The whole object of travel is not to set foot on foreign land; it is at last to set foot on one’s own country as a foreign land.” – G.K. Chesterton

Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Kyoto in one (and a half) day: Shinkansen, Hanami and Food!

I'm glad to finally get back to working on my backlog of photos from our trip to Japan, where we spent a couple of days in Nagoya and then we hopped onto a shinkansen to Kyoto. This was our third visit to this beautiful city (our first with kids in tow), and it was even more beautiful with the cherry blossoms. We were delighted to have our trip coincide with the gorgeous but fleeting sakura season (lasting only one or two weeks, and the timing depends largely on the climate that year). Kyoto is one of our favourite cities in Japan, and it was an easy 35-minute ride on the Nozomi bullet train from Nagoya. The train ride was probably the highlight of the trip for the 5-year-old boy who had been looking forward to riding on the shinkansen for years (though he was born in Japan and had ridden the bullet train before, we left for Hong Kong when he was only a wee 2-year-old). We took it easy since we had already done most of the touristy sightseeing stuff on previous trips, and I only put two things on our Kyoto itinerary: do the Philospher's Walk (which coincidentally is one of the best places to do hanami), and eat! Kyoto Station is a food mecca, and that's where we got most of our food from during the two days.

At Nagoya Station waiting for our Nozomi train to Kyoto:

At the bottom of the Grand Stair at Kyoto Station with a good view of the glass roof (in 2006 I took pictures of the stair itself crowded and empty):

Yatsuhashi-flavoured KitKat:

Beard Papa's at Kyoto Station:

Beard Papa's cream puffs to fuel the walk ahead of us - the original (vanilla) and cookies & cream:

Hubby said there's not enough photos of me, so here's one of the kids and I under the cherry blossoms on the Path of Philosophy:

One variety of cherry blossoms:

And another darker pink sakura:

Yes, I can see why the Philosopher's Walk is regarded as one of the best places to view the cherry blossoms:

The crowded street to Ginkaku-ji from the Path of Philosophy (we did not go that way):

The Philospher's Walk is aptly named - good for quiet contemplation:

One of the traditional houses we encountered on the way to lunch:

After lunch, we visited the grounds of Nanzen-ji. This was the huge Sanmon (Mountain Gate):

The big threshold of the Mountain Gate, with a goofy 5-year-old for size comparison (click here for a similar photo I took of hubby and the Sanmon seven years ago):

The main purpose of the visit to Nanzen-ji grounds was to show the kid the huge aqueducts:

The visit to Nanzen-ji grounds ended shortly after this shot was taken. The boy and I walked down the steps to meet hubby who was with the baby in the stroller, and I'm still not sure what happened exactly, but the boy must have been goofing off too close to the open drain (pictured to the right of the shot) and he fell in. Hubby pulled him right out almost immediately, and thankfully the boy did not hit his head on the embankment, nor was he hurt anywhere else (though hubby and I were both very surprised he was not hurt considering it was at least a 1m drop). He was wet, it was cold, so we headed back to the hotel:

From the bus back to the hotel, we saw a pedestrain footpath full of cherry blossoms. I'm surprised I managed to get a straight shot from inside the vehicle:

One of the foodie things I wanted was a bento dinner, and hubby grudgingly obliged (he preferred a nice restaurant meal, but cranky kids after a tiring day out do not allow us such luxury). Purchases from several shops in Kyoto Station - two bento boxes from a bento shop, yomogi mochi from a supermarket, and a couple of baked goodies from a bakery:

This was one of the more expensive bento boxes on offer, at around 2500yen. Such neat presentation, and I loved how Japanese this tasted:

The smaller bento was slightly cheaper, just under 1500yen:

We also ate a delicious sushi lunch and a yudofu meal while in Kyoto, so stay tuned for upcoming reviews!

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