5 Awesome things to do when Visiting Osaka City in Japan

5 Awesome things to do when Visiting Osaka City in Japan

When visiting Osaka there is a range of things going on in the popular Japanese city to appease any traveller who has a variety of opinions when it comes to attractions they prefer to visit or activities they may choose to participate in.

Whether it’s historical, cultural or dazzling attractions, there is something for every tourist visiting Osaka and courtesy of a brilliant public transport system, you’ll be able to explore many parts of the vibrant city and get where you need to go.

On my recent trip to Osaka Japan, I had the pleasure of doing many awesome things, including an earthquake experience not to be forgotten, but it was undoubtedly an epic city to explore and with that, here are five places that you should consider going to when visiting Osaka Japan.

 

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Dotonbori Osaka

Visiting Osaka Japan.

 

Visiting Osaka? Here are Five Places to Consider in the Japanese City

 

 

Take a History Lesson at Osaka Castle

Osaka Castle needs to be a top priority when visiting Osaka, with its large presence noticeable from a distance and the education you’ll receive with a Japanese history lesson waiting to be discovered as your devour the facts and knowledge of Osaka Castle.

You walk through the gardens until you reach the moat that has the stunning view of Osaka Castle hovering high above.  You then cross over the bridge of the moat and make your up to the hilltop where the castle is located, at this time, many travellers are trying to grab the best vantage point for an awesome photo shoot.

To go inside the walls of Osaka Castle, there is a 600-yen entrance fee, which is worth the payment alone and view the fine structures of the castle that dates to its completion in 1583 by Imperial Regent of Japan, Toyotomi Hideyoshi.

It was in fact, demolished in 1868 when it surrendered to Imperial Loyalists, only to be rebuilt at the same location in 1995. Inside the walls, there are eight-levels of facts about Osaka castle that has to do with Toyotomi Hideyoshi and his family, the construction of the castle, other factual knowledge and real-life armour, clothing and weaponry used back in the day.

The highlight of Osaka Castle: The slow cruise in the waters surrounding the main castle is certainly the highlight. It’s on this very experience you can capture the greatest views and get a history lesson of the castle from the audio tour which is Japanese and English.

 

Related Article: Where To Stay In Osaka For First Time Visitors!

 

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Osaka Castle

Osaka Castle.

Wander through Chaotic Dotonbori

Dotonbori is the life of Osaka and you will visit this location on your trip to the city on numerous occasions. Everyone is dressed up nice and getting lost in the crowd of chaos that is full of tourists and locals who are flocking to the area for an awesome time out.

Dotonbori lights up with many advertising signage on display throughout the surrounding buildings, which is a common trait in Japanese cities. The sign that gets the biggest attention is the Glico Man Sign, which was built in 1935 and appears to be of a man on the run, with many people gathering at the forefront of the sign or on the nearby bridge of Dotonbori River, to capture the perfect selfie photo.

Other things to do in Dotonbori include going shopping in many retail outlets, enjoying the nightlife by clubbing or drinking a few beers at the bar and tasting many varieties of Japanese food, whether it is dining at a restaurant or snacking on the run from a street vendor. You’ll have a treat no matter what.

Highlights of Dotonbori: Enjoy a river walk along Dotonbori River and capture the vibrancy and sounds of the area from below at the river bank.

 

Gilco Osaka

Check out the Glico sign in Osaka Japan.

Umeda Sky Building

You’ll love visiting the unique designed high rise of Umeda Sky Building and not only capturing amazing city views but viewing one of the bizarre designed buildings in the world which is truly an architectural masterpiece.

The strange thing about this building is that it’s not even the tallest in Osaka, in fact, it sits at 19th overall. It’s the peculiar design that separates it from other buildings around the world and needs to be seen to be believed, you could almost pass it off as a Lego structure, at least that is my point of view.

The Rooftop Observatory is only on the 40th floor is one of the better Skydeck’s I have witnessed and has a more than fair admission price. Inside the Observatory area, you have stunning views of the city, you can sit down for a meal at the rooftop restaurant/bar, enjoy a coffee from the café and buy a little a replica of the Umeda Sky Building at the souvenir store.

The highlight of Umeda Sky Building: If you are afraid of heights, then the most vertical and longest escalator, could be a challenge for you. Although for an escalator, I will admit, it’s quite fascinating and daunting, but it’s the only way to the Observatory viewing area.

 

Umeda Sky Building

Umeda Sky Building.

Japanese Baseball at Kyocera Dome

Kyocera Dome is an indoor stadium in Osaka City and is the home of the Japanese Baseball side, Orix Buffaloes. The stadium has a capacity of fifty-five-thousand and the atmosphere lifts the roof off with loyal fans who are cheering their team in loud voice, whether their team is winning or not.

When I visited the stadium for the match between Orix and the Yokohama DeNa Baystars, it wasn’t exactly at capacity, but the fans still made great noise that echoed through the indoor dome, with many colours, music, cheering and balloons being thrown about. There was also plenty of Baseball action going on in the middle, which at times seemed to be the side attraction.

