“Like That Also Can Ah?!!”

Japan 2016 : Part 21 – Our Last Dinner in Japan

Published by on January 9, 2017

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

So it has been a long final day for us. Walking the length and breadth of the central district of Osaka, and visiting Kuromon Ichiba Market twice. Before leaving the market in the late afternoon, we stopped for a caffeine break in this place. As with all the coffee shops here (with the exception of Starbucks), there’s a one-person-one-order policy.

I did not know that UCC is actually a Japanese brand until just before my trip. No wonder the brand is used by a lot of the coffee places here. There’s even a UCC Coffee Museum in Kobe.

This place has a unique way of brewing their coffee.

(our selection of 4 different brews)

By the time we reached back to hotel, it was sunset already.

After a short rest, it was time to venture out for food again. For our final dinner, we decided to walk around our hotel and try a restaurant near here.

(there’s a mahjong club two doors down my hotel)

My hotel is right smack in a central business district, so in the evenings it is rather quiet. There are a few BBQ restaurants filled with Japanese men wearing suits, having sake and dinner after work. But these restaurants are catered to locals, with no English menu nor do they speak it.

After circling our block, we finally decided to try this sukiyaki restaurant. Its a popular chain here, I’ve seen other branches across the city. Since I’ve not tried sukiyaki in Japan, I thought why not give it a try.

The place had neighbourhood restaurant feel to it. The guy to took our order was an Indian, believe it or not. So we had the luxury of ordering in proper English, not merely pointing to the menu.

in the end I didn’t order the sukiyaki, ended up trying the curry rice set.

(my curry rice set)

On the way back to hotel, we stopped for my daughter to buy a can of coffee from the vending machine.

And so ends our 8 days in Japan, tomorrow we’ll be flying back to Malaysia…

Next – Wrap up.

Japan 2016 : Part 20 – Den Den Town, Shinsaibashi & Shinsekai

Published by on January 8, 2017

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

After our morning walk through Kuromon Ichiba Market, we headed to the south towards Den Den Town. Today, the whole itinerary is located around the same area, but at different ends. So there’s quite a fair bit of walking involved. From the market, Den Den Town is about 3 blocks.

Den Den Town, or formally known as Nipponbashi, is a large commercial district specializing in electronic equipment, PC and gaming stuff, manga and anime. I was specifically looking for some anime figurines, which are not available in Malaysia. I reckon I would be able to find it in Den Den Town, even though the shops here aren’t as big as the ones in Tokyo.

When we reached Den Den Town, is was rather quiet, since it was still quite early in the day. Most of the shops were open, but the crowds would open come later in the day. The main streets were lined with PC and big name stores, the side streets are filled with smaller shops selling games and other specialized stuff.

Its hard not to miss Namco’s flagship store. Not sure what they actually sell inside, though.

(Namco’s flagship store. Takes up the whole building)

(The only Namco brand that comes to my mind is Tekken)

(the middle of Den Den Town)

Further in I also found this shop selling old consoles and games like PSOne, Super Famicom, Game & Watch, etc. But prices are not cheap, since they only sell originals.

(Japan is where old PSOne games are still actively sold)

Still walking and looking for anime figurines. Finally found this small shop, with a helpful owner. Each store sells A LOT of figurines, not like the small selection you find in stores we have here.

(Totoro! Still very popular in Japan after all these years)

(I think this is Bleach? Not sure)

(assorted stuff)

I was looking for figurines from Fullmetal Alchemist, Neon Genesis Evangelion and Final Fantasy 7. It helps that I know how to pronounce these names in Japanese 🙂 There was a whole shelf on FF7, but the prices…. whoah. I can eat a lot of ramen at those prices…

(The one I was looking for Fullmetal Alchemist!)

(more Fullmetal!)

As for Neon Genesis Evangelion, the choices were limited, some very nice pieces of Asuka that were ‘not for sale’ (Why? WHY??) Anyway after some deliberation, I settled on these three… That’s Alphonse and Edward Elric, and Rei from Neon Genesis Evangelion.

