On the way to Kyoto !
No doubt, Japan is one of the countries coming to mind when we talk about far east. I had decided to go to this fascinating island country isolated in west which I couldn`t go for a long while, by finding opportunity of nine-day festive holiday :)).
You have to willy-nilly face a long research and planning period before going to Japan. Following questions may prepossess: What do Japanese eat and drink? Am I gonna be hungry? How long and where should I stay? How many money should I take along? In order to answer these questions, you harmonise all of the tips from your friends having Japan experience, popular blogs, touristic books on Japan and then you say it`s over with pleasure.Even though you read such blogs and books and say I`m okay, it`s not done at all. I`m gonna systematically share with you essential things on Japan travel in order to minimise those lacks.
In my Japan journey, I especially decided to stay in 2 locations being up Kyoto and Japan. As my other journeys, I started to search a residence via Airbnb in my first location, Kyoto. I had no chance to planning my journey so I had not alternatives as much. I had decided to rent a house 5-minutes by walk and convenient for price and location. Most efficient supporter of my decision was interurban train journeys. Due to having JR ticket I could go from Kyoto and Tokyo by Shyinkansen to anywhere I wish to go. This kind of journeys to visit a lot of places in a few time requires to use train. So, this fact logically necessitates that your location may be closer to the train stations.Thus I did so and put store by our residences` location in Kyoto and Tokyo would not be far from train station.
After that, it was the time of most costly part of journey, finding airplane company for the ticket. Despite, there are a lot of airway companies flight to Tokyo and Osaka, all of them - except Trukish Airlines - fly in 20 hours by making two interchanges and as result, it causes to be lost my two days; therefore, I had chosen Turkish Airlines` Istanbul Atatürk Airport - Tokyo Narita Airport flight by paying more.
I would like to share a detail regarding airway ticket: I suggest you to check ticket prices until the last day of reservation time before buying your flight ticket. It was a great discount from 3700 Turkish lira to 2900 Turkish lira in the first reservation.
I would like to share 3 essential points making your vacation easier.
1.Japan Rail Pass
Japon Rail Pass os essential for Japan vacation!! You can unlimitedly use high speed train named “Shinkansen (Bullet train)” and almost every local train with this ticket-card priced approximately 250-270 dollars. It would be useful to get this card before going to Japan. I want to share the website link of this card: http://his-japanrailpass.com/ You can get the card from the office located in Istanbul/Şişli in weekdays until 5 pm after reserving on the site above. All you need to do is, submitting correctly your name and passport number they give you clear ticket name featured above and then you transform it in Japan Rail branch of Japan. When usuing high-speed train (Shinkansen), you can make reservation or not. My suggestion is to make reservation except traveling in close distances. I want to notice you, there may be problem of not finding-place in case of crowd.
We can call it Istanbul Card of Japanese. It is not possible to get the card from Istanbul unless you borrowed it from a friend from Japan. You can charge 1000 Yen at least by charging 500 Yen for deposit. It is very useful and practical, you can use ıt everywhere and it quickens you. It is valid in restaurants, lockers, market shopping, metro (JR line) etc. I got it just arrive there and never regret it. A little suggestion :)).
You can find free internet almost everywhere in Japan. But if we think about the disadvantage of staying stabile to connect internet, it is wasting your time. Therefore, Pocket Wifi is an amazing technology providing you quickness and saving you time. You can get this moderate-price device (2000 Japanese Yen/week) from internet sale points. By the way; Google maps and Japan travel applications play a vital role for subway and train routes which seems complex.
Welcome to JAPAN !
Departed from Istanbul Atatürk Airport on 9 September 2016 and after 13 hours of travelling, I had arrived to Tokio Narita Airport’s first terminal. During the flight, I had filled the information card for entering Japan given by cabin attendent but, Natita Airport passport control officers did not accept it (They didn’t like me :P) and they wanted to me to fill information card below (By the way, Japan doesn’t demend for visa for turkish citzens, like a dream .) ). So that, I stareted to wait for passing passport control which I didn’t like most, after filling quickly enterance card below.
Here, I would like to touch on a subject. Especialy, because of interesting price policy of THY, you can waste your time. I want to summarize its reason; if you are flying by THY, you should buy roundtrip ticket, otherweise, your ticket price increases in the ratio of % 40 (min)- %60 (max). For example, if you want to travel in a island country located in south-east, noth- east line like Japon, you have to go back to Tokyo after leaving there for going to other directions and this sitations make your travel plans harder. If THY provides alternative service for people landed in Tokyo and wishing to use Osaka airport, it will be ease for travel lovers. I wanted to share this important issue with you :)).
After completing passport and entry procedures, it was time to activating essential JR ( Japan Rail Pass) card
I would have been taking my way with the high speed train “Shinkansen” to Kyoto after activated weekly JR Card but I realized that I had missed last Shinkansen with very little time difference :((. Now I had free time until 6 am for Tokyo, last part of trip plan. Suitcases were the only trouble I had, but lockers were ubiquitous so I calmed down. You can safely keep your suitcases in Lockers which cost daily between 400-700 Japanese yen. Travelling with such an advantage is also a relaxing factor :)).
I was ready to leave my suitcases at lockers and my self at nights of Tokio. I went quickly with the metro to the most lively area of Tokio.
