Visiting Japan - Kyoto and Osaka

Visiting Japan - Kyoto and Osaka

When we planned our Hakone trip, we decided to also squeeze in an overnight trip to Kyoto before heading back to Tokyo.

Although Kyoto is about 280 miles from Hakone, Japan has a bullet train system called Shinkansen that allows you to travel quickly between major cities. In fact, riding Shinkansen and eating an eki bento (station lunchbox) is one of the things I was looking forward to while in Japan. Shinkansen is THE BEST way to travel. No tedious security system to go through, no crowded seating, no ​baggage check-in... ​​ It's ​extremely efficient, comfortable, and steady ride that can go as fast as 200 miles/hr.

Even the lunchboxes are a work of art!  Beats picking up McDonald's at LAX, that is for sure.  Why can't we have this in the States?

Our plan was to get to Kyoto, check in at our hotel, and then head over to Osaka. Osaka is about 30 minute train ride from Kyoto, and it is also where I lived for 3 years when I was young. 

By the time we arrived in Osaka, it was about 4pm. We headed over to the Osaka castle hoping to go inside, but unfortunately, it closed at 4:30pm. We were able to enjoy the glorious building from outside, and it was nice to re-visit the castle since I remembered going there as a child.  So majestic and beautiful.

Once we were done walking around the castle, we headed over to the most famous street in Osaka, Dotonbori. Osaka is famous for great food and lively nightllife, and nowhere is it more evident than Dotonbori. It's an area filled with alleys filled with restaurants. The main street is a sensory overload with huge neon signs everywhere, crowded with people walking and laughing. It's like Vegas, PG-13 version.

Probably the most famous street food in Japan is takoyaki, and it is especially popular in Osaka. We couldn't leave without grabbing some. 

Afterwards, we headed back to Kyoto to spend the night.

The next day, we traveled to Kinkakuji, which is one of the popular tourist attractions in Kyoto. The top two levels are coverd in gold leaf. Isn't it amazing?

Due to our tight schedule, we decided to head back to Tokyo, but I hope to come back to Kyoto again. It has a different feel than Tokyo, with ​a ​quaint​,​ old fashioned ​charm that I remember from childhood. 

Lastly Kyoto station is an attraction in itself. It is the busiest train station I have ever seen, with multiple levels and food offerings everywhere. We ate couple of meals at the station, since one of the levels is a famous ramen alley that houses all ramen shops.​

We also had delicious green tea ice cream that had mochi and red bean as toppings.  Brilliant!​

Kyoto station might just be the best train station I've ever been to, and traveling has never been so much fun!  Can't wait to go back!

Related Posts:
Visiting Japan - Overnight trip to Hakone
Visiting Japan - Sushi Yoshitake Review
Visiting Japan - Eating in Tokyo
Visiting Japan - Things To Do in Tokyo

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