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Saturday, August 23, 2014

Day 1 Kyoto: Kyoto Station- Fushimi Inari Shrine-Nishiki Market

After reaching the airport, we took Kansai Airport Express "HARUKA" train to Kyoto using the ICOCO & HARUKA pass. To make our travel convenient, we booked Kyoto hotel that is near to the main station which is near the Kyoto station. Due to early arrival, the hotel unable us to check in but we are allow the leave our luggages in their luggages room.

So, we went to the underground food area-called Porta Dining which is near the Kyoto station for early lunch. Although most of the restaurant start their business around 11.30am, but we saw a lot of people started to queue outside the restaurant around 11.15am. Since we both don't like queueing, we picked a restaurant that has lesser people. Just for your information, all restaurants here will display their food sample in 3D form and price to ease their customers. This help a lot especially tourists that couldn't speak/read Japanese.

We didn't know what name is the shop but it was among the few who serve rice. Most of the shop here serve noodles like ramen. We were warmly greeted by the waitress and very quickly she show us a Japanese menu, no English menu is provided in the restaurant. Luckily my dear still able to dig out his Japanese language and we survived by order two don set.

Tonkatsu (pork cutlet set)- 900 yen
The deep pork cutlet is a bit hard and dry, however overall still fine. The most shocking part is the rice.When we saw the rice bowl, it was like half of our normal portion, we both already thinking to have second round after that but it turn to be the other way round. Although the portion looks small but it is quite filling. The Japanese rice quickly filled our stomach half way eating. We didn't manage to get our second round.

Chicken Katsu rice set-RM 860
The chicken katsu taste much better, however both sets are similar with different type of meat. The taste was quite similar to Ichiriki in The Garden, Midvalley. Overall was good. A good start for our first meal in Japan.

After our lunch, since it is still early from our check in time, we took a train to Fushimi Inari Shrine. From Kyoto station, we took JR Nara line to JR Inari Station (2 station from Kyoto station), approximately 5 mins journey and the shrine is just located outside the station.

Just in case you feel you are lost during searching for the platform of the train, you can ask the train counter or anyone standing. We are at Platform 9 to board the train to JR Inari Station. Here is the map of Kyoto train line

Fushimi Inari Shrine (伏見稲荷大社, Fushimi Inari Taisha) is said to be an important Shinto shrine of southern Kyoto. It is famous for its thousands of vermilion torii gates, which straddle a network of trails behind its main buildings. The trails lead into the wooded forest of the sacred Mount Inari, which stands at 233 meters and belongs to the shrine grounds. 

Foxes are thought to be Inari's messengers, resulting in many fox statues across the shrine grounds.

At the entrance of the shrine, you'll find a water area with ladles that made out of bamboo or wood laid out on it. It's called a temizuya, and the whole point of it is to clean and purify your body by washing your hands and your mouth before entering.
There will be a signboard to teach you how to clean your hand and mouth.

All these torii gates are donations from individuals and companies, donor's name and the date of the donation will be inscribed on the back of each gate. The cost starts from 400,000 yen for a small sized gate and increases to over one million yen for a large gate.

Beautiful scenery with sakura tree. 

You will also see a lot of similar shrine with stairs, a box with a grated opening in front of it and bell with rope hanging down from ceiling. This is to purify yourself from evil spirits. 

Then, we took JR line back to Kyoto station to take subway to Nishiki Market. Since Nishiki Market will  be close at 5pm, we quickly took the Karasuma Line (Subway for Kyoto), 2 station  from Kyoto station to Shijio Station. The station is located in a shopping mall, just walk out from the shopping mall and you will see Nishiki Market.

Nishiki Market is one of the famous and must visit place. Nishiki Market (錦市場, Nishiki Ichiba) is a narrow, five block long shopping street lined by more than one hundred shops and restaurants. It is also known as "Kyoto's Kitchen", where you will find fresh seafood, dried seafood, food shop, tea shop and many more.

We saw this dessert shop, they specialise on using green tea as their main ingredient.  A lady was packing on one of their Matcha Mochi outside the shop that attracted my attention. At the same time, a lot of people was crowding in the small little shop, first thought in my mind is their dessert must be good. So, we went into the crowd as well to order their Mochi.

Matcha Mochi Sesame-500 yen (around RM 16)
It can only keep for maximum 3 days because it doesn't have preservative at all. All their mochi are made freshly everyday. Actually we tested and leave it in the fridge for two day. Second day, the mochi started to become watery, indication of bad condition. Proven no preservative!

This small packet of Mochi isn't cheap at all and the worst part is the taste was horrible. The green tea powder coated on the Mochi was too bitter, we are unable to swallow it. End up we have to throw it away. Lesson of the day: Never buy thing because there is a crowd. It doesn't mean the food will be delicious! :P

While walking through a T-junction, we saw a shop selling ice-cream and hot dog. I was actually craving for hot dog that time and he was looking for ice-cream under 15 degree Celsius of cold weather. This shop is specialise on their soya ice-cream.

I order their hot dog that served in skewed. Taste nice!

Strawberry flavour soya ice-cream

Before we leave the place, we pass by this shop selling Takoyaki. A lot of people were eating and waiting outside for the food. Again, very quickly my mind told me it must be good. We went in to order, however we found that there isn't anyone taking order but a vending machine for you to slot your money and pick your food. Since the vending machine only have Japanese words and people are queueing behind, we quickly click one of it and a receipt came out from the bottom. We passed the receipt to the counter and wait for our number to be call.

We didn't know what flavour of Takoyaki we ordered but it seem to taste like BBQ flavour but at the same time a mixture of different spices in it. The tokoyaki didn't came out as our expectation. It is soggy and salty. Overall didn't taste any better after the mochi. 
Tokoyaki-180 yen

So, we took the train and back to Kyoto station to do some shopping at Isetan. We aren't satisfied for the snack we have in Nishiki Market, hence we continue our search in Isetan for better food instead. We found this 551 Horai shop that sells Chinese Siew Mai and Gyoza, surprisingly it is for take away.  We ordered take away for siew mai and gyoza.
The siew mai isn't what we normally have in the dim sum shop. The filling was glutinous rice and pork meat which I think the taste is still acceptable. I still prefer our siew mai with prawn and meat. On the other hand, the gyoza turned out to be quite delicious. Although, it been awhile before we reached our hotel room, the taste and texture still remained very nice. Food in Isetan actually surprised us as we didn't expect their standard of food can be this high, a lot better than the street food and the price is reasonable too, some even cheaper than the street food.

This is our first day in Kyoto, stay tuned for more coming up soon...

Find out more on my Japan Trip 5/4-12/4:
-Osaka-Kyoto Itinerary 2014
-Travel from Osaka Airport to Kyoto- ICOCO & Haruka Pass
-Kyoto-Day 2: Higashiyama District: Kiyomizu-dera Temple-Ninenzaka & Sannenzaka- Kodaiji Temple-Maruyama Park

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