All posts tagged: Kyoto

Nanzenji Temple Autumn - Tenjuan Garden Maple Leaves Rock Path

7 Things to Do at Nanzen-ji // Kyoto’s Roman-Style Aqueduct Temple

Steeped in history and culture, Nanzenji Temple 南禅寺 is one of the 5 great Zen temples in Kyoto and occupies a huge piece of land. It offers many attractions that will enchant travelers: a rare Roman-style aqueduct, the largest temple gate in Japan, Zen rock gardens, and stunning autumn colors.

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Cafe Arabica Latte Art Coffee - Kyoto Arashiyama

% Arabica // One of Kyoto’s Best-Selling Coffee

% Arabica is one of Kyoto’s best-selling coffee stands, popular among locals & international visitors who flocked to its cafes in Kyoto and around the world. With a latte art champion and a specialty coffee trader at its helm, % Arabica quickly became one of the must-visit cafes for coffee lovers in Kyoto.

Nishiki Traditional Market - Kyoto Japan

Nishiki Market // 5 Must-Eats in Kyoto’s Kitchen

Nishiki Market 錦市場, also known as Kyoto’s Kitchen, is a more than 400-year-old, 400-metre arcade full of cooked food, seafood, eateries, shops, and fresh food ingredients that never fail to entice locals’ and travelers’ tastebuds. Time to fill your stomachs and stock up your kitchens!

Moss Bridge in Moss Garden - Kokedera Kyoto

Saihoji Kokedera // Kyoto’s Magical Moss Garden

Saihoji 西芳寺 or Kokedera 苔寺 is THE moss garden temple to see in Kyoto. This UNESCO World Heritage Site houses innumerable moss varieties and you feel like you are wandering through a mesmeric garden of the softest greens. However, visiting this moss temple requires early planning and reservation.

Tofukuji Temple Must-See - Autumn Colors Kyoto

Tofuku-ji Kyoto // A Must-Visit for Spectacular Autumn Colors

Tofukuji 東福寺 is one of Kyoto’s 5 greatest zen temples with a famed landscape garden designed by Mirei Shigemori. The temple garden is one of the best places to admire those gorgeous autumn colors and Japanese maple leaves — on trees or scattered to create a vibrant carpet of reds, oranges, and yellows.

Shirakawa Gion // Kyoto’s Most Beautiful Street

If you are a traveler from overseas on a tour group, tour guides might skip this part of Kyoto and head straight to the busy hub of Gion (祇園) for shopping and . Dubbed by locals as Kyoto’s most beautiful street, Shirakawa (白川) is a few minutes’ walk from central Gion and the Hanamichi (花道小路) area. It is off the beaten path, and there seemed to be no sight of other tourists when we visited it. The street runs into a Y-shape, with a little shrine situated at the intersection. This little red shrine, like the Yasaka Shrine, was frequented by geishas living in that area. And by our lucky stars, we caught a happy couple taking their wedding photos at this picturesque place just when we reached it. A babbling stream runs through this street with shops, restaurants and tea houses lining one side of it. On the other side, you see willow trees, cherry blossom trees, and Japanese maple trees. The majestic willow trees were indeed a sight. Their long strings of leaves …

Shopping in Gion // Buys that are uniquely Kyoto

One place that no tourist would miss in Kyoto is spending an evening in Gion (祇園) – a place best known as the district where geishas reside, entertain, wait to be ‘rescued’ by their patrons, and where maikos learn their art while serving the needs of their bigger sisters. And if you have read or watched ‘Memoirs of the Geisha’, a visit to Gion must be in the cards. There is much to do here – shopping for scarves and superbly made canvas totes, having kaiseki dinner (懐石料理) in the famous geisha quarters at Hanamichi (花道小路), exploring the most beautiful street in Kyoto near the babbling brook of Shirakawa (白川), and watching the sunset over Gion Shrine (八坂神社 / 祇園神社). To leisurely enjoy the sights and experiences that Gion has to offer, I would suggest heading to Gion in late afternoon to get some shopping done, and then enjoy a stroll to catch the sun setting over Shirakawa and Gion Shrine, before dinner at one of those nostalgic restaurants along Hanamichi which will bring you …

Yuzu Ramen at Eitaro // Hidden Gem in Kyoto, Shijo

Did I share that I simply love the taste of yuzu (ゆず、柚子) ? From yuzu vinegar to yuzu fruit, yuzu sake to yuzu cakes, I’ve tried it all! Naturally, when I hear that there is a shop in Kyoto serving yuzu ramen, I had to go try. I was already imagining how such disparate flavors would combine – one is obviously a fruit! I arrived at Eitaro (英多朗) at 11am, when the shop opens and way before the lunch crowd hits. The shop exterior is not eye-catching and one could have easily missed it. So, here’s a picture to help. Eitaro is a small ramen shop and does not have a lot of seats, so it was good to get there early. Of course, I ordered the yuzu ramen (ゆずラメン) at ¥700 (approximately S$9 – S$10). When the bowl of piping hot noodles was served, the refreshing whiff of the citrus fruit  greeted me first before the fragrant chicken broth started mingling with its fruity accent. You can either squeeze the mini yuzu fruit or …

Fushimi Inari Shrine // Senbon Torii

If you have been a fan of Japanese animation films, you’ll be familiar with images of foxes often appearing as mystical messengers. But that’s the not reason why Fushimi Inari Shrine (伏見稲荷大社 Fushimi Inari Taisha) attracted me and many visitors from afar. Located just 2 stations away from Kyoto Station at the JR Inari Station, this shrine housed the famed and flaming red torii gates (鳥居) in the thousands all the way up the Inari mountain (稲荷山), promising a sight not to be missed. That’s how this sight got its name – Senbon Torii (千本鳥居), literally meaning thousands of torii gates. But, before we get to that… On a beautiful autumn day, we arrive at the entrance of Fushimi Inari Shrine, where young Japnese maple trees lined the avenue against clear blue skies and the Inari Mountain in the background. There are 2 torii gates at the entrance, with the one located at the end of this avenue being the larger one. It was a good day – lots of sunshine, a cool temperature, and …

Nijo Castle // 二条城

Nijo Castle (二条城) is the first castle I visited in Japan. Situated in Kyoto, this Castle is famed for its “nightingale floors” (鴬張りuguisubari) found in the corridors of Ninomaru Palace (二の丸御殿 Ninomaru goten) – a National Treasure that one has got to see, and in this instance, hear in order to experience how it must have been like to live in the 16th century where shoguns ruled the day. The Castle was built upon the order of the 1st Tokugawa shogun, Tokugawa Ieyasu (1542-1616) in 1603. It was completed during the reign of the 3rd shogun, Iemitsu, in 1626. The Castle served as the Tokugawa shogunate’s center of power in Kyoto. Teamed with the dramatic, stormy skies that day, Nijo Castle appeared like it came right out of a samurai movie. I could almost envision ninjas darting across roofs in a silent attempt to assassinate some officials. This white building, found at the corners of the Nijo Castle, is probably where guards would station themselves to look out for possible attacks. A wide moat surrounds …