By the way in Tokio metro ends at 5 o’clock and then it starts to again offer service at 5:30 in the morning. Although the subway route seems as very complicated, you solve it at once. The names of pleaces you want to go written both in english and japanese on the board. After staying up all night in Tokio I came to Shibu train station for the 6:20 train. I took my way to Kyoto with 36 hour exhausting and pleasant journey. The best part of the journey was the seeing mountain clearly even if just from long distance by taking advantage of the beautiful weather :))
Traditions of Japan : KYOTO
After 450 km of train journey, I arrived to Kyoto, the tourism capital of Japan. Kyoto which is surrounded by spectacular hills, contains itself with the whole heritage of old Japanese cultures with historical centers and unforgettable legends. Kyoto is also known as “the city of feasts”. Many traditional festivals in the calendar are celebrated here with colorful shows. From 794 to 1868, Kyoto was the capital of Japan and still has not lost its historic fabric and with many ancient temples, meticulously gardens and palaces awaken tourists’ interest.
Because the residence I was staying in Kyoto was so close to the Kyoto train station, I could easily reach the temples I wished to go to in Kyoto by using metro and local railway line.
In Kyoto, there are about 2000 temples including 1600 Buddhists and 400 Shinto, and as well as numerous palaces, gardens and old architecture and it is very hard to see all of them in a limited time:)). So you should plan ahead what you want to see. Never put yourself in a mood: “I need to see everything” :)).
It will be a great lie if I say that you can quickly see various important temples on the list of Unesco World Heritage by taking the "hope on hope off" buses in the Kyoto train station :)). You ask why. Because the temples are so big and you lose yourself when you visit. If you try to see all of them, your holiday can turn into a nightmare. Before coming to Japan, I wished to see the temples below, and I made my plan accordingly. You can go to the temples with a single day bus card which costs between 200-300 yen.
Under favour of JR Card you can go to temples on the JR line or you can take also hope on hope buses called Klopp.
The Klopp is a bit expensive; 500 Japanese Yen. I preferred Kloop in terms of being more practical to go to the places I wished to visit.
These places are :
1. Kinkakkuji Temple( The Golden Pavilion )
2.Ginkakuji Temple ( Silver Pavilion)
4.Arashiyama Bamboo Grove
I would like to briefly give information about places I have listed above without a chronological order in my travel plan.
1. Kinkakuji Temple ( The Golden Pavilion )
This pavilion was transformed into a Zen Temple in 1408 when the retired Shogun who was regaling in this pavilion died. This temple was the source of inspiration of the Gingakuji Temple (Silver Temple), which would have been built on the other side of the city after a few decades by the grandson of retired Shogun.
The most important feature of this temple is being 3 floors and to be covered by golden leaves of the last 2 floors. There is also a Phoenix on the top of the temple. The best side of the gold dust coverage of exterior wall is its reflection on the lake. It gives you a visual joy.
What impressed me the most was that the botanical arrangement of the temple was perfect and the garden was designed with a landscape integrated with the temple. While you are walking around you feel like you are walking in a scene and nothing comes to you absurd. In the entrance, the officers direct you to front of the pavilion and you can’t stop taking picture despite the crowd :)).
By following the path around pavilion, we started to walk around (visit) the temple. A little more ahead, in the middle of the pavilion, people are trying to throw coins into the small bowl surrounded by sculptures. If the coins reach the target, the wishes will be accepted. I couldn´t make a wish because I couldn’t throw the coin.
2.Ginkakuji Temple ( Silver Pavilion)
Ginkakuji temple was built by Ashikaga Yoshimasa in 1482. Yoshimasa was impressed by Ginkakuji temple, which had built by his grandfather and he built the Silver Pavilion as the place to live after his retirement.
It is possible to see bamboo, lilacs, water lilies and various Japanese garden designs in the garden. Although it is very similar to Kinkakuji temple, I couldn’t see a silver coloured temple inside.
The shrine which was built during the Murakami period and sits at the base of a mountain also named Inari has an area of 4 km long. Fushimi Inari Temple requires to a 2-hour climbing performance in conjunction with having a 4 km walkway and numerous Torris.
In Japan, T-shaped constructions at the entrance of holy places are called Torri. Due to the donation of these gates to the temple by the succesful people in business life, the 4-km-long Torri road was formed. Also there are the names of the donors on the doors.
4.Arashiyama Bamboo Grove
You can arrive to this forest in Arashima, where you feel yourself on a fantastic journey with a wide walking-trail among bamboo trees, in 25 minutes from Kyoto by local trains.In this beautiful forest where you can stay for hours, the oxygen bath takes all your fatigue.
By the way, sound of the wind in this fantastic forest is one of the most characteristic voices that describe Japan.)
You can arrive to Nijo Castle by taking the Tozai Subway Line from Kyoto train station, or by buses numbered 9, 50, 101 in 15-20 minutes… I couldn`t get myself to take picture at the gold plated, Chinese style Karamon Gate at the entrance.
The first Shogun of the Edo Period was built in 1603 as the residence of Kyoto. This castle, built to protect Kyoto's imperial goods and residences, consists of three parts. These parts are: Main defense (Honmaru), secondary defense (Ninomaru) and the gardens between them.
We do not have many chances to take photos in the Ninomaru Palace but you can visit almost all parts including the rooms where the samurais are trained.
One of the things that awaken my interest when I was walking around inside was the floor of castle makes nightingale voice when I stepped on.
It is said that these crackles were made to protect the Shoguns from enemies that could get in. Japanese intelligence is fascinating.
There were ornamental stones, a large water puddle and Ninomaru gardens defined by traditional Japanese landscape outside the palace.
The entire castle is surrounded by walls and ditches filled with water and has a perfect garden. It is possible to see various types of fish in ornamental pool, a wide array of plants in botanical garden and it is possible to take beautiful photos.
Nijo Castle had really impressed me. The route made to visit the palace that makes it easier to grasp its history, plays a great role for my impression. As I mentioned in the beginning of my journal, the fact that there are many temples and historical artifacts in Kyoto and having a limited time makes you being selective. Before coming to Kyoto, I traveled to the Gion region that I read on many blogs. I will go towards west of island, Hiroshima, on third day of trip after spending a day in Kyoto.