A day at the ball game is a good afternoon or evening out, depending on the starting time of the game. For sports fans, you’ll love the game of Japanese baseball and the thrills of seeing a batter hitting a home run, stealing a base at second, or the pitcher striking out the batsman. If sport is not you’re thing, it may not be your style, but you never know, a few hours of baseball entertainment may be your thing.

Highlights of Kyocera Dome: The Japanese Baseball season is during the summer months and Kyocera Dome is a welcome relief from the heat as you sit in the comfort of an Indoor Dome.

 

Kyocera Dome

Kyocera Dome

Osaka River Walks

Peaceful river walks in Osaka, all these attractions in the City and I’m recommending a River Walk. Sometimes it’s those things that are free in life which is most enjoyable, and Osaka has many rivers, therefore there are many walks along the river banks to enjoy that has great views of the of the city.

Main rivers in the city include the Yodo River which is the biggest of them all, The O River that leads to Osaka Castle and Dotonbori River which is certainly the liveliest of them all. The best part about walking along the river is finding a nice restaurant or a café to enjoy a coffee and take in the breathtaking sights that comes with visiting Osaka.

Highlight of River Walks: Along the O River in evening time, when the sun is coming down, is the time you can capture the best photos of the city with your camera and in time share them on your Instagram feed.

Related article: Check out the best things to do in Kyoto, on a budget!

 

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Osaka River

Awesome river views in Osaka.

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The Five Best Places to Visit in Kyoto – Japan

The Five Best Places to Visit in Kyoto – Japan

When you visit the cultural city of Kyoto in Japan these are the five best places to visit in Kyoto for an incredible and cultural holiday.

 

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The best places to visit in Kyoto can vary from personal preference and choice; you may be interested in visiting historical landmarks, or the precious outdoors with fantastic scenery of Kyoto sightseeing at your mercy.

Perhaps, you’re the kind of traveller who prefers to stick to the city and go shopping or divulge in local food instead, and there is nothing wrong with that.

The good news is that Kyoto has every traveller visiting the beautiful region covered in many ways, whether it’s visiting the best temples in Kyoto, exploring the great outdoors or walking the streets of the vibrant Kyoto City Centre.

Often the lure for visitors will be to the popular Kyoto attractions that get thousands of tourists daily to the stunning attractions and helps bring a little magic that will forever stay with you long after you’ve left Japan.

Let’s check it out, five of the best places to visit in Kyoto to make your trip to the former capital city of Japan, even more, distinctive than it already promises to be, because this city, is truly one of the best you’ll ever visit. 

 

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Kyoto City

The Five Best Places to Visit in Kyoto can include stunning temples.

 

The Five Best Places to Visit in Kyoto

 

 

1. Arashiyama

Arashiyama is an all-time favourite for most tourist going on a Kyoto trip, and little wonder too, with the popular district, offering stunning attractions, mainly in the picturesque outdoors, that brings real value to your holiday in Japan.

Arashiyama is tucked away in the picturesque outdoors and is known for its mesmerising temples, a unique township with quint Japanese-style housing, a monkey forest that comes with awesome Kyoto views and the stunning Katsura River that has plenty of action going on in and out of the water.

It’s all part of the amazing set up of Arashiyama that can take up to a few hours or a couple of days to explore, depending on how much time on your vacation that you have to spare. One thing is for sure, you must put Arashiyama on your to-do list when visiting Kyoto because you’ll fall in love with the culture and the serenity.

Best Attractions in Arashiyama

  • Bamboo Forest
  • Okochi Sanso Garden
  • Arashiyama Monkey Park
  • Tenryu-Ji Temple

 

The highlight of Arashiyama: The Bamboo Forest walk is heard of most when visiting Arashiyama and no doubt you’ll check it out upon your visit to the region. The towering bamboo trees that reach sky high and creates darkness within the daylight, is quite a spectacular sight to behold.

 

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Arashiyama

Picturesque Arashiyama and the stunning outdoors.

2. Fushimi Irani Shrine

The Fushimi Irani Shrine is captivated by many tourists daily who are visiting the head shine of god Irani. In the lead up to the shrine proper, you wander through a busy market place that produces a range of Japanese food that you can grab and eat on the run and there is also a variety of souvenirs on sale, which mostly consist of products to do with the Shrine or Kyoto.

Following the street market, you reach the temple proper and it’s a spectacular sight upon viewing the structures of the buildings and its vivid colours that is on full display. Inside the shrine, there is plenty of holy water and Bonsho, which is hanging bells that were used to summon the monks to prayer time.

The further into Fushimi you go, the more you realise it has become a hike. It begins at the time you reach the famous Orange Torii Gates and wander through a large forest, bypassing many bonshos and unique graveyards on the way.

Highlights of Fushimi Irani Shrine: Previously mentioned, the Orange Torii Gates, seen in the hit movie “Memoirs of a Geisha,” is what brings most people to the spiritual attraction and is undoubtedly the highlight of Fushimi. There are over 10 000 gates all up and it can take over an hour to wander through each gate, that will come with some nice views of Kyoto City.