(my purchases)

So we were done with Den Den Town. We walked on a bit and decided to take a subway to Shinsaibashi, which we passed by yesterday evening.

(Can you spot Homer Simpson?)

(an unidentified shopping street filled with shops selling knives)

Shinsaibashi was much less crowded compared to last night. It is a long shopping street, but we only walked a small portion of it.

(a shop specializing in Kit Kat and other brands of chocolates.)

(a sushi restaurant)

After buying some chocolate and snacks as souvenirs, were decided to skip the rest and go to Shinsekai by subway. Shinsekai is a small commercial area targeted at tourists, built around Osaka Tower.

(lots of stuff to see in Shinsekai)

(the imposing Osaka Tower)

Frankly the place seemed rather tacky to me, and most of the shops are selling trendy clothes for teenagers and yakitori / steamboat restaurants. We were looking for kobe beef restaurants, so in the end we decided to take a cab back to Kuromon Ichiba Market.

Next – Our last dinner in Japan.

Japan 2016 : Part 19 – Kuromon Ichiba Market

Published by on January 7, 2017

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

Day 8 and our final day in Japan! And also our third day in Osaka. Today was supposed to be a day trip to Himeji Castle and Kobe, but was dropped in favour of spending another day in Osaka. So for today’s itinerary, first is to visit Kuromon Ichiba market, then walk on down to Den Den Town (Nipponbashi), then visit Shinsaibashi Shopping Street, then if we’re feeling up to it, drop by Amemura and finish off in Shinsekai. Well, we’re probably not going do everything in the itinerary, seeing that we’re coming to the end of the long week and we’re fast running out of stamina…

But first off, we’re going to Kuromon Ichiba Market. This is a food market, similar to Nishiki Market in Kyoto, but more on food, and less of retail shops. As usual, we took a subway there from our hotel.

Early to mid morning is the best time to visit this market, as it is buzzing with people and fresh seafood. And they really have lots of variety of food to try – scallops, oysters, sushi, kobe beef and fruits.

(Kobe beef! In many different cuts, but all very expensive)

(fresh soybean milk)

There was really a lot of enticing food, we tried some fried chicken, green tea ice cream and the soybean milk. But since we just had breakfast in the hotel, we didn’t really try a lot of food.

We finished walking most of the market, and left to go on with our itinerary. But later in the evening, when we were in Shinsekai, we were looking for wagyu beef (or commonly known as Kobe beef), we decided to come back to Kuromon Ichiba as there wasn’t any in Shinsekai.

So we actually came here twice in a day. Here there are many stalls selling different kinds of expensive beef, but we were looking for wagyu and matsuzaka. Most of them were rather pricey, in the end we decided on this stall.

(that’s true)

Considering the price, we only bought thee two skewers – one wagyu, one matsuzaka. Both were juicy and tender, but really, it was nothing really special to justify the price.

(our measly two skewers for 4 of us)

So not much of a meal, we were still not full yet.

Finally, we decided to try okonomiyaki, a pancake that is an Osaka delicacy.


The okonomiyaki was heavy on the soy sauce, else it taste pretty good. We also ordered the fried noodles. It was a little oily but tasted okay.

At mid afternoon, we decided to call it a day and head back to our hotel for a rest.

Next – Den Den Town, Shinsaibashi and Shinsekai.

Japan 2016 : Part 18 – Dotonbori & Ichiran Ramen

Published by on January 7, 2017

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

As of today, we’ve been here in Japan for a week, and we seem to be getting easily tired from all the walking and shopping. So today we had to take a short nap at the hotel after the morning’s long itinerary. It was evening when we went out again to for dinner and more walking. Our destination? The most popular place in Osaka – Dotonbori!

Dotonbori is a long shopping and foodie street in the centre of the city. It is situated next along a river and is surrounded by many shopping streets and landmarks.

First, we took the subway to get there, and we walked quite a distance to get to Dotonbori. Along the way you can see all the big department stores like Takashiyama and Namba Parks. We had to ask directions a few times from the many people just getting off work.

