Autumn Story In Japan 2013 – Fushimi Inari Shrine (伏見稲荷大社)

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Our sad face because we took the express train and it does not stop at Inari Station. When we reach JR Nara Line in Kyoto Station, this express train is already there and we check with one of the station guard if this express train stops at Inari Station, and he said ‘Yes’.

So, happily we board the train thinking ‘Oh how lucky that the train is here and we do not have to wait.’ Only when we realise that the train is taking longer than usual to reach Inari that we realise the train does not stop at Inari and has pass through it. *smacks self*

So… we alight at the next station that the train stops and take the normal train back to Inari Station. Phew~~ lucky it does not take too long. Lol!

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Too happy to see Inari Station that I just have to take a photo with this sign board. 😛

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Once exit Inari Station, Fushimi Inari Shrine is just right outside. My friend call this the Fox Shrine. 😀

It is an important Shinto shrine in southern Kyoto and is famous for its thousands of vermilion torii gates, which straddle a network of trails behind its main buildings. The trails lead into the wooded forest of the sacred Mount Inari, which stands at 233 meters and belongs to the shrine grounds.

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The shrine is really beautiful with bright red-orange-y exterior. 🙂 It is the most important of several thousands of shrines dedicated to Inari, the Shinto god of rice.

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Now you know why my friend says this is the ‘Fox Shrine’. 😛

Foxes are thought to be Inari’s messengers, resulting in many fox statues across the shrine grounds. Fushimi Inari Shrine has ancient origins, predating the capital’s move to Kyoto in 794.

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Ema and colourful fox tails. I am not too sure what is the meaning of these colourful fox tails. The downside of a free and easy trip, no tour guide to explain to you about the meaning or history of some places or interesting sightings.

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Before the trip, I already make up my mind that I want to write a ‘torii gate’ shape ema when I visit Fushimi Inari Shrine because it is so cute and also, the shrine is famous for it’s rows of torii gates! 😀

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The famous thousands of torii gates in a row leading to Mount Inari. I should have visited this place in the morning because it is so super crowded in the late afternoon that taking a serene photo of the torii gates is not possible because of the crowd in the backdrop.

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The torii gates along the entire trail are donations by individuals and companies, and the donator’s name and date of the donation are inscribed on the back of each gate. The cost starts around 400,000 yen for a small sized gate and increases to over one million yen for a large gate.

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We complete the first part of the torii gates trail and decide to end there. Lol.

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Exit the shrine and turn to the right, there is this street with souvenir shops and food stalls.

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Queued long for Takoyaki and it’s just mediocre. I still prefer the ones we have at Nara. Nicer. Hehe.

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Hiroshima Yaki! This is really good! The vegetables below are just so sweet and juicy! If we have more stomach space, I would definitely go buy a 2nd one to eat. 😛

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Autumn Story In Japan 2013 – Arashiyama – 嵐山の午餐

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The restaurant that we are going to have our lunch! It’s located just opposite the bridge. It’s around 1 plus, I think. So we are super duper hungry and anything that can be eaten, we will eat. 😛

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Here we are. Seated and ordered. The purpose of this photo is just to show how far apart we are sat opposite each other. The table is longish!

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Happy me with my lunch. I order Udon Stew and we share Chicken Karaage. I love the stew much and the udon is flat and wide instead of those round and fat. It’s very springy and absorbs the stew well. There are mochi in it as well! The chicken karaage has very crispy skin, tender and juicy meat. Yummy.

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After lunch, we stroll back towards JR Saga Arashiyama Station for train ride back to Kyoto Station. And it starts to drizzle lightly. Oh rain, I hate you when I am on holiday!

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Waiting for train at JR Saga Arashiyama Station and takes a photo with this station guard. Fell asleep on the train all the way to Kyoto and is still sleepy / small eyes when I alight. Lol. 😀

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From Kyoto Station, we walk / transfer to JR Nara Line to Inari Station which is just 2 stops from Kyoto Station. By the name of Inari Station, I’m sure it’s obvious that we are going to Fushimi Inari Shrine! Before that, we walk pass this famous waffle shop in Kyoto Station while on route to JR Nara Line. and decide to buy some waffles to try.

