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TOKYO & KYOTO IN OCTOBER

Today we visit my old hometown (well for 3 years anyway) of Tokyo and the temple-tastic Kyoto.  A huge thanks to Kirti for her review. The stunning photography is testament to her professional skills, please visit her FB Page for more of her amazing photos!

the-majestic-fuji-san

We (my husband, 3.7 yr old daughter and I) visited Tokyo and Kyoto in Japan during the mid term break and it was such a glorious trip. The weather was fabulous- cool without being too cold and some of the fall colours peeking through in Kyoto – super fun really!

When?

6-16 October – to celebrate my husband’s birthday and take advantage of the mid term break from school

How did you book the trip?

We decided to do a low budget airline (Jetstar Japan) to keep costs down and stuck to airbnb in both Tokyo and Kyoto.

Getting to the apartments

Tokyo

We took a taxi from T-Cat (Tokyo City Air Terminal) to Kinshicho where our apartment was located. While the apartment was in a super location in terms of access to public transport, it wasn’t as spacious as we would have liked it, hence not recommending it.

Kyoto

Again a taxi from the Kyoto station took us to the warren of narrow streets where our apartment was located. We love, loved the apartment – everything so well maintained and comfortable, even a Nespresso machine.

Restaurants

Tokyo

We have stayed in Tokyo previously so most of our restaurant visits were mostly nostalgic ones. We tried Milepost Café for modern Indian food (take the seats outside please for a very pleasant view), Mucho Modern Mexicano for the chicken wings, fried seaweed at an Okinawan style resto in the Kitte building opp Tokyo station and some brilliant coloured Pocky! (yes I know) from one of the many shops inside Tokyo station.

Kyoto

I would recommend Donguri for okonomiyaki (they have loads of locations in Kyoto itself) – we picked the one on Karasuma-dori. We tried this lovely place called Roti Chicken & Jackie Tacos for some brilliant guacamole and frozen margaritas. The hipster café in Aarashiyama (there’s only one near the Saga Aarashiyama station) is rather interesting if you like tofu

Things we did in Tokyo

The first day in Tokyo was met by spectacular blue skies and boy did we make the most of that day. We went up to the Sky Deck in Mori Tower and were met with spectacular views like this.

tokyo-tower-from-mori-tower

We took the Yurikamome line to Odaiba (its one of my fave places in Tokyo) to stare at the Statue of Liberty and have a cup of coffee in tandem with the setting sun.

The next day was spent mostly meeting up with old friends in between mad mad rain. But we squeezed in a visit to Ueno Zoo, which my daughter loved because of the Jurassic Park style train monorail.

the-super-cool-monorail-in-ueno-zoo

We did a day trip out of Tokyo to catch a spectacular view Mount Fuji or Fujisan. Our Japanese friends who were with us were very excited, as this was the best view of Fujisan they had seen in a long time. Visiting Lake Shoji is a must – esp if this is what you can see. Oodles of food was put away in a bbq and sparklers to end the night – a super fun day really!

On our last day in Tokyo, we visited Kiddyland in Ometo-sando, Bic Camera in Akihabara and The Loft in Ginza for some toy and general shopping. Well worth it, I would say.

Things we did in Kyoto

Firstly, Kyoto is crowded in a not so good way. The tourist spots are always packed with all kinds of tourists – regular ones and school kids on trips, which means if you have a stroller, you have some manoeuvring to do.  Some of the attractions are not stroller friendly so either you let your child walk or carry them, whichever serves you better.

We got advised to do Nara but vetoed it after I read about aggressive deer biting bums in search of food! :O The same goes for the Aarashiyama Monkey Park.

My first advice to you is if you have kids who love trains or even if you don’t, DO GO to the Kyoto Railway Museum. They have obviously spent tonnes of money on the place and the kids have an absolute blast in there. We spent almost the whole afternoon there and could have spent longer there very easily.

kyoto-railway-museum

Kiyomizu –dera was very crowded. We would have liked to spend more time checking out the shops and the temple itself but the crowds put us off.

The next day we headed to Fushimi Inari – which is super lovely but also crowded. I would advise to read more to check if early mornings are better to visit here. The orange gates are lovely and make for super photos.

my-daughter-loved-fushimi-inari

From Fushimi we headed towards the Philosopher’s Path which from the Ginkakuji side is not very stroller friendly –as it’s a mostly a gravel path. The stones on the path itself are uneven so it’s difficult to walk the stroller there. We walked the path for a bit and there are rather interesting shops along the sides there which are worth investigating. In the evening, my husband was a bit unwell so my daughter and I walked along the Shijo dori to the Teramachi and Shinkyogoku shopping arcades and had fun window-shopping.

Thursday was spent in Aarashiyama. Would highly recommend the tram ride from Shijo-Omiya Station into Aarashiyama. It’s about 40 minutes but for kids, a whole lot of fun. Another super experience is the Sagano Romantic Train ride. They have a ‘Rich Car’ compartment, which is completely windowless but sold out all the time!! A beautiful 25 minute ride with a meandering river for company, please ensure you book your tickets ahead of time for this train ride.

view-from-saga-railway

We visited the Bamboo Forest, which is a 10-minute walk from the station. Serene and peaceful in parts and full of people and even taxis in other parts! Stroller friendly all through.

aarashiyama-bamboo-forest

Our day ended at Kinkakuji’s Golden Pavilion Temple – which is a regimented 20 -30-minute visit. You need to follow a certain path and strollers need to be carried, as there are steps within the path.

Getting between Tokyo and Kyoto

We found a super discounted voucher from JAPANiCAN for the Nozomi shinkansen. The only catch is this tends to be unreserved but we didn’t have a problem with this as both ways, we got seats. From Kyoto, my only recommendation is you try to board trains coming from Shin-osaka as it would potentially be less crowded than the ones coming from Hakata. The journey is 2.5 hours and very comfortable. There’s a food cart on board in case you miss out on carrying snacks.

In Conclusion

I am not sure we would revisit Kyoto (the crowds really put us off) but we love Japan and every visit is a revelation into this beautiful country.

4 comments

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  1. Trish @ Mum's Gone To

    I am hearing so much about Japan lately – it really does seem to be a fascinating place to visit. Kirti has some excellent tips for Tokyo and Kyoto too, particularly for families.
    #citytripping

  2. Umberta

    Interesting post. I’ve been only to Tokyo, but very quickly, I’m saving this for next time, I’d like to discover Japan better. 🙂

  3. MummyTravels

    I had such an amazing trip years ago (pre-daughter) to Japan and we split our time between Tokyo and Kyoto, which was about all we could pack into a relatively short break. I loved both, such a shame about the crowds in Kyoto – we went in January so I don’t remember it being too busy at all. Thanks for linking up with #citytripping

  4. Alex

    Sounds like you had a great time, and you’re right – the photo’s are great1 #citytripping

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