We finally found the right direction, walking through Ebisubashi Shopping Street to reach Dotonbori. The shopping streets here are super-packed and have many interesting things to see.

(Ebisubashi Shopping Street)

Ebisubashi is quite long, about 3 blocks in length. At the end it joins to Dotonbori, and across the river there’s another even more popular shopping street called Shinsaibashi.

But anyway, before that, time to eat dinner first. For dinner, we were looking for Ichiran Ramen somewhere along here.


It is located in another shopping street parallel to Ebisubashi (sorry, not sure what it is called), just off Dotonbori. Luckily for us, the queue was quite short.

(Ichiran Ramen)

To eat here, you line up to order at the vending machine, take your order chit and go upstairs. There are 3 floors of seating, so find one with empty seats. Then go upstairs, and look for the seating diagrams with lights at the entrance of the floor, denoting the available seats. All seats are booth seats, so you can’t have table to eat with your friends together like in a normal restaurant.

(first, order and pay at the vending machine)

(then find your own booth seat)

Once seated, put your order chit in front of you, and someone will open the hatch and take your order. If you ordered extras, like extra noodles or desserts, they will give you a small tray like the ones you use for condiments. For water, there are cups at your table and you fill water from a dispenser. Soon your ramen will arrive!

(the hatch will open…)

(and your ramen is served!)

So what’s the verdict? BEST. RAMEN. EVER. Seriously. I know some bloggers say that this branch is not as good as the one in Tokyo, but personally, it is so good. Too bad I didn’t get to try it more than once. The broth is thick and creamy, the meat is tasty and not too thick or thin. My daughter and I order the extra noodles and desserts, but we didn’t know we had to place the small trays in the designated spot. So we didn’t get our extras, which was a good thing, cos I was really full after the ramen. They refunded the difference in price for us, that was really nice of them.

After that, we took a little stroll along Dotonbori to take in the sights. This is really the foodie central in Osaka, all the delicacies are represented here. The competition is quite stiff, so they go all out of the way to attract customers by having fancy moving signs and young guys / girls promoters outside their shops.

This takoyaki is always featured in blogs, so its very popular. There wasn’t a queue so we ordered a plate. Watching them prepare the dish is half the fun – it takes a lot of time and attention to make it, so they need to be quick to fill the tray and flip the balls before they burn.

(a famous takoyaki stall)

(fun to watch them cook this)

Takoyaki is octopus balls topped with sauce, cheese and dried bonito flakes. The balls taste great, but I think they sauce was a little too thick for me. Next time will ask for less sauce.

(the finished product…)

My kids were still hungry (plastic stomach) so they bought gyoza from another shop. This one had a queue so I guess it should be good? (that’s a good yardstick of popularity).

(Still hungry? Try Gyoza!)

We soon made our way back and walked across the bridge over the river. From here you can see the famous Glico Man sign.

(the famous Glico man billboard)

Across from Ebisubashi you can see Shinsaibashi shopping street. Can you see the massive crowd??? All the way to the end!!! We had planned to check it out but… maybe tomorrow, during the day, when there are less people…

(Shinsaibashi shopping street. Can you see the crowds??)

But enough for today. Need to go back and sleep for our last day in Osaka tomorrow.

(Christmas lights in the streets of Osaka)

Next – Kuromon Ichiba Market.

Japan 2016 : Part 17 – Umeda & Osaka Station

Published by on January 4, 2017

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

From Umeda Sky Building, it is quite a distance to walk to Osaka Station. There is a long underpass where you go beneath the train tracks. Once you exit the underpass, you are in the midst of the many skyscrapers in Umeda. It is really nice to walk along the open plaza area and take in the atmosphere. The area between Intercontinental Hotel and Osaka Station is especially nice.

(that’s Grand Front Osaka on your left and Osaka Station up ahead)

(there’s even an outdoor skating rink)

(this strange building is shaped like a ship)

We planned to look for this cheesecake shop called Uncle Rikuro’s that is really famous and is highly recommended by bloggers. It is located inside Daimaru in Osaka Station. But the problem is that Osaka Station is a massive, sprawling complex with many buildings and sections. And they actually have two Daimaru inside…

So to avoid walking around aimlessly looking for the directory, I went straight for the tourist info centre.

