In 2014 we visited japan with Jeff’s parents and a group tour.
It was a nice introduction to the country but it was just that – a brief overview of a very interesting country. I had to return again and discover it properly!
We tried to time our visit with the cherry blossoms, but due to work commitments we were forced to go a little bit before the peak season…
We decided to start our trip with 3 days in Kyoto, the former capital of Japan. I somehow knew that Kyoto was more of a traditional city and I was really drawn to it…
To stay with the historic theme of the city, we lodged in a traditional guest house, with tatami flooring, futon beds and sliding doors.
It was a great experience; we even got to watch the Sumo wrestling on TV with the owner!
Since it was very close to our guest house, we first visited Nijo castle, a Japanese style wooden castle built in the 1600s.
It’s exactly what one would expect of a historic Japanese building: tatami flooring, sliding paper doors and sceneries painted directly onto the walls.
Once we finished this visit, we had to work out the transport system, which was a bit complicated as the city has different train lines operated by different companies! The ticket machines are completely different from what we are used to in Hong Kong or Europe so it took us a while to figure that out too.
We had lunch at Nishiki market, a pedestrian alleyway dedicated to all things foodie! Skewers, fresh seafood, ice-cream…. The street is lined with stalls selling Japanese snacks.
I decided to try a “sakura mochi” which is a seasonal treat made with a red bean rice paste wrapped in a pickled cherry tree leaf. We walked off before I thought of asking the shop owner if the leaf was edible… it smelled quite strong so I decided to discard it, just to be safe…
We then walked around Fushimi Inari Shrine, famous for its thousands of red Torii gates, each donated by an individual or a business.
It was packed with people and getting pictures without anybody in was difficult!
Since Jeff can read Chinese characters, which the Japanese also (partially) use, he was able to read some posters that announced the night illumination of Kyoto’s famous Kiyomizu-dera temple.
We visited it in day time in 2014 and therefore hadn’t planned to return. But since the night opening only happens three times a year, we rushed back to the guest house to get our tripod and off we went to the temple!
What do you think? Was the cherry tree leaf of the sakura mochi edible? Was it worth returning to the temple for the night opening? Let me know with a comment!