Apr 21, 2014

Japan Itinerary: Kyoto, Osaka and Nara in 7 days

As promised, here's the itinerary of the trip I went recently from 6-12 April 2014.

Day 1 Flying to Osaka
KL - Kansai airport - Kyoto station
We flew in from KL to Kansai airport (KIX) on the 6th morning and reached Kansai airport around 3pm. As we were making Kyoto as our base for the next few days, and there is no airport in Kyoto, flying in to Osaka is the best choice. Before this trip, I have actually googled whether to go to Tokyo or Kyoto for the cherry blossom viewing and after seeing the photos in Kyoto, I decided to go Kyoto instead haha. As simple as that!

The quickest way to get to Kyoto from Kansai airport is by using the Haruka Limited express train which takes us about 75 minutes to reach Kyoto with limited stops. We purchased a Haruka & ICOCA package return trip worth 4060 yen per person (it's 3030 yen for one way) and we save about 2000 yen on train tickets. The ICOCA card is worth 2000yen with preloaded 1500 yen and 500 yen deposit and can be used for train, bus and subway in the Kansai region. We basically used the ICOCA card for train between Kyoto and Arashiyama and Nara. The rest of the time in Kyoto, we used the day city bus pass worth 500 yen which is more convinient and cheaper than subway travel in Kyoto (unlimited subway ride is 600 yen per day)

We stayed in Piece Hostel in Kyoto which is very near to the Kyoto station, about 10 minutes walk (walk towards Avanti & Hachijo street) and paid 37,000 yen for 5 nights.

Sakura at Philosopher's Path

Day 2 Northern and Eastern Kyoto
Ginkakuji Temple (Silver Pavilion) - Philosopher's path - Heian shrine - Kiyomizudera temple - Higashiyama - Kodaiji temple- Yasaka Shrine - Maruyama Park
As it was a full day in Kyoto, we decided to buy a city bus pass for 500 yen and take the bus no. 100 from bus stop D-1 from the bus station in front of Kyoto station (the bus terminal is facing Kyoto tower) and stopped at Ginkakuji-michi. Bus no. 100 is the 'tourist' bus for Kyoto which also goes to Kiyomizudera temple, Gion etc. After we done with Ginkakuji temple, we walked along Philosoher's path, one of the best place to view sakura. And from there lead us to Heian shrine. From Heian shrine, we took the bus no.100 and went to Kiyomizudera temple stopping at Gojozaka stop.  From Kiyomizudera temple, we walked along the Higashiyama old street which lead us to Kodaiji temple for night viewing of the temple and after that walked to Maruyama Park and Yasaka shrine for dinner and night viewing of sakura (yozakura). After that we took the bus back to Kyoto station (bus no.100 stopped service after 9pm, so we just took any bus that shows Kyoto St.) from Gion stop.

View of Higashiyama from Kiyomizudera temple

Day 3 Arashiyama 嵐山
Tenryuji temple - Bamboo groves - Nison-in temple - Togetsukyo bridge
We spent a full day in Arashiyama, taking the JR Sagano line (JR Sanin line) to Saga Arashiyama station which cost us around 240 yen. This time, we used the ICOCA prepaid card. From here, we walked towards the bamboo groves following the signboard and went into Tenryuji temple. After the bamboo groves, we were deciding on which temple to go and decided on Nison-in temple before leaving to the Togetsukyo bridge for the sunset. There are plenty of sakura here along the bridge.

Day 4 Nara
Fushimi Inari shrine - Todaiji temple, Nara - Nara Deer Park
It's a day trip to Nara which is around 75 minutes from Kyoto. As we planned to take the JR Nara line which also passes through Fushimi Inari, we decided to first see the shrine and continued to Nara. As the JR Nara station is about 45 minutes walk to the Todaiji temple, we took the city loop bus (in yellow colour) which cost us 220 yen per person from the station to the temple. After the temple, we spend some time at the deer park gazing at sakura flowers and chased by deers. Then, it's the city loop bus again back to JR Nara station. This time we used our ICOCA card.

Hanami at Hirano shrine
Day 5 Central Kyoto
Kinkakuji temple - Hirano shrine - Nijo Castle 
As it's our last full day in Kyoto, we went to see the Golden Pavillion or Kinkakuji temple. We buy another city day pass cost 500 yen and took the bus no.101 from bus stop B-2 stopping at Kinkakuji-michi. From there we walked to Hirano shrine for the Ousakai cherry blosson festival whereby hundreds of Japanese dressed in costume and parade them. From the shrine we took the same bus no. 101 to Nijo castle. Bus no. 101 is also a 'tourist' bus.

Day 6 Travelling to Osaka
Kyoto Imperial Palace - Nishiki market - Osaka
Before we travelled to Osaka later in the evening, we decided to take the opportunity of the opening of the Kyoto Imperial Palace to the public and went and see the palace. As there is no direct bus from Kyoto station, we had to walk a bit. We also bought the 500 yen bus pass and took the bus no.205 and stopped at Karasuma-imadegawa and walked for 15 minutes to reach the palace. From the same place where we stopped, we took the same bus and stopped at Shijo Kawaramachi for the shopping district in Kyoto and also visit the famous Nishiki market. After that, we went back to our hostel and off we go to Osaka using the JR Kyoto line stopping at Osaka station. This time we took the JR Special Rapid service and took us only 35 minutes to reach Osaka.  Our hotel is Ark hotel located at Nagahoribashi, the green line subway. At night we walked to Dotonbori street for the famous glico man.

Day 7 Osaka - Kansai airport
Osaka Castle - Namba station - Kansai airport- KL
Since our flight is at night, we went to the Osaka castle using the subway day pass which cost 600yen as our ICOCA credit has run out. As we are using the day pass, we also got a discount ticket of the Osaka castle and instead of 600 yen, we paid 500 yen for the entrance to the tower. We take the subway and stopped at Tanimachi 4- chrome station and walked towards the castle. After the castle visit, we took the subway and stopped at Namba station for last minute shopping. To get to Kansai airport, we took the subway and stopped at Shin Osaka station along the red line as the Haruka limited express train only stops here.

Total expenses used (2 person)
Airfare - Airasia(for 2 person)                                          RM 2,648
Hostel in Kyoto                         37,000 yen                     RM 1,215
Hotel in Osaka                            6,000 yen                     RM    196
Food and souvenirs  
(5000 yen per day x 6 days x 2) 60,000 yen            RM 1,920
Haruka & ICOCA card (for 2)     8,120 yen                 RM    260
Total                                                                                      RM 6239

The 60,000 yen spending money we brought is enough to cover the food, transportation and entrance fee to the temple and some of the souvenirs that we bought. I didn't have much left over money at the end of the trip. 

For reference, the entrance fees for the temples in Kyoto, Osaka and Nara are as follows (per person):
Ginkakuji temple                    500 yen
Kiyomizudera temple             300 yen
Kodaiji temple                         600 yen
Tenryuji temple                      600 yen
Nison-in temple                     500 yen
Todaiji temple                        500 yen
Kinkakuji temple                   400 yen
Nijo Castle                             600 yen
Osaka Castle                        500 yen (original 600 yen)


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