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Jared and I recently travelled to Kyoto & Osaka, here is our travel journal. Wanting to get out of the hustle and bustle of Hong Kong over the new year period, and craving a really chilly cold holiday, we settled on heading to Kyoto and Osaka – a quick flight from Hong Kong.
We love Japan but we had no idea how busy this part of Japan gets over the new year time – which was my only regret – it was so overcrowded, which meant the cosy appeal was lost.
We arrived in Osaka and took a train to our first hotel in the Arashiyama district, Kyoto. We wanted to experience a traditional ryokan, so we stayed at Ryotei Rangetsu – a beautiful traditional Japanese inn. The hotel was well worth every dollar spent and was in a fantastic location. From the Ryotei Rangetsu we were able to visit the many temples in the area, wander through the bamboo groves and take a short uphill walk to see the local monkeys. There is also an amazing % Arabica coffee shop that made the best flat white coffees.
During the new year, there were a lot of places that were closed, something to be wary about if you are booking a trip here during this time, so we ended spending a lot of time walking through the streets and just exploring the area. We spend a lot of time exploring the Gion and Higashiyama District, a beautifully quaint area in Kyoto. We also checked into a new hotel in Kyoto – Node Hotel.
On the third day, we had planned a day trip to Hiroshima – Hiroshima housing two world heritage sites, Itsukushima Shrine and the A-Bomb Dome of the Hiroshima Peace Memorial. Unfortunately, Itsukushima Shrine was not open due to ongoing maintenance, but we did get a chance to see the A-Bomb Dome that was really an eye-opener and gripped my heart in sadness.
Day four we visited Nijo-Castle, strolled through the street food market and took a trip to visit Fushimi Inari – the temple famous for the red beams. This was on New Year’s day, and unknown to us, all the local Japanese community head to the temples for prayer on New Year’s day, so the temple was extremely busy. You can spot the crowds in the picture below. The food market had a huge variety of local food and flavours and I would definitely recommend a walkthrough if you love food.
The last two days of our holiday we spent in Osaka. We left the little city of Kyoto and headed to Osaka on the train. We had planned to check out the Suntory Yamazaki Whiskey tour but it was closed over the new year. When we go back, it will be a definite must to visit. We spent the next two days exploring the city of Osaka, Osaka Castle and walking through the shopping district. While in Osaka, we stayed at the Moxy hotel and loved the splashes of pink they had decorated their hotel in.
Below is a full itinerary list of what we got up to while in Kyoto.