- Nishiki Market
- Monkey Mountain
- Bamboo Forest
- Nara Deer Park
- Todai-Ji Temple
- Harushika Brewery
- Nadai Tonkatsu Katsukura
We started our day by looking for some breakfast at Nishiki Market near our hostel and unfortunately even at 9am, there were barely any shops opened. Hungry and disappointed, we were trying to decided where we could go to eat. While we were pondering, we ended up stopping by a store to find sunscreen since we would be outside all day. Let me tell you, the shop literally had thousands of items and it was a challenge trying to find sunscreen, especially since everything was written in Japanese. After walking around the whole store, we finally found it in the back corner and decided to buy the second cheapest one (to be on the safe side). Side note: I actually really liked it since it was oily free and lightweight. Would totally order off Amazon now!
As we walked to our subway, we saw one of the few restaurants that was open which was a unagi rice bowl place. Since I’ve been wanting unagi for a while, we went in and tried to make out the menu. I got a rice bowl with unagi and some beef slices. It was just okay, nothing special, especially after all the good food we’ve eaten so far. The customer service was also horrible as they were really backed up and disorganized.
We sadly left and headed to the the subway to take the train to Monkey Mountain in Arashiyama. It train took us to the end of the line and we walked about 20 minutes to get to the entrance. We paid the 550 yen to enter and started our small hike up to the mountain. It was a good, moderate hike which took about 20-30 minutes. They had some fun monkey facts on the trail to keep us entertained and the trail was mostly shaded. Once we got up, we were greeted by all these monkeys, just freely roaming around. There was also a great view of the city which had a map to identify what each landmark was.
After talking some pictures, we walked into the little shack area where we bought some peanuts to feed the monkeys. With a wire fence between us, the monkeys grabbed the peanuts from my hand and chomped away. I felt they liked the bananas more. Good to know for next time. We took some videos and pictures and watched some of them play in the pond. After heading down the mountain, we walked about half a mile to the Bamboo Forest. It was literally a huge area with a ton of bamboo. We walked in a path in between them so no pictures within the bamboo. There were a million tourists so I wasn’t able to get a cool shot. Overall, it’s cool to see that many bamboo, but all the people kind of ruined the moment.
At that point, we were pretty much done with seeing Kyoto and decided to spontaneously go to Nara, which was about 40 minutes away. We intended to do this on our last day before heading back, but we had time so why not. We walked out of the subway and first things first, found something to eat since we missed lunch. As we walked up the hill, we found another marketplace and walked through to check out their plastic food samples. We finally found one with a reasonable price on sushi and walked in. I got a rice set with mackerel, shrimp and roe on top. It was actually a good snack, but since it was close to dinner anyway, it was satisfying.
Fueled up and less cranky, we were ready to walk up the hill some more. About half more mile, we arrived at the Nara Deer Park, a large park where deer roams freely. It kind of boggles me because there’s literally no one watching them and there were cars passing along side them. They were pretty good while people try to pet them or pose for pictures, but once there’s food present, they get a bit rowdy and follow the people closely. After we were done deer and people watching, we decided to explore more of the area and started heading to Todai-Ji Temple, which has the world’s largest bronze statue of Budda. While lots of tourists and tour groups were filling in, we simply took pictures in front of it. After debating whether or not we should go in, we decided not to since I already seen the biggest outdoor Budda in Hong Kong (I know it’s not the same…) In reality, we were debating whether we should catch this sake tasting we yelped when we got there, but it was closing in 40 minutes with a 20 minute walk.
After taking a break with much debate, we decided YOLO! When are we ever going to do this in America? So we turned on our map and fast walked our way out of the front entrance of the park (we came through the back), through the lines of tourists and all the deer as well. As much as in that moment I wanted to stop to take a picture with the deer and get ice cream, we were on a mission. As we walked to the sake place, we passed by a gorgeous pond with a nice gazebo and had to take a picture. But then, more fast walking before it closes.
We finally arrived at Harushika Brewery, which was in the middle of all these residential homes. We walked in and rang the bell to get their attention. After paying for 2 tastings at 500 yen each, we sat at the table where the guy handed us an English menu to describe what each sake contained. They ranged from fruity to dry to sparkling. I’m not a big sake fan so it was a bit hard to choke down, but I made it through and could taste the differences between all 6 sakes. Then we had 3 pickled samples which were very salty. The guy was laughing at us as we kept making faces after each shot and was nice enough to give us water. He also helped lined up all the sakes so we could take a picture afterwards and he helped us take a picture with deer headbands since we were in Nara. It was actually a good time since our “bartender” was so accommodating, but all in all, we had six shots in about 20 minutes. I don’t know how, but I walked out feeling okay, while my travel buddy was more drunk that I was. Go figure…
We decided to go to dinner back in Kyoto so we headed back to the subway where we ended up in the station next to Kyoto station. My travel buddy wanted to look for the Kyoto Tower, but the GPS kept taking us in circles so we gave up and walked back inside to scope for some food. We had a hard time deciding what we wanted after walking back and forth so we yelped a popular katsu place in Kyoto station. After what seemed like forever, we found the station and the tower which of course, I took snaps of, but then we were really confused of where this place was since it was on the 11th floor and the station was huge! We tried our hardest to follow the GPS and after more back and forth, we finally found the escalators that led us there. Even at 8:30pm, there was still a small wait at Nadai Tonkatsu Katsukura.
Finally, we got in and I ordered a regular pork cutlet. As we were waiting, they gave us sesame seeds to grind up and mix with the sauces that were either spicy, sour or salty. It came with miso soup, rice and cabbage that were unlimited. The cutlet itself was very juicy and not oily. It was fried perfectly, but didn’t leave my stomach crying since it didn’t have too much oil and fat. We ate quietly as we were so tired, but also trying to enjoy the food. I was happy I got my katsu fix, but it did come with a pretty price! Nonetheless, it was delicious and worth the find. Afterwards, we trekked back down the 11 flights of escalators and attempted to find our way back to our subway before knocking out and getting prepared to go to a new city the next day.
Want to read more about this trip? Click below!
Japan Day 1 [Shanghai / Tokyo]
Japan Day 2 [Tokyo] Japan Day 3 [Tokyo] Japan Day 4 [Hakone] Japan Day 5 [Kyoto] Japan Day 6 [Kyoto/Nara] Japan Day 7 [Yamazaki / Osaka] Japan Day 8 [Tokyo] Japan Day 9 [Tokyo / Shanghai]