Kyoto Day 03: A Peek into the City’s Modern and Traditional Contrast

Our feet were throbbing from all the walking we did on day 01 and day 02,  mine made worse by the boots I was not used to wearing, so yeah there was no choice but to rest. This is why on our 3rd day in Kyoto, we decided to simply sleep in to give our sore feet a break.

Besides, the warm tatami room we had at Hybrid Inn Hana Hostel was heavenly, and the soft futon divine!

The Twin Room at Hybrid Inn Hana Hostel Kyoto (not to be confused with Hana Hotel), and yes it has ensuite toilet and bath – oh joy! Photos are from the hostel’s site because for some reason, we didn’t take pics of the actual room we stayed in.

Marveling at the Coin Laundry Machine 😀

We didn’t entirely laze the morning away. At around 10AM, we decided to do our laundry, which was an experience in itself because coin laundry!

As Filipinos, we are not really used to these things. Normally, we’d just drop off a basket full of clothes at a laundry shop, hire someone to go to our house and wash clothes (labandera), or do the washing ourselves by hand or using a regular washing machine. Coin laundry machines are very rare where we are from and so I had quite an amusing time figuring out how one works and then using it. Ignorance can be fun lol.

Such modernity, such confusing haha. Not the actual coin laundry we used at the hostel because I forgot to take a picture, but this is close. source

So for the uninitiated like me, how exactly does a coin laundry machine work? Think of it as some hungry metal beast that will only be satisfied by the taste of your unwashed clothes, so open its jaw and chuck your clothes inside. To start its digestion, drop 100 yen coins into the slot provided, which the hostel marked with an English sign, thankfully. On that sign are the details of how much coins to drop and other helpful instructions, such as how much detergent to put in.

Once the right amount of coins have been dropped (I spent 400 yen in total), the hungry beast will come to life with water automatically gushing into its stomach. The estimated finishing time will show up and all you have to do is wait. Once done, take out your wet, but now clean clothes, and feed them to the coin laundry’s little brother – the coin dryer! 😀

Finally Tasted Authentic Taiyaki!

Finished with our laundry, we decided it was time to explore again. We headed straight to Fushimi Inari Shrine because we knew there will be lots of food near there and we haven’t had lunch yet. Plus, despite being highly popular (images of the place are all over the internet), the shrine was something we really wanted to see for ourselves.

Train, train tracks, Japan.

This time, we took a JR train from Kyoto Station to the shrine. Figuring out how to use Kyoto’s train system and how to purchase tickets were yet another memorable encounter with Japan’s modernity, but I think it deserves a separate post. So anyway, we got to the Shrine and near its entrance was a very welcome sight – the road was lined on both sides with all kinds of food stalls! Foodies out there will totally be delighted here. We definitely were!

Keep walking towards the Fushimi Inari entrance to find all of the food stalls selling toothsome delights.

What really drew us was the taiyaki stall. So what is taiyaki? In layman’s term, it is a fish-shaped cake generally filled with sweet red bean paste. To Arcel and I, it was the stuff of our foodie dreams! Why? Because we’ve seen it so many times in anime and since we are huge anime fans – tasting real taiyaki, cooked by a Japanese guy, in Japan, was friggin awesome!

This taiyaki was not only stuffed with sweet red bean paste, but also had green tea and cream filling – sinfully good!

As Arcel said, “that moment when Dannea murdered her taiyaki.” Haha. I was trying so hard to take a picture of the full fish shape but everything ended up in a mess. Still, there’s the fish-shaped cake! Photo courtesy of Arcel. You can check more of her Flickr photos of our Japan adventures here.

Here’s the taiyaki guy making the delicious stuff right in front of us!

Walking through the Orange Torii Gates of Fushimi Inari Shrine

Stuffed with delicious taiyaki, we entered Fushimi Inari. The thousands of orange torii gates forming a tunnel winding up the hill was great to behold. Walking through it felt magical despite the hundreds of people there. The walk towards the top was actually invigorating and made us feel warm, which was great because it was nearing dusk and the Autumn temperature was dropping.

Visiting Fushimi Inari in Kyoto. Seen here is the tunnel of orange torii gates.

