A Journey through Japan

IMG_7166Following my arrival in Tokyo and hike up Mount Fuji the bullet train brought me to Kyoto. After checking in I walked down the street and came upon this establishment which served ramen noodles. The place seemed to be the Japanese equivalent of the burger joints back home, where the cook keeps one eye on the TV and one eye on the food. It wasn’t amazing but I couldn’t complain, just an unpretentious bowl of ramen with some fried chicken on the side.

IMG_7005My first full day in Kyoto began with a trip to a local pagoda which I ended up revisiting later that evening. Following a quick bus ride I decided to grab breakfast at a local coffee shop as I waited for Kinkaku-ji to open. The place I walked into was really adorable. It had only had enough seats for maybe six people or so, and was run by an elderly Japanese couple. Guessing by the people that came in it seemed to have a rather consistent group of locals (mostly of the elderly variety) who conducted their morning ritual here of reading the paper while sipping on a cup of coffee or tea. I meanwhile ordered Set C and had cold milk instead of coffee.

IMG_7014Once Kinkaku-ji opened I and a few other fellow early birds walked through the gates and towards what is one of Kyoto’s most popular attractions. This temple is considered to be one of the most beautiful in the city and I think this photo captures why. There was also a small pagoda in a pond just beyond this temple which I found particular nice personally.

My next stop was ArashiyamaIMG_7054, which is most famous for its bamboo forest. I actually thought the park adjacent to it was a little more scenic but for those who have never experienced a bamboo forest or park before this would be an understandable stop. There were quite a few people along the path for the most part but I was lucky enough to grab this shot in an area where it was less crowded.

IMG_7077From the bamboo forest I moved onto one of the stops I had been looking forward to the most. Nijo Castle is not among one of the original castles of Japan (of which there are only twelve), but it is a beautiful castle nonetheless. The main keep pictured to the left was stunning and the artwork inside the castle itself was very cool as well though many were replicas as the originals had been moved to the on site museum.

IMG_7104My next stop was Kiyomizu-dera Temple. This is the most popular temple in Kyoto and path up to it has a number of shops where you can souvenirs and snacks. It is an active area with plenty of foreigners and locals alike strolling about and I was really looking forward to seeing the pagoda which is one of Kyoto’s most famous landmarks. Sadly it is currently undergoing some kind of renovation or restoration and was thus all covered up. I took this picture nonetheless but as you IMG_6958can see there isn’t much to see.

I finished my day with a pagoda that didn’t disappoint. Yasaka Pagoda is part of Hokan Temple which had already closed by the time I reached this spot but fortunately the pagoda was close enough to the road to allow me to take this picture to the left.

IMG_7140Although Kyoto is primarily known for its historical sites the city also has a number of excellent restaurants and I decided to try out a few the following day. For lunch I ate at Gion Karyo where I had the chance to savor a number of dishes, though my favorite was the Sashimi pictured to the right though the sushi was very good as well.

IMG_7253Back in Tokyo I would truly be amiss not to tell you about the amazing bakeries. Although Tokyo may not seem like the place for pastries, Japan has been gradually gaining more and more credit for some incredibly high quality baked goods. I was fortunate enough to try a croissant from Brasserie VIRON and it was delicious. I don’t claim to be a critic on croissants (I am after all only an American), but I think this one would gain at least an incredulous nod from even the most ardent Parisian connoisseur. The poolish demi and creme brulee were quite nice as well.

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