Even with clear directions and a map, it wasn’t so easy to find the basement food hall in Daimaru. After some wrong turns, we finally saw it near one of the exits.

The shop only sells one item, which is the cheesecake, and there was a pretty long queue. When it came to our turn, we had to wait an extra 5 minutes while the latest batch of cakes were baked. As soon as they come out of the oven, they are branded with the logo.

(you can see the joy in the face of the girl on the left, looking at the cheesecake)

We bought two cakes, one to eat now, one to eat later in the hotel.

But we couldn’t find a place to sit and eat, so we went upstairs to Starbucks. Most coffee places here and Kyoto have a ‘one-person-one-order’ policy, except Starbucks. So we ordered two lattes and opened our cheesecake.

All I can say is that it tastes really good. It is soft and fluffy, the texture is a bit like cotton candy, but with more body to it. There isn’t anything here in Malaysia that tastes close to it. The four of us finished the whole cake almost immediately…

From Osaka Station we went back to hotel, we passed by the Hanshin department store basement food hall, it was really packed with locals.

We also saw this long line of people queuing to buy from a particular store, guess what were they selling?

Next – Dotonbori & Ichiran Ramen

Japan 2016 : Part 16 – Umeda Sky Building

Published by on January 2, 2017

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

From Osaka Castle, we took the north western exit out to the city. The subway station was pretty far off, and we didn’t feel like walking so far and taking a long ride across the city to Umekita, so we flagged a taxi. In Osaka, the rate is almost the same as Kyoto.

So the cab took us all the way to Umeda building. Had we taken the subway, we had to walk quite a distance from Osaka station to the building.

(lots of skyscrapers here)

Umeda Sky Building is located in a business district called Umeda or Kita (‘North’) near Osaka station, which is one of the biggest transportation hubs in the city. Besides the Sky Building, this place is also home to shopping malls like Hankyu, Hanshin, Daimaru and Isetan Mitsukoshi, an entertainment park (Hankyu Entertainment Park) and commercial buildings that have their own shopping malls like Grand Front Osaka and Osaka Station.

But our main objective is to visit the Floating Garden Observatory, located atop the Sky Building. It is an unmistakable structure.

(that’s the observatory shaped like a doughnut up there)

In the plaza area, there is a German Christmas food fair going on, lots of food and beer for sale.

To get to the observatory, just follow signs. First you need to take the escalator to Level 4 (I think), then take the speed escalator to the ticketing office at level 39th. From there you will take a very long and scenic escalator to the top of the building.

The observatory is a ring around the top of the building, affording a 360 degree panorama view of the whole city. If the weather is windy, it can get pretty cold and uncomfortable, but fortunately the weather was excellent today.

From there you can see how large and sprawling Osaka is.

Other than the observatory, there is a restaurant here, and the usual gift store.

(ooo, One Piece!)

After the observatory, we proceeded to Takimi Koji Underground Eat Street, the basement foodcourt below the Umeda Sky Building. It is modeled to look like an Osaka village from the Taisho period in the 1910’s and 20’s.

There aren’t many restaurants here, so we chose this one with an attractive set lunch deal. For once, there isn’t an English menu, but we could tell from their pictures.

Next – Walking around Umeda and Osaka Station

Japan 2016 : Part 15 – Osaka Castle

Published by on January 2, 2017

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

Day 7 in Japan, day 2 in Osaka!

Today, our itinerary (as with most of our days here) was pretty ambitious. We planned to visit Osaka Castle, then go to Umeda Floating Garden Observatory (postponed from the day before), have lunch at the basement of Umeda Building, walk around Umekita / Osaka Station, Dotonbori and dinner at Ichiran Ramen (since we did not get to try it in Kyoto).

We had initially planned for a day trip to Himeji & Kobe during one of the days in Osaka, but after much deliberation I decided to forgo the day trip and spend the extra day in Osaka. Partly in anticipation that we’d be quite tired after a week or walking and traveling, and partly because of the cost factor.

