Date: 27th Sep - 4th Oct 2017
Destination: Kyoto - Osaka - Naruto - Takamatsu - Kobe - Osaka
I've been working in Japan for close to a year now; for a startup, Meguru, that aims to bring people closer to nature and to encourage circular thinking. I met my boss through wwoofing. You can read more about my Japan wwoofing experience here.
The purpose of this trip was to show my parents my work place, at Ayagawa, Takamatsu. My initial plan was to take them around shikoku island; but they haven't been to Kyoto and Osaka, and would really like to have a look, so i decided to show them around Kyoto and Osaka instead.
I must say that the trip was by far the best holiday we ever had together.
One of the best decision was renting a car. Renting a car makes it so convenient for us to go anywhere, at our own pace. We could easily change plan, head back to the hotel whenever we are tired. Although the highway toll and parking fee was quite pricey, i think it's worth it in-exchange for comfort and flexibility. Plus, i think we bonded quite a lot talking in the car. haha.
The only thing that i would change, is that i'll probably not drive the car all the way up to Takamatsu, but take a bus instead, and then rent another car at Takamatsu. That save the highway and petrol fee, and save me the hassle of driving them all the way back to Osaka.
The option of returning the car at another prefecture is available, but the price is pretty steep.
We rented the car from rentalcars.com and it cost us SGD846.37 for a 5 seater car, including English language GPS and full coverage insurance.
You can also rent the ETC card when you are collecting the car. It's a highway card and the rental cost is around 200yen. It makes it very convenient when you pass through the highway gantry (you dont have to stop and take cash out every single time). We rented it and paid the toll fee when we return the car. It cost us about SGD$300 for the highway fee.
I think we paid on average about SGD$50 per day for parking when we were at osaka and kyoto.
We arrived at Kansai Airport around 9.30am, picked up our car, and headed straight to Kyoto.
Our hotel check-in was at 3pm, but because we had the car, we could leave our luggage inside, and when around exploring Kyoto freely.
Our first destination was Kiyomizu-dera, a very nice Buddhist temple. I've been there previously, but i didn't go to the area with entrance fee. I'm so glad that we went in this time round, because it's huge and beautiful.
There are many street side stores outside the temple (like most of the touristy places) and that made mummy very excited. My mum is such a foodie and she loves to try everything.
As for my dad, the first thing that he caught sight of was BEER of course. ... haha
After Kiyomizu-dera, i brought them to Nishiki Market and they love that place so much! Thanks to all the super cheap and fresh sashimi available. My parents are a huge fan of sashimi. We even went back there again the next day because my dad was craving for the oyster that he ate previously.
After Nishiki market, we had ippudo ramen for lunch. It was nice, but not the best ramen we had during our trip. Read on to find out where is the best, in our opinion.
Initially, i wanted to bring them to Fushimi Inari Taisha too, which is pretty near to Kiyomizu-dera. But my boss, who is quite a spiritual person, advised me not to, due to the fox spirits at Fushimi Inari Taisha. Though i'm not a spiritual person, i decided to listen to his advice. I don't want anything bad to happen to my parents. haha. I've been to Fushimi Inari Taisha before, it's a great place for photography.
Here's a picture that i took previously:
After a very late lunch, we felt extremely tired; so we drove to our hotel, check-in and took a long nap.
Our hotel, XIV Kyoto Yase-Rikyu, is extremely pretty, with top great service. It's a membership based hotel. Thanks to Toyo's dad, who helped us reserved a room.
There's onsen in the hotel too, with super nice facilities. Thumbs up!
After our nap, we went out for dinner. We drove around Gion street, but it didn't seem to have much going on there then (though i highly recommend you to check out Gion street and try to spot Geisha. I had a very good time there when i was in Kyoto previously), so we went to Pontocho Area instead, which is a tiny street filled with bars and restaurant.
We had a very delicious bbq Kobe beef meal at Yaruki Yakiniku & Wine restaurant.
We went to Kinkaku-ji, it was my first time there and wow it's beautiful! I highly recommend this place!
Then we made our way to Arashiyama, where we took an old railway train from Saga-Arashiyama station to Hozu-gawa, and then took a 2 hours boat ride from Hozu-gawa to Arashiyama. I highly recommend this! Especially during sakura season (beg April) or autumn leave season (end October). Click here for more information about the boat ride.
Both the train and boat ride were scenic.
After the boat ride, we toured around Arashiyama. My dad almost gave up walking when he saw the amount of stairs he had to climb (it's really not that much), but i assured him that the bamboo forest was worth going to, so we made it in the end.
After that we headed back to Nishiki Market again, ate lots of food, walked around Shinkyogoku Shopping Street, and then head back to the hotel with lots of food, as dad was tired and wanted to rest.
