Report from Muslim Travellers in Japan

OSAKA - KYOTO JAPAN TRIP - PART 2
[Itinerary]
<Kyoto> Kiyomizu-dera Temple – Yasaka-jinja Shrine -- Kyoto Mosque -- Kinkaku-ji Temple -- Nishijin *Kimono Show -- Nishiki-ichiba Market -- Gion


Assalamualaikum and warm greetings to all… How are you? Are you all ready to follow on reading about my Japan Trip? If you are, let’s get a move on, it’s time for part 2 ;)


I had promised to share information on hotels the other day, right? So here goes, while in Japan, I stayed at two hotels. The first was Hotel Sheraton Miyako in Osaka. I highly recommend staying at this hotel as it is located in a very strategic position; there is a bus stop right outside the hotel and a train station beside it. This hotel is also a Muslim Friendly hotel. I did some research on the hotels that are Muslim friendly. Finally, I came up with the following list of Muslim Friendly hotels that are located in Osaka. Please see the list below:


Namba Oriental Hotel
Cross Hotel Osaka
Swissotel Nankai, Osaka
Hotel Ichiei
Hotel Nikko Osaka

So, this was the hotel that I had stayed for 2 nights in Osaka.. Everything was A-okay and I had no complaints at all ;)
If you want an iron to Iron your clothes, you can ring for the reception and request for it to be sent to you. After you are done with using the iron, you can give them a ring to collect it back.

And… it was such a spacious room for two!

We woke up early to complete my morning prayers... then got ready, straightaway because we were anticipating to spend the whole day exploring Kyoto. We were in for some sore legs.. hahahah. But first, let’s go for breakfast.

Fish and vegetables are a staple food here, which happens to make up for my daily menu ;) I am an early breakfast kinda girl, if I didn’t eat breakfast on time, I become whiny and grumpy like a kid; hahaha…

This was my first time seeing this dish. Idham said that this is a Japanese traditional dish, if in Malaysia we have dishes like ”Budu”, “Sambal Belacan” and “Cincalok”… This is a dish along those lines. This dish is called “Natto”. It is a kind of sticky soya dish. The stickiness is due to the fermentation process which makes it all stringy. So to eat it! You just have to wrap and roll it around your chopstick. Idham also said that sometimes it is eaten with some raw eggs. The raw egg is mixed with the “Natto” and then eaten. This is possible. Maybe, it’s because their eggs were so fresh that it doesn’t have the usual eggy smell. So, maybe, it is easier to swallow. Hehehehe. This is all only for show, I only had 2 spoons of the dish. Idham could finish the whole bowl. He is awesome but then again, he has been in Japan for 6 years!

Alright, I’m all seated and now I’m excited and ready to explore Kyoto. I’ve always heard and read that if someone were to travel to Japan, visiting Kyoto is a must! As it is the best place ever…

If you guys follow the directions which I have accurately given, God willing, you will most likely not get lost ;)

From the hotel, we headed to Osaka Uehommachi Station and got onto the Nara Line Platform 1 to head to Yamato Saidaiji. Then we switched to the Keina Line to get to Kyoto. The fee was 1450 yen and the whole journey took about 1 hour and 6 minutes. I posted this photo on Instagram and Wan, a friend of mine, asked if the the chairs were really that small? As if Wan were to sit there, it would only fit one person. Hahaha… Then I explained that the Japanese are all so thin and none of them are chubby. This may be due to their eating habits and their active and “love-to-walk” lifestyle, which makes it difficult for them to gain weight. So, let’s make their lifestyle an example for us! ;)

At the train station, there are many family marts like this. It makes it very convenient for us to get anything we need. You can do some shopping while waiting for the train.

