Kyoto held some of our most exciting and adventure-built agendas, we were so excited for this day trip! But, mostly me.
Planned Agenda (the agenda below was originally planned for our third day in Kyoto)
|Kinkaku-ji (Golden Pavilion)|
|Arashiyama Bamboo Grove|
Though the agenda looks short, this was an action-packed day. We set out to tour Nijo castle, built in 1603. Most photos will be exterior and landscape due to pictures not being allowed inside the castle. While beautiful, the tour of the castle was a bit underwhelming because most of the artwork and structure throughout was replica.
We didn’t stay long, after we toured the castle and walked the grounds it started raining so we were off to Fire Ramen. This place had insane ratings but we were skeptical that it would just be a tourist trap. We arrived to a small line outside and ended up waiting about 30 minutes to get in. Yes, it is mostly tourists that we saw but this is by no means a trap. We had ramen several times prior to Fire Ramen, but this is where we fell in love with ramen. It was that good.
When you’re seated, you have to put on a bib, tie your hair up, and keep your hands behind your back. If you have a cellphone, they have selfie sticks hanging across the counter above the kitchen prep areas. They’ll set your phones and record the whole shebang.
What makes it Fire Ramen? They have a giant wok of oil on fire, and then poured into the ramen in front of you. This added a really unique flavor and was the best ramen we had the whole trip (per Jon), or the second best ramen of the trip (per Kelly). See the show below.
If we make it back to Japan, we’ll be sure to stop in at Fire Ramen again. The wait was 100% worth it, make sure you visit if you ever find yourself in Kyoto. With tummies full, we were off to Kinkaku-ji, a zen template known as the Golden Pavilion. This place was JAM PACKED. The temple and setting was beautiful, but it was so busy that you literally shuffled through like cattle. It was nearly impossible to break away from the crowds to take a picture and we sadly couldn’t really take in and enjoy the scenery, we managed to get a few good shots though. If you visit, make sure this is your very first stop first thing in the morning.
The reward for our cattle shuffling was some delicious matcha soft serve
After this visit, we took a train to Arashiyama to visit the Iwatayama Monkey Park, which required a short, but steep hike. This park allows you to be up close and personal with wild monkeys. Sure, they’re acclimated to human contact but are in no way trained.
When you reach the top of mountain you have stunning views of Kyoto, and monkeys!
You can even feed the monkeys. The building at the top of the mountain is caged in. You enter, purchase some apple slices for a few hundred yen, and are able to feed the monkeys from within the closed in area. They’re conditioned to the human interaction but they will definitely fight each other for the goods.
What a great experience! By the time we made it back down the mountain, dusk was setting in. We made our way to the bamboo park quickly but with hardly any sun left, the photos don’t quite do it justice.
Okochi-sanso was closed by the time we descended so we did some light shopping in Arashiyama before taking the train back to Kyoto center, on to the next day!