Japan 2016 : Part 1 – Arrival, Nishiki Market & Teramachi Shopping Street

This is part of an ongoing travelogue. To start at the very beginning, click here.

And so off we go on the itinerary proper!

So we took off from KLIA2 at almost 2am in the morning (after AirAsia rescheduled my flight TWICE in one month), and landed in Japan about 9am. After settling all our ticketing and transport stuff (check out my transportation guide here), we took a Haruka limited from the annex building right in front of the arrival hall.

Make sure you get into the right compartment, though. Some are for reserved ticket holders and some are for open tickets. And you definitely don’t want to be standing for 1 hour 15 minutes of the journey…

(our Haruka limited express train to Kyoto. Make sure you line up at the right queue)

Upon arrival in the massive Kyoto Station, we exited the station (after getting some info from the very helpful Tourist Centre). If you are taking a bus from Kyoto Station, all the buses stop right in from of Kyoto Station. Make sure you know which line to choose, as some queues can be very long.

(the magnificent Kyoto Station)

Once out into the city, you can see how modern Kyoto can be, as opposed to its reputation as an ancient city. All around the station there are skyscrapers including the stunning Kyoto Tower. Anyway, our Airbnb host gave very clear instructions to us to get to his place, so it was really easy. A tip for taking buses, its very much like in Seoul – every bus stop has a specific name, so just wait for it to be announced on the screen to disembark.

Here’s another thing about Japan buses – you enter from the back and exit from the front. Payment, whether by card or coins, is beside the driver just when you exit.

Finally we got to our Airbnb! Very cosy place in a rather quiet neighbourhood, with a few convenience stores nearby.

(our cosy Airbnb)

There’s a kitchen / dining, small living, and two small rooms separated by screen doors.

(can comfortably fit 4 people, 8 if you cram)

After dropping our luggage, its time to explore the city and look for food!

(out on the cloudy streets of Kyoto)

While doing my itinerary, I went through many versions, but I finally decided to visit Nishiki Market on the very first day. And it turned out to be a good choice. Nishiki Market is a very traditional food market that has been around for more than 800 years.

(first stop – Nishiki Market!)

The great thing about this place is that you can walk and eat, walk and eat, eat and eat…

(not sure what this is, but it is sold all across Kyoto)

This was one of the first thing we tried. The first of many, many green tea-flavoured food / drink during our stay in Japan.

(green tea mochi!)

Another two must-try things here…

(soybean donuts. A must try here)

(beef mantou. Recommended but not really that great)

(Nishiki market is indeed the food centre of Kyoto)

(sake tasting in progress)

Right at the end of the market is a small shrine. Kind of nice to find a quiet, serene place right in the middle of the hectic market.

(a quick sojourn to Nishiki Tenmagu temple)

Joined to Nishiki is a very famous shopping street called Teramachi, supposedly to be most popular in Kyoto. Shopping streets like this are very common everywhere in Japan, where they close off a street for pedestrians and cover it up above.

(Best cheese tart ever? Teramachi)

In Teramachi you can find snacks, restaurants, 100-yen shops (similar to Daiso) and boutiques.

We read about this particular shop selling fresh red bean pastry, but the taste wasn’t that great

(red bean pastry)

After a little too much eating and walking, time for a rest.

(pitstop for coffee and ice-cream)

Since we were in the area, and it was still early in the evening, we took a stroll along Pontocho Alley (2 streets away). They is a geisha district with lots of high end restaurants serving kawayuka (an elaborate Kyoto-styled meal).

(riverside restaurants along Pontocho Alley)

Its rather expensive to eat here, and we had already eaten lots of street food, so we just strolled along here to admire the atmosphere of the place. if you come here make sure to check out the riverside along Pontocho, where the best restaurants look out to the water.

(post restaurants along Pontocho)

After Pontocho we were getting tired, so we took the subway back to our Airbnb. Along the way, we walked past the beautiful Nijo Castle all lighted up.

Next – Day trip to Nara.

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