Japan Autumn 2012 – Day 2: Osaka, wait no, Kyoto!
The night bus from Tokyo dropped me off at Kintetsu Namba at around 8am and this part of town had not woken up yet. The streets were deserted and the shops were all closed. The first thing I wanted to do, though, was to find my hotel and put down my backpack. It was getting heavy and I did not want to walk around with it for the next 6 hours. At the hotel, they told me I could only check in at around 4pm and were happy to hold onto whatever items I wanted to leave behind till then. I passed them the backpack and headed out to find some breakfast. Having skipped dinner the day before due to time constraints, I was quite hungry and thus settled for a meal at Mcdonalds. At first, I thought I could maybe relax at the fast food joint for an hour or so but the air conditioning wasn’t working and it was very uncomfortable in there. The temperature which was neither here nor there combined with having not had a shower for 2 days made me quite weary so I decided to do a quick scout of the Namba area to distract myself.
The streets were still empty, a very different sight from the last time I was in Osaka. I walked from the hotel in Shinsaibashi up across the river to Dotonbori, then into Namba.
Reaching Namba, I went in search of the NMB48 theatre and shop which had eluded us previously. This time, I was armed with gps coordinates and a rough idea of where the place would be. It took about 15 minutes but I eventually found my way. The NMB48 shop and AKB48 cafe were closed.
Mission completed, I wandered aimlessly back to the hotel in Shinsaibashi, grabbing a box of Takoyaki on the way.
By the time I returned to the hotel, it was only 10am and I was desperate for a shower! I told the receptionist this and she decided to let me have the room a few hours early which I was very thankful for. I took my much-needed shower, brushed my teeth, and cleaned myself up. Feeling much, much better, it was time to decide what to do for the rest of the day. The original plan was to go to Sakuya Konohana Kan but I really wasn’t in the mood for flowers so I set off for Kyoto instead, putting off Osaka for tomorrow.
Kyoto is only about an hour away from Osaka but I was going to make a slight detour to the KyoAni shop next to Kohata Station. I took the train to Kowata station which is just down the road from Kohata station and promptly walked into the KyoAni studio. A staff member quickly made me aware of my mistake and directed me to the shop. Walking down the road to Kohata Station, the all-too-familiar ding ding ding of the train crossing gantries constantly resounded through the air. I wondered how anyone could work or live in such an environment.
The shop proved to be fairly uninteresting. It was fully stocked with merchandise from an anime I didn’t watch so I left empty-handed. The next destination would be the Fushimi Inari shrine, only 20 minutes away by train, and right in front of the station.
At the base of the mountain that Fushimi Inari was built on was a regular shrine area with all the usual features. It would seem that the kitsune is the dominant motif of this particular shrine.
Continuing through the shrine is the main attraction, the trek up the mountain through thousands of torii gates. It was quite busy here at the bottom so I didn’t stick around to take photos since it was impossible not to have a large number of people blocking the view. A short way up is an intersection where you had to choose which row of gates you wanted to walk through.
Further up, the number of people around fell off considerably. I assume the aunties and uncles from China were satisfied with the base of the mountain and turned back very early. Or it could just be that the road up was quite intimidating.
A group of Kyoto obasan accompanied me up this series of stairs, though I wasn’t sure what they were saying most of the time due to the very heavy accent and use of slang. There was quite a nice view of Kyoto from up there, but that was only the beginning of the mountain trek.
Curious about what was further up, I picked a direction and continued up the stairways, meeting a pair of British tourists along the way.
The trek up was about an hour long but thankfully, the two British tourists were very friendly and we chatted about various things. The scenery was pretty much more of the same over and over in what seemed like a never-ending climb.
At the top of the shrine complex was what you see above and a shop which had many bottles of sake on display. We all bought drinks (non-alcoholic) and then embarked on the long trek back down.
It was late afternoon by the time I returned to the base of the mountain so this would be the only big shrine I visit in Kyoto this time around.
Strangely enough, the two British tourists manage to pick up a girl from China on the way down and then ditched me with her because they wanted to backtrack a fair way up the mountain to get a particular shot with their new cameras. Making the most of the situation, I told her that I was headed to Shijodori and Higashiyama and asked if she knew the way. Coincidentally, her hotel was in that area so finding our way there was fairly straightforward.
The place was, predictably, a tourist trap, with lots of touristy goods being sold. I didn’t have a very big budget for this trip so I refrained from buying anything here. Walking along, my travel companion for this afternoon said that she wanted to try the desserts at a place she saw in a travel magazine, which we suddenly found about 5 minutes later.
The queue up to the 2nd floor seemed long but moved quickly so it wasn’t long before we were seated. I decided to order whatever had the biggest picture, and so did she. Fortunately, there were 2 flavours to it so we picked one each and agreed to share.
Turns out, the two flavours were just different types of tea, but both were delicious and satisfying. After eating, we left the place to continue wandering down the street. It was starting to get dark now so we were also looking out for a place to have dinner.
A shrine across the road caught our eye so we went over to have a look. There were many lanterns which lit up as the sun set, offering a pleasant sight and peaceful ambience.
The shrine was fairly small so we didn’t take long to become bored. Leaving the shrine, we walked back down the way we came, but on the other side of the road this time.
Many of the eateries in this area were prohibitively expensive, even for a tourist from China! It was around 8pm before we found a place we agreed upon to eat at.
The salmon was fresh and the ikura tasty but I wasn’t too sure about the negitoro. Still, it was a good dinner and I left Kyoto shortly after, bidding my travel companion farewell and giving my thanks for accompanying me.