Sunday, February 5, 2017 | By: purple taste

Early Autumn Japan Nov 2016 - Kyoto Accommodation - Airbnb near Fushimi Inari Shrine

The actual location would be somewhere near Fukakusa Ichinotsubocho. It is about 6 minutes walk from the Fushimi Inari Station. Main reason of choosing Airbnb was really because the hotel rooms were all so costly during autumn period. We stayed 5 nights in Kyoto and this Airbnb location was really ideal as it is relatively close to the station, plenty of food option nearby plus it was just 10 to 12 mins walk to the Fushimi Inari Shrine.

It wasn't easy to find this place as it was nestled within the residential area. Luckily, the homeowners made a Youtube video that made it possible to look out for the landmarks (practically need to look out for lamp posts!) Had to loop the video a couple of times to memorise though but it works ;)

Autumn weather means it gets cold when the sunsets around 5pm and by 8pm, the temperature dipped to less than 15 degrees celcius.

Fushimi Inari Station

The homeowner left enough instructions via messaging service so we knew how to retrieve the house key without having to meet up. So cool. The house was nice and one would walk into the living/dining room area along with a small kitchenette. There's a sliding door that separated the dining area and the washing area. There was a washing machine cum dryer in there that we appreciated and used well throughout our stay. This was because as we discovered that the washing area would be icily cold at night and it was impossible for the towels and clothes to dry. So the dryer was really handy!

It was quite cool to see a real kotatsu in the dining area. Unfortunately, it wasn't working so we couldn't warm our legs via that. There was a separate heater though so that was always turned on when we're downstairs in the evenings/mornings.

living/dining area
living/dining area - open the sliding door to the bathing area
bathing area
washing machine cum dryer

The toilet was tiny even for Asians. There was just enough room to manouvre in to sit/stand and do your business. The knee would just be probably one inch away from touching the door.

Upstairs was where the sleeping area was. Though listed as one bedroom, there really isn't any door that separates the sleeping area.

careful on the stairs
decorations upstairs
bedroom (his sleeping quarter)

Since I was travelling with a guy friend, I chose to sleep on the sofa bed instead.

across the bedroom - sofa bed area (my sleeping quarter)
my small cosy hideout with TV (but it didn't have any reception on bad weather days)
my sofabed

The food choices around this area included Kendonya and Ramen Hiwamatanoburo both of which I'd recommend. There's also a Chinese restaurant besides these but we didn't try that. There's a Lawson convenience store in case you'd like to get some oden or instant noodles. My breakfast is usually cakes from Lawson since we'd be up early to go sightseeing and the ramen shops don't usually open till 10am.

matcha baumkuchen from Lawson - breakfast

Here are some scenaries near Fushimi Inari Shrine:

walking towards the shrine, passing by a canal
the path towards the shrine - full of tourist
shops along the way
nearing the Shrine
The Fushimi Inari is the patron for businesses and is traditionally worshipped by businessmen and merchants.

Since we were staying nearby, we also dropped by Fushimi Inari Shrine during the night.

Fushimi Inari - at night
This was my first experience with Airbnb. Booking was a breeze and selection of the right accommodation was made within one or two nights of virtual discussion with my friend. The photos helped and we did read through the reviews before deciding on one that we thought was suitable for our travel plans. Our main criteria was a safe area, near train station, comfortable place (entire accommodation) and price.

The Kyoto Airbnb that we booked was owned by Shinichi and Yuka. Here's the link to their listing in Airbnb. The response that came upon a successful booking was within the same day. All necessary information pertaining on house rules, how to get there, map etc was shared within the same day.

Monday, January 2, 2017 | By: purple taste

Early Autumn Japan Nov 2016 - Inuyama Castle 犬山城

After spending the night at Nagoya, we were up early next morning to take the train to head to Inuyama. Destination was to Inuyama Castle which is somewhere between Gifu and Aichi Prefecture. We went via Meitetsu Line which means JR Pass not usable here and stopped at Inuyamayuen. Train journey was about 40 minutes ride and cost about ¥600.

train station
getting our bearings

Luckily, there were signs to point us to the right direction. The walk to the castle was a scenic one. I think the distance was about 2km from the station to the castle.

