Monday, April 30, 2012

Japan2012: Kyoto 5D/4N Itinerary - Day 2

Date of travel: 2-6 April 2012

Kiyomizu Temple at night

Day 2 - Shopping & Kiyomizu Temple

Today's weather forecast was rain, rain and more rain. What else can you do in a brand new city when it's cold and wet? We go shopping! Not wanting to get wet, we chose an indoor shopping area starting at Shijo Street at the Kawaramachi intersection. There are 3 great areas to explore here: Nishiki Market, Teramachi Shopping Arcade and Shin Kyogoku Shopping Arcade. All of them are individual shops in covered alleys. We started at Nishiki Market by taking a bus to Shijo Street.

Buses are convenient for tourists. It covers almost every tourist spot in Kyoto, for a flat fee of 500¥ per day. You can buy these passes at the Kyoto station via vending machines, but we got them from Hana Hostel itself. To use them, hop on the bus from the back entrance and look for a ticket machine (if there is one) and insert your ticket. Some buses charge a flat fee, and some charge based on the distance traveled. Upon exiting, head to the front entrance and insert your ticket again. If it is the first time using your ticket, the date will be stamped at the back of the ticket.
Inside Nishiki Market

Nishiki Market is a combination of 50% local produce and seafood and 50% of local snacks. I expected this place to be a tourist market, but more locals frequent here than tourists, mostly to buy their seafood, meat and vegetables. We did end up buying some dried fruit snack which I haven't seen anywhere else in the world before. I don't even know what it's called, but it tasted yummy. They sold it for 680¥ for 100g. I later found this same snack at the Silver temple selling it for 600¥ for 160g. Perhaps there could be a difference in grade, but I suspect this Nishiki Market isn't exactly cheap.
A shop selling just chopsticks

And very cute chopsticks holders

A very crowded and famous shop selling customised knives and scissors. Locals come to pre-order knives!

We had lunch inside Nishiki Market itself at a local place selling sushi and sashimi. We soon learnt that ordering was not going to be that easy in Japan. As with most restaurants, the menu is entirely in Japanese without pictures. In order to know what it is, they have a display outside the shop showing an exact replica of the dish and the price. After taking our seats, I had to go back outside to point at what I wanted. I believe that there is nothing too special about this place, but we loved the raw fish here! HH's sister once told us, that the sashimi in Malaysia really sucks. When in Japan, sashimi tastes sweet, and I finally understood what she meant. The freshness of sashimi in Japan cannot be matched by anywhere else. I found myself loving maguro (tuna), when I felt nauseous eating one in Malaysia.
The replica of the meal for me to point at
The environment inside the shop

My sushi + rice set for 1650¥. Delicious!

Seafood rice bowl for 2000¥

Sashimi for 2000¥. The wasabi is not very spicy, and white in colour

After a bit of browsing, we headed outdoors to Shijo street but as luck would have it, we hit a typhoon. On my past 2 trips to Taiwan, we experienced earthquakes on both times. And now in Japan, we got a typhoon instead. You never know what life throws at you. We were walking outdoor on the sidewalk when a very sudden burst of wind hit us. We put on our hoods at first and tried walking. As it got worse, it was hard moving forward anymore, the winds were just too strong and pelted very hard rain to our faces. We ran for cover into the first shop, which turned out to be a Pachinko shop! These are gambling places that use these tiny small leaded balls. I have no idea how it works, so we just wandered around inside the shop. Soon after, we saw security guards chasing people like us out, so we had to move all over the shop to avoid being caught hahaha.
A shrine located in between the shopping arcades of Shin Kyogoku and Teramachi

A shop selling all your favourite comic figurines. Prices aren't cheap!
Inside the Pachinko shop. Sorry for the shaky shot, running away too fast from the security guard

Having enough adventures in cold and wet weather, we made one more quick stop at Bic Camera (which is similar to Harvey Norman but on a much larger scale), and couldn't resist eating Omu Rice at this restaurant in Porta shopping mall (which turned out to be horrid - don't go there) and headed back to the hostel. So tired out, all I wanted to do was sleep. But alas no! The weather cleared and it was bright and sunny again by 4:30pm.

The omu rice that looks nice but tasted not nice at all

So time to get our butts moving again after dropping off our shopping bags. During the Spring month, the no.1 attraction in Kyoto, Kiyomizu Temple, will be open in the evenings from 6:30pm - 9:00pm. It is lighted beautifully, and meant for the sakura season. We took the bus there again, but didn't know where was a 200m hike uphill to the temple entrance. We soon found this 200m hike uphill at almost every temple in Kyoto haha. The place was lovely! See for yourself.

Walking uphill towards Kiyomizu temple

At the temple entrance just before dark

Can you imagine cherry blossom flowers on all of these trees? We were early by 10 days or so

As with most temples, drop your wishes here

Kiyomizu Temple itself

The pagoda on the way out

By 8:30pm, we were hungry again! We had read about the famous soba & udon noodle shop inside the temple and decided to escape the rain and have a nice bowl of noodles. The texture of the udon was great, but I don't like raw eggs in my noodles.
Soba with raw egg for 600¥

So tired after walking over 17,000 steps today - we brought a pedometer to Japan Kakakakaka.

Related posts:
Japan2012: Top 5 Favourite Restaurants in Kyoto - Part 1
Japan2012: Top 5 Favourite Restaurants in Kyoto - Part 2
Review: Super Hotel Lohas JR Nara, Japan
Japan2012: What Did I Buy Back?
Review: Hana Hostel, Kyoto
Japan2012: Kyoto 5D/4N Itinerary - Day 1
Japan2012: Kyoto 5D/4N Itinerary - Day 2
Japan2012: Kyoto 5D/4N Itinerary - Day 3
Japan2012: Kyoto 5D/4N Itinerary - Day 4
Japan2012: Kyoto 5D/4N Itinerary - Day 5
Japan2012: Nara 3D/2N Itinerary - Day 5,6,7
Japan 2012: Osaka 4D/3N Itinerary - Day 7
Japan 2012: Osaka 4D/3N Itinerary - Day 8
Japan 2012: Kobe Day Trip - Day 9 & 10 (Final) 

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