The weather that day was quite cloudy and it looked as if it was going to rain. So we bought this transparent umbrella hahah. Actually, I have always wanted to use a transparent umbrella in Japan. Looks so cute, doesn’t it? Let’s pray it rains today in Kyoto. Uncle Radie made some noise about me getting the umbrella saying that it would be hard to take it back with me. But hey this has been a long time dream of mine okkkk. Hahahah... At last, he was the one who had to hold the umbrella for me hahahah. Oh and don’t worry, you can totally bring an umbrella into the plane. Just put it in the baggage storage area above your seat. No problem ;)

Little cute me, waiting for the train.. You know what? It was good that I bought the umbrella as it had served as my walking stick while I was exploring in Kyoto. Seriously, there were a lot of interesting places I wanted to go. I was quite tired and my legs were killing me. Luckily I had this walking stick. Hehehe…

Throughout the journey, my eyes were glued to the window, looking at the sights. I just love looking at the houses, shops, and malls. On the way to Kyoto, I saw more traditional and not very modern houses. In Osaka and Kyoto, smooth light brown tiles are being used for the walls of most buildings. Ahh, I liked it so much because it looked so beautiful and so suitable to the cold weather.

It is so awesome to plant greens, isn’t it? Man, if I could stay here I will definitely plant greens like broccoli, and flowers, especially roses. It’ll be Awesome!

This tree scenery, without the leaves, is so very beautiful, isn’t it?

At last we touched down at Kyoto Station and speed walked to the Tourist Information Center.

Here, you can get all the information you need... From car rental, to hotel packages, and tours too. Maps and information on interesting places to visit around Kyoto is also available here.

It is a compulsory item to buy if you guys plan to travel by bus in Kyoto. This is called the Kyoto One Day Pass. It costs about 500 yen.

You can get the One Day Pass right outside the station. Remember to be careful with your pass and keep it somewhere safe, so you wouldn’t lose it.

That day, it was a very cold morning in Kyoto as it was cloudy and drizzling… But It stopped raining when we arrived. With much sadness… I missed a chance to use my transparent umbrella :(

The first place we visited was the Kiyomizu-dera Temple, which is one of the most famous temples in Kyoto. Ok, please queue up.. Everybody has to queue up in Japan, to avoid over crowding and rushing. This is the Bus Stop for bus no. 100.

The buses here are very pretty and clean. It has many bells like the one featured in this photo. You can press it if the station stated on its screen is the place you are heading to.

You need to insert the pass first into the card reader to pay the fare when leaving the bus. In Japan. The drivers will greet you with a ‘Arigatou Gozaimasu’ when you leave the bus or taxi. The greeting comes completely with a bow. They do this for everyone. They always put on a smile. Tired or angry faces are nowhere to be seen.

You need to walk a little bit to get to the temple. Aaaaah, this is why I love Kyoto so much. You get to see all kinds of things here. While walking, I saw this Halal restaurant.

In Kyoto, you can find many places that sell different kinds of ceramic. I felt like buying some, but I thought to myself, why not buy it later since this is just the first place in our long day ahead and I’d be laden with too much stuff to carry... In the end I didn’t get to buy it, even later on. Man, I felt like punching myself.

Also, there were places selling kimonos. Many foreign tourists were wearing kimonos and wood shoes while visiting the Temple. It was cute.. But if I were to wear them, how do you suppose I walk quickly? Also, there were many who had tripped and fallen. Hahaha..

This is the alley that leads to the temple. They had trishaws too. And wow, with blankets for your leg.. So you wouldn’t get cold.

Along the way, at every corner and street, there were a lot of souvenir shops. My advice is, if you see any souvenir that you like, just buy it straightaway. If you start to think “I’ll buy it later” you will definitely not be able to buy it.
Hahaha and in the end you’d end up crying having to buy your souvenirs at the airport.

Do you guys like doing this as well? Walking in a cold place, enjoying the sights of trees, flowers, shops and the people..

It’s still very far away... It is all for show. I actually felt like dragging my feet till night time. The road is not flat. It is a little bit inclined. Wowwww, I’m quite sure I have lost a few kilos by now hahahah.

