The last few days have flown by, we are now back on the Shinkasen heading back to Tokyo. We have had a good 3 days in exploring Kyoto.
We arrived in Kyoto station around lunch time on Tuesday. Our hotel was very easy to find as it was directly opposite the train station. Kyoto station is huge and I mean huge, there is something like 35 platforms and that is not counting the metro that is connected to the station as well.
As check in was not until 3pm we dropped our bags at the hotel and went out exploring. We walked to the Nishi Hongwanji Buddhist Temple which was very large. You had to take off your shoes to walk around inside to preserve the wooden flooring, it was a nice break on our feet too.
We then walked down the road to Higashi Honganji Temple which is another Buddhist Temple. This Temple was also very large.
We then walked back to our hotel to check in and drop off our back packs.
We then went out to Fushimi Inari Shrine which is on the south side of Kyoto. When we got off at the station we stopped to get some water and a snack, we got really yummy noodle chips! We then crossed the road to the entrance to the shrine. This is one of the most famous shrines in Japan. Here it has a lot of Tori gates you can walk through. It was packed there, so many people. It was really hot out there as well. Kath found a cat sitting on a statue and as I was taking a picture of it all these tourists swamped over and started taking pictures too and carrying on.. I told kath we should have charged them for the discovery ha-ha. As we were hot and exhausted we headed back into town to get dinner.
For dinner we went to an Italian restaurant. The food was really nice, though my drink was gross!! Kath had a green lemonade spider and I had some liquor drink, gross!
After dinner we headed back to our hotel to relax for the evening and watch some Japanese TV.
Wednesday was the day I had been most looking forward to – Universal Studios Japan (USJ) day!!! We got up bright and early and got to the station with loads of time to spare. We jumped on the train and had to transfer 3 times. When we arrived in Osaka there were signs for Universal City which was good, made it easier to navigate our way there. We had to get a train from Osaka to another line near Universal Studios. The trains going to USJ had all pictures on the outside, unfortunately the Harry Potter one was not going when we were going there!
When we arrived at Universal City it was easy to find our way to USJ. We waited in a massive crowd to get into the entrance, even though we pre booked our tickets (good work Kath) we still had to wait in line. Kath also managed to book us express 7 passes which meant that you got to go in the express lane for 7 rides. The first ride we headed for was the Hollywood dream rollercoaster. We were in the park within 10mins of it opening and this ride already had an 120m wait! So we used our express pass and got in within 10mins… Yay!!!! The rollercoaster was really fun, they have it running really efficiently with their loading of people etc. On the same track is the same ride but called backdrop which means you go backwards on the same course. We didn’t get to do that cause the line was 140m long and we didn’t want to wait.
We went on the Spiderman ride, which was a 3D simulation ride. Everything there is in Japanese so it makes it a bit hard to understand what the story line is, but you get the general idea of what is going on. We then decided to walk around the park and try our luck at getting in early to the Harry Potter area (our ticket for there wasn’t until 11.30). We were unlucky and weren’t allowed in early so we went and had a look at the sesame St area. We had a snack in this area as well.
We then went back to the Harry Potter area and waited to be let in. The Harry Potter area was awesome! You walk into Hogsmead Village and then you can see the castle up on the hill. We went on the flight of the Hippogriff ride first, which was like a kids roller coaster, there was a lifesize Buckbeak and Hagrids hut in the rollercoaster area. We then went into the Hogwarts castle for the Forbidden Journey ride. We had no idea what to expect, but the ride absolutely blew my mind. I’ve never been on a ride like it before. You are strapped into a seat with your legs dangling and you have on 3D glasses and you go around the castle and on a quidditch pitch and all these other places… Truly amazing! We then went into Hogs Head to the pub to have a look and decided to do some shopping in the sweets store first. The sweets shop was amazing, we bought a fair few Harry Potter themed sweets. We then went back to Hogs Head for a drink. Kath had a Hogs Head Ale and I had a Butterbeer. It was similar to the one we had in London, but the souvenir cup was loads bigger. They had loads of themed shops which we browsed through.
We finally dragged ourselves away from the Harry Potter area and went on some of our other rides we had on our express pass. We went to the Back to the Future ride, which was a bit outdated and very rough. We went to the Terminator show which was a 3D show but it also had actual actors performing as well, it was pretty cool cause they really made it seem like you were watching the whole thing (well except the guy who was playing Arnie cause he was tiny in comparison). We had some lunch at a Chinese restaurant which was very average. We then went on the Space Fantasy ride. The Space Fantasy ride was absolutely amazing. I had really low expectations of it, but it was really great, you were in a little cart and got spun around through “space”. It was really cool!
By this time in the day we were absolutely exhausted so I got a snowcone like treat and we left USJ. We went for a wander through Universal City and then got the train back to Kyoto.
As we were exhausted (and my feet were blistered all over) we headed back to the hotel and just went to the restaurant downstairs. The food there was pretty good, except we had a minor issue as we tried to add gyoza to our order after it had been taken and it just cause a number of issues with the staff trying to understand us. We didn’t realise it was a smoking restaurant so were a bit disgusted when the person next to us lit up. Our rice never arrived so when we went to pay they were very apologetic when we told them.
Thursday was our last full day in Kyoto, we took a train out to Nijo Castle. It’s not like any castle we had ever seen. We went for a walk through the palace. Kath said we should have got discounted tickets as there was scaffolding on the entrance and all the aft works were reproductions. There were some really nice gardens in the area. We then went to the international manga museum. I’d hate to say but it was a waste of money. They should call it the international manga library. Foreigners should get a discount cause we can’t actually read anything in there. But we did use the bathrooms lol. We then went for a short stroll (yeah right) to the imperial palace and gardens. After miles of walking we finally found the entrance and discovered that you need to be booked on a tour in advance to go in, we were not very happy. We then continued walking to another palace in the gardens which were not open either… Sigh!
We continued walking to try to find the Nishiki Markets which is a famous food market in Kyoto. They mainly sold seafood which we do not eat. As we were leaving the markets we found another indoor market and got some gyoza from there, we then caught our metro train back to Kyoto main station and got some other food for dinner. We then went back to the hotel to rest, our feet were really sore by this stage and the blisters on my little toes were literally bigger than my actual toes.
So that pretty much brings us to today, we didn’t do much this morning aside from packing and going to the station. We are still on the train and lucky us we have about 3 noisy children around us!!!!!! Who insist on yelling and jumping around, this next 1.5hours is going to go really slowly.
Our next hotel is a 5 star hotel in Shibuyu, which will be, a nice way to end our trip (unless i end up in jail before hand for yelling at some kids). We are more than likely heading to DisneySea tomorrow (Tokyo has 2 Disneyland’s) and also to Ueno Zoo before we leave too.
Until next time, take care!