But I had wanted to visit Himeji Castle, the most beautiful surviving feudal castle in Japan, and featured in Tom Cruise’s movie The Last Samurai. But, well, maybe another time. But as a consolation, I get to visit Osaka Castle! While not as famous, it is just as beautiful and far more accessible.

But back to our day in Osaka. One of the benefits of staying in a hotel compared to an Airbnb – full breakfast! The food spread is pretty good, but of course you can’t compare with larger hotels or the ones you find here in Malaysia. But for the first breakfast, we came down almost at the end of the serving time (breakfast ends at 9.30am), so the choices were limited.

We took a subway to the Castle. Osaka Castle is very large, it is located on a hillock surrounded by several moats and a park. You can reach it from at least 7 train and subway stations, so make sure you know which one you want to enter from.

Ideally, enter from the south eastern entrance, through the Osaka Castle Park. The north western entrance joins straight into the city and is not as impressive.

(the impressive fountain of hewn rocks)

The first level of moat of a very big river with lots of ducks and fish.

(too bad the cherry blossoms are not in season)

The park is very popular with senior citizens exercising and school trips.

(very playful and friendly Shiba Inu)

After the first level of gates and moat, there is still a lot of walking through the park.

(old man playing a traditional instrument with a throbbing bass line)

Once you enter the 2nd gate, you can see the castle clearer.

Inside the 2nd ring of walls, there are a lot of food trucks and stalls, but the prices are quite expensive here, probably the priciest we’ve seen in the whole city.

And up close, the Castle is really impressive.

We didn’t go into the castle and museum inside, it would take at least another 2 more hours to fully explore it (it is JPY 600 to enter). Although this current castle is reconstructed from 1931 (the original castle was built in 1583 but was destroyed by war), it is still a sight to behold especially in weather like today. The Castle is Osaka’s top attraction and is definitely a must-visit if you come to the city (even if you are cheapskates like us that only admire it from the outside).

Next – Umeda Sky Building

Japan 2016 : Part 14 – Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan

Published by on January 1, 2017

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

From Tenjinbashi, the plan was to take the subway to Umeda and take in the evening view from the Umeda Floating Garden Observatory. However, it was drizzling, and with the weather like that, it was obviously that there wasn’t going to be much view. So a quick change of plans. The problem here is that most places close at 5pm, except for malls and supermarkets that close around 8.30pm (convenience stores stay open until 10pm even in winter).

But the one exception is Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan, they open to 8pm through all seasons. This place is one of Osaka’s top tourist destinations alongside Universal Studios, but though it was highly recommended by my friend, we had put it on the ‘go if we have time’ list for tomorrow.

But since the weather wasn’t appropriate for Umeda, we decided to go to the aquarium. The aquarium, called Kaiyukan, is one of Japan’s best and is located in Osaka Bay, an area where you can also find Universal Studios, LEGOLAND, a mall, and the gigantic Tempozan Ferris Wheel.

To get there, get off Osakako subway station and follow the signs. Since we got there after dark in December, the whole area was lighted up.

That’s the Tempozan ferris wheel. Believe me, it is really big, I think bigger than the London Eye. There are actually two popular ferris wheels in Osaka, the other is called Hep in Umeda (although much smaller).

So in we went to the Aquarium. My family actually loves aquariums, every city we visit we’ve been to their aquarium if they have one (with the exception of Kyoto since we were planning to visit this one). When I worked as a consultant I was actually involved in the design a small aquarium here in Malaysia (sadly the project did not take off due to the 1997 economic crisis). The concept here is quite different, there are 15 tanks, and you walk from the top and circle the tanks and see the different levels of the tanks as move downwards.

(giant crabs)

(this is called fried egg jelly fish. No, seriously)

We spent about 2 and a half hours here, until closing time (they were starting to herd us out) and it was really enjoyable experience.

And after that it was time to look for food. Conveniently, next to the aquarium is medium-sized mall called Tempozan Marketplace. There’s foodcourt and restaurants at the ground floor. However, at 8.30pm most of the restaurants were closing up for the day, but we found this joint that was still open.

