Japan, Day 2: Kimono Rental

I was really looking forward to wearing a kimono since that is part of my bucket list. Despite previous trips in Japan, it was not a top of mind activity due to the extreme cold weather (winter and early spring).

One of the popular kimono rental shops in Kyoto is wargo and I chose their branch in Gion as they have a bigger selection of kimono designs and it was the area where I wanted to go around while in kimono.

Japan, Day 2: Yasaka Shrine (revisit)

Highlight of the afternoon in Kyoto was wearing kimono but since I arrived an hour earlier than expected, I decided to visit Yasaka-jinja (again).

I was surprised to see that there were still food stalls even if there was no festival or illumination night. The stalls were fewer though compared to our visit in 2017 when there was Higashiyama Hanatouro.

Japan, Day 2: Tenryu-ji (revisit)

While planning the Kansai Region trip last year, I read that this temple is at its best during spring and autumn so my expectations were high… and it did not disappoint! Even at the parking area, people were already having their pictures taken.

I bought the ticket for both main hall and garden (¥800) entrance passes, with the temple being my first order of business. No shoes allowed, by the way!

Japan, Day 10 (AM): Ise-Shima

Last day trip outside Osaka before we head back to MNL. Our destination is Ise-Shima, mainly because I want to go to Ise Jingu which is dedicated to the sun goddess, Amaterasu. Hence, it is considered as the holiest Shinto shrine in Japan. I read before that locals wish to visit this place at least once before they die.

Japan, Day 8: Nara >> Osaka

NARA KOEN was our first destination but we were confused where to get off (while on the bus) so we chose a random stop. Apparently, the park was huuuge and all of the places we wanted to visit were all there. We looked for a quiet spot first to eat breakfast – and away from the deer!

Japan, Day 7: Himeji >> Osaka

Our 2nd daytrip was in Himeji, almost 2 hours away from Osaka by train. From Himeji Station, we rode the Himeji Castle Loop Bus which looked like an old-fashioned bus.

Our main stop here was the famous HIMEJI CASTLE (UNESCO), which is also known as “shirasagi-jo” or “white heron castle”. It was built by Toyotomi Hideyoshi in the 16th century and during our visit, a portion of the castle was undergoing restoration – goes to show how Japan highly values their history and puts great effort in preserving this.

Japan, Day 5: Kyoto >> Osaka

Our first stop for our last day in Kyoto was KINKAKU-JI (UNESCO) – also known as the “Golden Pavilion”. It is one of the famous Zen temples which has its top 2 floors covered in gold leaf. This golden structure overlooks a pond, which is a real sight to see.

Near the exit, there is a spot where one can write in an ema but what we did was light candles. There was a variety of candles depending on which one you want to wish for – career, health, and safety among others.

Japan, Day 4: Kyoto (Central & Downtown)

We started our 4th day in Kyoto a bit later than the previous days since our first stop was just a few minutes away (walk) from our Airbnb – NIJO CASTLE (UNESCO)!

While walking along one side of the Nijo Castle, we realized how huge the castle ground was since it took us a few minutes to finish walking just one side. The huge stone walls looked imposing and surrounded by moat. At the time of our visit, the original entrance gate was under renovation so the entry point to the castle was different.

Japan, Day 3: Kyoto (Fushimi, N. Higashiyama)

Another early start for us since our first stop for our 3rd day in Kyoto was in FUSHIMI INARI TAISHA and we wanted to avoid the crowd. The place is well-known for its senbon torii (thousands of torii) spread across an entire mountain. The whole hike usually takes 2-3 hours according to those who have already experienced doing it. This Shinto shrine is dedicated to Inari, the Shinto god of rice, with foxes as the messengers.

Japan, Day 2: Kyoto (Arashiyama)

We started our 2nd day in Kyoto quite early since our goal was to get to the famous bamboo grove without the big crowd yet.

I finally understood what people meant when they said that photographs were not enough to do justice on how ethereal and beautiful SAGANO BAMBOO GROVE is. Highly recommend to go here really early! Aside from us, there was just a tourist couple so we managed to get good pictures of the place. The place was also quiet which made it perfect for a bit of reflection and relaxation time.