One thing about being on a free and easy trip, we live how the locals live and we decide when we want to stop and eat! 😛

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Yummy! Crispy outer layer and soft inside. Bought a original and a white chocolate flavor. Not too sweet at all! Happy with the waffle but make a hoo-haa silly mistake later on the train ride. Till the next post. Hehe. 😀

Autumn Story In Japan 2013 – Tsukemen Dinner @ Kyoto Station

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We shop a little at the underground malls in Kyoto Station before settling at a random ramen restaurant for dinner. Ya, we usually just pick random restaurants for our meals by looking at the fake food displays outside and decide which ones tempt us more. Lol!

And its Tsukemen this time! I have been wanting to try Tsukemen and I finally tried it. I love it much! The noodles here are so good! I am not a good describer of food but I really like the noodles a lot.

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Tsukemen meant ‘dipping noodles’. The soup is thicker than usual because it is meant for dipping the ramen. Flavourful!

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There is free flow of Kimchi at this restaurant. Yummy!

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We order Gyoza too and the outer skin is so crispy! Nothing can really goes wrong with food in Japan, I suppose. 😀

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Happy me with my Tsukemen and Gyoza! After dinner and chilling for a while, it’s back to hotel for resting. Feet are super tired because we did a lot of walking at Nara! And it will be Arashiyama in the next post. 🙂

Autumn Story In Japan 2013 – Gion and Yummy Izakaya Dinner @ Kyoto Station :)

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We take Bus No. 100 from Ginkakuji-Mae Bus Stop (which is just located along the road from Ginkakuji to main road) to Gion. Gion is Kyoto’s most famous geisha district, located around Shijo Avenue between Yasaka Shrine in the east and the Kamo River in the west.

Overall, Gion has too huge a crowd in the evening and also has lots of high-end souvenir shops and restaurants. We roam over 2 streets, take photos with this cute Hello Kitty and we start to feel bored. We did not see any geisha or maiko too. 😛

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Feeling hungry, we decide to take Bus No. 100 from Gion Bus Stop (where we alight just now) back to Kyoto Station. It is a mistake to wear my jacket onto the sardine packed bus with heater on full blast. I am nearly fainting and sweating by the time I reach Kyoto Station. >.<

We settle down at this traditional Izakaya located within Kyoto Station, nearer to the Hachiko Exit side. We order many dishes and I remember the bill coming up to around S$60++ which I find it quite reasonable.

Of cos, beers are not to be missed when having dinner at Izakaya! Yummy! Even though I turn super red and feeling hot after just downing half of it. Hur.

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We are lucky to get a huge table enough for 6 and also a tatami seat! How nice and authentic to eat at such a Izakaya! Totally loving the experience!

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Complimentary dish. It’s some chicken meat with a greyish like jelly and bamboo shoots. Quite nice! 🙂

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Super smooth Tofu with a little of Soya Sauce. Great appetizer.

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Silver fishes with Radish Paste. After adding in soya sauce, it makes quite a good appetizer too.

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This is Raw Yam with Seaweed Slices. Erm cos it does not says raw yam in the menu, but just says yam, and I thought it’s steamed or fried yam. Raw yam is a unique taste and we don’t like it.

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To the main dishes. Grilled Chicken Butt with Sprinkled Salt. Delicious!

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Fry Chicken Lung with Butter. Buttery and crunchy good, I would say. A different way to eat Chicken Lung. Thumbs up!

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Chicken Stew! Great stew to a perfect state with a light yet flavourful base. Oh and the chicken meat are so very tender!

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Grilled Chicken Wings with Sprinkled Salt. Super yummy! The chicken skin is grilled to crispiness while the meat is tenderly good!

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Guess what is this? Grilled Chicken Liver with Yakitori Sauce! Chicken liver is so much nicer than Pig Liver or maybe it’s cos the way this Chicken Liver is done makes it great? Not too raw but not over-cooked, just on the dot. Super good. 😀

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Miscellaneous Yakitori. From the left, Grilled Chicken Meat with Minty Leaf, Grilled Chicken Lung, Grilled Chicken Meat with Onion, all sprinkled in salt. Yummy much too!

