The Japan Journal - Day 10

K Y O T O  Our first full day in Kyoto called for a full day tour that dad signed us up for. This tour costs about JPY 14,700 per perso...

K Y O T O 

Our first full day in Kyoto called for a full day tour that dad signed us up for. This tour costs about JPY 14,700 per person, and includes an English speaking guide, lunch, admission fees and transportation costs. Unfortunately, it was rather gloomy with overcast skies and the occasional downpour. Most of us came prepared, with ponchos and small umbrellas stowed in our bags. However, the tour had a bucket of large umbrellas ready for those who placed too much hope in good weather conditions.  

Our first stop was the Kyoto Imperial Palace which is located in the grounds of the Kyoto Imperial Park. (It is important to note that the palace is closed on weekends and national holidays or whenever there is an Imperial household event).

Our tour guide took us into the hallways of the palace, where certain parts of the wooden floorboards creaked. We were told it creaked not because the floorboards are starting to give way due to its ancient age; rather, it was intentionally designed in order to alert the palace guards whenever a ninja is lurking around. 

Our next stop was the Kinkakuji Temple (Golden Pavilion), an iconic temple in Kyoto as the top two floors of the temple are covered in gold leaf. This impressive structure is situated in the middle of a pond, standing out amongst the green and brown hues of the garden. The Golden Pavilion consists of three floors, each architecturally different for specific purposes. 

The Todaji Temple is one of Japan's most significant temples. Located in Kyoto's famous landmark, Nara, the temple is home to the largest bronze Buddha statue in Japan (standing at 15m tall), situated in the temple's main hall called the Daibutsuden (Big Buddha Hall). Classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the temple is an iconic symbol of the Nara period.

The temple is situated within the grounds of Nara Park, so you will come into close contact with the deer of Nara. There are about 1200 deer roaming freely around Nara. But don't be fooled by their cute face. Around the deer park, there are stallholders that sell crackers for you to feed the deer i.e. get swarmed by a herd of deer at one go. 

As you approach the Nandaimon Gate, you will be greeted with more furry creatures. Most of these deer ain't no sweet little Bambi. They can get aggressive and give you that 'grrr' look if they know you are hiding treats from them.

OR, they could get greedy and impatient whilst you attempt to evenly distribute crackers to other deer. Exhibit A (below): when they start tugging on your coat and you have to give them a firm scolding but they'll forever hold it against you. 

Our final stop was another a deer-filled location called the Kasuga Taisha ShrineAccording to Shinto tradition, it is said that the deer of Nara Park are thought to be the sacred shrine messengers of the Gods. Today, in honourable tradition, deers are protected national treasures. This Nara Period shrine is designated as a World Heritage Site and is surrounded by forestry scenery. 

What stood out the most at the Kasuga Taisha Shrine was the extensive range of lanterns that can be found hung up, mainly bronze lanterns. Also, I never knew stone lanterns existed till that day, which is pretty much a lantern carved out of stone. 

The guide informed us that we had one last stop to make before the tour ended. Located a short drive away from the Kasuga Taisha Shrine, the Nara Nagomikan is the largest souvenir shop in Nara. Time was scarce, so we only had 20mins to shop for souvenirs and treats and also of course, for a toilet break before the trip back to Kyoto. 

For more information about the itinerary or if you are interested to book a spot on this tour, feel free to drop an email to

Our dinner back in Kyoto city was located on the top floor of Kyoto station, nestled amongst other restaurants and eateries. This was definitely the best meal I had in Kyoto, although my memory has failed in trying to recall what the name of the restaurant was... :(

If you know me well, you would know how I love my chicken. I would much rather chicken over beef any day, but if the beef is cooked to utmost tender perfection, it's irresistible. 

So this delicacy called for us to dip the marinated beef slices into a raw egg mixture. I definitely was hesitant and thought twice about it, but hey, gotta listen to the Japs. And I'm glad I did. You could hardly taste the raw egg as the beef's marinade sauce overpowered it, so what was left to linger on your tongue was an almost creamy, flavourful taste mingled with the soft and chewy consistency of the beef. 

After dinner, we took a walk around the Kyoto station which I believe is one of the most charming and entertaining stations in Japan. With Christmas decorations and fairy lights enchanting your surroundings, it truly was a magical and peaceful sight. 

[check out yesterday's itinerary:

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