Those are the stairs you need to climb to reach the temple ;)


Kiyomizu-dera Temple

Does my face show that I’m freezing. I keep putting my hand inside my pocket, once I couldn’t take it, only then do I put on my gloves.

No matter young or old, there was always a crowd of people heading upwards. All of the people looked very healthy here.

You can also buy a kimono and wear it while visiting the temple. And many did. It must have been that they wanted to take a photo as a remembrance since there are a lot of beautiful places to take photos while being here.

On your way down, you will pass through this street which is always full of people. It’s such a beautiful sight. So awesome!

Here, tourists can hang small notes as memories. I felt like reading it but I could not understand a single word, since I don’t know Japanese hahaha.

This is where you can buy tickets to enter the temple.

It costs 300 yen per person.

The Kiyomizu Temple is situated near to Mt. Otowa and was founded by, the great priest Yenchin in the 8th century. It was rebuilt in the 17th century (1633).

What a fine and unique architecture!

Although the temple’s architecture uses mainly wood, it is still intact and strong.

Souvenirs are sold here as well.

See? The old uncle writes his note and then hangs it on the place provided.

I did inquire our tour agent about this. I asked ‘what was that white thing they tied over there?’ He said that you can tie and leave your bad luck here if you get bad luck fortold to you during the fortune telling. So you need not bring the bad luck back with you ;)

This temple is a Buddhist Temple, so there were many religious ceremonies like ablutions and such. We just walked around and enjoyed the beauty, sights and the culture enriched environment of the temple.

Looks awesome, doesn’t it? People eating hot noodles in a place like this, with plastic curtains, brings me to the scenes of Japanese shows that I have watched on TV. I was quite taken up by the décor there, especially the laterns. The lanterns were hung at the entrance of the restaurant. The restaurant also featured a red cloth with the name of the restaurant on it. It was so rustic.

If you are the type who loves to travel for the sake of experience and learning of new cultures and lifestyles, and enjoy beautiful scenery; while at it, you must consider visiting Kyoto, Japan! I really love all of those aspects. Different countries have different culture and Japan is a country full of culture and tradition. So for someone who appreciates culture, this will be the best experience you can ever get ;)

Look behind me, there are a lot of shops selling souvenirs and food. But I did not dare buy any of the food hahaha.

The only thing in my mind were my children. Hmm.What should I buy for my Dearies? On seeing a small kimono wrapped doll, with a bobbing head, rightaway I tugged on Uncle Radie’s hand. It was so cute, when it swayed left and right, I had to buy it! I also bought a small spoon with the word Japan on it for Grandpa Braim because he collects small spoons.

Only a 1000 yen. These Hand fans make a great souvenir from Japan.

Dropped by to buy soft ice cream!!! Huwaaaaa I was so tempted while looking at their ice cream and couldn’t help myself.

OMG I suddenly recalled the heavenly taste of the soft ice cream. Just looking at this picture makes me wanna lick the computer screen hahahahahha

Uncle Radie seems to be looking fairer after staying in Japan hahaha. Even his ears turned red beause of the cold. Earlier, before leaving for Kyoto, he was being all macho saying it was not cold and “I want to wear T-shirt on our outing there”. I kept asking him “Are you cold?” every now and then. Hahahs… Just for the love of teasing him. There was never a dull moment with us, laughing, fighting, and teasing. All that is needed in being a couple.

Hahaha with an ice cream cone in hand. He becomes a happy over-active kid. Idham, Idham, well I just gotta be patient hahaha.

Doesn’t Kyoto looks so clean? Even though there are a lot of people here, there isn’t any rubbish strewn at all.

Kyoto is famous for its Temples. This is another one of the temples that are famous in Kyoto. This temple is called Yasaka Tower. When looking at this, the image of the ‘PAGODA’ brand peanuts suddenly came to mind… Hahaha.

You too would want to take photos along every street because all of the places are beautiful and clean over here.