I highly recommend this Izakaya and I will definitely return if I am in Kyoto. I regret not taking note of the Izakaya’s name though but it’s easy to find as it’s most of the time fully packed. We waited for quite a while before getting a seat too. Oh and ask for the English menu too. 🙂

Autumn Story In Japan 2013 – Breakfast and Subway / Bus to Kinkakuji!

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2 December 2013 – We wake up around 6.30am and are planning to leave the hotel around 8am. I love Citadines Kyoto because it provides a very homely and cosy feel which allows me to sleep very well even on the first night! 😀

Hui Ping has the tuna salad (bought from the supermarket near our hotel) for breakfast. I try a bit of the salad and I fell in love with the sauce! It’s neither Wafu Sauce nor Sesame Sauce and I do not know how to describe the taste of the sauce either, but it is really good!

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The hotel provides a small packet of cookie that is very buttery and delicious, which I have it for breakfast. But I am not sure if it is refillable because it is never being replenished in the room every since I eat it. Haha.

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A photo a day at the entrance of the hotel. The grey knitted top is the one that I bought at Uniqlo the day before. It is quite thick and really keeps warm!

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At Gojo Subway Station waiting for train. There are several ways to go to Kinkakuji but the more efficient way is to travel by the Karasuma Subway Line to Kitaoji Subway Station and transfer to a bus. Oh remember to grab a bus route map from Kyoto Station Tourist Information Centre (we collected ours the day before) as it is very useful for planning the route.

And also we bought the Traffica Kyo Card (3000 Yen, but the usage is up to 3300 Yen) which can be used on all buses and subways. We purchased it at the Tourist Information Centre in Kyoto Station too. However, do note that there is no refund of any remaining amount. 3300 Yen was just enough for us during our stay in Kyoto for 4 days.

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The journey to Kitaoji Subway Station takes about 15 minutes. Once alighted, just followed the signage towards Kitaoji Bus Terminal.

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There are 2 link-way to go to Kitaoji Bus Terminal from the Kitaoji Subway Station. One blue and one red. So just go towards the blue one. And you will see the bus terminal. Look for the one going to Kinkakuji and Bus 101 / 102 and start queuing.

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The bus comes in a while. In Kyoto, we have to board the bus from the back door and then press the bell when the stop that you are alighting flashes on the screen. Insert the Kyo Card into the machine for fee deduction before alighting through the front door.

The seats are all cushioned on the bus! Though comfy, we notice that the seats are so narrow that tall people like us find it a little cramp. Nonetheless, we do enjoy the 10 minutes bus ride looking at the passing street view and immerse ourselves into Kyoto’s morning. 🙂

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Alighted at Kinkakuji Bus Stop and cannot resist taking photos with the beautiful cafe exterior design and the pinkish wall!

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Directions to Kinkakuji from Kinkakuji Bus Stop: While facing the cafe after alighting from the bus, turn to the left and walk towards the traffic junction, then we immediately spot this huge signage to Kinkakuji. Probably a 10-15 minutes walk. 🙂

Autumn Story In Japan 2013 – It is all about food and shop in Kyoto Day 1 :)

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It’s unbelievable how I managed to survive carrying a 26 inch luggage and a big hand carry bag up several flights of stairs in the subway station in order to arrive at the hotel. Amazing me. Still glad that I still have the energy to go out immediately after checking-in to hotel room. 😀

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First, we explore the streets just outside our hotel and I really love staying here! There’s a 24 hour supermarket along the street (on same side as our hotel, turn left upon exiting hotel entrance) and I love supermarket in Japan! So much snacks, and what’s not to buy!

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As we have not taken any food since we shared the waffle on NEX, we decide to buy sushi and dessert from the supermarket to eat. We settle at a small bench next to the supermarket and start on our first sushi in Kyoto. It’s yummy even though it’s from the supermarket. Awww….. how I love Japan!

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Our dessert! Glutinous rice top with sweet and big fat red bean!!! I really do not understand why red beans are always so damn delicious in Japan. Cos grass is greener on the other side? Hur.

