Monday, 31 July 2017

Japan: Kyoto, Osaka, & Hiroshima in Pictures 2017

Kyoto

Kyoto is culture.

Kyoto is about kimonos, shrines, temples, and the beautiful history of Japan. Cycling is highly recommended here, although if you're not careful about parking your bikes, they may be taken away.

IMG_0658
Fushimi Inari Taisha. I bet you've seen these famous red gates somewhere in the internet.


Arashiyama

Arashiyama is located on the western skirts of Kyoto, and has been declared as Historic Site and Place of Scenic Beauty. It's touristy, but still very entertaining. Tenru-ji Temple, along with Arashiyama Bamboo Forest, Gio-ji Temple, and Kameyama-koen Park are among the list of the must-visits of the area. Rent a bike and you can cover more sightseeing.

We stayed in Arashiyama Benkei for a night, and I totally recommend it. With really nice onsens, impeccable service, and delicious kaiseki dinner and breakfast, it's a great place to relax and have a break of your busy itinerary.

IMG_9905
Hand-pulled rickshaw along Oi River, Arashiyama.

IMG_0002
Arahiyama bamboo forest.

IMG_0052
A monkey and its baby at Kameyama-koen Monkey Park.

IMG_9906
Along the main road, just across Tenryu-ji Temple, there are so many restaurants, snack shops, and souvernir shops. I didn't get to try, but have been wondering how these chilled cucumbers on a stick tastes like!

IMG_0060
Gold soft serve ice cream, around $10. Novelty, but didn't really taste like anything except vanilla!

IMG_9913
Soba noodles with prawn tempura -from Iwawo restaurant, just accross Tenru-ji Temple. It's a nice little restaurant with simple but delicious menu. The cold soba noodles come with cold dipping sauce that has great umami flavour.

IMG_9916
Katsudon - pork katsu on rice and egg mixture.

IMG_0068
Welcome green tea and snack from Arashiyama Benkei Ryokan.

IMG_0080
Saza sushi - sushi wrapped in bamboo leaf. A part of kaiseki dinner.

IMG_0090
Prawn & seasonal vegetable tempura. A part of kaiseki dinner.

IMG_0081
Soup and seasonal assorted sashimi. A part of kaiseki dinner.

IWAWO
Sagatenryujitsukurimichicho, Ukyoku, Kyoto 616-8384, Kyoto Prefecture
Phone: +81 75 861 3853


Kiyomizu-dera Temple, Sannen-zaka, and Camellia Tea Ceremony

It's a big temple with great view across the city, and it is only a given that many tourists choose this spot to wear kimono and take photos at. The neighbouring streets of Sannen-zaka and Ninen-zaka should not be missed.

We had a short session of tea ceremony at Camellia, which gave a great introduction of the tea ceremony culture.

IMG_0188
Kimono and its pretty knot.

IMG_0220
Ema - wishing wooden plaques in Kiyomizu-dera Temple. You write your wish on the plaque and hang it up.

IMG_0515
Sannen-zaka, the zen street.

IMG_0505
Starting the tea ceremony in Camellia.

IMG_0510
Mixing the green tea powder.

IMG_0506
Japanese sweet - sugar jelly with yuzu.

CAMELLIA TEA HOUSE
Japan, 〒605-0826 Kyoto Prefecture, Kyoto, 東山区桝屋町349−12
Phone: +81 75 525 3238


Gion and Torikizoku

Gion is one of my favourite parts of Kyoto. It's charming with its river and bridge and the trees that frame the bridge, and feels almost sacred somehow. It is the famous spot for geishas, which are hard to spot. They aren't fancy or eye-catching, so if you see women with flashy kimonos and make up,  they're probably tourists dressing up like geishas or maikos.

There are lots of restaurants and shops around Gion, and I was lucky to be able to cycle around it and absorb its beauty (I really recommend Cycle Kyoto for this!).

We went to Kichi Kichi for dinner but guess what, they were booked for a month. A month????? Far out.

So we went to Torikizoku, a popular yakitori chain restaurant that can be found easily around town. It was a great and chilled dinner, with plates after plates of tasty skewers and glasses of beers that didn't cost us more than $30.

IMG_0417
Gion and its pretty traditional houses.

IMG_0413
We went cycling and the tour guide, Kevin, took us to this pretty decent hole-in-the-wall restaurant. They serve mean udon and soba sets, and the udon soup was the perfect nourishment for 22km cycling tour!

IMG_0334
Chicken skin skewers from Torikizoku. All skewer is only around $3 here! The Yakitori-sauce chicken thigh skewers (momo kizoku-yaki) were our favs (also come in salt and spice flavouring).

