Monday, April 28, 2014

Sakura Mankai: Kyoto-Osaka-Kobe Trip Part 1

When I decided to spend a good five days in Osaka with my younger sister, I really have lots of doubt. Firstly, I was worried about the cost. Being in the top 10 world’s most expensive city to live in, I already know that my cash will flows like a river there. And knowing me, I am not one that can survive with a cup of Maggie mee or just bread. There is no such thing as eat light, heh. And secondly, I have never travel out of the country without my parent. Though I can depends on my younger sister to navigate our way with her basic Japanese, it could hurt my pride  i cannot trust her completely the thought of us getting lost in a non English speaking country still scares me! 

But we have Mr H, who have been living in Osaka for more than 10 years and have been so kind to be our guardian! He help us planning our schedule and all, so I don't have to worry about getting lost or the language barrier. And after months of calculating and borrowing saving, we managed to have enough to survive in Osaka for six days and five nights.

We choose to travel with Malaysia Airline. We checked in at KL Sentral - it was very convenient; we don’t have to worry about our bags after that! Had a quick dinner there before heading to airport by KLIA express. Our flight was at 11.45 pm; I was already feeling sleepy even before we depart!

Where we were staying

Mr H's wifey!

Flight duration was 5 hours. We safely landed at Kansai airport at 5.30 am but the queue at the immigration was terribly long and we only managed to claim our luggage almost at 7.00 am. Once we got out of the airport, I felt like getting back in because it was too cold outside! It was around 8 degree and my blazer was not enough to keep me warm. Fortunately, the first place on the itinerary was Rinku Outlet. And that Banana Republic was on sale! We managed to find a good spring coat!

At Rinku Outlet: Before the mission searching for spring coat started

There were three main attractions here at the bay area: Santa Maria Cruise, Tempozan Ferris Wheel and Kaiyukan Aquarium. The Tempozan Giant Ferris Wheel - used to be the world’s largest and tallest ferris wheel – however was closed for construction (why now why T__T). So we went to have a ride on Santa Maria, a replica of the ship Christopher Columbus used on his first voyage to discover America. The whole journey takes about 45 minutes and it took us to view the buildings around the Osaka Bay Area. It costs 1600 yen for Santa Maria and 2,000 yen for adults to enter the aquarium but we bought a combine ticket for both for 3200 yen.

Santa Maria Cruise

Mieyra longing for Tempozan's ride

Kaiyukan Aquarium is just next to Santa Maria Bay. It was one of the largest aquariums in the world. The buildup was pretty neat - the tanks were categorized according to different regions/theme and the path was spirals along these tanks, so people get to see the same tanks from different depth. There were lots of coral fish, a super friendly stingray, hammerhead shark, reef sharks, spooky giant crab, turtle, dolphins, playful seals, urgh, what else, what else, erm, penguins, a few different type of jellyfish. But I must say that the biggest attraction was the whale shark; I mean to get to see it up close was really an amazing experience. Though I have to admit that I felt sorry for such a big creature which belongs to the ocean gets stuck in this aquarium. It must be feeling very lonely. I heard there used to be a pair – I wonder what happen to the other one? Other than that, we also get to see (and smell too!) otters and giant capybara! And there was this shallow pool where you can touch the sharks or stingrays.

In front of Kaiyukan Aquarium

As for the last one, we went to visit Umeda Sky Building, the seventh tallest building in Osaka. It is 173 meters tall and has a Floating Garden Observatory on top of the building where you can admire the city view of Osaka. Because we got there almost during the sunset time, so the view was very nice and peaceful. I wonder how beautiful it would look at night, with all the lights illuminates from the city.

Umeda Sky Building

The view from the Floating Garden Observatory

Hanshin Expressway going through Gate Tower Building

Another view from another side

Initially, we planned to conquer just Osaka but after some revising of the itinerary, we also include Kyoto (and Kobe!) in this trip. We went to Kyoto on the second day, about an hour drive from Osaka. It is well known for its cultural and imperial remnants, so I was a little more excited than I was yesterday because I love visiting cultural place.

