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badoor
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"Visiting Tokyo and Kyoto" , posted Tue 25 Aug 20:05post reply

Another one of these travel-advice topics? These are getting out of hand.

But to be serious for once, I'm expecting to travel to Tokyo, Kyoto and Hong Kong real soon. Hong Kong I'm most familiar with. Tokyo I've been to recently (like last June), but Kyoto will be a first time. So as always, I beseech the wise members of the cafe for advice on cool places to visit, good food to eat, and whatever neat things one could find in all of these cities, but mainly Kyoto.





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TheRedKnight
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"Re(1):Visiting Tokyo and Kyoto" , posted Wed 26 Aug 00:08post reply

quote:
Hong Kong I'm most familiar with.


Please share your recommended places to visit in HK?





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karasu
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"Re(1):Visiting Tokyo and Kyoto" , posted Wed 26 Aug 00:51post reply

quote:
Another one of these travel-advice topics? These are getting out of hand.

But to be serious for once, I'm expecting to travel to Tokyo, Kyoto and Hong Kong real soon. Hong Kong I'm most familiar with. Tokyo I've been to recently (like last June), but Kyoto will be a first time. So as always, I beseech the wise members of the cafe for advice on cool places to visit, good food to eat, and whatever neat things one could find in all of these cities, but mainly Kyoto.



Badoor, I can strongly suggest that you visit some Shinto shrines while you're in Kyoto, like the one where Abe no Seimei is enshrined, Fushimi Inari Taisha, which is... well, just look at the photos, and Kitano Tenmangu, which has a great flea market set up once a month, which we just happened to be around for. Also, if you're interested in visiting the old Imperial Palace in Kyoto, you need to apply for permission. It can be done online ahead of time, which we did. I can dig up the link for their site if you need it.

For food, I can recommend that you sample some Shojin Ryori vegetarian food while you're there. It's pretty fantastic, and Kyoto has some of the oldest restaurants in Japan that serve it.

Are you all set for accommodations? If not I can suggest a fantastic and cheap place.

Hope all that helps! I can suggest a bunch more if you'd like!





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"Re(2):Visiting Tokyo and Kyoto" , posted Wed 26 Aug 02:00post reply

Yeah, listen to Karasu because his impressions are up to date. Criminally, I almost never go south and haven't been to Kyoto since Golden Week in high school, but I'll grab what I put in the last Kyoto thread and add something:

Nanzenji is more sedate than other mainline temples and has a cool "Oku No In," a hidden temple, off in the woods behind it.

Ryouanji's rock garden is actually really cool.

Lots of people go to Saihouji/Koke-dera, the moss-covered temple, but you used to need reservations, whereas the similarly great Jizouin used to let you accomplish similar with fewer people and no reservations.

Look up which temples will have night illumination if you're there during certain times...walking through a ghostly and faintly-lit corridor and garden can make even a mundane structure pretty cool.





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"Re(3):Visiting Tokyo and Kyoto" , posted Wed 26 Aug 15:16post reply

Kyoto, huh... I could spend hours talking about Kyoto, so I'll try my best to keep it simple. Other than the great recommendations Karasu and Maou have offered, I'd suggest the following:

No trip to Kyoto would be complete without a visit to Kiyomizudera temple. Touristy and crowded as it may be, there is a good reason why it's featured on every sightseeing guide from the past 500 years: it is gorgeous. The views of the city are stunning on a clear day as well.

At walking distance from Kiyomizudera you will find Gion district, Kyoto's old town and arguably one of the loveliest and most picturesque places on all Japan. There are spots there where the flow of time seems to have stopped since 300 years ago. If you can spare 30 minutes for a walk, I can't imagine a better place to spend them. Just immerse yourself on the labyrinth of small houses and narrow streets, and you're sure to find some hidden gems. Maybe you'll also spot a geisha or two too if you're lucky.

Another recommendation for an scenic, beautiful walk would be the Philosopher's Path. While it is probably best enjoyed either on spring or autumn, it is always charming and relaxing nonetheless.

Other touristic but interesting places would be the Golden Pavilion temple, one of the most famous views of Kyoto and Japan in general. It never disappoints.

If you are into manga, then the Kyoto Manga Museum is a good way to spend an evening. More than a museum, is like a HUGE manga library with free access to tons of titles from all ages, since the early 1920s to nowadays. Some of the exhibits are pretty interesting too.