We drove to Katsuou-ji Temple, which is near Osaka. It's an extremely beautiful temple on a mountain, and it's known for victory. You can purchase a daruma doll and make a wish, it's said that if your wish came true, you have to return the doll back to the temple. That's why you see daruma dolls everywhere. I highly recommend this temple if you would like to get out of the touristy places.
The main reason why i chose to go to this temple was because there's a waterfall nearby called Minoo Fall. I'm a super big fan of waterfalls, that's why. I'm really glad that we went, it's beautiful!
After the temple, we went to Dontonbori. I knew my parents would love that place! They love all the crowded places with lots of food stores. My mum went around trying all sort of food again, it was adorable. haha
We spent quite some time at Dontonbori, eating and shopping around. After which, we headed to Umeda Sky Building to see the awesome view. If only we arrive slightly earlier, we would have caught the awesome sunset view (i forgot that the sun sets earlier from autumn onward), but it was still super amazing.
We made our way to Ayagawa, Takamatsu; which is where i'm staying now. On our way there, we stopped by Naruto (2.5hrs drive from Kyoto), which is a very famous place for whirlpool.
There are a few options to see whirlpool, the most famous one is from the ferry, which i took previously. But i compared the ferry timing and the peak whirlpool timing, and it didnt match quite well, so we decided to see it from Uzu no Michi, an enclosed walkway that extends under the Onaruto Bridge. The walkway's observation room sits 45m above the whirlpools, which can be seen through glass panels. I think we made the right decision because i see the whirlpool so much clearer than my previous boat experience.
Before you walk to Uzu no Michi, there are some observation deck on the other side (right side), and the view there is amazing. Do also try the ramen from the only food store there, it's the best ramen we have ever had.
We drove another 1.5 hrs and arrived at my work place in the evening, We checked-in the guest house that i'm managing and then went to a nearby izakaya place for dinner.
We started the day with me showing my parents my work place, seeing all the animals, the cafe, my room etc. My mum was telling me how my grandma has been telling her that she wish she can go back to her young days where she has a place to grow her own vegetables. I was telling my mum to bring my grandma over. I'm glad that they could relate better to why i prefer to stay here instead of the city.
We didn't tour much that day besides going to Ritsurin Garden, Japan's largest Japanese garden. Because we met up with Toyo's parents for lunch and my dad drank so much with them. haha. It was nice seeing them having so much fun though.
Ritsurin Garden was amazing, my 2nd time there and it's still mesmerizing. My dad enjoyed it so much too. Even though he was semi drunk. he still walked the whole garden with us and kept asking me to take pictures of him. oh daddy..
It was raining so badly that day and the day after too. My original plan was to bring them to Aya valley and Kochi, but it's not a good idea when it's raining.
I brought them to eat a very delicious beef udon for breakfast. (〒761-2203 Kagawa-ken, Ayauta-gun, Ayagawa-chō, Yamadakami, 綾川町山田上甲1949-8 岡製麺所) It's located not too far away from my workplace. Kagawa is the birth place of udon by the way. My parents love it so much! The soup is very delicious.
After which, we headed to Takmatsu main street for a walk, and then to Yashima despite the bad weather. We checked out the Shikoku village museum, which features very old japanese house. It's not such a good idea to go there when it's raining, and it wasn't that impressive too. Every house looks the same after awhile.
We then drove up to Yashima to have a look at the view. There are better viewing point, but my parents were tired of climbing. haha
It was our last day at Takamatsu. I wanted to bring them to a very nice viewpoint at Mitoyo, but they wanted to take it slow and go for massage that day, so i only managed to bring them to Marugame Castle, which was nice too.
After that, we went to Aeon mall (the nearest mall from my workplace) for massage.
At night, i brought them to the restaurant where i'm helping out on some weekends, learning cooking from the chef. I swear the food there is amazingly delicious. It's the first time i ever asked a chef if he could teach me how to cook right after i've tasted his food. My parents love his food too. (〒761-2203 Kagawa-ken, Ayauta-gun, Ayagawa-chō, Yamadakami, 綾川町山田上甲1949-8 岡製麺所)
We bid farewell to Ayagwa, and made our way back to kansai airport. We stopped by Kobe because dad wanted to try kobe beef at kobe. haha. We went to Kobe's chinatown and ate at a random restaurant that we saw. It was delicious, but it makes me feel sick when i had too much. Beef used to be my favorite, but I've been trying to cut down on it due to environmental reason.
As we still had some time after Kobe, we went to Shinsekai for a walk and ate their famous Kushikatsu.
Overall, this trip was such a fantastic one. I can't expect it to be any better. We are planning to go Hokkaido next year! It will be so awesome!
That's about it for now. Thank you for reading and feel free to ask me anything! ;)