a special counter had been set up for the occasion and it allowed the queue to progress rather fast. We didn't have to wait long before we were inside the temple. 

The view of the evening sky over looking the city was gorgeous despite the biting cold air. At 7pm, the lights on the temple grounds were turned on, casting the grounds into a glow of yellow and red hues as though it was autumn.


Getting a decent photo was challenging as it was really crowded and by 8pm, the cold drove us back to the city streets to catch the bus to the train station to return to Osaka. As it was our last night in Japan, we did some last minute shopping in Dotonbori which include me getting a small luggage bag for my souvenirs.


Dragging our feet, we reluctantly returned to the guesthouse to pack our luggage for our early morning train ride back to the Kansai airport. But as I supposed we wanted to squeeze as much as we could out of the trip, we ended up staying up until 2am playing with the resident cat.


For more photos of the Ramen Museum and Kiyomizudera at night, go to my album: Osaka: Day 9.

Also read about:
Osaka on a Budget
Kobe: Yume Nomad Guesthouse review
Kobe Day 1: Kitano Ijinkan & Harbourland 
Kobe Day 2: Rokkosan Pasture, Mount Rokko & Sannomiya
Kyoto: Hana Hostel Hybrid Inn review 
Kyoto Day 3:Fushimi Inari Shrine
Kyoto Day 4: Imperial Palace, Kitano Shrine, Kinkaku-ji & Gion
Kyoto Day 5: Arashiyama & Cat Cafe Nekokaigi
Osaka: Namba guesthouse (NUL-Live.com House), Osaka Review
Osaka Day 6: Nara & Dotonbori 
The Artistic Manhole Covers of Japan
Osaka Day 7:  Pokemon Center & Cherry Blossoms, Osaka Castle Park
The Flavours of Haagen Dazs Japan  
Osaka Day 8: Tsutenkaku Tower, Den Den Town & Umeda Floating Garden Observatory 
Osaka Day 9:  Ramen Museum, Kyoto Hanami & Kiyomizudera Night Illumination
Osaka Day 10: Bye Japan :(
Kobe, Kyoto, Nara & Osaka Itinerary (10-days) 

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