The seemingly unending Torii gates winding through the forested hill.

walking through the torii tunnel

let’s start walking, but before that, ehem :D

Arcel thoroughly enjoying herself

The shrine is dedicated to the God of Rice and Sake, Inari, and has been around since the 8th century. Since the fox is considered to be Inari’s messenger, a lot of stone fox statues can be found there. Apparently, the torii gates and the many sake (rice wine) barrels inside the Fushimi Inari complex were donated by businessmen over the years. No matter your religion, if you are a fan of Japanese architecture or just want to experience a part of the country’s culture, then this shrine is worth a visit. The best part – it is FREE to enter!

fox statues dutifully guarding the gates

space for worship

On our way back down, we noticed that the parade of torii gates broke off to make way for foot paths leading left and right. We decided to divert from the main torii path for a bit and see what else is out there. These are some of the stuff we found.

a more somber torii

I’m not really sure what this part is, but looks like a graveyard to me…

Inari’s messenger looking fierce

As a whole, we enjoyed our excursion to Fushimi Inari and I even bought a tiny fox keychain in one of the souvenir shops there; it was just so cute!

Exploring the Huge Expanse of Kyoto Station

After Fushimi Inari, we went back to Kyoto Station, but before walking back to the hostel, we decided we should take a look around the station and find dinner too. The station by the way is huuuuge. Aside from the lower levels dedicated for the trains, there were around 10 more floors to explore. We rode so many escalators that night haha.

The station’s alfresco, sort of terraced courtyard part. People can sit on the stairs here and just enjoy the posh and futuristic environment. It was November when we went there so as you can see, the Christmas Tree was being set up for December.

These guys were hanging out near the Christmas tree and Arcel and I just kept looking at them since they were dressed in these costumes and they looked like they’re having so much fun. I plucked up the courage to approach them, and with my horrible broken Japanese, managed to ask them for a photo. They generously obliged. Thank you! You guys look so cool!

Kyoto Station also has an observation deck, a skywalk and enough space to fit 3 shopping malls inside! For anyone who loves retail therapy, easily access Isetan Department Store, Porta Underground Shopping Mall, and The Cube Shopping Mall without leaving  the station at all.

inside one of the 3 shopping malls

Here’s a map of the whole Kyoto Station for those looking for food.

Yummy Omu Rice at Mollette

Since our goal was dinner, we went to find the restaurants at The Cube Gourmet on the 11th Floor. There are so many choices there with lots of appetizing plastic food displays catching our attention. We finally went inside Mollette because we found the place so cute, or as the Japanese would say – kawaii~

Mollette’s shop front, attracting customers with its display of plastic food replicas.

This restaurant specialized in various types of avant garde omu rice, which is basically a word play of omelette rice. It’s too hard to explain this without channeling my inner food reviewer, so here are pictures instead. ^_^

My order – omu rice ala seafood marinara (this is not the actual name, I just made this up because I can’t recall anymore this dish’s real name). Instead of pasta, there’s omelette-wrapped rice. The red sauce was super tasty, the omurice just perfect, and the chunks of seafood were filling. Only in Japan. I think. haha

Arcel’s order – omu rice ala carbonara 😀 I tasted this and this too was superb. If only I had more than one stomach lol.

Random Night Walk

After dinner, we thought it would be nice to explore the streets around Kyoto Station, people watch (read: feast our eyes on all the handsome Japanese guys walking around :p), and soak in the lights from the tall, modern buildings nearby.

Here are some of the interesting things we saw:

The Kyoto Tower, right across Kyoto Station. You can pay to go up there and view the city lights. We didn’t bother because we wanted to be on the street level, where all the action is :D

Kyoto Yodobashi – heaven for anyone looking for recent-generation cameras, computers and state-of-the-art electronics

buildings, crossings, cars whizzing by – ahhh, but to be in a modern city…

Then, while walking around, we spotted these guys haha. Kyoto just kept surprising and delighting us. I have no idea what these guys are doing though @_@

With our energy spent, we headed back to our accommodation. This is it for Day 03, and yes – it was yet another fulfilling and memorable day that made up this wonderful trip to Kyoto, Japan.

About DaNnEa

Bitten by the Travel bug and happy about it. Nuts about productivity and positivity. A huge fan of internet and mobile technology. Anime Fanatic. Harboring personal finance frustrations. Working to become a scriptwriter or author.

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