They served rice and udon noodles, this was probably the only time during the trip I had udon noodles.

(the most important factor when selecting a restaurant in Japan – “ENGLISH MENU”)

(beef udon)

(my udon with deep fried chicken)

(chicken cutlet)

(and if you are still hungry after that, they also sell potato tornado)

After dinner we took the subway back to our hotel to finally check in and get some sleep after a long and tiring day that started in Kyoto and ended in Osaka.

Next – Osaka Castle

Japan 2016 : Part 13 – Tenjinbashi Shotengai and Harukoma Sushi in Osaka

Published by on December 31, 2016

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

After 5 packed and enjoyable days in Kyoto and Nara, it was time to move on to Osaka. Osaka is a much bigger and more modern city compared to Kyoto, it is in fact Japan’s largest city after Tokyo. Though bigger, it has an excellent subway system comparable to other world class cities, so we used them solely to move around. No more buses, then.

From our Airbnb, we packed up and left for Kyoto Station to board the JR special rapid train (JPY 560 per person, 30 minutes). I had wanted to try the shinkansen bullet train at least once in Japan, but the price of JPY 1420 was just too steep (it takes only 15 minutes). The special rapid train was quite packed with travelers lugging baggage.

(goodbye, Kyoto!)

Upon reaching Shin-Osaka, we walked across the massive train station to the subway station. Shin-Osaka is huge, but different from Kyoto Station. Here it more of a urban mall concept, but it is just as crowded with people. Walking along the wide subterranean malls, you can smell the enticing cheesecakes and pastries from the shops.

(Osaka subway stations remind me of the Paris Metro)

From Shin-Osaka its a short subway ride to Hommachi Station (sometimes spelt Honmachi). The station exit is right in front of my hotel. But we exited on a different side, so we had to walk around a few blocks. But what a sight of the autumn colours!

We stayed in Lohas Superhotel, a very, very new hotel that has a health and wellness theme. We were really wonderfully surprised by the friendliness and helpfulness of the staff and the rooms were really very nice (although as with most Osaka hotels, they’re quite small).

(our hotel for the next few days)

Another plus point for our hotel – there is a Family Mart downstairs! Woo-hoo! But we didn’t buy much stuff here except for ongiri and coffee in a can, since our hotel served good breakfast every morning.

We couldn’t check in so early in the day, but the hotel allowed us to deposit our bags while we went out.

First order of the day – early lunch. Mark Wiens, one of my favourite travel bloggers, highly recommended Harukoma Sushi, located in Tenjinbashi Shotengai (shotengai means Shopping Street). We took one subway and easily found the place.

Now something about Tenjinbashi. If you think the shopping streets in Kyoto are impressive, wait til you see this one. Tenjinbashi is almost 3 KILOMETERS long, and separated into 7 chomes, or sections. It stretches across 3 subway stations and it feels like it just goes on forever. And thank goodness for the covered roof, as it was drizzling that whole day we were in Osaka.

(this is the northern end of the street)

(one of the few McDonald’s we came across)

Walking down the street, it is hard to avoid the aroma of the delicious food around you. We tried this chocolate crepe made by an old Japanese couple.

Harukoma is easy to find, located at the start of 2-chome. There are actually 2 branches within walking distance of each other, so do check which has a shorter queue.

This is the one Google Maps brought me to.

Check out the queue… well, in Japan, very much like in Ipoh, if you want good food, you have to wait…

We didn’t have to wait long, maybe 20 minutes as most customers eat and run quickly (the service is very prompt). You can order while waiting in line. The menu comes in Japanese, English and Korean (there was a Korean couple in front of us), and overall the vibe of the place is very friendly and helpful.

Inside, you can see how small it is. In addition to the L shaped counter seating, there are only 3 booth tables that can fit 4 people each.

when you enter the restaurant, pass your order to the waiter (the orders are conveniently number coded with pictures) and in a few minutes, your food will arrive.


