Hi people, I am back! Today, I am going to share with you the second part of the ultimate one week Japan itinerary. This time we start with a train ride from Tokyo to Kyoto. It’s better to book a couple of days in advance so you can get preferred timing and seat. I thought Tokyo was amazing! But Kyoto was even better! When I move to Japan; oh yes, one day I will, you can find me in Kyoto.
Day 5 – The Geisha, Geiko and Ichiban in Kyoto
It’s already the fifth day, you only have a few more days left before going back to your too-small-to-even-put-two-stack-of-papers-side-by-side cubicle but c’mon you guys, you have arrived at Kyoto. My favorite city in Japan! Let me show you around, but first leave your luggage or backpack in the place you are staying.
Now, let’s have a late breakfast or a second breakfast or an early lunch. We should head to one of the cute restaurants that serves the Japanese pizza, okonomiyaki. Let’s indulge ourselves with it, so good, I tell you!
Today’s main itinerary is Nishiki Ichiba, the huge market place in Kyoto that has everything and anything Japan; from food, kawaii stuff, bubble tea, new age items, Kami for protection, manga character socks. You will be spoiled with choices.
Kween tips at Nishiki market: order the matcha ice cream, take lots of pictures, buy yourself a kami for good luck or to attract love, get into the photo booth with your friends and stock up your souvenir here.
Once you are done (my best friends had to drag me out of this area) head down to Gion for Geisha sighting and a damn good meal. Do remember that even though they have celebrityesque persona, please don’t act like paparazzi. You are welcome to be over excited to see them, it’s a part of the culture after all, but don’t point or be rude of any kind. You can attend a cultural show in which Geishas were performing gracefully.
Dinner time = unadon time. We had the best unadon ever! Well, to be honest, it was my first eel, but I know Yin and Vi will be nodding their heads in agreement when they read this. The bad news is ,for eel-sake, I can’t remember the name of the restaurant. It was on the third floor of a building in that area (not very helpful, I know but that’s all I can remember). Anyways, just try the one of the unadon restaurant in the neighborhood. Unagilicious!
Day 6 – The Red, The Black and The Gold
Today is temple day. Start your day with Fushimi Inari by taking a train to Inari station, you can even extend the visit to Nara if you want. But if you are time, or more like us, energy restricted, Fushimi Inari shrine, Kiyomizudera temple and Kinkakuji, the golden pavilion temple, are the must visit.
My personal favorite among these three is the golden pavilion temple. It looked amazing in Autumn, and I dream of seeing it in winter and during cherry blossom season.
If you are more of a garden person, you ought to visit the Kyoto Imperial Palace. It’s just when I went there, I was not impressed by it, apart from the garden, which I have already seen the recreation of in Western movies.
When you visit the temples, do write your wishes on an ema prayer board. It will be granted by God/Kami/the Universe/Steve Job; believe me, because the last time I prayed for something, I got it.
Today will be the last night in Kyoto so soak the city’s vintage charm as much as you can. How about another bowl of Unadon?
Day 7 – Sleepover with the monks in Koyasan
Wakey wakey, you are doing a pilgrimage today, to Koyasan, it is a small town located on the mountain. It has the biggest graveyard in Japan, Okunouin and more than a hundred temples; some of them provide accommodation. You are going to do both, but first, shall we sit still in the train and enjoy the ride. It was the most beautiful train ride I have ever taken in my entire life. Lots of greenery and rural houses on both sides. I was awestruck by nature’s beauty most of the time while trying to balance a big luggage not to be toppled by the uphill ride. For ticket do get a Koyasan World Heritage Pass, it will cover temples and the graveyard entrance fee in Koyasan as well.
Kween tips on temple lodging: Don’t skimp on the accommodation. If you need to cut traveling budget, do it on the accommodation in Tokyo (capsule hotel) or Kyoto (maybe Airbnb?) but not Koyasan, not for one night stay. Choose the best place you can afford since you will be spending a good amount of time here, as you should. It will be worth it. If you are awed by the Japanese garden at the Kyoto Imperial Palace, wait until you see the miniature version of it right in front of your room. A temple stay comes with vegetarian meals. A must try. It’s so delicious, it might convert you to be a vegetarian. Also, there are workshops, morning and evening prayers and other activities. Try to experience as much as you wish!
Another highlight of my trip in Japan was Onsen, the hot spring public bath. Yes, it involves stripping naked in front of your friends, but try it and when you are done, tell me that it’s not the most relaxing time in your life. Take that overpriced pedicure!
Day 8 – Pilgrimage and Grave Yard
Day eight is still considered in one week’s itinerary because a week’s leave includes two weekends.
Today you are visiting the graveyard. The whole complex has a mystique feeling. No, not creepy at all but more of umm.. tranquility. Stop by at a nearby restaurant for some local food. Don’t forget to visit to the beautiful Danjo Garan before heading back to Kyoto on a late afternoon train.
Day 9 – Sayōnara Japan
All right, it’s the last day in Japan and I shall let you choose your own itinerary. You can explore Kyoto and go back from here; spend another day at Koyasan or another city; go back to Tokyo (Tokyo Tower, local McDonald, eat Dorayaki and stock up beauty products from the local stores) and head home from there. However you spend your last day here, I promise that you will miss Japan and its green tea KitKat and anime uniform wearing girls. I remember telling my best friends that I wished we had a longer holiday. We whined in unison and made a pact to come back. And we did, in 2015 and again this month. I can’t wait!