Kyoto Travel Guide

Scattered with temples and shrines, Kyoto hosts a rich history of Japan. Not to be missed on your travels, be sure to stop by these show stopping sights.

Temples and Shrines

Fushimi Inari Taisha

A well recognised location, Fushimi Inari Taisha is a popular shrine to visit in Kyoto. With as many as 32,000 red torii gates lining the trail up the mountain, it surely is a sight to see. I recommend getting there early in the morning, as it can get crowded. The gates can get busy, but the further you go up the trail, the crowds tend to thin out and you can enjoy the shrine. There are also food stalls and souvenir shops to enjoy. You can easily get there as it has a train station close by.

fushimi inari taisha

Kiyomizudera

This impressive structure is a buddhist temple which overlooks Kyoto. A wooden temple built with no nails, it is magnificent as it is old (1200 years!). While it is very popular and busy with tourists, its worth visiting. I recommend going early in the morning to best the crowds. The building is surrounded by pagodas, shrines, and a three-stream waterfall which grants powers of love longevity and knowledge. Be sure to walk through the historical streets on your way there, and don’t miss some yummy local sweets. You can get here by bus and a small walk.

Kinkakuji

If you only go to 1 or 2 temples in Japan, then Kinkakuji surely shouldn’t be missed. Named the Golden Pavilion, and rightly so, the small building is covered in gold. It’s situated on a lake, so you can’t go inside. After enjoying the pavilion, tour through the gardens. Again, go early to beat the crowds, it was really busy when I went, and the viewing area can get very crowded. Theres a small fee of 400 yen, but worth it in my opinion. It’s accessible by bus with a small walk or taxi.

kinkakuji

Natural Beauty

Philosopher’s Path

Strolling along the Philosopher’s path will brighten your day. A 2km canal close by Kiyomizudera, the beautiful stone path is lined with cherry blossom trees. Named after a 20th century Japanese philosopher who would walk the path everyday. While the walk itself is quite short, the path in surrounded by temples, small shops and cafes. Spring time would be beautiful to go see the cherry blossoms.

Arashiyama Bamboo Grove

This bamboo grove is so popular in Kyoto, it has to be on the list. A small walking trail with both sides seeming with bamboo, its a scenic and very pretty walk. Its nestled on the western outskirts of Kyoto in Arashiyama, which hosts plenty of temples, pretty mountain and river views and nearby Iwatayama monkey park. Arashiyama plays host to my favourite coffee shop, % Arabica Arashiyama, which you can read about below.

arashiyama

A girl’s gotta eat

% Arabica Arashiyama

Coffee can be a hit and miss in Japan, we normally went to starbucks, but I was really excited to go to % Arabica Arashiyama. This very small and coffee shop makes excellent coffee and the windows which line the wall give a beautiful view of the mountains and river. This place is extremely popular, but luckily when we went it was very hot so there weren’t many people. Also the heat was a perfect excuse for an iced coffee.

3-47, Sagatenryuji Susukinobabacho, Ukyo-ku Kyoto 616-8385 Japan

Gyoza Chao chao

This place may be small and like any other small business, but we were on the hunt for some gyoza and you will not be disappointed at Gyoza Chao Chao. Cheap beer and countless gyoza await you in this haven, my personal favourite is the pork gyoza, but the chocolate gyoza was a surprising second. All the dishes are made right in front of you. All the dishes are really cheap, so theres no excuse to not order one of everything.

117 Ishiyacho, Kiya-Machi Sanjo Kudaru, Nakagyo, Kyoto

Wendy’s

Wendy’s reminds me of Hungry Jack’s, but better. An American burger chain, for those who aren’t too keen on seafood or had too much ramen. The extensive menu can cater for everyone. Gotta say, you have to try the chips. There are only two in Kyoto, one located near Nishiki Market, which I recommend checking out.

Nishiki market

What are you favourite places to go in Kyoto? I’d love to hear from you

Thanks for reading,

Laura

 

Have you seen my Tokyo Travel guide? Be sure to check it out!

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Tokyo Travel Guide

Tokyo, the capital of Japan and the city of all things amazing. It is a beautiful mix of old and new, living harmoniously together. I recently travelled to Japan with my boyfriend and we spent just under a month travelling the country, with over a week in Tokyo. It was such an amazing experience, this was my third time to Japan, and I can’t recommend it enough. Below are my top tips for places to go, food to eat, shopping and budget ideas so you can spend all your money at Disneyland.