In Japan, bicycles are one of the common means of transportation. Here, the people ride cycles no matter how cold the weather is. Ok, back to our visit to Yasaka Tower. From Yasaka Tower, which looks like a pagoda as I mentioned earlier, you only need to walk a little bit further to reach the Yasaka Shrine


Yasaka Shrine

This place is awesome because there was no Entrance fee!! Hehehe. Don’t we all just love that. Now, let’s climb these stairs, to go in and see what’s inside.


Well, there were a lot of stalls selling food here. Since I didn’t know a word of Japanese, I’m lucky I had Idham. He was our translator ;)

Wow, look at the size of that Crab Stick, its huge.

When I first looked at the food here, I was curious as to what this thing was? Maybe it’s Cuttlefish?? Apparently, it is Grilled Bamboo Shoots. But I was only looking, I did not buy any heheheh.

Asusual, when I visit a temple, I love looking at its architecture.

Here too, you can get your fortune read.

Woah! It seems like a lot of them had bad luck! Hahahaha, so they tied their bad luck up here and left it in bulk.

Their prayer ceremony was more or less like this: ring the bell, clap your hands and pray.

Isn’t it cute? A kimono and a fur shawl around the neck.

This is another one of their traditional food, I guess? Looks like a giant curry puff.

They were selling a complete set of a kimono and wooden sandals.

Ok, now to find a place to do my prayers. Well, you guys can carry out your prayers at the Islamic Cultural Center in Kyoto. All you need to do is take a bus from Yasaka Shrine at Gion Platform B, Bus number 207 to Shijo Kawaramachi.
From there take Bus 205 at Platform H and get down at Koujinguchi. Here as a landmark, you will see a shop selling comforters, pillows, blankets and other items right in front of the place where you get off the bus. Hahahah... From there you will be able to see a signboard on your left as can be seen in the photo below.


Islamic Cultural Center

Can you see the blue signboard at the far end? It is on the same road as Rose Café. Oh, speaking of which, later we will be having our lunch at Rose Café. Very convenient, after prayers we could go and eat straightaway ;)

Idham explained that those who did their prayers here were mostly muslim students studying in Kyoto.

Taking of photographs is not allowed in here. But the place is spacious and comfortable, just like the prayer room I had gone to for prayer in Osaka.

I was so hungry and so, that only left us with one choice. Let’s have our lunch at Rose Café, a Halal restaurant in Kyoto.

Their menu is based on the local taste.. So you can stop dreaming of eating some Chili Fried Rice here. Hahahah.

I chose this..The round looking things are potatoes, with okra, tomato, carrots, cauliflower. The sauce tasted like spaghetti sauce, slightly sour. The rice looked a little like ‘Nasi Dagang’. Since the rice in Japan is kinda sticky. It was like eating glutinous rice.

Idham ate the lamb (photo on the upper left handside) and I had no idea what Uncle Radie ate.. It looked a bit like rice with some chicken kebab, maybe?

On my way, I saw this vending machine that sold batteries. I know what you are thinking, ‘Wow they sold batteries like this?’ Idham said that in Japan, a lot of things were sold using the vending machine system to ensure convenience for everybody. Like, when sometimes in the middle of the night we need batteries and the shops were all closed. Isn’t it? This helps. Not only that. There was once I saw people queuing up in the morning and I was curious as to what they were buying.. Apparently they were buying breakfast bentos from a vending machine. That’s so awesome, right? This had me thinking, why don’t we use vending machines that can sell nasi lemak? Insert the money, and a nasi lemak pack will roll out from the bottom of the machine.


After that, we headed towards Kinkakuji (Golden Pavilion). My stomach was full and my steps were gradually slower hahahaha. So then, we walked back to the bus stop, which was in front of the comforter shop, from Rose Café. Got onto the bus no. 205 and got off at Kinkaku-ji Michi Station.


Kinkakuji (Golden Pavilion)

As usual we had to buy the tickets first, yeah..

