Last year during this time, my family (MIL, Mom, HB, Kiddo and I) escaped "避年" to Kansai for the Lunar New Year; and I have procrastinated in writing my travel journal for one whole year -_-
All of us (except for the kiddo) have been to Kansai a few times, but somehow apart from my detailed journal back in Dec 2007, I realised I didn't blog about my subsequent trips (cannot remember one or two) to Kansai at all.
Anyways, although I'm one year late, better than never :p Decided to just highlight a few memorable places and places I've not been to previously with mostly photos :p
Part I - Stay at Kyoto
Part II - Fushimi Inari Taisha, Kyoto
Part III - Kitano Tenmangu, Kyoto
Part IV - Nishiki Ichiba Kyoto, Kuromon Ichiba Osaka
Part V - Universal Studios Japan Osaka, Expocity Osaka
Part VI - Food
Since we have elderly and a young kiddo and had been to many must-see attractions already, the itinerary planned was very relaxed, basically to enjoy the cold weather and food!
Day 1 - Arrival KIX, transfer via limited express train to Kyoto
Day 2 - Fushimi Inari Taisha (伏見稲荷大社), JR Kyoto Station
Day 3 - Kitano Tenmangu (北野天満宮), Nishiki Ichiba (錦市場)
Day 4 - Transfer from Kyoto to Osaka (Namba), Dontonbori (道頓堀), Sennichimae Doguyasuji (千日前道具屋筋商店街)
Day 5 - Meet my host family (homestay programme back in 2003), Suita Expocity, Shinsaibashi
Day 6 - Universal Studios Japan
Day 7,8 - Shopping at Shinsaibashi, Tokyuhands, Tomizawa Baking Supply (Takashimaya, Namba City), JHC Baking Supply (near Namba City), Kuromon Ichiba, Donki
As we took a daytime flight, by the time we reached Kansai International Airport and transferred to Kyoto via train, it was close to midnight. Hence after an extensive research and consideration about timing and all, decided to stay at Kyoto Hot Spring Hatoya Zuihokaku Hotel which is a 8-10 min walk from Kyoto JR station.
Initially I wanted to stay at a traditional ryokan with hot spring but most ryokans are located some distance away from Kyoto station. Had to forgo the idea as it was going to be cold and everyone would be tired by the long travelling already, and it would be difficult to get cab for 5 of us.
So I guess this was the best option I had. Didn't want to change hotel (to a ryokan) either because we were only staying for 3 nights and it would be inconvenient logistically for all of us.
Staff at the hotel were gracious and friendly and spoke a little English, so basic communication wasn't an issue.
Restaurant at lobby area where breakfast is served, we didn't have opportunity to dine there though.
Booked 2 tatami rooms for us. Preferred tatami rooms because it's more spacious after beddings are put away. And I wanted the kiddo to experience a tatami room :)
The room was well-maintained and speckless, true to Japanese standards.
Anyways, I waited till the morning before checking out and when the staff were starting to wash the baths to quickly snap some photos.
The male and female baths are switched every day after the washing.
Overall the stay at this hotel was enjoyable and highly recommended for anyone who wish to stay near Kyoto Station and yet enjoy tatami rooms with natural onsen.
Next up, part II - Fushimi Inari Taisha