Inuyama Castle (on the far left ontop of the hill)
feels slightly like autumn
zoom lens in play
getting nearer
after walking for 20 mins
Inuyama Castle

Clear blue skies, cool weather and nice view made the trek to the hill interesting. Soon, we reached the shrine that eventually leads up to the castle.

at the foot of the castle
pass through the tori gates

The view of the castle was certainly rewarding. Very beautiful. Inuyama Castle is one of the 12 surviving original castles in Japan that was constructed before the Edo period. The castle was built by the Oda clan. Visiting hours are from 9am to 430pm and entrance fee is ¥550.

Tenshu (main donjon)
front view
highest level
One could climb up the castle and get a bird's eye view from the balcony. But I chickened out because the high steps looked abit terrifying. If you are interested, just go to the front steps and take off your shoes and place them in plastic bag provided. Then you may proceed to climb up those scary steps.

how's the view from the top?
autumn colours

Meanwhile, I'll just explore the ground while my friend went up.

view from Inuyama Castle ground (is that Kiso river?)

Found myself a sakura tree on the castle grounds. Not bad, eh?

Sakura blooming with Inuyama Castle in background
We took a different route on our way back to the train station. Passed by many shops and some were pretty interesting. There seemed to have many flower shops in Inuyama. Mostly felt like a sleepy town.

looking back at the entrance to Inuyama Castle
flower shop
shop selling dango
soy glazed dango
Yup, bought myself a dango and it was quite nice. I think it was ¥100 for a stick. But, had some trouble looking for a rubbish bin after that. Haha!

Sunday, January 1, 2017 | By: purple taste

Early Autumn Japan Nov 2016 - Nagoya Castle 名古屋城

After our late lunch, it was time to visit to Nagoya Castle. Somewhat of a rush beause its closing hours were nearing and moreover the sun will set in just a few hours time so hurry hurry! Getting there was relatively easy. From Nagoya Station, take the Higashiyama Subway Line to Sakae Station and change to the Meijo Subway Line to Shiyakusho Station. Train travelling takes about 10 minutes and cost ¥240. It's about 5 minutes walk to the castle from there.

Nagoya Castle sign outside of  Shiyakusho Station

looks like a wall for lookouts
greeters on castle ground
Purchased the entrance ticket for ¥500 apiece and we went exploring the castle grounds. There were some noise so we went towards it and caught the greeters about to wrap up. They were all dressed up in the shogunate era. Looked quite fun!

greeters at work

Nagoya Castle was ordered by Tokugawa Ieyasu of the Owari branch (尾張徳川家) constructed and completed during the Edo era around 1610 - 1619. That's 10 years to build. Nagoya Castle (名古屋城) is also pronounced as Meijō (名城). The emblem of the Owari is Maruni-mitsubaaoi ("Circle Around Three Hollyhock Leaves"). You can find this emblem on the entrance ticket to the castle.

ticket to Nagoya Castle
Southwest Turret
There was a lot of walking going on and the first structure encountered would be the turrets.

Main keep and the turret in view

The Nagoya Castle main tower has a fan-sloping stone base which looked pretty awesome. The construction of the castle walls were divided between feudal lords, and one of them was Katō Kiyomasa (加藤清正).

Nagoya Castle main tower with fan-sloping stone base (ogi kobai)
Kiyomasa was said to have led 20,000 labourers to haul the stones to build Nagoya Castle's main tower in 6 months time.

stones as the castle wall base

monument to commenmorate Kiyomasa's Stone Pulling

One could enter the main tower and go up the five levels of the tower. Its like a museum where there were interesting exhibit in there.

heading inside
Golden Carp - Kinshachi (金鯱)

If you noticed, the golden carp is mounted on the castle roof. This was used as a talisman to prevent fire as well as the symbol of feudal lord's authority.

Nagoya Castle map
samurai gear
screen paintings

Inside there's a small hut that depicts a small inn/rest area for travellers of yesteryears.

resting hut
auspicious/celebratory food
It was kind of tiring to climb up the stairs in the main tower. Lift is available but it takes very long and is usually pretty packed, so let it be used by the elderly.

While my friend was still exploring, I went to find something to eat. Nearby, there was a desserts shop. It was of the vending machine kind, so bought a ticket and passed it to the person manning the shop.

vending machine kind
soft serve is ready
taking a rest
It was actually a pretty cold day to be eating the matcha softserve but I think I need to. Must eat matcha in Japan! Haahaha! So with the wind blowing up sand, I was trying to protect the cup and eat it at the same time.

Very soon, the sun was setting, So we decided to head back and call it a day.


calling it a day

Click here to see what we ate for dinner.