 

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Fushimi Inari Shrine

The Orange Torii Gates at Fushimi Irani Shrine.

3. Kodai-Ji Temple

When it comes to temples to visit in Kyoto, it can be a matter of personal choice to determine which is the best; there are many stunning temples in the area and you are spoilt for choice.  For this article, Kodai-Ji temple in the city’s west is the winner (albeit narrowly), although many tourists may lean towards Kinkaku-Ji temple and its magnificent golden structure, Kodai-ji is just as superb.

Kodai-ji temple is of the Rinzai school of Zen Buddhism and is situated in the Higashiyama-Ku part of Kyoto Japan, and the scenery is simply breathtaking everywhere you look. The lavishly designed buildings blend in perfectly in the outdoor landscapes of Kyoto and is a peaceful location to quiet walk through the gardens and another bamboo grove, that does not quite have the same hype of the Arashiyama version.

The highlight of Kodai-Ji temple: Is it the lovely designed buildings? Or the scenery that surrounds the temple? A visit to Kodai-ji is one big highlight and is located between the Yasaka Shrine and Kiyomizudera, which makes for a great day out exploring a few more of the best places to visit in Kyoto.

 

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4. Nijo Castle

Nijo Castle in the heart of the city is a must-see attraction with plenty of tradition on show on the grounds of the centuries-old castle with stunning building designs, a surrounding moat, the lookout towers on the corners of the castle and the beautifully landscaped gardens that cover a large amount of the castle grounds.

The castle comes with an entrance fee of 600-yen and is filled a lot of proud history from the moment you walk inside the large boundary walls of the Nijo Castle.

When you are finished the outside area of the castle, it’s time to go inside and view various artwork with fine paintings of tigers and over captivating figures that were used not only as decorations but to intimidate guest from Korean and China who find tigers a sacred animal. Unfortunately, photos were not allowed to be taken inside.

Highlights of Nijo Castle: Grab a headset from the entrance gate and listen to the audio of the details and history of Nijo Castle as you wander from area to area, there is a lot of information to digest.

 

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Nijo Castle

Nijo Castle.

5. Heian Shrine

the magnificent Heian Jingu Shrine was built in 1895 to house the emperors who reigned in Kyoto at that time and the Shrine itself has many decorated Japanese buildings with fantastic texture and colour.

To the entrance of Heian Shrine, it starts off with large Torii gates and along walk-way all the to shrine when you finally reach the main buildings that are visible from a distance. The four main buildings of Heian are separated with large spacious areas and is covered with white limestone flooring that makes quite a shuffling noise as you walk through the Heian Shrine.

The highlight of the Heian Shrine:  Around the back of the eye-catching buildings is the Heian Shrine gardens. There is a small entrance fee of 600-yen where you can wander through beautifully landscaped gardens, lakes and well-designed Japanese structures that are worth the admission price alone.

It’s the best five places to visit in Kyoto, perhaps you agree and maybe you don’t. Whatever the scenario, these five attractions certainly warrant your attention when visiting this great city.

 

Have a look at this four-day itinerary to Kyoto.

 

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Have you visited Kyoto? What are your top five attractions, please mention your favourites in the comments below.

 

the Heian Jingu Shrine

Heian Shrine.

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A City that Surpasses Everyone’s High Expectations – Kyoto, Japan

A City that Surpasses Everyone’s High Expectations – Kyoto, Japan

Do you ever go on a trip around the world with such high expectations that you fear the intending destination may not live up to the standard that you have set? On my trip to Kyoto Japan, I had those massive expectations with all the fantastic things I had read and heard about Kyoto city, so much so, I even feared that might have also set the bar too high.

Any fears of disappointment were wiped away within a few hours of arriving in the famous Japanese city, and by the time I departed Kyoto several days later, it had well and truly surpassed the high expectations I had expected of the popular tourist destination.

I instantly embraced Kyoto city with its proud tradition that was on show wherever you looked, the beautiful scenery that surrounded the city region and an abundance of exciting places there was to visit. Let’s get into it, shall we, the reasons that I fell in love with Kyoto – Japan and exactly why you need to visit this incredible city, that will deliver on its high expectations.

 

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Kyoto City

Beautiful Kyoto City in Japan.

 

A City that Surpasses Everyone’s High Expectations – Kyoto Japan

 

 

Mesmerising Temples deliver a WOW factor

Many Temples make up a lot of the Kyoto region with over 400 to visit all up. Naturally, you’re not going to get to them all, but you will at least see a handful in your travels.

Kyoto has some truly mesmerising temples that feature beautifully designed buildings and come with picturesque scenery that gives the temples a real peaceful and serene atmosphere, even amongst a hoard of tourist.

A few of the best temples to visit in Kyoto city, include the Kinkaku-Ji, Tenryu-ji and the Kodai-Ji Temple, but you’ll find many more temples that are as breathtaking as they get.