Our first stop was at Kinkaku-ji known as the Golden Pavilion, possibly the world's most showy retirement cottage built by Shogun Yoshimitsu Ashikaga. Then it was turned into Zen temple after his death by his son. The top two floors are completely covered in gold leaf and it shines under the sun. It has burned down numerous times throughout its history; the recent one was in 1950. So the current structure was rebuilt in 1955. 

At the entrance of Kinkaku-ji or Golden Pavilion temple


Beautiful Golden Pavilion and its reflection in the water

There was a path that leads to head monk’s former living quarter and to the garden, which hold a few other spots of interest including Anmintaku Pond that is said to never dry up, and statues that people throw coins at for luck. And people did throw a lot. There was a time when I looked at my sister and I know she had the same thought. We could have better breakfast with those! Just kidding.

Next stop was Philosophy Path, a path that follows a canal which is lined by hundreds of sakura trees at both sides. It is one of the best spot to watch hanami (cherry blossoms) and April was just a perfect time to see them bloom. You see, I'm not even a fan of sakura but with this jaw-dropping scenery, I wouldn't be surprised if anyone said they will fly thousand of miles just to see flowers. I mean, seeing it up close at its peak, it was such a spectacular view. It’s the fact that it only blooms once a year and its fragile state that easily falls when the wind blow, makes this experience thousand times worth a picture. I'm just glad that I wasn't there to watch this beauty fade. It would be heartbreaking!

The Philosophy Path

There will never be enough of sakura picture, no matter how many times I push the trigger

The path actually begins around Ginkakuji temple area (The Silver Pavilion), our third stop. The temple was built by Yoshimasa Ashikaga (the grandson of the founder of Kinkaku-ji) but no, the temple is not covered by silver. There were plan to coat it with silver but was never carry out. Though the temple itself wasn't as impressive as the Golden Pavilion, I thought the garden was more beautiful here. The path is hilly and while we at the top of it, it give a very nice view of the temple. After we toured the garden, we had some green tea at a tea house within the temple area. It tasted like fish; I couldn't finished it.

At Silver Pavilion

The garden

There were many shops along the streets before approaching the temples selling food and souvenir. We tried a few different street foods here; some was good, some was just, ehhh? My sister had this sakura flavored pancake (yes, in the spirit of hanami we should give it a try) but nope, nope.

The last one was Kiyomizudera temple. I love it here because it’s huge and there were a lot of thing going on. Forget those pavilions, if you only visit one temple, this should be the one! The temple is best known for its wooden stage, is believed in bestowing good fortune with numerous ways to appeal to the gods, so there are a few spots. But the most interesting one, in my opinion, would be the Otowa Waterfall, which is located at the base of Kiyomizudera's main hall. Its waters are divided into three separate streams, and visitors use cups attached to long poles to drink from them. Each stream's water is said to have a different benefit such as longevity, academic success and a fortunate love life. 

At Kiyomizudera's entrance
Sakura over here, sakura over there ( ^__^)

The main hall and the stage was built without any nails

The visitors burning incense

Visitors drinking sacred water from Otowa Waterfall streams

I heard there are a lot of Maiko-chan (apprentice geisha) in Kyoto but we didn't spot any! We went back to Osaka after that and have sushi for dinner.They have this smoked shrimp with cheese sushi and it taste too good, I could have them forever! 

And that conclude our second day activities. This post is getting too long, I will have to continue on the next post! Thanks for reading!


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  2. love your post on this one (actually i love all your posts but never mind). ni yang rasa nak pergi jepun jugak ni.. ina chan when u want to stay there?! i want you to tour guide me pulak. tehee..

  3. Cantiknya Sakura.. Right timing korang gi sana.. ��