Saturday, June 9, 2018

Day 1 - Kyoto Trip : Travel Plan & Kyoto Nishiki Market

We have planned this Japan family trip since 7 Oct 2017 and finally bought the air ticket to Osaka when Japan Airlines had a promo at RM 1,482 including baggage up to 23 kgs x 2 bags per person. This is the first time I go to Japan on a free and easy trip. Jonathan did a lot of research before going for this trip online and offline. After all it really pays off as we save a lot of time on direction and time.


Preparing for holiday in Japan is somewhat frustrating as we had to spend almost every weekend on doing the itinerary after we bought our air ticket. We started our planning  since Nov 2017 until the night before the trip because I am a bit greedy trying to cover as much as we can.


It was a nightmare at first because as many will claim that Japan's public transportation is one the most complicated in the world.

We studied a lot of travel passes such as Osaka Amazing Pass, Kansai One Pass, Suica, JR-West Rail Pass & ICOCA as there are many different rail and bus companies that cover different routes. Finally at the final stage, after counting all the transport and entrance fees, we felt that still ICOCA which is similar to our Malaysian Touch n Go is the best as we can easily load in the cash and pay 2000 Yen for the card (1500 Yen first charge, 500 Yen deposit). Then at the end of the journey, we can get refund by paying a small amount of processing fee only. Proven in the end that we chose the right card as ICOCA covers almost 99% of the transportation we took, except for Sagano Romantic Train. (Osaka Amazing Pass Klook was initially very tempting as it offers free entrance tickets into Osaka Castle etc)


We spent a lot of time searching for Air BnB because hotel is too expensive costing RM 700-1000 per night. I was earlier shocked that even Air BnB costs RM 400 per night for non sharing bathroom and can cost about RM 100-200 for sharing bathroom.

Day 1 - 10 April 2018

It was our first time traveling on JAL. We initially wanted to Ana Airlines but the timing was weird and would transit too long in Tokyo Narita Airport. Then the JAL schedule of having only 4 hours to take the Narita airport bus (3100 Yen per pax) to Haneda was a tad too scary as we worried we miss the domestic flight.

Haneda Airport as below showing the counter to buy the bus ticket

JAL seems to be ok, as the air hostess actually gave us warm towels before our supper which was just plain bread with sausage in the middle.

I guess the only highlight were the wine list which contains umeshu, red wine, white wine and lot of other hard liquor. Breakfast was also too simple for me but edible. There are many movies onboard and I especially like the Japanese ones.

Day 2 - 11 April 2018 

At Haneda Airport, we even had time to have a very early breakfast at the food court, stall called Tokyo Kitchen, of a set of Japanese curry rice with plain soba noodles (830 Yen) and added a bit of money for salad at 110 Yen. The thing about Japan is the healthy salad sauce. Drinks like hot tea and also water are free. I have learnt to always hit the basement for cheaper food.

Haneda Airport has very few stores, with the bare minimum being Samantha Lavrosa with its cafe

Osaka Itami Airport

Itami airport is really small, and when we came out of the arrival lounge, there were very few food stalls, we went to a small convenience store and bought simple Kyoto-styled pressed sushi for about 350 Yen ++, my first taste of this. I felt that there was too much rice in the sushi  till one could not feel much of the sashimi. I like the pressed mackerel though.

This is the exit door and outside, we can buy bus tickets heading to Kyoto town for 1310 Yen each. The bus is very punctual and came immediately.

Once we reached Kyoto Main station, we went looking for the Baggage Storage Service shop. We went there thinking it would be cheaper at 500 Yen to place our luggage there, but it seems that the price has increased to 700 Yen which is the same price with the luggage lockers.

After placing our luggage, we walked around, taking photos and I wanted to go somewhere like Nishiki Market but Jon said not to go yet because we were lack of time till official check in time at 4 pm. Hence we walked around looking for the nearby temple as per the Tourist Services lady's recommendation.

HIGASHI HONGAN-JI (East Temple) and NISHI HONGAN-JI (West Temple)
("Ji" means Temple in Japanese)

We took a short walk and visited 2 temples within Kyoto city as per names above and were amazed by the Japanese craftmanshipment.


The interior which is accessible free of charge which is a bonus considering a lot of temples in Japan charge entrance fees.

Sakura spotted

The joy of traveling on our own vs going on tour is we are able to look around better

Very small parking space


After walking around till almost 3.45pm, we bought green tea at the vending machine for 100 yen before heading back to the station which is near our Airbnb.

We passed by so many vending machines like every 50 feet in Japan even in the rural area. After many days of staying there, I would usually buy the drinks at the mall which is much cheaper.


We were lucky to stay in Air Bnb very near to Kyoto Station, about 10 mins walk and we met the jovial guy who was swinging his umbrella. He then gave non-stop explanation of all the house facilities and how to use the dryer installed in the bathroom to heat up the laundry by just adjusting temperature.

Yes you hear me right! Japan is just so advanced and I found this even better than the machine dryer and we can leave our clothes in the bathroom the entire night after washing.

Overall, I preferred the apartment at Kyoto than the one we stayed in Osaka albeit more expensive due to the special attention the owner took to provide detergent, hangers, coffee, creamer, sweets, umbrella and even mineral water in the fridge for the hot season. There were even magazines and travel books on the coffee table.

The host even explained about the nearby tourist attractions till we had to stop him from talking for fear of missing Nishiki Market.


How do we get from our apartment to Nishiki Market?

- Take Subway from Kyoto Station to Shijo Subway Station (Karasuma Line) (2 stops) (3 mins)
- Walk from Shijo Subway Station to Nishiki Market (9 mins)

We actually walked so far before finally discovering the alley way to the market.

I saw a crowd eating the grilled big fresh prawns at this stall and decided to try it albeit costing quite a hefty price of 500 Yen for a stick.

Since my dream before coming here was to try Sea Urchin, I finally did it at a stall smelling full of seafood. It costs about 400 Yen whereas the Salmon Belly (600 Yen) on Stick was more worth the price paid.

We went back to United Colours of Benetton as I intended to search for the shoes which I bought at Jusco Hokkaido long time ago but the boutique was closed that time.

At the end of the day, when we walking quite far, we discovered that Jon lost his ICOCA card and went back to the market searching for it in vain and that has spoilt Jon's entire night. We just ate at MOS burger, which is quite cheap there as we have lost about RM 100 ++ ringgit inside his card. Burger eateries in Japan is similar with Europe whereby you can add in beer for about 350 Yen. Additional chips cost 220 Yen

Jon's Beef burger with salsa sauce (370 Yen)

MOS Seafood Rice Burger (340 Yen) - Just so-so and not that great, would have preferred it with more sauce

Since Japan is well known for the white strawberries, and I could find it at a lower price albeit with smaller portion, I bought it at Takashimaya

Went to Hello Kitty Sanrio store opposite MOS to browse through:

During my planning for this trip, I wanted to go to Pontocho Alley so much due to the beautiful view but tonight it was raining very heavily when I wanted to go there. The restaurant here is quite expensive too.

This is the night view of our housing area

These alcohol are bought at the hypermarket in Kyoto Station which we always pass by on the way home. The peach coca-cola tasted so fragrant. The Green tea chocolates are also very rich and tasty.

Rekindling my  love for Mio Sparkling Sake

View of Toji Temple from our balcony

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