 

Kinkakuji temple

Kinkaku-Ji temple.

 

Don’t forget those Shrines

Along with temples, there are plenty of Shrines to check out in the region. The most popular is the Fushimi Inari Shrine that has the famous orange Torii Gates, seen in the hit movie, “Memoirs of a Geisha”, it’s a must-see attraction in Kyoto and has thousands of tourists coming to the accessible location daily.

Another couple of shrines in Kyoto that needs to be visited which is situated close to the city centre is the Heian Shrine that comes with well-designed buildings and a delightful garden walk. Another is the Yasaka Shrine; it comes with a lot more vibrancy and features markets with souvenirs and street food.

 

Heian Shrine.

 

 

The scenery in and around Kyoto is breathtaking

The city of Kyoto is tucked away in the surrounding mountains, and it makes the whole region look sensational. Further than that there are places in Kyoto that must be seen to be believed with scenery so beautiful that you never want to leave.

Firstly, there is Arashiyama, a popular tourist area that is known for its famous bamboo forest, hidden temples located on the slopes of the mountain and other gorgeous landscapes and water features that include the Katsura River and its beautiful riverside walks.

Kiyomizu- Dera is another beautiful area of Kyoto, based around the main temple which is an official UNESCO site, this attraction comes with more picturesque views of the surrounding scenery and towards the city and has a few marketplaces which are buzzing with tourist.

I’m only touching on a couple of the locations in Kyoto because quite honestly, several stunning attractions will make your photo album fill up with fond memories because Kyoto is one big postcard just waiting to be explored and shared on your Facebook profile.

 

The Bamboo Forest Walk

Arashiyama.

 

Centuries-old landmarks that look incredible

Kyoto again takes you back in time with more monuments that are utterly mesmerising. Nijo Castle is a hit with the tourist that has several unique buildings, look-out towers, a large moat and centuries-old paintings on the inside of the main castle area. It may not be your European style castle, but you’ll still get that royal vibe.

Further down the road is the Kyoto Imperial Palace, not quite packed out with the tourists (that’s a good thing too), but it’s another history lesson to get educated about and even better enjoyed with complimentary walking tours to further knuckle down on the history of the palace.

More Instagram worthy pictures are waiting to be added to your profile of a lot more landmarks in the Kyoto City.

 

Kyoto Imperial Palace

Kyoto Imperial Palace.

 

Tradition is alive on the streets of Kyoto City

The Japanese are proud of their cultures, and it’s evident from the outset when you are wandering the streets, as there are plenty of local women, and to a lesser extent, men, dressed in their traditional kimono clothes and proudly showing off hundreds of years of history. Even the western tourists will get on the party and hire a kimono at times. Why not? You won’t look out of place dressing up in Kyoto.

There is plenty of vibrant street markets and attractions where the kimonos come out, especially in attractions such as Fushimi Irani Shrine, Arashiyama, Yasaka Shrine and Ninenzaka, which is a pedestrian thoroughfare that has stunning Japanese architecture and tea houses. The atmosphere is electric.

 

The streets of Kyoto City

The streets of Kyoto City.

 

Cleanliness and politeness is a way of life

It’s astonishing to walk the streets of Kyoto city with approximately 1.5-million people, and the roads are so clean, with any rubbish lying in the gutter of the way, a rare find. The cleanliness continues into Malls, restaurants, cafes and hotels too, where everything looks fresh and clean to detail.

It won’t surprise you to know that Kyoto or Japan for that matter is an amiable race, politeness in noticeable is from the outset, whether you are checking in/out of a hotel, buying a coffee or in general, just getting around the city and minding your own business.

 

streets of Kyoto city

Enjoy the clean streets.

 

Awesome food, Good Beer

What would a Japanese city be without great local food? I mean, who doesn’t enjoy dining at your local Japanese restaurant back home with delicious ramen, sushi or Teppanyaki, and it won’t surprise you to know that the Japanese do it even better in their own country.

Kyoto has many dining choices for tourist on various budgets when it comes to food, whether you want to eat in style at a fancy restaurant, grab a snack off the street, or sit down for a quick bowl of ramen, you can enjoy the pleasures of Japanese food and enjoy a bottle of Asahi beer while you dine.

 

Kyoto Food Hall

Enjoy a feed inside Kyoto Food Hall.

 

Getting around Kyoto is no problem at all

With all these fantastic attractions that stretch out far and wide in Kyoto, it’s comforting to know there is public transport in the form of trains, buses and taxis that will take you anywhere you need to go with little hassle at all. Using google maps and purchasing an ICOCA card for trains and buses, I had no issues getting to all these great attractions.

At times, I would walk the streets of Kyoto and take in this great city at a steady pace. Savouring every moment of the little time I had in Kyoto and when it was time to leave, I could only hope that my return to Kyoto would not be too far away in the future.

There are many reasons I fell in love with Kyoto and why it was able to surpass the high expectations upon it. The city truly dazzled in many ways, and I know if you put Kyoto on your travel bucket list, it won’t disappoint you. It’s just not possible.