We continue exploring the street and are delighted to find a drugs store and a 100 Yen shop around! There’s a super huge 7-11 on the opposite street. There’s a Yayoiken Restaurant and MacDonald on the right side of the hotel.  Now you know why I love staying at Citadines Kyoto!

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There’s an Aeon Mall nearby to Kyoto Station. It’s actually next to New Miyako Hotel. If you go from Kyoto Station, either look for New Miyako Hotel direction or Hachiko Exit of Kyoto Station. Kyoto Station is big and quite complicated but it really has everything! Shopping malls (a lot!), underground shopping mall (there’s 2!), restaurants (a lot!), Drugs Store and supermarkets (a lot!).

Once you get use to the station layout, it’s actually easy to navigate but be prepared to walk a lot! Back to Aeon Mall, there are 2 sides of Aeon mall separated by a bridge. The one on the right side has more restaurants and shopping. Uniqlo, Muji, Gap, Daiso and some individual shops. Oh, and a huge supermarket too!

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Christmas decorations are already all around on 1 November 2013 (that’s really early!) and how I love them! The stairs are decorated with many Santa Clauses but I thought they look more like the 7 dwarfs. Opps!

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First thing into the mall is to look for food for dinner! I know we just had sushi and dessert but those are like snacks. Haha. Google this Shabu Shabu Buffet Restaurant before my trip and seems like the reviews are not bad. So we decide to come and try. It’s call Shabu Shabu Ku Raku.

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Happy me. I thought the price is cheap (I think around $20+ per pax) so do not expect great variety of food or what’s not. But it’s enough to satisfy me. Notice the pot of soup, it’s actually plain water. Most people has the misconception that Shabu Shabu soup is like chicken soup or pork bone soup cos it’s like that in Singapore.

But in fact, if you have Shabu Shabu in Japan, the soup is just plain water. You are not supposed to drink it. It’s just for the purpose of cooking your food. The main highlight is the dipping sauce!

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We had pork and beef. Well it’s not the best-est meat that I have (with nice marble and all) but it’s really not bad. The slices are thick and the meat are fresh! I mean those I have in Singapore are really thin that I have to cook 3 slices together in order to taste the meat. Lol.

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Sauce! This is soup (not sure what kind of soup), add a little Yuzu Sauce (I think it has pepper in the sauce as well) and green onion. Dip the meat in it and yums! I really love the sauce much!

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There’re also mushrooms, vegetables, udon and ramen at the counter for grab. Hui Ping took this photo of me looking disgruntled. But I am not. 😛

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Free flow of Vanilla Ice Cream which is so rich in milk! Slurps.

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After dinner, we see Daiso and we go crazy in it cos it’s so so so big! It’s 100 yen for everything and almost everything you need.

Then, we shop at Uniqlo and I bought like 2 winter jackets (the fat and fluffy kind, one for mum and one for myself) and also a knitted above knee top to match with leggings. OMG. Uniqlo is damn cheap in Japan (Of cos la, duh! It’s Japanese brand) and I nearly killed myself when the 2 jackets that I bought here are later on put on sale in Tokyo. It’s like a further discount of another $20! Smacks self on the forehead.

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Hui Ping needs to go to the ladies and so I settle down on the bench outside to wait for her after buying this apple tea from the vending machine. But I do not really like it. It’s not the drink, I think it’s just me. I don’t like the combination of apple and tea, it just…. taste… weird.

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We walk back to Kyoto Station and the temperature has dropped a little since night is here. Walk pass this restaurant selling fruit tarts and is attracted by the rows of display! We order 1 slice to share and we chose the cheapest one. Haha. This slice cost like $9! But it’s so yummy with the fresh fruits on top and the smooth cream below coupled with a crispy buttery crust at the bottom.

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No these are not from the fruit tart restaurant, we bought them from a bakery store next door. Love the Halloween Themed Bread which has curry filling inside. But I didn’t get to eat it cos I left it in the fridge and totally forgotten about it. Hu!

The pudding is yummy! I have it for breakfast on a certain morning. It has this vanilla custard taste and, is so soft and smooth! 😀

Time to call it a day and we return to our hotel for rest. Looking forward to the next day as it’s a day of sightseeing and history digging!