After the rushing around and work on Time To Shoot yesterday I decided today would be a day of exploration, making the most of my last day off this week.
100 Yen street market
I left in the morning to the local train station joined by one of the others from the house, we were heading to different city areas but it made sense to head off at the same time to the station. Reaching the end of the street we discovered there was a 100 yen street market on, it was quite a narrow street packed with people looking around. There was a tonne of food and drink stalls, regrettably we’d both already had breakfast though! Still it didn’t stop me from picking up a fresh coffee and a Japanese sweet food item, I forget the name, but it’s a sort of sugar paste with fruit in. Really delicious!
Kyoto Shijo shopping area.
Once I got into the city centre I started heading to the northern districts which contained one of the biggest shopping areas. My plans were to check out more of the city and give the temple sightseeing a break for today. My targeted goal was to explore Nishiki Market which I’d been recommended to see.
The main street was by far the busiest I’d seen the streets so far, most of the shops were very modern, there were a lot of big chains and food places. Plenty of shops selling goods clearly aimed at tourists, and some with some really cute items. I did want to pick up some gifts for someone special but decided it better to put a bit more thought in rather than picking up the first random things I saw.
I saw the Nishiki Market entrances, but first decided to continue down the main street to see what else there was, I made a mental note of the location of MosBurger which I’ve also been told to try while I’m here. Crossing the river revealed a group of people cosplaying as Mario & Luigi, don’t know why but Nintendo HQ is around here, so maybe there’s something going on. After crossing the river I then stumble onto another temple and park area, though I hadn’t planned to see them today it made sense to while I was there.
I believe I’d arrived at Maruyama Park, there was a massive red and white temple entrance to the park, inside it was lined with more food stalls.
I spent some time exploring the park, there were three temple areas spread throughout the park, each with their own unique looks. In the middle was a massive pond, full of huge koi carp and a solitary duck who seemed to be enjoying ownership of the pond. It was relaxing to just sit and watch the fish and duck for a while as the area was filled by some mellow flute music being played by a busker.
After more exploration of some really impressive temple structures I headed back the way I’d came to explore Nishiki Market.
Journey back to Nishiki Market
On the journey back I passed some really awesome buskers who were playing a really cool J-pop track to some guitar tunes. One of the sidestreets caught my eye as it looked like a really traditional old style Japanese street, this clearly had to be explored.
I wandered down it and even though it was in the middle of a main shopping district it seemed like things were going at a slower pace here. There were still a lot of people walking down it, it was packed mostly of traditional resturants, upon reaching the end I ended up at yet another temple complex. I think this was the Kenninji temple and grounds, again I figured I may as well explore it while I’m here.
I wandered into the temple, the grounds were free the temple was only around 500 yen. I explored inside, shoes off time, then headed into the grounds after. The inside of the temple was amazing, again the woodwork is something you just don’t see elsewhere. The grounds were really beautiful with a mixture of ponds, areas full of trees and smaller monuments and shrines.
After more temple exploration I headed back to the main street in another attempt to reach Nishiki Market, it really is a case that you can’t walk 10 minutes in Kyoto without accidently finding something interesting to see!
Nishiki Market – Finally!!!
After several detours I finally made it to Nishiki Market!! I took one of the main passageways which was lined either side with a variety of shops, from clothes, fans, food to anime and arcades. It was bustling with people and really felt like I was in Japan.
Feeling peckish I found a small sweet stall near the front of the market where I acquired a donut that looked to cute to eat, though being hungry I did!
I then headed further down the really long market street which led me to find capsule toy machines! I didn’t buy any this time, but I’ll certainly do so before leaving Japan! Especially as one as a cute Shiba dog toy which might make a nice small gift.
Not much further along I found another arcade, didn’t have time to play any machines today, but of course had to venture in for a quick look around. There was a floor full of claw grab machines, full of soft plushies and foods, downstairs there was an area for Pachinko (a sort of gambling), and plenty of arcade units. It was cool to see some actually had Razer mice rather than controllers!
Leaving before I got hooked a machine I headed back into the market to browse all the cool looking shop items, the market was massive with long passageways and several branching paths around the area.
Eventually I ended up wandering down the food and grocery section, it was great taking in the atmosphere of the market, seeing all the fresh fish stalls, fruits (which cost stupid amounts here), and the smell of the food being cooked at the eating stands.
Idori the owl!
They had everything from baby octopus on a stick! To various meat and seafood skewers, sweets and of course ramen stalls. Eventually I found my way out of the market, having backtracked on myself a few times to make sure I hadn’t missed anything. With the time now being around 4pmish I started to make my way back to the station, as it turns out walking back on the other side of the road was a good choice as I came across a lady with an owl!
She was outside a department store with a small stall of owl based toys and items, the lady had a small owl on her arm and was talking in Japanese to the small crowd of people gathered around. Not being able to understand fully, I observed for a while and deduced that you could hold and take a photo with the cute little owl. However not being sure of the Japanese for ‘Hi, do you mind if I can hold and pet your owl’ Which could probably sound quite wrong if I mistranslated it! I decided to use my Japanese of ‘hello, can you speak English’!
Thankfully she did, so I was able to ask what was going on, it turned out if I brought any item from the stall for 1000 yen or more, than I got to hold and pet the owl. I picked out a really cool looking owl plushie and purchased it. She then introduced the owl, whos name was Idori, and the friendly little guy was happy to jump up onto my should where he sat for some photos while having a good look around from his new perch. I then adjusted my arm and he hopped onto my hand where he let me pet him on the head, he was really soft and friendly. Thanking the lady and Idori I then headed off back to the station district.
I could actually get the subway home from anywhere in the city, but I have got in the habit of always walking to the main station, as it’s a really cool area and I just enjoy walking back through Kyoto. With the sun starting to set I decided that viewing the city via sunset from the top of Kyoto tower would be pretty cool.
After my fee of 770 yen had been paid I took the lift to the top, there were large viewing windows around all 360 degrees, and lots of free viewfinder binocular things for viewing things closer. The view from all around was incredible, so districts were already lit up for the evening, others looked calm with views of the massive temple gardens from above, but my favorite was this view of the sun setting over the mountains to the west giving a reddish glow to the horizon.
I also lined up my phone to the binocular thing, aiming it at the sun, and ended up with probably the most impressive photo I’ve ever taken!! The sun looked amazing, and through the binocular thing I got this result that maks it look like it’s on it’s own planet!
I highly recommend Kyoto tower to anyone that comes here!
Kyoto at night
After arriving back at the house around 8pm I discovered the others were going back into the city a bit later on. They were actually going to meet some people, I decided though I’d tag along for the journey back in and then wander off to explore a bit myself as I hadn’t really seen much of the city at night.
Arriving back in the city at night was amazing, I ended up in Gion and Shijo Dori areas, which are the main nightlife areas far as I understand it. They were really brightly lit, with massive amounts of people, a lot out starting their night of drinking, with bars already busy and packed. Others just seemed to be emerging from evening meals at various food places.
After a walk around the nightlife area I headed off to the river, it was a great sight seeing the dark river pathways with city lights reflecting in the river. The river seemed a popular place for people to sit and have a laugh, though it was all still very quiet with mostly the sound of the water crash over small rocks in the river.
On the river banks there were some Sakura starting to bloom, which at night was a great sight to see. After more time wandering around I headed back home to finally rest up for the day.