If you plan to visit Inari shrine on the southern part of the city (and you totally should!), you could also try to get a glimpse of Nintendo's HQ while you are around the neighborhood. Since they don't allow visitors in, there's not much to do besides staring at the building, but hey, it's no ordinary building. It's Nintendo' building.

For other Nintendo-related viewing you could head to Arashiyama district, on the mountains on the northern side, and pay a visit to Shigureden. It is a charming museum that mixes ancient Heian period literature with high tech presentations, and Nintendo is in charge of the tech-savvy part of the exhibits. Not been there myself yet, but plan to visit on the future. Other than Shigureden, you will find scenic bamboo forests, rivers and very charming greenery all around Arashiyama, so it might be worth the trouble of going all the way there even if it's a bit too far from the city center.

Anyway, if you are into Japanese History, the city is an absolute blast. Like a custom-made theme park. No matter what period you're into, you will find awesome places that will blow your mind. From the very same bridge were (supposedly) the young Minamoto Yoshitsune dueled with the monk Benkei; to the well where Akechi Mitsuhide's head was (allegedly) washed before being presented to Hideyoshi. The old capital is full of picturesque sites on every corner!

As for eating and drinking goes, here are some of my personal favorites.

Ikedaya, right on the heart of Kawaramachi, is a well known place to Japanese History buffs, and luckily still on business 150 years after being raided by the Shinsengumi on the last years of the Tokugawa era. Nowadays it is just a regular chain izakaya, but the atmosphere is great and the food, while nothing spectacular, should do the trick for a casual night. It is unlikely that Hijikata Toshizo and Co. will be returning anytime soon to ruin your meal, too.

If you like noodles, then you just have to drop by this place. Only here you can taste an udon bowl consisting in just one big, fat, long noodle. Such a pic would collect "likes" on any Instagram account as if there was no tomorrow, and that alone should make the trip to there totally worth the time.

For strong ramen broth, Tsukemen Man is your superhero of choice. It's a lovable ramen shop specialized in tsukemen type noodles, with a cheesy, campy atmosphere and superhero spoofs. Plus, it's located in Denmachiyanagi, one of the most beautiful spots in all Kyoto, just near the point where the Kamo river splits in two.

Last, but not least, not far away from Gion, on the other side of the river, you will find Pontocho, a little maze full of bars and snacks which once upon a time was a bustling geisha district. That's the place to go if you want to taste some good liquor and a fun atmosphere. Just have a walk around and choose whatever place that catches your fancy. I would recommend Bar Kuro as an specially cool, laid back place. Gaijin friendly as well, albeit without loosing its distinct Kyoto-esque personality.


Too much stuff to choose from, really. I wish I could visit there more often!





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"Re(2):Visiting Tokyo and Kyoto" , posted Wed 26 Aug 18:22post reply

quote:
Are you all set for accommodations? If not I can suggest a fantastic and cheap place.

Nothing is set right now for accommodations but if you do know a few places please do share.

And many thanks to all of you for the recommendations.





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badoor
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"Re(2):Visiting Tokyo and Kyoto" , posted Wed 26 Aug 19:50post reply

quote:
Hong Kong I'm most familiar with.

Please share your recommended places to visit in HK?



Obviously visiting the Tian Tan Buddha is a must, but the whole mountainous Lantau Island region is great. Victoria peak is ok but I mostly like it because of the incredible vertical tram you can take up to the peak.

I can't recall more touristy stuff right now but I do recall a few places that are I suppose more lets say "relevant" to this site's interest, like GameZone arcade in Mong Kok, which has all the necessary Fighting/rhythm/racing etc arcade games you'd expect, although I am not sure if it is the best place to find the best competition in KOF or SF but it was pretty good. There are a few more arcades but Gamezone is the one I recall having enjoyed the best.

Oriental 188 shopping centre in wanchai has all your video games+anime+figures+otaku interest stores. Most of the game stores sell new games and older early 2000s stuff like PS2, GBA etc. But there's one tiny store (I think on the upper-most level) that sells even older SFC, Saturn, PS1 stuff. Although it did have lax opening times so you may end up finding it closed.

