On Tuesday, we woke up a little late around 11am but decided to go to Kyoto nonetheless. There were a few places on my list that I still wanted to tick off, such as Kinkaku-ji. After getting ready, we left our share-house late, around 12-1pm and caught a train to Kyoto from Osaka that took around 30 minutes. From Kyoto station we caught a bus to Kinkaku-ji shrine. The bus stop was easy to find, as all the bus stops at the station listed the major tourist stops that they went to. However, the difficult part was trying to figure out how to pay. There was a bus stop attendant who said something to me in Japanese that I couldn’t understand, but I thought the gist of it was that we pay on the bus.
When we got on the bus though, the bus driver shook his head to say that he didn’t take cash, and I saw little machines where people scanned tickets. In the end, we rode the bus without paying. It was also easy to tell where to get off because the bus had a voice-over announcing the stops. We got off for Kinkaku-ji on a main road. There were signs on the side of the road directing us where to go. Kyoto was really tourist friendly, much more tourist friendly than either Tokyo or Osaka. The only setback was that less people in Kyoto spoke English, but like everywhere we went, the people were pleasant and helpful.
The bus stop was basically across the road from Kinkaku-ji and up one more street. Out of all the places we visited in Japan, I think Kinkaku-ji was definitely one of the easiest to get to. There was a small entrance fee that we paid, about a few hundred yen. In exchange for this, we received a thin piece of paper with kanji written on it (supposedly our tickets) which we then gave to the man standing at the entrance.
After entering, the girls and I were shocked to see how crowded it actually was. The whole area was crowded with tourists, more than I had ever seen in such a small space. It was so crowded that we had to wait for people to move off after taking their pictures and carefully position ourselves in order to get a good photo in front of the shrine.
This was the closest we were allowed to get to the shrine, although I saw a group of tourists being taken into an enclosed area on the side. I figured they had pre-booked a tour, as I saw a tour guide with them. We didn’t linger at Kinkaku-ji simply because it was so crowded, and just stayed to take a few pictures and left.
The above picture was taken near the temple. Visitors were told that if they got their coins in the small bowl it was good luck. I managed to get a coin in, after many attempts though. On the way out of the surrounding area, we passed a traditional Japanese teahouse and had matcha there.
By Japan standards, the price we paid for matcha and a small cake was rather expensive. It was 500 yen for a bowl of matcha and small cake, which I think is ridiculous now since many of my meals in Japan were around 700 or 800 yen. We took seats outside and positioned ourselves awkwardly on what I believe were tables (there were no seats). The matcha and our cakes were brought out almost immediately.
The matcha was smooth with a strong, mildly sweet flavour. The quality of the matcha was very good, and probably the best I have had in my life. The little cakes had a milky texture and weren’t too sweet.
From the looks of it, I think people paid to write down their wishes or hopes, and hang them here.
After leaving Kinkaku-ji, the girls and I went souvenir shopping on the main street where we had got off the bus. I bought some matcha and some matcha biscuits from a tea shop and a little owl coin purse from this cute shop.
After buying our souvenirs, we caught a train back to Osaka and went to eat dinner in Dotonbori. The first stop was an okonomiyaki restaurant.
We sat at a bar counter with a hotplate for the okonomiyaki to be cooked in front of us.
We selected the Squid Okonomiyaki for 800 yen, which we decided to share among the three of us.
Before the okonomiyaki was served, we were given a complimentary salad. It consisted of shredded carrots, radish and cucumber with a few dollops of tomato sauce. I tried the salad but it was nothing special and was soon abandoned by all three of us.
The okonomiyaki wasn’t cooked in front of us as we had initially supposed, it was cooked near us, in the open kitchen and then put on the hotplate in front of us to keep it warm. Garnished with okonomi sauce, Japanese mayonnaise, katsuobushi flakes and dried seaweed, the squid okonomiyaki was delicious. The squid pieces were chewy and fresh, with a mild flavour that was complemented well by the other elements.
After we finished eating here, we paid the bill and left and decided to continue our dinner at a kaiten zushi nearby. This kaiten-zushi was the first I had tried in Osaka, and I preferred it to the one I had eaten at in Tokyo. There was a sign outside advertising that all plates were 120 yen, so it was much cheaper than the sushi trains back home.
They didn’t speak English here, although with the food ready made and rotating on the conveyor belt, as well as an English menu, it was relatively easy to get by.
The sushi here was of a superior quality and there was also a lot of variety. The pieces of fish were all fresh and the rice was soft and well cooked.
After finishing up here, S and J continued on to the tsukemen restaurant where we had eaten the night before, while I called it a night and went home on my own.