 

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Hotel Review – Mitsui Garden Hotel Osaka Yodoyabashi

Hotel Review – Mitsui Garden Hotel Osaka Yodoyabashi

In my brief time travelling through the Japanese city of Osaka, I chose to stay at the Mitsui Garden Hotel Osaka Yodoyabashi.

A low-key boutique hotel Osaka that caters for business people, families and solo travellers, and that was precisely the category I fit into on my trip to Osaka, a solo traveller.

Paying for the hotel through my means, after a positive experience staying at the Mitsui Kyoto Hotel, I found it ideal for giving the Mitsui Hotel in Osaka a try.

The hotel was entirely appropriate for what I had been seeking. A place to sleep and work quietly during the night that didn’t cost a fortune and the Mitsui Garden Hotel Osaka lived up to the bill.

Let’s get stuck into the review of the Mitsui Garden Hotel Osaka Yodoyabashi and forgive the long name but there are several other Mitsui hotels in Japan.

 

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Mitsui Garden Hotel Osaka Yodoyabashi

The Mitsui Garden Hotel Osaka Yodoyabashi.

 

 

Hotel Review – Mitsui Garden Hotel Osaka Yodoyabashi

 

 

Where is Hotel Review – Mitsui Garden Hotel Osaka Yodoyabashi

The Mitsui Garden Hotel Osaka Yodoybashi is in the Kitahama area of Osaka and is approximately a five-minute walk from either the Kitahama and Yodoybashi Station.

Situated nearby there are many restaurants; lovely river walks with café’s and multiple train stations to reach popular attractions and a few smaller shopping outlets.

To get to most major attractions in the city such as Umeda and Dotonbori it is an approximately ten-minute train ride.

Osaka Castle is about the closest main attraction to the hotel and is a half-hour walk down the O River to the castle.

 

Osaka Castle

Osaka Castle is one of the nearby locations.

 

 

The Mitsui Hotel Rooms

For my stay at the Mitsui Hotel Osaka, I only needed a single type room that featured a double bed, air-conditioning, WIFI, television with only local channels and a private bathroom.

The room was certainly cozy, but staying alone in the hotel, space was certainly not an issue.

There are several types of rooms available at the hotel that cater for other needs with superior and deluxe type rooms that can also provide to couples and families and come at a reasonable price for a 3-star hotel.

For your information, for a single place, I paid around AUD$100.

 

Mitsui Garden Hotel Osaka Yodoyabashi

The Single Room.

 

The Lounge, Lobby and Restaurant Area

The lounge and Lobby Is the first area of the hotel you see and an excellent way to begin your stay at the hotel.

The Lobby is a large open area with a few lounge chairs and the reception area where the friendly staff will often greet you day in day out and help with any request that you may have. Most reception staff speak English.

The Lounge area, across the lobby, offers many comfortable lounge seats for the guest who want to sit down and relax with free complimentary coffee or tea and mingle other guests.

There are also computers available in the lounge for guest to use for those who have urgent business work to complete, with free WIFI available throughout the entire hotel.

The hotel puts on breakfast every morning, with an additional charge, I didn’t partake in the breakfast, due to cheaper options available elsewhere, but by all reports, they do put on a very nice Japanese style buffet.

 

Mitsui Garden Hotel Osaka Yodoyabashi

The lounge.

 

The Good Bits of Mitsui Osaka

The cleanliness of the hotel is evident from the moment you step foot onto the premises of the Mitsui Hotel.

From the lobby to the lounge, all the way through to the hallways and into the private rooms, you won’t find a speck of dust anywhere.

A Free Rental smartphone is available for all guests in every room and its great value for travellers who are out and about in Osaka and are in an instant for an internet connection. The Smartphone also has links to maps and city guides.

 

Mitsui Garden Hotel Osaka Yodoyabashi

A few goodies at the hotel, but no bottled water.

 

The bad bits

The Mitsui Hotel Osaka is not overly a central location and getting to the famous spots of the city can take a little bit of time, nothing too strenuous however with most attractions in the town is no further than 30-minutes by train.

There was no bottled water in the room. I couldn’t believe this; I haven’t stayed in a minimum 3-star hotel where there is no water, which surprised me a little since Mitsui Kyoto had their bottled water provided daily.

Yes, they aren’t huge issues, but nothing wrong with throwing in a few of those negative nellies.

 

Fair Dinkum Traveller Rating

It was a nice hotel that I had no issues with or any significant reason to complain.

The hotel served my purposes well, and for that, it was a more satisfactory stay. It may not make my list of best hotels that I have ever been to, but I would pay money for a return trip. 6/10

 

Mitsui Garden Hotel Osaka Yodoyabashi

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Arashiyama in Kyoto – A different kind of Paradise in Japan

Arashiyama in Kyoto – A different kind of Paradise in Japan

Arashiyama in Kyoto is a different kind of paradise that needs to be seen to be believed when visiting Japan.