And if you're into older anime toys and figures, Toyzone is a great place. Heck even if you're not that into them (like I am) it's just a really cool almost museum-like place to visit and see all these neat little toys. Be careful when looking around for its address cause the store moved to a different location in 2012 so you may accidentally have its older address (which is what happened to me. I went to its older location, which was on like the higher floor of a building, and found an empty floor. I guess it wasn't rented out at time but you should find the new address on their homepage I linked above)





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"Re(3):Visiting Tokyo and Kyoto" , posted Wed 26 Aug 20:50:post reply

It seems like everyone's already listed the top places to go! To add a few notes, if you watch a lot of anime, one of the places you'd certainly want to check is the Fushimi-Inari Taisha suggested by Karasu. It's a fantastic location that's featured in a lot of titles. The philosopher's road is a nice walk during spring time when Sakuras are in full bloom (I'm not sure about fall)-- nowadays the road is reportedly a nice cat heaven. If you like Japanese history or Rurouni Kenshin, the Ikedaya Inn is still around, but as a Japanese pub if you're up for drinks. This page has a lot of photos of the locations that everyone's suggested thus far.

In terms of food, Kyoto is well-known for Udon so if you like noodles you might want to try a bowl. For sweets, Yatsuhashi is Kyoto's specialty--and it's really easy to pick up at any location/gift shop. Green tea (Uji tea) is a Kyoto specialty as well, so getting a sip or maybe even green tea soft-serve icecream can be an idea if the weather is hot.





[this message was edited by Professor on Wed 26 Aug 20:50]

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"Re(1):Visiting Tokyo and Kyoto" , posted Thu 27 Aug 05:36:post reply

quote:
Another one of these travel-advice topics? These are getting out of hand.

But to be serious for once, I'm expecting to travel to Tokyo, Kyoto and Hong Kong real soon. Hong Kong I'm most familiar with. Tokyo I've been to recently (like last June), but Kyoto will be a first time. So as always, I beseech the wise members of the cafe for advice on cool places to visit, good food to eat, and whatever neat things one could find in all of these cities, but mainly Kyoto.


Nara (奈良市, Nara-shi) is a city about 15 minutes away from Kyoto where you have deers roaming all over the place. You can actually feed them as well. They are very people friendly. That is if you want to go a little outside of Kyoto. Everyone else mentioned pretty much what Kyoto offers. Its a vintage, culture, and historical Japan that looks like you travel back into time.





Long Live!

[this message was edited by neo0r0chiaku on Thu 27 Aug 05:37]

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"Re(1):Visiting Tokyo and Kyoto" , posted Thu 3 Sep 15:43:post reply

quote:
Another one of these travel-advice topics? These are getting out of hand.

But to be serious for once, I'm expecting to travel to Tokyo, Kyoto and Hong Kong real soon. Hong Kong I'm most familiar with. Tokyo I've been to recently (like last June), but Kyoto will be a first time. So as always, I beseech the wise members of the cafe for advice on cool places to visit, good food to eat, and whatever neat things one could find in all of these cities, but mainly Kyoto.



Ah man I'm so excited for you! Kyoto is my favourite place in the world! In fact I just spent an ungodly amount of time writing recommendations for you, then accidentally closing out of the window and losing the whole post, so ... here here's the abridged version!

Visit Temples!

Sanjusangen-do (三十三間堂) is a must see if you like Buddhist art. It's home to a hall with 1000 statues of Kannon, the goddess of Mercy. The hall itself is the longest wooden structure in Japan I believe. And man, the statues themselves are STUNNING. There's a main Kannon that's magnificent (in fact it's a national treasure). In front are 1000 miniature ones. But my favorite part of the display is actually at the very front where you'll see some magnificent statues of Guardian deities. They are wonderful. Photos don't do them justice. In person they feel as if they are alive and peering through you. These are some of the finest examples of Lacquer statuary you will see in the world. It's a technique that originated in China, but there are no remaining examples of the art in the mainland. The tradition was kept alive in Japan though. I wrote about it a bit in this Asura's Wrath piece. If you like the aesthetic of that game you must see these statues in person!

Here's a map of the area
http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e3900.html

If you wanna go deeper, Rokuharamitsu-ji (六波羅蜜寺) is a personal favorite of mine. It was founded by Kuya, a monk notable for bringing Buddhism to the masses. Inside the temple you will find a beautiful statue of Kuya. It is my favourite statue in all of art history (alongside Bernini's Ecstasy of St Teresa). It's a great example of the more realistic end of East Asian art that you don't often see in Western books. It's naturalistic blend of abstract and realistic shapes reminds me of the work of Takayuki Takeya. The statue is very old and treasured, so it might not be on display, but there are some other beautiful (and strikingly lifelike) statue portraits of other monks there as well. All in beautiful black lacquer of course.

