Thursday, June 8, 2017

My Incredible Journey to Kyoto and Osaka, Japan! Part 2

One visit to Fushimi-Inari is simply not enough! I will make it a habit to come back when I can!
The next day of my trip to Kyoto was met with a bad habit I tend to do lately since I got back in Asia: waking up late! On average, I have been waking up later than 10am because of the night owl in me! They don't call me the midnight baker for nothing! Anyways, I woke up and fixed myself up and got to see my host Hidemi-san very hard at work. She was cleaning up the rooms and changing the bed sheets on the third floor where I was sleeping! Told me she will have guests coming from France, Canada and UK. Such a hard working woman who really cares for her guests! I felt like family when I was at her place. After I had breakfast, we spoke a bit in Japanese about me and my ambitions, etc. I told her that I was going to Fushimi-Inari Taisha (伏見稲荷大社) or the Fushimi Inari shrines, and she made the most kind-hearted offer: she would drive me to the Shrines once she was done fixing up the rooms! I honestly felt like the luckiest person ever to have had such a wonderful host like her!

Hidemi-san is one the best hosts I have ever had! She exceeds expectations and is extremely hospitable! SUGOI!
I was surprised to know that Hidemi-san and her family are very well-traveled yet, it has only been her husband, Akihiko-san (塩谷明彦) and her son (I was not able to meet) who have been to Philippines! She also has a daughter that loves to travel as well! She fell in love with the mangoes I gave her and I have convinced her to visit Philippines because of all the delicious mangoes we have there since Japan is known to have notoriously expensive mangoes! While we were in her car, I could definitely see how much traveling had impacted her life. She has been to many places and has meet people from all over the world! I could definitely see that traveling has kept her happy, and I hope it does for me too as I keep exploring this world!
The view at the top of Kyoto Tower was pleasurable for me! The ticket purchased would get you discounted entrance into the bathhouse at the basement of the building!
Once she dropped me off at Fushimi Inari area, I started the hike. But first things first: street food time and souvenir shopping! Now for those who adore matcha green tea like me, you're in for a treat! Kyoto has the best supplies of matcha green tea powder out there! Street foods may sound cheap to others, but trust me when I say this: they are so much tastier than any food you have had anywhere else! From Wagyu beef skewers to Okonomiyaki to Chicken karaage, the food here is endless and so much more affordable than the food in the city! Although a long line at times, it's very much worth it as it satisfies my hunger! Average prices spent here for street food will be around Y500-700 JPY but it's very filling and tasty. After finishing my food, I started the hike and my goodness, already I can see just how beautiful the orange arches and shrines are! I have never seen the colour orange used in oriental architecture and shrines until I went to Japan. It was very refreshing to me and to my sight to witness something different! Every meticulous detail is there, which is what the Japanese are known for! I can see just how much care goes into this as well as maintaining the structures. With so much love and pride for its belongings, I felt the heart and passion that went into making them!
My you have a moment in life where you taste perfection on a plate! :)
As I climbed up the first couple of shrines, already I am amazed at how many there are! I felt as if I was in Japan's more quiet and peaceful past. A past that was extremely calming to me. I couldn't take my eyes off the orange arches! I kept taking so much pictures of me in it as well as asking others to take my picture there. It was wonderful to get to feel the fresh air there and have a closer look at the arches. They go on for thousands! Yes it had too many tourists along the way, which is why I decided to venture out on my own around the area. I got to see suburban houses along the area, which I easily got jealous! HAHAHA! How damn lucky those people are to live around an area as beautiful as this?! Now I understand that some may find it boring there but to me, I could spend my entire life exploring Japan and there will still be something that just amazes the hell out of me! As I was walking around the area, I got to see some Filipino tourists! I suddenly feel less lonely traveling by myself! I asked them to take my picture around the bamboo area and then off I go.
JB and I about to explore Fushimi-Inari and take lots of photos wherever there and where we walked!
After around 10 minutes of walking, I encounter them again this time with the officer in charge of the premises in his motorcycle. Obviously the English was limited so I volunteered to help my home country people out. Basically, they wanted to go explore Fushimi-Inari 'til the very top. However, it was already 4:30pm and the officer was not recommending it. He said to me in Japanese more or less that he doesn't recommend it because the lights are about to go out there and it will almost be night time, and that the walkway to get there will be very uphill and downhill. So here is my advice to them and others: if you want to explore Fushimi-Inari and make it to the very top, get there early! As early as 7am so that the view will be brighter and clearer! I felt good helping those who were struggling out! I am very thankful to have been able to help tourists enjoy this amazing country even more and break many cultural barriers!
