Posted June 24th, 2009 in Japan, Ume's Interests No Comments »

As my home is in Kansai area, I often go to Kyoto and Osaka while I’m in Japan.  It’s about 1 hour away from my house, and just 10 minutes away from my grandma’s house to go to Kyoto by train.  You can drink and eat in the train in Japan, so it’s kind of like a picnic to me.
There are many vending machines, small food court and convenience stores inside of train stations so you can just grab some hot coffee and snack and enjoy it on the train.  Oh, you can only relax if you are sitting down in the train, by the way.  Usually train get crowded around Kyoto station, and you can’t find any seat.  Then, you will have to stand up whole trip and it will be a tiring, sleepy, boring trip.

Kyoto is one of my favorite cities in Japan.  I always recommend it to my foreign friends who want to visit Japan.  Kyoto has long history and you can enjoy visiting historical places and enjoy beautiful views.  Kyoto is famous for its healthy food too.
To me, however, I was born in Japan and always surrounded by those things, so I didn’t really have any interests in visiting historical places while I was young.  I mostly went to Kyoto for shopping and
visiting popular restaurants/cafes.  Now, things changed and I like visiting old temples/shrines on my homecomings.

People I met in Kyoto

2 years ago, I was staying in Japan for few months and one of my friend (from Czechoslovakia) visited Japan.  He asked me to show around Kyoto to him, so we met in front of Kyoto train station and headed to Ume’s Kyoto tour.  … Actually, I didn’t really know where the famous tourist destinations and how to get there :p   So, we went to tourist information concierge desk (which is located on the first floor in Kyoto train station) This place was a helper!  They know everything about Kyoto:  transport, bus/train/subway timetable, nice restaurants, historical buildings, etc etc.  And, they gave us a map written in English.  They also had maps in Korean, Chinese, French etc.
Then, we followed the map and visited lots of famous places in Kyoto.  We didn’t take any bus or subway from the start point.  We could just walk all the way.  …  We really walked a lot!!   but it was very nice trip.  We had delicious food, visited inside of famous temples, and took lots of photos.  One day wasn’t enough, actually.

The area I went with this friend was just a part of Kyoto.  There are more places that you can enjoy in Kyoto.

On this Sep, I’m planning to take my in-laws to Kyoto.  They requested me that they want to see “Japanese” things, so I’m planning to take them to Gion, Kawara-machi and Arashiyama.  We only have one day to spend in Kyoto, so I don’t think we can go other cities.

Gion and Kawaramachi is close and you can walk.  There are things you can do&see between (eg: cafes, restaurants, department stores, Geisha town, game centre, theatre etc) so you won’t get bored.  There is a famous river called Kamo-gawa River in Kawara-machi, and there’re very very nice (and expensive :p) restaurants on the river.  Because the restaurants are on the river, it’s quite cool even in summer, and you can enjoy delicious food while listening to the sound of water in quiet surroundings.  You will forget that you are in middle of Kyoto!

Although the distance between Gion and Kawara-machi is not that long, some people may feel it’s a very long walk.  I prefer walking though, as I can look around things closely and also save some transport fee. 🙂

Arashiyama is a very popular tourist destination. You will need to take a bus, subway or taxi to get there.  The scenery is beautiful, and whole town is quiet.  River and tree, but it’s not like a country side.  You can experience things that you imagine about Japan: experiencing traditional Japanese tea ceremony, wear kimono (Japanese traditional dress) and walk around bamboo forest, eating very traditional and expensive Japanese food (called “Kaiseki Ryori”) etc.  I think my in-laws will love to see this bamboo forest.  This place is  so beautiful!

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