After exploring Osaka, the next city we visited was Kyoto. Kyoto is Japan’s old capital. Most tourists prefer to visit Kyoto than any other Japanese city. At first I was confused, but when we explored Kyoto, I understood why.
Kyoto is where the ancient and modern Japanese culture merges. You will see all the old houses, buildings, and structures all around Kyoto. Temples are all over the place as well. However, modern architectures are also highlighted in this place. Kyoto Station is one of the most modern train stations you will visit in Japan.
There are tourist passes available when touring Kyoto. Most of the passes will give you access to various temples all over Kyoto, as temples are the known tourist spots in this place.
We only have a short visit at Kyoto so we narrow down our temple visit to two of the most popular: Kinkakuji Temple and Fushimi-Inari Taisha. We chose to ride the bus instead of the subway to see Kyoto up-close. While subway is a quicker way to go around Kyoto, buses will offer you a scenic tour of Kyoto. Buses stop in every street corner to accommodate elderly passengers. It also runs slower than that of your normal train speed, and thus you can savor the view of Kyoto streets. Plus riding buses is cheaper than riding trains.
Kyoto also is known for Gion, the place where there are still a lot of geishas and maikos. Unfortunately, we don’t have extra time to go visit Gion and go geisha-hunting.
Nara is just an hour by train from Kyoto, so we squeezed both cities in a day’s itinerary. Nara is famous for Nara Park where a lot of cherry blossom trees and deer reside. And since neither any of us were able to see a deer up close, we decided to visit Nara.
We were behind schedule when we arrived at Nara Station. Nara Park is just a close walk from the Nara station but since it was nearing nighttime, we decided to take the bus to the park. It cost JPY 210 (JPY110 for kids).
It was dusk already when we get to see the deer. We weren’t able to buy deer crackers to lure them to us, but a kind Japanese gave Neo a piece of bread so the deer will go near him, but he got frightened and threw the bread to the deer directly. I was a little bit frightened too since deer are still considered wild animals – good thing their horns were already cut.
After exploring the Nara Park, we decided to walk back to Nara station and feel Nara by night. It is not as lively as Osaka or Tokyo or maybe Kyoto. It has the feeling of exploring a nearby province from the Metro – progressive yet laid-back.
So if you have time, do spend more than day or two at Kyoto, visit all the temples and wonderful sightseeing spots and dive in the rich Japanese culture this city has to offer. And while you’re at it, hop on a train to Nara to see and experience a nice relaxing feel of Japan.
PS: This was originally published last May 2017 in my previous blog: Baby Neo’s Mama.