When you travel on your own, you are forced to talk to people. You get to know some of the nicest and most amazing people when you do! What an amazing life!
As I walked around the area, I started going deeper into the community at Fushimi-Inari. I discovered so many beautiful houses there such as one that was coloured like matcha green tea! Everything was so prim and proper there; a completely refreshing feeling from chaotic and congested Manila. Even though I didn't make it to the very top that day, it felt good being surrounded with the community there! I honestly love seeing kids playing at the corner in the parks there cause they were so cute! I would love to live in a place as safe as that someday! I wish I could bring some of that weather back at home. A lot of times, it looks as if Manila's trees and nature are disappearing more and more to be replaced by an unnatural looking building. That shouldn't be like that because mother nature has so much natural beauty to offer. I just wished it would be more windy in Manila like how I felt in Fushimi-Inari!
I am no longer afraid to travel to the places I have always wanted to go to, even if on my own! The world as I see it, is a remarkable place!
The next day, I went to explore the city area of Kyoto more and saw several temples within walking distance to the train! I just felt so emotional being there because I felt like I was not worthy enough to get to taste and experience those things, and yet, I was still there loving every bit of it! I got the chance to go to Kyoto Tower and got a full 360 view of Kyoto! I was amazed and if you saw my pictures of me posing, you can definitely see how genuinely happy I was there! I love getting a top view of places because you can really see the hustle and bustle there! So happy that someone was able to take a picture of me there! Now in Kyoto Tower, they had a promo when I was there: for every ticket purchase, you get a discounted entrance to the bathhouse at the basement floor there. This was my first bathhouse experience in Kyoto so I decided to go since I was tired that day. It was satisfying enough that I got to shower and relax in jacuzzi water, despite being nude in front of others. After that, I explored the shops around Kyoto Tower, got souvenirs and then explored the restaurants around there. Tip: I brought meal replacement formula when I was there so that I could save on spending for food in the morning, which is why I was able to save. It's one of those drinks that you mix with milk so you can feel full and satisfied.
TC and I just chilling and socializing at a cafe near the train station of Kyoto. I appreciate these times!
Now Kyoto Station is the main train station of the city, which means there are several restaurants there as well as shops! The place is packed with restaurants and even has several floors of it! I chose to eat ramen since I was craving for it that night. I can never fully explain the satisfaction of having ramen on a cold night in the city! It's something that must be experienced more than told! The wonderful thing about dining in Japan is that majority of the restaurants have vending machines that takes your order and prints out a ticket to just show to the guy. Very straightforward and convenient. Gave me more time to enjoy the freshness and flavour of the soup! Take pictures while you're at the stairs of Kyoto Station. There are lights there that flash at night! All 5 floors of it, which you can actually sit down and relax a bit. Oh and don't worry, they do have escalators provided on the side!
Musician playing his Shamisen instrument on the street! World class music in front of me. I salute you busker and hope you'll be blessed!
At night, I noticed there was someone speaking Tagalog (Filipino) while I was walking the streets of where I was in Nagitsuji so I go there and immediately start talking to them! Immediately, we became instant friends. Spent majority of the time walking all around the area from Yamashina to my hostel in Nagitsuji. We didn't spend on stuff much. His name was JB and he was living in Kyoto with his mama and brother who was a resident already in Japan. He was a makeup specialist in Manila. There are so many Filipinos working in Japan, so it doesn't shock me so much anymore when I see a fellow Pinoy in Japan. He let me try Pachinco, which is the Japanese version of gambling at a casino since actual gambling is not allowed there, and it was like basically playing at an arcade. And then we talked for an hour or so while walking outside and even while sitting down outside of the convenience store. It was one of those moments where I felt happy just because I was able to connect with someone and share my life without expecting anything. We then head onto a place that had good Gyudon, so we found Sukiya. It was very satisfying for me. Almost like the first time I had Gyudon at Matsuya back in Tokyo.
A graceful Geisha on her way to an important appointment! She is purely an art. Otsukaresama!
