52 Daikoku-cho, Kawaramachi-Sanjo-Sagaru-Nakagyo, Kyoto 〒604-8031 Japan
Like Tokyo, Kyoto is a big city so this room was on the smaller side but worked just fine. We actually met two people in the lobby who went to the same university that we did. It is a small world. The location of this hotel was great because it was in the middle of everything.
Restaurants & Food
This was our favorite restaurant, Tengu. It was not far down the street from our hotel and we ate there multiple times. They had a “build-your-own-meal” menu so we got to try lots of different things. Plus, it was very inexpensive, the service was good, and the food was great. We tried plum wine, which is delicious and I finally got to have some yakisoba. It is a franchise that has multiple locations in Japan. It would also be a fun place to go for drinks and appetizers.
We also ate at the KFC across the street from our hotel a couple of times. It was the best KFC I had ever been too. Clean facility, friendly staff, and delicious food that was not as greasy as the American version. Plus their biscuits were more like donuts with honey on top.
I made sure to get matcha and milk (vanilla) ice cream every chance I got and we found a “summer snow” vendor outside of Maruyama Park.
Every morning we went to Tully’s Coffee and ate an American style breakfast. Well, I’ve never had a salad with my French toast, so it was kind of an American breakfast. We really like coffee so we drank a lot of coffee in Japan. However, we were surprised when we ordered our first cup (cafe latte) in Tokyo and received a bright green frothy drink. I probably did not do a good job enunciating and pointing because we ended up with matcha lattes which were good and already pretty sweet. One thing we noticed, other than Odawara (Odawara Train Station), is that you cannot find sweetener that actually sweetens your coffee. I may pack some Splenda for the next trip. We also ate at the Spaghetti & Cake Second House restaurant in the Mina shopping center, which was delicious.
Four Day Itinerary
Our first day was mostly a travel day so once we arrived at the hotel we walked over to KFC and then to the shops around our hotel. We love the Mina building which is a multi-floor shopping center that houses Loft (department store), UniQlo (clothing), GU (clothing), and Spaghetti & Cake Second House (Italian style and dessert restaurant). We bought clothing, stationary, gifts, cards, and food there. It was only two doors down from our hotel so we went there a lot. UniQlo and the United Colors of Benetton across the street actually had jeans that were the correct length for me so I stocked up. We also found Akao-Shobundo, which was just down the street from our hotel. We loved this store because it was filled with antique books, maps, and Japanese artwork. If only we had brought an empty suitcase, we could have brought home tons of neat things. We visited the store multiple times and found a few light weight treasures.
Day 4 (Day of Arrival)
First thing, we headed south to the Shimogyo Ward. I reserved our kimono appointments in advance online. Wearing a traditional kimono was another activity that I wanted to make sure I got to experience. I had not worn a traditional kimono since I was about three years old. They dressed me and did my hair. Lots of people dress up in kimonos and walk around. It was quite an operation they had there and they are not the only kimono rental company in town. I could not believe my husband agreed to wear one too ( I think he enjoyed it). It did however get pretty hot underneath all those layers. It was not expensive and so much fun.
Next we walked next door to either attend a Japanese tea ceremony or make matcha tea. We ended up making Japanese sweets and also made some friends who were from Okinawa. They did not speak English but we did sing the Japanese Butterfly Song that my grandmother taught me when I was little.
We walked around for a bit and then returned our kimonos. Next we headed east to the Higashiyama Ward.
Walking through the shrine, you will find lots of food vendors, shrines, statues, and people.
My grandmother’s maiden name is Maruyama (her’s is written differently than the park’s in Japanese though). But still, I wanted to go to the park with the same name.
After breakfast at Tully’s, we headed west to Arashiyama in the Ukyo Ward. There was plenty to see in Arashiyama.
While walking through the gardens of Nijo-Jo Castle, we were stopped by some Japanese students. We were also stopped by younger students while in Maruyama Park the day before. Apparently, Japanese students are asked to find people they think speak English and practice speaking with them. The younger students asked us a list of questions and then for our autograph. The older students who we talked to in the Nijo-Jo Castle gardens took turns asking us a question and then asked to take a group photo. Yes, I am sure you can tell I am 1/4 Japanese, ha! I never realized how “white” I looked till this moment.
We did not do the interior tour of the Imperial Palace.
These are the places we did not make it to this time but I hope to visit next trip:
- Fushimi Inari Taisha
- Nanzen-ji Temple
Philosopher’s Path (path between Ginkaku-ji and Nanzen-ji)
- Check Out Of Hotel
- Leave For Osaka (34.61 miles)
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