Our stay in Kyoto was only a few days but we’re without regrets and are looking forward to what’s ahead. Our plans on where we are going in the weeks ahead are still pretty undefined. They mostly will be dependent on the weather, if we can find an apartment in Tokyo for the month of June, and if we get totally killed by the weak dollar. For now, we are just careful and try to just enjoy our time whether it ends up being 4 weeks or 7.
We want to make sure we do something new at the beginning just in case we need to go back to China sooner for whatever reason. We are already in Kyoto for a wedding so we decided to head down south and see more of the Kyushu Prefecture. We have been to Nagasaki and Beppu but the rest of the island is new to us and a prices for hotel and transport are more inline with the budget.
We decided to try Japan’s first budget airline called Peach. Peach is an affiliate of with ANA, much faster and cheaper than the Shinkansen, and offers great rates to the few cities it currently services. I’m looking forward to it.
We land in Kagoshima and take a bus to the center town where we booked a room. Our list of things to see and do includes biking 37 km around Sakurajima’s volcanic Mount Ontake (working off the wedding food), touring a Shochu Factory, and relaxing an Onsen. Beyond that, I hopefully will get rid of this cold and have some time to figure out what’s next.
So goodbye to Kyoto for now…
While we were in Kyoto we did manage to get some touristy things in like:
Take a boat trip back up the Hozu River
and check out some of the temples of southern Kyoto
We said good-bye to Shanghai on Friday as we boarded our taxi in the surprisingly sleepy Jing’an District. The ride to Pudong seemed like more a demonstration on how our taxi driver could get us to the airport faster than his nemesis the speedy Maglev. Of course, there are no working seat belts in this shaky compact and we are left to overlook the lack of safety and the speedometer and just watch the Shanghai skyline disappear behind us. We reached the Pudong Airports in 45 minutes and the Maglev never managed to pass our vehicle.
The Pudong Airport is new and of course super-sized like most structures like it in the new China. We boarded our Air China plane an hour and after a 2 hour bumpy flight landed in Osaka. The short flight consisted of a watching Globetrekker episode where we learned how Ian Wright traveled around Las Vegas, and a Wonder Bread cucumber tea sandwich with juice.
The journey today ended in town of Zeze otherwise known as Lake Biwa just outside of Kyoto. It’s been over two years since our last visit to Japan and the sticker shock hit us just little after getting off the JR train in Kyoto. For example, in China a pastry costs 4 Yuan or about 75 cents at the corner bakery opposed to the 240 Yen or $4 dollar bagel without cream cheese from a kiosk in the Kyoto JR Rail Station. This just means that we’ll have to be selective in how we spend in Japan. This means still treating ourselves to things we love most. This includes at least one trip to an Onsen, a few nice meals and many glasses of smooth sake and souchu. We have an idea of what we want to see but the plans are loose so we have the option of cutting out if we end up going past our comfort zone.
Our plan so far is to stay here in Kyoto and visit a friend whose wedding brought us here in the first place. We will then fly south to Kagoshima using new Japanese budget airline called Peach and travel around the Kyushu region. The details are still being worked out but so far we will be going to see volcanoes of southern Kagoshima and central Mt. Aso , see castles in Kumamoto and temples of Fukuoka and Nagasaki.
The visitors to the ancient city of Nara crowds mostly have two things that are tops on the bucket list are seeing the giant Daibutsu inside the Todaiji Temple and offering biscuits or shika sembei to the quit pesky and persistant tame deer.
The park is large so there’s plenty of places that offer a quiet spaces away from hungry deer and the tour groups. There are bright orange temples full of beautiful lanterns, dragon wishing wells and numerous shrines where believers put up small wooden plaques containing written prayers and wishes in exchange for a donation.
Nara is a quick train ride away from Kyoto. There are numerous options which take any where from 33-58 minutes of travel time from Kyoto. This link from Japan Guide has very clear directions and a nice map and other useful information can be found on Nara’s Official Tourist Site as well.