Side anecdote: This was the first temple I stumbled into when I first went to Kyoto. I was so excited I didn't even look at a map, I just ran into the first temple I saw. Lo and behold it was exactly the place I wanted to go and it was also the last day that statue would be on display for that year too. That was the closest thing I've ever had to a religious experience.

If you do decide to visit Temples (seriously, why wouldn't you, it's Kyoto!), I urgently recommend that you start collecting temple seals. Find a temple with a gift shop and you'll be able to pickup a beautiful little book which you can take temple to temple collecting seals. Almost every temple will have an expert calligrapher on staff who will stamp your book with the temple seal then write BEAUTIFUL calligraphy over it. It typically only requires a 300 yen donation and you get a world class original hand made piece of art. Here's more info:
https://sabaijaiyen.wordpress.com/2013/11/16/a-pilgrimage-temple-seals-of-japan/

If you are super serious about Buddhist art, then as neo0r0chiaku has suggested, you can make a day trip to Nara. It is the old capital and contains in my opinion the most beautiful works of Buddhist art in the world.

You will specifically want to visit Kōfuku-ji (興福寺) which contains several national treasures including the famous Asura, as well as various Guardian deities and Demons that you'll surely recognise from Hokuto No Ken, Street Fighter and countless other videogames/anime/manga.

Here's more info on Kofuku-ji temple:
http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e4101.html

If you'd like to learn more about the deities on display at all these wonderful temples, this is the best resource written in English on the internet:
http://www.onmarkproductions.com/html/shitenno.shtml






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[this message was edited by nobinobita on Thu 3 Sep 16:04]

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"Re(2):Visiting Tokyo and Kyoto" , posted Thu 3 Sep 16:02:post reply

What to Eat!
I highly recommend that you eat local Kyoto style food while you are there. If you are visiting friends, they might want to take you to get some Okinawa style late night stir fry or something, which is natural cos they already live there. THIS IS A GRAVE MISTAKE. Kyoto has some of the best, most refined food in the world. Even in the "touristy" areas, you can't go wrong. All the food is awesome. Just ask what's seasonal and fresh.

I can't recommend any specific sit down places to you (they were all good and I ... I forgot to write down their names when I visited), however I can recommend a nice Onigiri place called the Blue Oni. It's the perfect place to start your day. Get some freshly made Onigiri to go (packed beautifully in dried bamboo husks). It's the perfect food for a day of trekking across the city.

Here's their website:
http://www.aoonigiri.com/

Here's a video I took of the proprietor making some fresh rice balls!

I dunno if it's the best place in town (seriously, everything in Kyoto tastes GREAT), but it's the place my friend who lived there liked the most.

Backtracking on my advice that you only eat local traditional food, there's also a lovely tiny little video game themed bar in town called Siesta.
http://www.timeout.jp/en/kyoto/venue/1071/Caf%C3%A9-La-Siesta
The drinks and food there aren't amazing, but they're solid. What I love about the place is how intimate it feels. There are lots of retro game and super obscure retro game magazines and comics all over the place. Also the owner is super cool. He's a chiptunes/jcore artist (who likes to use the word "SHIT" a lot) who is very passionate about what he does.

Here is their website:
http://cafelasiesta.com/

There's so much to do in Kyoto. I'm essentially just rehashing to you what I did. I'm by no measure any kind of expert, but I did have the time of my life there. I hope you have a great trip too!






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[this message was edited by nobinobita on Thu 3 Sep 16:12]

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"Re(3):Visiting Tokyo and Kyoto" , posted Sun 6 Sep 02:43post reply

I just compiled all the tips you guys mentioned. And well, I'm having problems trying to fit all of them in the honestly short time I'll be spending in Kyoto. But seriously, thank you all for the help. Things like this is why I always feel privileged and thankful that I am part of the global cafe community





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"Re(4):Visiting Tokyo and Kyoto" , posted Sun 6 Sep 03:14post reply

quote:
I just compiled all the tips you guys mentioned. And well, I'm having problems trying to fit all of them in the honestly short time I'll be spending in Kyoto. But seriously, thank you all for the help. Things like this is why I always feel privileged and thankful that I am part of the global cafe community

Fantastic! Oh, and a sudden recollection from high school: some people in Kyoto volunteer to do "homestay dinners," meaning people would invite a visitor who is interested in old-time Kyoto culture to share a meal with them. This was a long time ago, but worth stopped by the tourist bureau when you arrive to ask, and nice to have a local to interact with when in the area!





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