IMG_0322
Tsukune cheese skewers (meatballs with cheese), ajitsuken tamago, and fried chicken. The ordering system is so simple - just use the ipad on every table and they will bring the food to you.

IMG_0321
Ajitsuken tamago (seasoned boiled egg).

TORIKIZOKU (GION BRANCH)
291 Narayacho, Nakagyo-ku, Kyoto
Phone: +81 75 257 7228


Daimaru Department Store Food Floor

Daimaru Department Store is well known shopping spots in Japan. They're everywhere, and they're massive. I wasn't interested in the branded clothes or the fancy shoes, I was there just for the last floor of the department store: the food center.

It is heaven, full stop. Bakeries, pickles, sweets, butchers, side dishes - name it they have it. They even have expensive fruits. Like, really expensive. $100 melons? $200 watermelon? Whatever tickles your fancy, guys.

IMG_0422
Making such a delicate sweets/cake in Daimaru Department Store food floor. There are multiple cake shops with unbelievably eye-catching cakes on display.

IMG_0439
Display of yakitori (skewers). So tempting.

IMG_0434
Super expensive, precious melons on display. I didn't even dare touch it.


Kyoto Gogyo

Kyoto's burnt miso ramen is something that has intrigued me for a long time since I saw it on Ramen Raff.

It really did not disappoint, as my bowl of kogashi miso ramen (burnt miso ramen) was incredible. It was thick, rich, and the smoky sensation made it even more satisfying. David's soy tonkotsu ramen was slightly less bold, but still very tasty and flavorsome.

IMG_0457
Kogashi miso ramen, Kyoto Gogyo.

IMG_0455
Soy tonkotsu ramen.


Nishiki Market

It's a five block long marketplace, home to hundreds of shops and restaurants. Kyoto Gogyo is around here too, making it very convenient. I can spend days here, it's almost like it's endless!

IMG_0498
Inside Nishiki Market. Such a feast for the sight, smell, and taste!

IMG_0499
Narazuke - deep brown pickles made from daikon or cucumber fermented in sake lees, giving it pungent aroma and alcoholic bite.

IMG_0475
Pickles shop.

IMG_0477
Arrays of fish cakes, ready to eat.

IMG_0492
Yakitori stall.

IMG_0487
Baby octopus on a stick. Very fishy.



Osaka

Osaka is another big, bustling city. It is different than Kyoto's more peaceful, traditional vibe, and it actually reminded us of Tokyo. Den Den Town (electronic centre), America Mura (western fashion & styles), and Osaka Castle are only a pinch of what Osaka has to offer.


Random food enjoyed along the way

IMG_0811
Special ramen from Menya Kuramasa, Tempozan Marketplace. BTW, I totally recommend Kaiyukan Osaka Aquarium!

IMG_0681
Small izakaya joint next to Nishi Nagahori Sta - friendly owners and great service. It's a shame I didn't catch the restaurant's name.

IMG_0694
They even have English menu! It's simple but satisfying. Really loved the chicken skewers.


Universal Studio

As a big fan of Harry Potter, this was not something I could miss. I finally got my hands on the famous Butterbeer, non-alcoholic, refreshing soft drink with delicious buttery foam on top. Go around and you'll find more cute food; from Hello Kitty buns, minions buns and ice cream sandwich, to cookie monster sandwich. I just didn't have the patience to stand in such long queues for those items.

IMG_0735
Hogwarts Castle at Universal Studio. Where magic happens.

IMG_0740
Selections of wands at Ollivanders, the wand maker.

IMG_0718
Jelly Slugs from Honeydukes. They also have chocolate frogs!

IMG_0722
Butterbeer!

IMG_0777
Minions steamed buns.


Tenjimbashi-suji Shopping Arcade

The longest shopping arcade in Osaka, that is not alive before at least 11 a.m. Come after this time to find multiple shops full of souvernirs, clothes, etc as well as pachinko and slots centres.

IMG_0912
Tenjimbashi-suji shopping arcade, Osaka.

IMG_0910
Inside the shopping street. Not many were open that day, we were too early!

IMG_0920
Lunch boxes and side dishes shop in the shopping street.

IMG_0921
Side dishes on display. Just grab a plate/takeaway box and fill it up with as many dishes as you'd like. So many options!

IMG_0904
We stopped by a cheap udon restaurant for breakfast. Again, I failed to take note of the restaurant's name. My curry udon with raw egg was absolutely delicious, ready in 2 mins and warmed my belly right up. There wasn't any meat in it, I asked for kakiage (vegetable fritter) which was hidden under the thick curry.

IMG_0906
The chicken udon was very much like chicken soup. Heartwarming. One bowl actually cost us less than $5.