It’s Kyoto’s most stunning tourist attraction, and while it may be some distance from any white sandy beach, paradise can be defined in many ways and its case in point when you step foot into Arashiyama for the first time. In terms of scenic beauty, you’ll understand precisely what I mean.

The setting in this famous tourist district involves gorgeous temples amongst picturesque settings, divine gardens that are full of life and colour, breathtaking scenic river views that are a joy while strolling along the banks, and its a unique Japanese township with many iconic houses that fits perfectly into the traditional settings of Arashiyama.

On your visit to Kyoto, you will visit Arashiyama, it’s only a matter of when. It’ the perfect location to take it steady and enjoy the views, take in the sounds and embrace the culture that invites you during your visit to Kyoto.

 

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Arashiyama in Kyoto

View the stunning scenery of Arashiyama in Kyoto.

 

Arashiyama in Kyoto – A different kind of Paradise

 

Visit Stunning Temples

Temples are a common theme in Arashiyama, much like they are in the rest of Kyoto, and they come in all shapes and sizes.

There are those temples that are large and leave a strong impression; some are located on the slopes of the mountain and come with picturesque views, then there are those boutique temples that are hidden amongst the shaded forest but still looks beautiful.

Often the best ways to find the temples is to wander through the district and see what you come across through your adventures and allow google maps to show you the way, without getting lost. It will be near impossible to visit every temple, there are too many, and there is usually an entrance fee to most temples with the cost going from 300-yen. 

You can also elect to participate in half-day tours with Klook, to see the best Arashiyama temple.

Let’s look at a selection of the temples in the district.

The Tenryu-Ji Temple Arashiyama was built in the year 1339 by the ruling leader Ashikaga Takauji and is one of the most famous temples in Arashiyama, if not Kyoto. From the entrance gates, it commences with a beautiful garden walk until you arrive at the significant temple area, where you can wander inside and take a closer look at history. On the outside of the main temple, there is a gorgeous view of the lake, with the forest blended in with the surrounding mountains.

 

The Tenryu-Ji Temple

The Tenryu-Ji Temple.

 

Jojakkoji Temple Kyoto is another beautiful temple that nestled within the forest and is on the slope of Mount Kokura and lots of greenery surrounding the temple. Upon entering the gates of the Jojakkoji, it requires a small workout up the staircase to the view buildings that are waiting for you at the top. Further, you can ascend onto a dirt track around the back of the main buildings, until you go as far up as you can, and capture even better views of the temple below and city of Kyoto.

 

Jojakkoji Temple

See Jojakkoji Temple from great heights.

 

If you love a temple with seclusion, peace and tranquillity, then you’ll love to wander around the Gioji Temple Kyoto. It’s not a large temple by any imagination, but it’s hidden away amongst much greenery and trees of the forest and looks magnificent in the darkness of the day. It all adds to the magic of Arashiyama.

 

Gioji Temple

View the hidden Gioji Temple.

 

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Wander down the Bamboo Forest Grove

The famous Bamboo Grove often comes to mind when visiting Arashiyama in Kyoto, with the stunning rows of Bamboo trees that are lined up through the Bamboo path, with the sun trying to peek through and it looks spectacular. The main path that runs through the middle of the surrounding bamboo trees is packed with many tourists and if you venture to the area during the peak seasons of Autumn or Spring, you’ll only get more company.

The Bamboo forest walk is one of the few attractions which doesn’t require an entry fee and is often the first point of call off the train station, before spreading your wings and visiting further Arashiyama attractions. Early morning is the best time to arrive to avoid peak crowds and to attempt to capture a perfect photo with no one else in the shot of the Bamboo Grove, otherwise, that perfect shot is hard to come by.

Nonetheless, It won’t take away the beauty of the area and if you are looking for the ultimate Arashiyama tour, look no further than Klook to take you there at affordable prices.

 

Klook.com

 

The Bamboo Forest Walk

The Bamboo Forest Walk.

Get lost inside Okochi Sanso Garden

The Okochi Sanso garden was built and designed by a Japanese actor, Okochi Denjiro, throughout the 1930-40s and opened to the public after the actor’s death in 1962. It’s one of the picturesque attractions in Arashiyama or Kyoto for that matter and is worth every bit of the 1000-yen entrance fee to enter the gardens.

Okochi Sanso Garden sits on the slopes of Mt Ogura and provides brilliant views into Kyoto from several observation points. The views only get even better as ascend uphill and begin wandering past various Japanese buildings on your walk through Okochi Sanso Villa.

Inside the gardens, there are many different buildings, Japanese style houses and a shrine located within the attraction, but nothing will beat gorgeous walk amongst nature that will take approximately an hour of your time, or even longer if wish to soak all in, as you well and truly should.

Included in the entrance fee, you receive a complimentary Match tea and sweet, that is available to you at the tea house located at the entry/exit of the gardens, where you are served you delicious treat inside a Japanese designed building that is delightfully landscaped on the outside.