It was wonderful to have a connection with someone you just met. That's really the beauty of traveling to me. "You never really travel alone. The world is full of friends waiting to get to know you." It may look depressing at first when I travel alone, but trust me: I know how to become happy when I explore this world! There are great people out there that you will get to know and immediately have a connection with. I never expect to be friends with the people I meet on Airbnb, Couchsurfing or any random bar I go to, but I do become friends with them! This whole process helps me become more confident and approachable so I don't see this as a negative when I go abroad by myself. What I fear most is not being able to travel or fly abroad and just staying stable and just being surrounded by the same old people. Traveling helps educate me and keep my spirit alive! I get that family is important, but every now and then, I would to meet someone and become friends with them, especially from a different cultural background.
Mother Nature blesses us with so much beauty like these flowers! Don't take them for granted!
The next day, JB and I met up. I got to meet his mama for a bit and then off we went to Fushimi-Inari again (one visit is never enough). This time, he brought his special camera with him along with a stand to take more elaborate pictures. Basically, we had a photo shoot around the area of Fushimi-Inari. It was wonderful, despite many tourists complaining about us taking a long time. It was mostly other foreigners and not the native Japanese themselves though. This place was even better the second time around! You really get to appreciate the hard work and love that these people put in from not just the orange arches, but also the people who sell food and stuff at the shopping stands. One of the guys selling the beef skewers was curious as to where JB and I were from and the moment we said Philippines, he immediately started speaking some Tagalog, which shocks the both of us! We literally took a thousand photos of wherever we walked, taking turns each time! Some of the tourists were a bit annoyed by us, but JB told me to just ignore them. I swear when you go around the areas with someone, it really does help produce better shots! I even got to take a picture with two Thai women dressed in a kimono! After Fushimi-Inari, we took a walk. A LONG WALK. I am not sure how we managed, but we enjoyed and made it all the way to Kyoto main station!
Would you dare to walk up and down these stairs? It's a nice at the top and there are ramen joints there!
When we arrived, we met a friend of his that I became close with as well. Let's call him TC! He is from France and was studying in Kyoto at the time! We spent a couple of hours talking with each other at a coffee shop called Delifrance right across the train station. As TC and I got to know each other (lover of anime and most things Japanese), JB suddenly disappears! Either he got bored of TC and I or had an emergency. It was so quick for me to process, but apparently JB was looking for his brother around the area. I was not sure how he would be able to find him because JB was relying on my pocket wifi the whole time we were there! When he disappeared, TC and I still kept on talking and we clicked as friends! We still talk to each other on Facebook even 'til this day! He loves cosplay apart from anime and yaoi. I politely accompanied him to his bus terminal, still unsure of where JB is. Then when TC left, I went to have a quick dinner at the Kyoto Station area, which has so much options for food such as ramen! One tip for any restaurant you go to in Japan: the more you see how your food is cooked and prepared in front of you, the higher the chance that it tastes good!
Generous servings of ramen when you dine in at one of the restaurants at the top floor of the Kyoto Station!
I remembered this phrase as I was munching on my super comforting ramen: "One cannot live well, sleep well, and think well if one does not dine well." I can definitely feel how tender the noodles and meat was as well as how soft the egg was as well. If this was consumed on an extremely cold night, this would bring me to euphoria! After dining there, I decided to walk around at Gion since this district was the most popular and had the most options when it comes to food and shopping! And then out of nowhere, I see JB again! I was wondering where in the world he was! He said he needed to get home so he ran off to the train station. And just like that, he ran and I have not seen him since. Kind of ironic how we spoke and became friends instantly and then the next day, acted like a different person. But I couldn't let it bring me down since I was in such a beautiful city for the first time ever! I have yet to meet more people so if one person did not click with me, just simply move on to the next one. I would like to be positive and hope to meet more people! As I am still working on Part 3, I will end with this quote: "You never really travel alone. The world is full of friends waiting to get to know you."
You never really travel alone. The world is full of friends waiting to get to know you.


  1. I envy you! Japan is one of my dream destination! huhu.

  2. It's possible for you I believe! I hope you can make it there in the future because it is so incredible there! =) Keeping positive you will make it there! Cheers!