Gudetama Cafe 

I'm totally embracing my inner child and succumbed to the cuteness of Gudetama, the lazy egg. The cafe screams cute from all corners, the food & drinks are, surprisingly, not overprices for what you get. I just had lunch and had to settle with Gudetama parfait. Otherwise I'd order the cutest Gudetama fried rice.

IMG_0994
Gudetama cappuccino. Watery coffee that needs sugar.

IMG_0997
Gudetama parfait. There was a mango pudding in it, with ice cream, whipped cream, mango sauce, and many more things. Novelty.

GUDETAMA CAFE
Hep Five Shopping Mall, Level 5
Japan, ?530-0017 Osaka Prefecture, Osaka, Kita Ward, Kakudacho, 5-15

Phone: +81 6 6336 3694


America Mura and Michelin Guide Takoyaki

America Mura is such an interesting place. It's full of locals and tourists alike, and everybody seem to be very stylish. Imagine fishnet stockings with lace bra on top of a denim dress, or unusual body piercings and inked iris. And, guess what, they even have snake cafe (yes, you go in to hang out with snakes). People watching is number 1 activity I recommend here.

I was there, however, to check out Kogaryu, takoyaki joint that is so popular that has made their way to Michelin guide.When I was there, the line was thankfully not long and in no time we got our portion of original takoyaki. They were extremely hot inside, but fluffy and tasty. I personally like crispy edges takoyaki, but these ones weren't bad at all.

IMG_1013
Yeah, thanks but no thanks.

IMG_1004
Kogaryu Takoyaki, America Mura.

IMG_1010
Kogaryu production line.

IMG_1012
Kogaryu takoyaki. About $10 per portion.

KOGARYU TAKOYAKI
2-18-4 Nishishinsaibashi, Chuoku, Osaka 542-0086, Osaka Prefecture
Phone: +81 6 6211 0519


Kiji Okonomiyaki

Okonomiyaki is another dish that Osaka specializes in, and we made sure we try it once before we left. Osaka's okonomiyaki is like Japan's omelette, all ingredients are mixed with eggs and put on the hot pan. Noodles then added in the ensemble, and you can even choose your preferred type of noodle at Kiji Okonomiyaki (about 10 mins walk from Osaka Sta).

There isn't an English menu, but the chefs seemed to be pretty used to foreigners and were more than happy to explain the menu and helped us choose. We had pork and seafood okonomiyaki which was pretty good, only I found it slightly too sweet from all the okonomiyaki sauce and kewpie mayonnaise.

IMG_0965
Taking photos of other people's food because I was hungry.

IMG_0970
Making my okonomiyaki! This one is the noodle one. We shared two okonomiyakis.

IMG_0979
Okonomiyaki, ready to serve. We spent about $30 for two.

KIJI OKONOMIYAKI
1-1-90 Oyodonaka, Kita-ku | Umeda Sky Bldg. B1F Takimi Koji, Osaka 531-0076
Phone: +81 6 6440 5970


Dotonbori

Even if you don't do anything else in Osaka, Dotonbori is somewhere you just have to see. It is an amazing place at night. It's full of people - eating, walking, taking photos, and more. The restaurants seem to put on their best to attract customers - giant fugu fish, massive octopus, and the famous monster crab. Selfies here are a must.

Not to mention the giant Glico man and Asahi billboard. It's beautiful and quite mesmerizing. Take a stroll around and pick a restaurant to have dinner & drinks.

We stopped by Gyukaku Yakiniku, an all-you-can-eat yakiniku place with all-you-can-drink policy for a little bit more to pay.

IMG_1047
Dotonbori gate, Osaka.

IMG_1037
Giant crab!

IMG_1065
Giant fugu fish!

IMG_1063
Dotonbori in its glory.

IMG_1049
The infamous Glico man.

IMG_1083
Gyukaku Yakiniku - all you can eat BBQ.

GYUKAKU YAKINIKU
Japan, 542-0071 Osaka Prefecture, Osaka, Chuo Ward, Dotonbori, 1 Chome-6-10 
Phone: +81 6 6648 40129



Hiroshima

Many say Hiroshima is boring and it's not their 1st preference of a city they would visit.

Wrong.

Visit Hiroshima. Definitely. Cannot stress this enough.

Yes, it's slower than Tokyo or Osaka. Yes, there's much less temples in it than that in Kyoto. It has, however, a really nice chill vibe that is unique to it. Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park is a must-visit. It's a place of such a sorrowful history, almost bone-chilling, but also beautiful at the same time. I learned a lot about atomic bomb and found myself utterly moved by the remains of the victims' belongings.


