Sunday, February 10, 2019

Japan Travel: Kyoto: Kiyomizu-dera, Starbucks Ninenzaka

Kiyomizu-dera (清水寺) is a famous attraction in Kyoto. You may have heard that Kiyomizu-dera  is undergoing renovation between 2017 to 2020. Initially we considered giving it a miss, but after some thoughts, the temple under renovation may be considered as "limited-edition"!

From Shimogamo Shrine (read our adventure here), we took Kyoto City Bus 205 to Kawaramachi Marutamachi (South) 河原町丸太町, walked to Kawaramachi Marutamachi (East), then took Kyoto City Bus 202 to Kiyomizu-michi (清水道). On the bus, we purchased Kyoto Bus One-day Pass (adult 600 yen, child 300 yen), which would be a saving if you take 3 or more buses in a day.

After alighting, it was an up-slope to get to Kiyomizu-dera! We were starving as we had not had lunch yet and it was 2+ p.m.! So we bought some dango along the way to ease the hunger. Finally we reached Okabeya (おかべ家) for our lunch.

One of Kyoto's specialties is Tofu cuisine. Okabeya serves Tofu set meals, we ordered one set of Tofu meal and one set of Yuba meal. It cost 5000+ yen (SGD60+), not cheap though. 

The most interesting dish is yuba (tofu skin). We had to make our own yuba - using a stick, we lifted up the thin layer of yuba formed from heated soy milk. Be mindful when you are trying to make the yuba, it is hot to place your hand above the steam! It was a unique and interesting experience for us!

We continued to go up the slope after the late lunch, the street was super crowded! There are many shops selling yatsuhashi 八ツ橋, a triangular Japanese confectionery made from glutinous rice flour, wrapping red bean paste. Some shops offer free tasting and that was our dessert after lunch!

We finally reached Kiyomizu-dera at around 4 p.m. and the sun was about to set! Yes, the sun sets at about 4.50 p.m. in winter in Kyoto!

We purchased the admission tickets (adult 400 yen, child 200 yen) to enter the main hall.

We were there a few days after the kanji of the year 2018 was picked. The word "disaster" was chosen to describe the mood of the year as Japan was hit by a few destructive natural disasters in 2018.

We walked past Jishu Shrine (地主神社), which is known for god of love and matchmaking.

Let us share with you the "limited edition" of Kiyomizu-dera under renovation! It is amazing that no nail is used in the building of the stage!

Another key attraction is Otowa Waterfall (音羽の瀧). There are 3 streams of waterfall, when you are facing out from the pavilion, the one on your left is for longevity, the one in the middle is for love, and the one of your right is for success. Take note that you can choose to drink water from only one of them. Although the metal long ladles are sterilised by UV light, I think it is better to pour water into our hand, not to drink directly from the ladle. 

After leaving Kiyomizu-dera, we walked along Sannenzaka (三年坂) down to Ninenzaka (二年坂). Many shops were closed by 6+ p.m., and the place became very quiet. It was very cold in the evening, so we decided to get some warm beverage from Starbucks Coffee Kyoto Ninenzaka Ysaka Chaya, which is the world's first Starbucks with tatami!

When we purchased our beverage at first floor, we were informed that there was no more seat, and we were not allowed to wait inside for seat, but we were allowed to take a quick tour of the second floor where the tatami areas were located. There are only 3 small areas with tatami, it happened that someone just left, and so we got to sit on the tatami! We were really lucky!

Yuzu tea was delicious, but the hot chocolate was a disappointment. Anyway, it was a special experience to have a sip at the world's first Starbucks with tatami. As we were about to leave, a big group of tourists rushed over to "chope" the area next to us. They were talking very loudly, breaking the tranquility in the cafe, and they occupied part of other patron's space. So inconsiderate!

The calm and quiet Kyoto ancient street looks so beautiful. Yakasa-no-tou (八坂の塔) has a special charm at night. But we couldn't stay too long to admire the place as it was too cold for the children, and we had to head back to Osaka for dinner.

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