The ticket fare was about 400 yen / person. The place is open daily from 9.00am – 5.00pm.

I have always looked at this temple in the internet. Finally, I could look at it in person. First thing that came into my mind was: was this really a golden temple? Well, the top two floors is really covered in gold leaf. For details, you guys can read more at http://www.jnto.go.jp/eng/location/spot/shritemp/kinkakuji.html

The surroundings of the temple changes according to the season. But the temple is most beautiful during winter when the surrounding is covered by white snow.

Here is a photo of the temple in winter. Hehehehe…

Here, people throw coins at the shrine for good luck. Hehe… If I were to collect the coins here, I will be rich. Hahahah…

Wow, such an artistic photo by yours truly *feelingawesome*

It’s the same here as well. You can visit the souvenir shops and get your souvenirs there. After taking photos at the Kinkakuji Temple to our hearts content, we headed out. As there were other places we need to visit ;)

We headed to the right after exiting the temple. There is a bus stop located here. Then we headed to the Kimono Show at Kishijin Textile Center. To get there you need to take bus no. 59 and get off at Horikawa Imadegawa.

At a tourist attraction area like this, most people are busy reading maps. I have no idea on how to read a map even if I did have a map I will still get lost hahaha.

Oh man, where is the bus? I am so cold.

Tadaaa… I’m finally in the bus hehehe. See? So convenient, isn’t it. There are screens in the bus to assist the driver and the passengers. When it comes to pressing the bell I am quite an expert hahaha…

Nishijin Textile Center (Kimono Show)

You guys can come over if you feel like looking around. And if you are lucky, you can catch the Kimono Show. If I’m not mistaken they perform these shows about 6 times in one day. But it is only a short show of about 15 minutes in length ;)

This is the entrance.

These were the kimono models from the kimono show that we had managed to catch a glimpse of. Their catwalk and runway turns were so graceful and sweet. Japanese women are famous for their gracefulness. Especially when wearing a kimono.

If I am not mistaken, the level above looks something like a cloth factory :)
http://www.nishijinori.jp

Now comes the best part. We were headed towards the Nishiki Market!! So what do they sell there? Well let me bring you guys there.

Look at this. There were some tissue boxes in the plastic bag. When she was walking, the tissue boxes fell off. I wanted to help her but before I could, she had moved quickly and picked it up herself. She then went on to cross the road herself. Felt like helping her cross the road as she was old. But you can see clearly that she was quite strong, capable and did not need any help. I hope that we can be as healthy, strong and independent as her when we are older.


After that small scene I continued my journey to the Nishiki Market. It drizzled during that evening. Yeay, I finally got my dream to use my transparent umbrella ;)

To get to the Nishiki Market we had to take a bus from the same bus stop where we took a bus to see the Kimono Show. From there we took bus no. 59 to Higashiyama Sanjo and then switched to bus 46 and got off at Shijo Karasuma.

Kyoto is quite modern too. You could see designer boutiques along the road. They also had a Takashimaya and H&M..It’s only that I had no time to drop by because we had a lot of other places to visit.

Nishiki Market

The Nishiki market or the Nishiki Ichiba, as it is known in the Japanese language, is very famous in Kyoto. It is made up of 5 shopping street blocks which had almost 100 shops and restaurants. Nishiki Market is also known as “Kyoto’s Kitchen”. If you guys ever visit this place, you can see different kinds of things here. Some places sold fresh seafood, half of the places sold seafood on the outside, and there was a restaurant inside. So you can choose fresh seafood and have it cooked rightaway. Some of them sell kitchen items, such as knives, utensils and cooking ware. This place is also famous for Japanese sweets, pickles, dried seafood and sushi.

Here you can see how they clean, prepare and serve fresh oysters ;)

Stumbled onto this 100 yen shop while walking. Basically everything in it is100 yen (about RM3) so let’s start shopping.

I bought some biscuits and chocolates for my Chinese friends. They were in cute shapes. Well the Japanese really do like their stuff cute, don’t they? We continued on walking after shopping at the 100 yen store.