Miyajima Island 

Miyajima Island is another highlight, and we were lucky enough to be able to kayak to Itsukushima Shrine and the torii gate in the sea. There's also this shopping street in the island, which has various snacks that can be bought and enjoyed while sight-seeing. Just watch the deers, they might eat your snacks. Or even your map.

IMG_1179
The tori gate of Itsukushima Shrine.

IMG_1189
Watch the deer! This one's antlers were already made dull, while the deers in the forest are actually wild deers.

IMG_1195
The shopping/eating street in Miyajima Island. There are restaurants, snack shops, souvenir shops, and more. Grab a map at the train station and you'll find these streets very easily.

IMG_1204
Sweet potato ice cream. I wonder how it tastes!

IMG_1207
One of Hiroshima's specialties: oyster. Since it wasn't oyster season, the oysters aren't sourced fresh from the farm this month. We aren't a fan of oyster so we didn't even touch it. They are humongous! The grilled ones are popular, served with a bit of vinegar and soy sauce.

IMG_1209
Conger eel steamed buns.

IMG_1225
Katsudon from a random restaurant. It was pretty good too! Tasty egg mixture on top of crispy pork katsu. Even better with Japanese 7 spices.

IMG_1220
Unagi don - grilled eel over rice. The unagi (eel) was nice, it was just a little bit too sweet for us.

IMG_1284
Momiji mandoo, easily one of the best things I ate in Japan. It's like soft cake shell filled with various types of filling, like red bean, crushed red bean (red bean without skin), chocolate, custard, green tea cream, etc. They're just so addictive! Sweet and soft and the cake filling ratio is just perfect. You can even see the process of making them from the window of the shops. The original red bean filling and the chocolate are the must try for me.


Okonomimura

Okonomimura is literally a three levels of food court serving, yes you guessed it, okonomiyaki. Hiroshima's okonomiyaki is different than Osaka's. While Osaka's more like a mixed omelet and soggier, Hiroshima's crispier and, to me, tastier. The ingredients are cooked layer by layer, creating crispy noodles on the bottom with thin layer of egg on the top.

There isn't one recommended stall here, just choose one and your life will seem brighter. There's even a stall dedicated for Carp (Hiroshima baseball team) fans here.

IMG_1285
Okonomimura signage. The place is in downtown Hiroshima, 3 mins walk from Hatchobori tram station.

IMG_1292
You'll find both locals and tourists, all with their glasses of beer and plates of okonomiyaki.

IMG_1294
We chose randomly and went to a corner stall on 3rd floor.

IMG_1297
It's very interesting to watch the production line. Layer after layer after layer...

IMG_1298
Our Hiroshima Special, the one with extra bacon and fried cuttlefish.

IMG_1303
Because we were greedy we also ordered a plate of mixed mushrooms with a bit of butter. Juicy and so good. They pan fried it on the spot on the same big hot pan.

OKONOMIMURA
〒730-0034 Hiroshima Prefecture, Hiroshima, Naka Ward, Shintenchi, 5−13

 
Fujiwara Ramen

We spent our last night in Hiroshima in its red light and entertainment district, and made our way to Fujiwara Ramen. English menu is available and the place is cosy. There's a rack of manga to read while you wait.

While David had the light but hearty soy-based tonkotsu ramen, my tsukemen was far more superior. The tsukemen was served cold, and I chose level 15 for the spiciness of the dipping sauce ('there are 20 levels!', he said). The dipping sauce itself was light enough and had enough spicy kick. The noodles were amazing and firm, and the soft boiled egg was creamy. It was a great dinner.

IMG_1153
Fujiwara Ramen interior.

IMG_1162
Tonkotsu ramen.

IMG_1167
Tsukemen, with dipping sauce and a plate of gyoza on the side. There were lots of veggies in the plate - julienned cucumber, spring onion, & cabbage.

FUJIWARA RAMEN
Japan, 〒730-0051 Hiroshima Prefecture, Hiroshima, Naka Ward, Otemachi, 1 Chome−7−20
Phone: + 81 82 504 7215

---

The trip was no short than amazing. It was unforgettable and I will definitely be doing it again sooner than later. Until then, Japan!



Print Friendly and PDF

5 comments:

  1. ahhhh so much delicious eats!!!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Eating that gold leaf soft serve feels so luxe! And I love the sound of the bamboo forest when the wind blows. So calming and zen!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Totally does! And the bamboo forest is just so nice.

      Delete
  3. Great post, Thank you for presenting a big variety of information that is very interesting to see in this article Assignment Help Brisbane

    ReplyDelete

Feel free to comment here !
It's nice to have people around :)