(all extremely delicious dead sea creatures)

(the unagi deserves a second order)

Yes, we did order a second round of unagi as it was so good. Each platter ranges from JPY 200 to JPY 400. So what was the verdict? It was fantastic. I thought it was the best sushi I had during my trip, and also quite affordable. The branch further down the street is bigger, but both have long queues during peak periods.

After lunch we walked on the street, almost to the end. It was raining outside, so we decided to make a caffeine pitstop.

Didn’t take a picture of the shop name, but they served UCC coffee.

Next – Osaka Aquarium

Japan 2016 : Part 12 – Ginkakuji, Philosopher’s Path & Eikando Night Illumination

Published by on December 30, 2016

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

After lunch, it was just after 12pm, so it was right about time to set off for Ginkakuji. The plan was to start at Ginkakuji, walk along the Philosopher’s Path, and end up in Eikando for the night illumination.

The temple opens their doors at 6pm, and tickets start selling at about 5.30pm. Reports say that the queue for tickets are extremely long, as Eikando is one of the more popular temples to have this night event.

So we boarded the bus for another long ride across the city. Ginkakuji and the other nearby attractions are located in an area called Higashiyama in the east of Kyoto. If you are doing a whistle-stop tour to see Kyoto in 2 days, usually Higashiyama is visited together with Kiyomizudera just to the south.

Anyway, the bus stop is quite a distance to Ginkakuji, so there’s a stretch of walking, with shops along the way as with most major temples. As usual my daughter bought her favourite green tea (matcha) ice-cream for JPY 200 (she had one almost every day for 8 days straight).

The entrance to Ginkakuji is very impressive, with the 3-storey high hedge wall, like you are in a maze.

Ginkakuji is also known as the Silver Pavilion, modeled after the earlier and more impressive Kinkakuji, the Golden Pavilion (both have rather similar names, they are easily confused together). Although both buildings look alike, that where the similarity ends. The other one is on a beautiful lake and is painted gold, this one looks like a pale imitation.

But just like the other more famous counterpart, there’s a lake and zen garden. Follow the designated walking path and you see the whole works.

(that mound is made with loose gravel, if you can believe it)

(they try hard to keep cats from turning this into a giant litter box)

So, well, not really much to see here. So on we move to the next place.

From Ginkakuji there’s a walkway beside a river called the Philosopher’s Path leading to Eikando. From most websites it looks straight and short. But in reality it is almost 3 km long and meanders a lot. On the upside, you can enjoy the fall foliage along the way. There are many lesser-known temples, cafes and even an art gallery to interest you beside the path.

We were still quite early so we stopped by this English café to have some coffee and cake.

This place is run by an elderly Japanese couple and the décor is very nice, but is rather pricey.

By the time we reached Eikando just before 5pm, this was the queue. That’s the ticketing booth in a distance, with the white sign noting the opening times. By the time the booth opened an hour later, the queue was more than 3 times longer than this.

Eikando is a large temple complex with many buildings, and like most temples, they have a zen garden and lake in the middle. During autumm, they light up the trees and building façade, making it quite beautiful.

Night tickets cost JPY 600 and is sold separately from day time tickets. Is Eikando worth a visit? Well, you should catch one temple night illumination, either here or another one. Other than taking some good photos, there isn’t much else to do or see, unless you want to enter the temple to pray.

Time for dinner. From Eikando, it’s a long walk to the nearest train or bus stop, so we boarded a cab (lots of cabs drop off passengers here). Our destination was back to Nishiki / Teramachi, to try Ichiran Ramen. The cab dropped us off at the nearest entrance as the place is for pedestrian only. We still had problems finding the place, as it was tucked way in small side street. But when we finally found it, the queue was very long. The staff told us it was at least an hour’s wait. In the cold weather and wind…

We were quite tired and hungry, so we gave up the idea of trying the famous restaurant. Fortunately, there’s another (less famous) ramen shop across the road.

It turned out to be a good deal, each ramen set comes with a separate bowl of meat and rice.

And so ended another very, very long day in Kyoto, which also happened to be our last. And tomorrow, its onward to Osaka…

Next – Tenjinbashi in Osaka.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...