This is an authentic sushi shop.


Dried food can also be bought here. The Nishiki Market is a popular shopping spot among tourists and the populace of Kyoto.

Looked at that. It is arranged in a perfectly tidy and neat manner. It also comes in different shapes. It’s so cute!

Yes, we suddenly came across some cuttlefish hehehe. I really love cuttlefish. But I was a bit scared to eat this because of their big sized heads hahahah... Uncle Radie did not want to eat these. He said that this was like an episode from Fear Factor haha…

The salesman who sold the cuttlefish to us gave me this cuttlefish sticker… Hahah…

Most of the shops were already closing for the day, by the time we reached the end of the road. One of the most valuable experience for me during this trip, is having the chance to visit the shops at the Nishiki Market and see their working lifestyle...

The day was getting darker and colder. By then, it had become super cold. And we were shivering.. Our next destination was Gion as we wanted to have supper. This time we took a taxi because it was not too far from the Nishiki Market. While in the taxi, Uncle Radie’s phone suddenly rang.. Apparently my sweethearts wanted to ‘facetime’ with us hahaha…

Hehehe.. Our children were so happy because we showed them the surrounding places while walking.. Idham then said “Ok, Mommy and Daddy are going to eat here”.

This is where we took our supper. This restaurant sold tofu based food. The name of the restaurant is Tousuirou. The temperature was around -1 degree celcius at that time. Then, suddenly it was snowing. We ran and took shelter in the shop because we were freezing terribly.

This time we sat on dwarf chairs. They had rooms like this for customers who wanted some privacy… I couldn’t wait to try the food here.

This time, we ordered the Higashiyama set.

At first, I was tickled upon seeing this tub. It looked like the tub that people would submerge into at a spa haha. But this was smaller. Apparently, she would scoop the tofu and then use the tub to poach the tofu… and gently allow the tofu to be poached through in boiling water..


After it is boiled, there is a specific way to eat the tofu. Take a piece of tofu and put it into your bowl, then you have to pour the sauce/gravy which was a litte like soy sauce over the tofu. Then you can eat it.. I ate a lot of it as it was so cold, and eating something hot and delicious like this, in such weather was so heavenly.

All their food was so healthy. There was no oil in its preparation. The one on a stick (in the picture) is actually grilled tofu, served with salmon. Yummy…

This is mackerel, isn’t it? Served with radish and some white gravy, I have no idea what it was, coconut milk, perhaps hahah…

Next, we had fried rice and some miso soup.

After the meal, they served us sorbet for dessert. We were so full and felt bloated hahaha..

After eating, its time to go to Shijo-kawaramachi.

At this time, the night air was very chilly. The road was so quiet and our breaths turn foggy. We couldn’t even talk and closed our mouths because the cold wind would hit our teeth and cause a sharp pain hahahah. I covered my mouth with a muffler, leaving behind just my eyes to peep through. Hahah…

This was our last pitstop in Kyoto. This place is called Hanami-koji. If you are lucky, you can see Geishas here. But when I arrived there, it was right after the rain had stopped and the day was already dark. So we did not see any Geishas. However, here we need to respect the privacy of the Geishas, we can’t simply take photos of them. Maybe you could if you ask for their permission, that is, if you see any but only if it is done in a polite way. It won’t happen if it was a male tourist who wanted to take a photo and in the process, possibly get close and hold them..

As there were no geishas around that night, we headed back to Osaka. The journey back to Osaka was long. It took about 1 hour to travel back to Osaka from Hanami-koji.


To return, we took the same train we had taken in the morning. I suggest you sleep in the train to recover some strength hahah. In conclusion, our day spent in Kyoto had given me lots of sweet memories to take home with me. So, to all who would want to visit Japan, I would recommend that you guys ensure you visit Kyoto. It is undoubtedly, a beautiful city, both peaceful and rich in culture and history ;)