The Haruka airport train took us straight to Kyoto Station. The 75 minutes train ride was supposed to be the time for us to revise our pre-determined travel plans for day 1 but we were on holiday mood so we just enjoyed the view throughout the journey (ok, actually I was jakun looking outside the window all the time and kept on saying “eh Uniqlo!… eh Aeon!”).
It was when we arrived at Kyoto Train Station that I had the first panic moment. There were so many different train tracks, different train operators, subways and constant flow of people walking at reasonably fast speed.
We took our time and dragged our heavy luggage (thank you Maggie and Brahims!) to the B1 lower level of the Station where Carry-S counter is located. This is a cool service where for a fee of 750 yen per bag, they will send the bag to your hotel. Perfect for us as we were too early to check-in and we don’t want to waste any time to drop the bag ourselves. Click here for more info.
A short train ride on the Keihan Electric Train Main Line brought us to our first sightseeing spot, the Fushimi Inari-taisha.
A bit of info about this unique Shrine from Japan-Guide.com.
“Fushimi Inari is the most important of several thousands of shrines dedicated to Inari, the Shinto god of rice. Foxes are thought to be Inari’s messengers, resulting in many fox statues across the shrine grounds. Fushimi Inari Shrine has ancient origins, predating the capital’s move to Kyoto in 794.” – Japan-Guide.com
Right after the entrance, we saw people washing hands and drinking water from this little water fountain. Perhaps a form of ritual cleansing for them.
Some shots taken around the main building.
Fushimi Inari Shire is famous for its thousands of vermilion torii gates, which extend from just behind the main buildings all the way to the mountains.
Beautiful tori gates.
The torii gates are sponsored/donated by individuals and companies and hence you will find names of people or companies inscribed on the back of each gate. Not that I understand any. Rasanya lah.
The donation “cost” for one small sized gate starts around 400,000 yen and goes all the way to millions.
To take photos here, timing and luck is quite important to avoid the crowd. Ok maybe a bit of kiasu-ness as well to ask the crowd to wait for a couple of seconds.
I was so tempted to proceed with the 3-hour hike to the mountain area where I was told it is quiet, less crowded (and eerie with graveyards and all). The weather is also perfect for uphill trekking and “a short trek/hike in Kyoto” would make a great blog post but then my other half brought me back to reality, reminding me that we simply don’t have time for it!
So we left Fushimi Inari after about an hour we went on to our next stop.
After Fushimi Inari, we went on the train again this time heading towards Rose Café and Kyoto Islamic Centre. Unfortunately, we took the wrong train service and ended up in Marutamachi Station a good 1km away from the café.
The good thing is that, we discovered a beautiful park which we never had planned to visit. Welcome to Kyoto Imperial Palace Park.
Located near the center of Kyoto, Kyoto Imperial Palace is where the residences of the Imperial family and court nobles once stood. The whole area is huge and we did not take the effort to check out the palace, instead we spent a good 45 minutes hanging out at the park enjoying the weather and people watching.
I just love parks, benches. Can’t resist. (without realising I was suddenly whistling the tune of ‘when you say nothing at all’! LOL)
We were in Kyoto in early November so it was still hard to spot autumn colors so we had to settle for this as the closest!
After a short 15-20 minute walk from the park we arrived at Rose Café Kyoto, a 100% halal restaurant.
A simple café serving Turkish food. The menu.
Our meals. Not too bad lah. Not easy to find halal food in Kyoto so can’t really be that choosy.
About 1 block away from Rose Café is the Kyoto Islamic Centre.
Praying area is at the basement. Self-service to figure out the switches for lights, aircon, etc.
“Sembahyanglah anda sebelum anda disembahyangkan”.
Another 25 minutes walk to the nearest train station, Jingumarutamachi Station. Luckily it was a nice scenic walk crossing this beautiful river (or is it a drain?).
Day 1 sightseeing continues as we head towards Eastern Kyoto for some more beautiful parks, temples, old streets and Gion, Kyoto’s most famous Geisha district.
All this in the next blog post. click here to continue reading.