Temples, Shrines and Great Food In Kyoto

Since my last post, we’ve done so much and traveled so far I hardly know where to begin! I suppose, a brief update as to our situation as I write the beginning of this post. Our mother has returned to the U.S. and it is now just my sister and I. We just spent the night in a mountaintop Zen Buddhist Temple south of Osaka and are now in transit to Tokushima Prefecture back on the island of Shikoku.

Now, the three of us had three nights in Kyoto, two of which were spent over on the eastern side of Kyoto; just north of Yasaka Shrine but on the opposite side of the Kamo River. The highlight of that area was by far the food and nightlife! We had quite the culinary adventure, from gyoza (Japanese-style dumplings) to ramen, okonomiyaki to beef tail and tempura. I think we are all in agreement though when it comes to which was our favorite…

This restaurant, where we were fortunate to get into without too long of a wait, had the winning combination of atmosphere, service, spectacle, and delicious food at good prices. The name is Chaochao; it has a small dining area (about 4 tables) and about 6 bar spots, and maintains a healthy queue out front of people very willing to wait. Fortunately, they treat their queue very well, passing out fans and serving beverages. We happened to be the first ones to start the line, and waited for less than 1 beer’s worth of time. They serve all the standard Japanese dumpling flavors, but also offer some specialty flavors like okonomiyaki, chili, and curry!

After eating what we had only intended to be an appetizer, (but what had ended up simply being our dinner!) we walked around for a bit and found a few other notable spots for future visitation. We spent some time near the river before entering a cool speakeasy named Glamour.

At Glamour we enjoyed a cool atmosphere and friendly service before heading back to our hotel for some much needed sleep. The next day it rained all through the night and morning until finally, around 1:00 it lighted up and stopped, leaving us with some cool weather for walking about and sightseeing after having ramen for lunch.

Our sightseeing goals were Yasaka Shrine and Kiyomizu Temple.

After walking such a long distance, we were all quite eager to get back to the hotel as quickly as possible, so once we made it back to a main road we quickly hailed a taxi. We spent a the rest of the evening relaxing in the room until we finally got hungry enough to venture out again to eat dinner around 9:00 pm. For one of mom’s final meals in Japan, we opted for an izakaya.

Afterwards, we returned to Glamour because we had such an enjoyable time there the first time.

Not wanting to make it a long night because we’d be traveling across the city the next day towards Arashiyama, we had started heading back towards the hotel when someone called out to us in English, which intrigued my sister and mother because they’d been mostly relying on me for communication, so when we encountered some foreigners with whom they could communicate freely, they were happy to engage. It turned out to be a fruitful encounter because we got to meet a really nice and diverse group of people.

The morning was slow. Not needing to rush considering the check-in time at our next stop, the Arashiyama Benkei Ryokan, wasn’t until 4:00 pm, we took our time packing up and finally making our way to the subway stop a short walk away. We took the subway a couple stops west in order to transfer to the local Randen train line which ends in Arashiyama.

A short walk through town, we come to the river you see above and Crossing Moon Bridge 渡月橋. Then after turning right and walking along the river for another short distance, we pass a nice looking coffee hut just before arriving at our ryokan.

We arrived a few hours before we could actually check in, so we went for a stroll through town, looking for A quiet place to relax and enjoy some tea/coffee, and we found exactly what we were looking for.

The deserts, coffee and tea were all exquisite. We left there feeling great and ready to go enjoy our ryokan. I, having stayed at Arashiyama Benkei once before, knew what was coming, but my mom and sister had no idea… and I was super excited to see their reactions to, what I assume to be, the quintessential Japanese hospitality experience. Keep an eye out for my next post, which will cover that and more!

This post took much longer to write than I had wanted, and as such I’m way behind in documenting our travel experience in real-time. In fact, at this very moment I’m sitting in gazebo at our bungalow in Puerto Princessa, Philippines, gearing up to ride a motorcycle with my sister up to El Nido. Hopefully I’ll be able to fill you all in to our experiences up to this point sometime soon!

Be well!

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