Travel: Osaka / Kyoto - All Kinds of Amazing
We were in Japan for just over a week and loved every minute of it! Japan was fantastic, with amazing food, scenery, shopping, and friendly people everywhere. We can’t thank Kaoru and Kevin enough for having us there for their Japan-side wedding, with their incredibly adorable baby Yuna. We hope to come back to Japan sometime to visit again, it is such a vibrant country with so many things to it never feels like you have enough time to do everything you planned to!
We'd love to share our experiences here and hope you find them helpful if you visit also! On to the travel pointers and pictures!
- It is really easy to get around with public transport in Osaka and Kyoto. But just note there are 3 railway lines that don’t use interchangeable tickets / passes so plan your route accordingly (and so it may not be worth it to get a day pass for any one line as you may end up switching amongst all 3). One deal we thought was great was the 500 yen all-day Kyoto bus pass though, which came in really handy!
- The green tea desserts and ice cream in Kyoto are just another level up from everywhere else. You have to try them if you go there!
- In Kyoto we stayed at a small 1-room Airbnb for about USD100/night near Nijo station. The room was literally a tiny room (but very clean) with walls so thin you could hear the guy next door snoring at night. Just expect possibly smaller accomodations than you may be used to and maybe even thin walls too if you Airbnb it.
- Endo Sushi - Apparently the best sushi in Osaka! Incredible sushi comes in sets of 5, each with one toro! Don’t interchange sushi as you’ll get charged a la carte for each one. Also, the clam miso soup is crazy good, I had 2 bowls! Make sure you get there early, we were there 20 minutes after opening and waited nearly an hour to get in.
- Shinsaibashi - Awesome shopping street that seems to go on forever! With its many side streets you can literally spend an entire day eating and shopping. Really an awesome place to hang out, we went back there twice.
- Luke’s Lobster - I know they have this in New York (and it’s not Japanese whatsoever) but I never got to try it in New York when I was there last October, which some of my friends gave me a lot of crap about lol. So I finally had one and I got to say it lived up to the hype!
- Ichibazushi - Great sushi joint at Shinsaibashi, bar style with your own sushi chef.
- Fushimi Inari Shrine & Arashiyama Bamboo Forest - Two of the most popular places to visit in Kyoto. Extremely crowded, get there as early as you can (sunrise) if you want to beat the crowd and get the cleanest pictures. We found it handy to start shooting at the *exit* of Fushimi Inari Shrine for our shoots there as everyone is running through the entrance!
- Unagiya Hirokawa - Easily the best eel rice I’ve ever had, located along the main street outside the Arashiyama bamboo forest. You’ll line up a long time to eat here (an hour or so) but it’s well worth it. They catch fresh eel daily and you can really taste the difference.
- Higashiyama District - This is the old town district of Kyoto where you can find many of the traditional wooden buildings, narrow lines, and many great cafes and shops.
- Kyoto Gogyo Ramen - They have an awesome burnt ramen that is really nothing like I’ve had anywhere else. Super amazing stuff, my favorite ramen of the entire trip.
- Shinpuku Saikan Honten - Amazing soy-sauce based ramen, comes in massive bowls and is a serious hearty soul food meal. Be sure to have their pork fried rice which everyone there was having to complement their ramen.
- Nishiki Market - This market has been around since 1310 and there are so many shops around here. An awesome place to spend the day and do a lot of shopping and eating.
- Jins - Chain glasses store where they make your glasses in 30 minutes. Really loved the frames here, got two and they were just $100 each with lenses! I like the frames there a lot better than Owndays in Singapore.
- Yuu Teppanyaki Okonomiyaki - One of our favorite restaurants we tried during our trip. It’s a really small restaurant and Yuu (the lady owner / chef) has run the place for 30+ years. You sit at the grill, of which there are 2, and order dishes which she cooks right in front of you. Fantastic place for a beer and teppanyaki! My favorite dish was definitely the mentaiko spaghetti.
- Tsujiri Honten - One of the many amazing green tea dessert places in Kyoto which as I said above, are better than everywhere else!
- Deer Park - If you came to Nara, you almost certainly came to see the deer! Just buy deer crackers from any of the vendors and the deer will start to follow you around! Some of them can be particularly aggressive in chasing you down while you are holding your crackers - an awesome experience and one of the highlights of our trip. Definitely worth going to Nara for this.
- Wata Wata Owl Cafe - Never petted owls before, but you can do so here, and also feed them chicken to eat! I was amazed you can even pet them on their beaks and they are so adorable. Really loved the owls here and another must do if you come to Nara.