We first arrived in Osaka, from where we visited other small towns around it. This is the Osaka Castle. It was repaired in 1997 and has a very modern interior.
From Osaka, we made our first day trip to the town of Himeji. The Himeji Castle is one of the most beautiful castles in Japan, and has remained intact since the early 1600s. The queue to go into the castle was a couple of hours long, but the view of the castle along the way made up for it.
The Koko-en Garden next to Himeji Castle is absolutely gorgeous, must go when visiting Himeji.
Second day trip was to Nara. Mandatory shot of the deer.
Our second stop was Kyoto. From our hostel, we cycled along the Kamo River and walked up the hill to the famed Kiyomizu-dera Temple.
Kyoto is such a beautiful old city. We tried the soba at the 550 years-old Honke Owariya Restaurant and bought the buckwheat crackers as souvenir for our extended families. We only realised how delicious the crackers were when we got back to Singapore, and had no choice but to keep them for our own consumption.
We arrived at Kinkaku-ji in the late afternoon, a good time to document this iconic sight of Kyoto.
On the train ride from Osaka to Kyoto, Jia spotted the town of Yamazaki. Being the drinker that she is, she immediately made the connection to the world’s best whisky. She got our hostel to register us for a free day-tour of the Yamazaki Distillery. And the tour rightfully ended with a whisky tasting session.
We enjoyed a day trip on the outskirts of Kyoto at Arashiyama.
We ended the day by taking the Sagano Scenic Railway, which ended in the rural town of Kameoka. Everyone went back to Kyoto via the JR train, but we stayed behind to watch the sunset as the locals barbecued by the Hozugawa River.
Our last day trip from Kyoto was to the Fushimi Inari-taisha, famous for the thousands of torii gates .
We were captivated by this charming country, and can’t wait to be back this coming April.