Be sure to check out Okochi Sanso Garden on your visit to Arashiyama.

 

Okochi Sanso Garden

A Japanese house, the Okochi Sanso Villa.

 

View the Hidden Backstreets of the Arashiyama District

Arashiyama is not only about mesmerising attractions or hidden temples, but it’s also mandatory to have a walk along the backroads and view the unique township that is lined with Japanese buildings and houses, creating a fantastic cultural experience. Heck, you might even want a rickshaw ride throughout the backstreets of the district.

It’s a great opportunity to get away from nature and view various souvenirs, fine art, jewellery and to stop in for local tea, coffee or a bite to eat at a selection of café’s, tea houses in the area. It’s a long way from your modern-day Starbucks, but that is a good thing, right?.

 

Klook.com

 

Arashiyama

A traditional carriage is on one way to view the back streets of Arashiyama.

 

Visit the Iwatayama Monkey Park Kyoto

Who knew that paying to see a few monkeys would begin with a survival of the fittest and that is exactly what you get upon entering the gates of the Iwatayama Monkey Park Kyoto. It begins with a 20-minute hike up a hill and that is a real strain on the legs upon your ascent. However, it’s a nice walk through the forest until reaching the monkeys at the highest point of the hill.

At the height of the peak where there are many monkeys running around and putting on a show, it’s a great chance to capture the best vantage points of all Kyoto Japan and take a few great photos of the magnificent city from high above, with the possibility of an Arashiyama monkey sneaking into the frame.

 

Iwatayama Monkey Park.

Iwatayama Monkey Park.

Divulge yourself at the bustling Town Centre

Coffee, antiques, green tea ice-cream, it’s all happening on the streets of Arashiyama and the bustling town centre, where the tranquil of the surrounding area escapes at this point, and the centre of Arashiyama certainly comes alive at this point.

It’s the ideal time to get amongst the atmosphere of the Kyoto district and wander through the streets with a few locals out and about in their kimono dress. It may be at this time when you decide to have a bite to eat inside their restaurants and purchase yourself a little souvenir for your time spent in Arashiyama, because you’ll want to keep memories of this place.

 

Arashiyama

Get amongst it inside the town centre.

 

Katsura River

The Katsura River continues the scenic beauty that is enriched inside Arashiyama in Kyoto. The slow cruise boats get a good work out in the open wide river spaces that are tucked away below the mountains and adds to the ever-spoilt scenic views that are on show inside the region.

Depending on what location you get your first sight of the river, whether it’s from the town centre, the Arishiyama Park or elsewhere in the region. Be sure to take a trek along the banks of the river and enjoy a brisk walk, while capturing the sights, the sounds and beauty of Katsura River. It’s also the spot to dine at a riverside restaurant with million-dollar views and enjoy a bowl of ramen for lunch.

 

Katsura River

Katsura River.

Stay a little longer in an Arashiyama Hotel

A day is not always long enough at Arashiyama in Kyoto, and life is not meant to be hurried, especially in a place as beautiful and picturesque as this. There is a selection of hotels available at different prices. Therefore you can take your time to explore knowing a hotel is nearby.

You can check out rates at Booking.com for a hotel in Arashiyama Kyoto.

 

Arashiyama in Kyoto

Stay a little longer and eat as much Green-tea ice-cream as you wish.

 

Visit Arashiyama at least one in your life

To add Arashiyama to your bucket list when travelling into Japan is non-negotiable, it’s a place that needs to be visited at least once in your life and after that, you may want to come back for more.

Long after you leave, the memories of your time at Arashiyama will stick with you for years to come, from the temples to Japanese style housing, to the bamboo forest and the picturesque mountains. There is so much to get excited about upon your visit to this top tourist attraction, and I can only hope that this guide can get you halfway there.

Author’s notes: I visited Arashiyama in the summer months of Japan, the best time to visit the Kyoto region is through the cherry blossom months in March and April, where I am told it gets even better. Although if that doesn’t work, any other time will suffice.

 

Iwatayama Monkey Park.

Get excited about Arashiyama in Kyoto.

Klook.com

Booking.com

Hotel Review – Mitsui Garden Hotel Kyoto Shijo

Hotel Review – Mitsui Garden Hotel Kyoto Shijo

On my wonderful trip to Kyoto in Japan, I had the pleasure to stay at the Mitsui Garden Hotel Kyoto Shijo, an appropriate boutique hotel which was ideal for a solo traveller like myself, who was looking for a comfortable room with private amenities.

Since I am not a huge fan of hostels, especially for an introvert like myself, when doing thorough research for a hotel of an upcoming trip, I read through many reviews on Booking.com and Mitsui Garden Hotel Kyoto Shijo got the first tick of approval, and it didn’t let me down.

Since I paid for this hotel through my funds, this is not a sponsored post, and any of my opinions are of my own and truthful. Let’s get stuck into the review.

