JAPAN: Day 4 – Kyoto (Thursday, 22 January 2015)
It’s been almost 2 weeks since the last time I blogged. It has been a very busy week since Jutet and I had to pack things and moved to Bangkok, Thailand. We were in Jakarta for 3 days before leaving the country, just for the sake of introducing Jutet to my dad, who hasn’t met him, haha!
We are already in Bangkok now, but posts about it will come up later (I haven’t really explored the city anyway). The Japan travel stories had not finished yet! I bet you have been waiting to read about KYOTO 🙂
Before exploring the city, we went to Kyoto Station to buy the bus tickets for the night, as we would be leaving for another part of Japan. Previously I have done a research about this Japanese bus company named Willer Express. If you check its website, www.willerexpress.com, you may find it interesting, as the company provides numerous bus trips from and to many destinations throughout the country. They have both day and night buses. The nicest thing about this bus company, is that they have various seat types that you can choose, depending on what type of comfort and facility you wish to have during the trip.
|Options of bus seat from Willer Express.|
KAWAII, isn’t it???
Some seats are wider than the others… some seats have electrical plug while the others don’t… and also note that some seat types provide luggage check-in and some others do not. So please pay careful attention when choosing the seat type. You don’t wanna end up choosing a fancy seat type but having to leave your big backpack at the bus terminal because you’re not entitled for a luggage storage! Paying more on the spot could probably work out, but just like airline companies, I’m pretty sure they would charge a lot… if that is even possible.
Kyoto Station is very big (and very nice, like a shopping mall!) so we got confused finding the office that sells Willer Express tickets. After asking several people, a staff from another bus company told us that Willer Express did not have a ticketing office. So all purchases must be done online. Okay… that’s something I didn’t pay attention to, when I was still doing the research in internet.
So we stayed a little bit longer in Kyoto Station to get the good wi-fi, in order to successfully buy the tickets online, using my mobile phone. It was no hassle, it was just that the ticket price had become higher on the D-Day. Not much more expensive, though, just a little bit. We planned to go to Yuzawa, but since there was no night bus going directly to Yuzawa, we had to take a bus to some other town first.
According to my research (I mean, looking at Google Maps), from Kyoto, we had to take a night bus going to Niigata (the city), but get off at some city along the way to avoid going too far from Niigata to Yuzawa. Please, check GoogleMaps as well to have a more vivid picture about what I’m telling you here. Looking at the bus route itself, the best place to get off from the bus then take a train to Yuzawa is either Naoetsu or Nagaoka. Both are cities in Niigata prefecture, the same prefecture where Yuzawa is located. I finally chose Nagaoka, considering that if we had chosen Naoetsu, we might have to get off from the bus at 5 AM! Whereas in Nagaoka, we would be arriving at 6.40 AM. More comfortable.
So we bought the tickets! 6,100 JPY per ticket, leaving Kyoto at 10.30 PM. Guys, taking a night bus is also a way to save your budget, since you don’t have to pay for the accommodation to stay overnight. You just sleep in the bus.
Done with the tickets, we bought City Bus One-day Pass for 500 JPY per person. They actually also had another pass called Kyoto Sightseeing One-day Pass, which includes buses and subways, and costs 1,200 JPY. But since we thought that taking subway was not really necessary in Kyoto, we just bought the pass for the bus. Much cheaper anyway.
|Kyoto City Bus One-day Pass. Photo taken from http://www.cheapojapan.com|
Kyoto, ARE YOU READY?!
First stop with the city bus was Kinkaku-ji Temple, or also knows as the Golden Pavilion.
|The misty Kinkaku-ji Temple. It was drizzling the whole day in Kyoto.|
|Wishing Well? Oh no, Wishing Stone.|
|The little shrine in Kinkaku-Ji area.|
Interestingly, we found a group of tourists (I’m not sure whether they were Japanese or from some other oriental country like China, Taiwan, or South Korea) bringing a French-speaking guide! Since Jutet understands French, he stood quite close to this group of tourists to gain some information. It turned out that Kinkaku-ji is a Zen Buddhist temple, whose original building had been burned down during a war in 1950. The temple we have now is actually a rebuilt structure, done in 1955.
To enter the site, we paid 400 JPY per person for the admission fee. It was totally worth the sightseeing. Otherwise, we would not be able to see anything from the entrance area. However, if you’re not interested to experience the temple by yourself, you can just hang out at some local places around its area. See what you might like here:
|A little cafe in front of Kinkaku-ji entrance, full of local students, selling various kinds of light snack and extremely delicious and sweet green tea!|
|Ice cream in winter? Try ‘harf’ Green Tea, ‘harf’ Vanilla.|
|Not too far from Kinkaku-ji area. 2-storied little shop slash cafe.|
Next stop: Gion!
Everything looked different when we arrived at Gion area. No wonder they call it the old district of Kyoto. Even the Lawson store was decorated in a traditional-looking style. It was still raining but we had so much fun walking around Gion area… spoiling our eyes with those pretty little old-style houses and shops…
|Gion bus stop. Approaching Yasaka Shrine entrance, the most famous shrine in this area.|
|Old-style buildings in Gion area.|
|Super elegant taxis, stopping at the most beautiful area in town.|
If you’re into culture, history, and classic scenery, then Kyoto is definitely your destination in Japan. Oh, and when you’re in Kyoto, don’t forget to try these:
|Kyoto-style Mochi Shop|
|You can even see how they make the mochi.|
|Miyako, a ‘standing’ little restaurant.|
It’s amazing that I’ve never heard about this kind of restaurant before finding it on a big street in Kyoto, on Shijyo-dori to be exact. Basically it’s a place that sells soba and udon. There was only one person in charge for this place, which was that woman with the stripy apron. She welcomes the guests, takes the order, cooks the food, serves it, then cleans the dishes by herself. I got the impression that this kind of eating place is meant for those workers who don’t have much time to eat in a more laid-back restaurant, or who are in a rush, or simply who have very little money. This restaurant does not have chairs at all! You have to eat your soba or udon while standing…
Although the food is cheap, the quality is still good. You can barely find any food in bad quality while you’re traveling in Japan. It was pretty weird to have your quick dinner while standing, but it was one of the ‘most authentic’ experiences we had in Japan! I realized that the customers were mostly old men, who only stopped there to eat not more than 5 minutes.
We had to come back to Hotel MyStays to pick up our bags before leaving to Kyoto Station again to catch the Willer Express night bus. But before that, we did a quick window-shopping around Teramachi area, not far from our hotel.
|Lots of cute fashion items on sale. You should also check out that SUGI Honey Shop!|
We realized that only one full day in Kyoto was not enough. But well, we had to go. We collected our bags from the hotel and went back to Kyoto Station. The Willer Express night bus arrived around 10-15 minutes earlier and departed on time from this bus stop.
|Willer Express bus stop.|
The journey to Nagaoka had begun. We slowly fell asleep in the bus… couldn’t wait for the next amazing destination that awaited us…