In May 2023 I went to Japan for the first time since 2019. This time I went there with my friends and we spent 7 days in Kansai, specifically in Kyoto and Osaka. Almost 2 weeks before the trip I caught COVID but luckily I recovered just in time.
We took Peach Aviation flight MM092 from Bangkok to Kansai International Airport. The aircraft was quite new and clean and I considered it roomy for a low-cost airline.
Taking the Haruka to Kyoto
JR Haruka is an express train that travels from Kansai International Airport to Osaka and Kyoto. You can book a ticket and pay online through the JR West website and then receive your physical ticket at the counter at Terminal 1.
I recommend purchasing the ICOCA & Haruka combo because ICOCA cards are widely accepted at stores, buses and trains and it’s very convenient. Moreover Haruka tickets are cheaper if you have an ICOCA card.
ICOCA cards, however, have to be paid for by cash at the counter. (i.e. You purchase the ICOCA & Haruka combo through the website but pay online only for the Haruka.)
It was around 12:30pm that we got to Kyoto so we went to the reception to check in and looked for something to eat. The streets along the way were just beautiful, picturesque and looked straight out of an anime.
We found this ramen shop through Google Maps which was nearby the reception so we took a short walk there.
Kyoto Ramen Laboratory (京都ラーメン研究所) → Google Maps
The shop had a cosy atmosphere and offered English menus. The ramen was good. I couldn’t recall the exact taste but yeah, it was good.
Japan streets are just lovely.
Our first stay in Kyoto was a guest house in Higashiyama area. It is just a 15-minute walk away from the famous Kiyomizu-dera temple. The house was very new, had a (tiny) kitchen, a washing machine, a bath tub and a small Japanese garden. It’s not spacious but packed 4 people just fine.
Tsumugi Higashiyama-Gojo → hotel website
It was in the evening so we wanted to go see the sunset at Kiyomizu-dera. I decided to follow Apple Maps and used a shortcut path.
For some reason it brought us to a cemetery. There was a door that might be one way to the temple but the door was locked. We had to return to the main road and from there we decided to walk along the road.
We finally got to the temple and… it was already closed.
We still had a great view to conclude the day.
On the second day we rented a car from Toyota to drive to Ine, north of Kyoto. It was a hybrid Toyota Sienta, kind of a minivan. We also have this car in Thailand but it’s not the hybrid version.
From my 1-day experience with this car I would say that it’s a VERY practical car. You got tons of storage space. You got a powered door. It seated well with 4 people. It’s a very capable travel car (if you don’t go off-roading, of course).
It took us about 2.5 hours to get to Ine from Kyoto Station. Ine (伊根町) is a town located in the northern part of Kyoto. It is known as a fishing village. The town is peaceful and there weren’t so many tourists when we visited.
It was on a Wednesday that we went there, unknowingly that most of the businesses would not operate on that day… We just knew this when we got there and grabbed a brochure at the information centre. Do a research before you make a visit.
Anyway, here are some random street shots.
Luckily this restaurant was open. We had to wait in line for maybe 30 minutes but the food was worth it. They offered mainly seafood dishes (well, it’s a fishing village). I had this grilled fish set that came with rice, udon and some more fish for ¥1800.
Funaya Shokudo (舟屋食堂) → Google Maps
It’s time to head back to Kyoto. This time we’re not taking the express way route but chose to drive along the rural roads to immerse ourselves in the green landscape.
End the day with a glass of matcha and some curry.
It’s the end of part 1. In the next post I’ll take you to Uji, the town of matcha. Stay tuned!