 

Book Mitsui Kyoto with Booking.com

Mitsui Garden Hotel Kyoto Shijo

Mitsui Garden Hotel Kyoto Shijo

 

Hotel Review – Mitsui Garden Hotel Kyoto Shijo

 

Mitsui Hotel Chain

Mitsui hotels are standard in Japan, in fact, I used their services for my stay in both Osaka and Kyoto. Hence the long name in describing the hotel in Kyoto as there are a few in the city and I don’t wish to create confusion for the traveller on deciding which hotel to stay at in Kyoto.

 

Where is the Mitsui Garden Hotel Kyoto Shijo

Mitsui Hotel Shijo is in the heart of Kyoto City and is situated in the Shijo area, with the Shijo and Shijo Omiya train stations close walking distance to the hotel, along with numerous bus services that can take you out to major attractions in Kyoto such as Arashiyama and Fushini Irani Shrine.

Nearby attractions to the hotel include Nijo Castle, Nishiki Markets and the Kyoto Imperial Palace. There are also many restaurants and shopping outlets situated nearby, especially along the main strip which is located just off the hotel’s main entrance.

 

Mitsui Garden Hotel Kyoto Shijo

Arriving at the Mitsui Garden Hotel Kyoto Shijo.

 

The rooms of Mitsui Kyoto

The place I stayed in during my time at the Mitsui Kyoto was ideal for a solo traveller. Only a small room with a single bed, it had all I needed with a television, portable air-conditioning, private bathroom, WIFI and a pocket WIFI that could be used during your adventures around Kyoto. How great is that? The pocket WIFI even gave out occasional deals for in-hotel dining.

Of course, if you are looking at bigger rooms inside the 4-star Mitsui Hotel Shijo, they cater for everyone from singles, couples and families with deluxe double rooms to standard twin rooms and single rooms.

 

Mitsui Kyoto

The single room.

 

Dining in Mitsui Hotel Kyoto

I didn’t dine at the restaurant during my time at Mitsui Kyoto, you’ll find cheaper options on the street of Kyoto, however Mitsui Garden Hotel Kyoto Shijo, does have an excellent restaurant on level-two of the hotel that caters for breakfast and dinner, providing a Japanese-style buffet breakfast, and an a-la-carte or set-menu dinner menu.

 

The Friendly Staff

I didn’t have a lot to do with the staff during my stay at the hotel, which is a good thing because it meant I didn’t have anything to complain about and I could go about my own business. Their politeness on a day to day manner was evident from the moment I checked in, which is typical in Japan and it made walking through the main lobby a joyful experience.

Whether I was leaving the hotel for the day, or upon return, a staff member would always greet you from the reception desk with a warm smile. If there were ever any issues during the stay, there were several staff members on duty who could speak English and lend a helping hand.

 

Mitsui Kyoto

Walk through the lobby.

 

Other features of Mitusi Kyoto Shijo

Features inside the Mitsui Kyoto Shijo include a traditional Japanese bathhouse that is common in the country and is appropriate for a relaxing hour or two in the warm waters of the bath, which is suitable for men and women.

Vending machines are allocated on each floor by the elevator which is filled with beer, cold-coffee, soft-drinks, green-tea and water. If you feel the first, get those famous Japanese coins out and make your way to the vending machine for a drink.

 

Mitsui Kyoto Shijo

Help yourself to the vending machine.

 

The good bits

There is a lot to like about Mitsui Kyoto Shijo, the hotel is clean, it’s quiet and in a convenient part of Kyoto which will make it ideal for any traveller to the city.

The cleanliness of the hotel is evident from the get-go, with a speck of dust hard to find whether it’s in the main lobby, the lounge area or your private room, everything is clean. The quiet hallways of the hotel is a relief, especially when in desperate need for a night of good night sleep and you don’t want disturbance to form other guests, which doesn’t become a problem.

 

 

The bad bits

Not too many negatives to discuss the hotel; however, since the kindness of my heart is doing this review, I’ll attempt to be a little picky.

I love to have an in-room coffee, and when there is only green-tea available in the hotel room, it makes me a little grumpy when in desperate need for a coffee boost. Luckily, I bring my coffee on my travels, so it becomes a non-issue, to be honest.

The portable air-conditioner? Never really got it right, it was loud and never quite cold enough for a Kyoto summer, perhaps it had to do with the whole system being in Japanese writing and could never understand how to use it properly.

 

 

Fair Dinkum Traveller rating

It’s clear from the outset that I am a fan of the Mitsui Garden Hotel Kyoto Shijo, and that was certainly the case. Perhaps I have stayed in more elegant hotels in my travels around the world, but the Mitsui Kyoto Hotel satisfied my demands, and it was worth the $110 per night I paid to stay at the hotel.

7/10 rating

 

Are you visiting Kyoto and the Mitsui Hotel? You might want to check out this Kyoto Itinerary while you are here!

 

Book Mitsui Kyoto with Booking.com

Mitsui Kyoto

The Lounge at Mitsui Kyoto.

Check out these book on Kyoto at Amazon

 

Klook.com

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James Bond Island

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