Places to Visit:

There is so much to see in Tokyo, it can cater for just about everyone. There are some places around Tokyo that shouldn’t be missed.

tokyo travel guide

Tokyo Tower 

Tokyo Tower is a very popular spot to enjoy the skyline and countless skyscrapers of Tokyo. The red and white structure is unmissable at 332 meters. It has two different observation decks, the first at 150 meters, and the second at 249 meters. There are four levels of shops and restaurants to enjoy under the tower. Be sure to visit on a weekday or early to miss the busy crowds.

shibuya crossing

Shibuya Crossing

Where all the hustle and bustle of Tokyo converges in one place. Shibuya crossing is known as one of the busiest pedestrian crossings in the world. Enjoy the view from up high at surrounding cafes like Starbucks and L’Occitane Café. It’s located just by Shibuya train station for easy access. 

tokyo travel guide

Meiji Shrine

A break from the craziness, Meiji Shrine is a piece of quiet in the middle of Tokyo. Surrounded by a forested area, all you can hear are the cicadas in the trees, and the gravel beneath your feet. The shrine itself is dedicated to previous Emperor Meiji and Empress Shoken. On the way to the shrine, enjoy the decorated sake barrels, and gardens.

Takeshita street

A popular street that encompasses Japanese teenagers, Takeshita street has many food and fashion shops. Located in Harajuku it’s the perfect spot for people watching, or some seriously insta-worthy sweets. It’s not far from Meiji Shrine and Omotesando, a popular area for luxury brand stores; so it makes Harajuku a great area to visit.

Food:

tokyo travel guide

Genki sushi

This place should be visited by all sushi lovers. Customers choose the sushi on a tablet; and zips out on a conveyor belt. This puts my local sushi train to shame! I really enjoyed this meal, but also as an experience. My favourite was the shrimp nigiri, but the California roll was a close second.

Pablo tarts

These delicious, light tarts are little pockets of magic. I couldn’t get enough of these on my trip. They come in plain cheese, chocolate and matcha.

tokyo travel guide

Santa Monica Crepes

All crepes are delicious in Tokyo, but I liked this place on Takeshita street due to its curb appeal and the variety of choices, both sweet and savoury. I picked the chocolate and banana option.

Wako

Located in the shopping mall Sunshine City in Ikebukuro, Wako is a tonkatsu restaurant. Tonkatsu is a dish of pork cutlet, covered in panko bread crumbs and deep fried. We picked a set meal which comes with miso soup, rice and cabbage. The pork loin was so tender and perfectly cooked, it was one of the best meals of the whole trip. Don’t forget to try restaurants based in shopping centres or train stations, most restaurants are located on the top level or the basement and are extremely delicious (from experience).

Shopping:

When we went shopping we would pick one specialty store or area that we would want to go to and then anywhere else we visited was by passing it in the street. I found this to be really refreshing and fun. There are also many high quality shopping centres attached to train stations. Takashiyama, Isetan, and Seibu are some of the luxury shopping centres that we frequently spotted near train stations, or even attached to them. I would recommend picking an area of Tokyo, and just have a wander around. But here are some cool options to check out too.

tokyo travel guide

Tokyu Plaza Omotesando Harajuku

This shopping centre has the most extra, over the top entrance I’ve seen. A kaleidoscopic mirror encases the escalator into the centre. These shops are mainly Japanese independent fashion stores but the clothes are so cute, and their accessories are unique and different. I bought my favourite purchase here on the last day of our trip. On the 6thfloor you can enjoy your coffee or beer (depending on the time of day) on the rooftop garden overlooking Harajuku.

Sunshine City

This shopping centre has it all. Not only is there four levels of shops, there’s an aquarium, planetarium and observation deck on the 60th floor. You could spend all day here! Did I mention J-World? It’s an indoor theme park based around One Piece, Naruto, and Dragon Ball Z. Plus, we had amazing tonkatsu here. This is the perfect place to visit, especially with kids.

Yodabashi Camera

Found in many large cities, Yodabashi is more than just cameras. Their many floors sell electronic goods like phones, computers, cameras but also a wide variety of toys, game consoles and luggage. I compare it to jb hifi, good guys, and a toy shop all combined on steroids. Many also have restaurants on the top floors along with fashion stores. Its any boys dream, or so my boyfriend says.

If You’re on a Budget:  

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Metropolitan Government building observation deck

For an excellent view of Tokyo, visit the Metropolitan Government Building. The building has two observation decks which are free. Located in Shinjuku, the views overlook landmarks like Meiji Shrine and Tokyo Tower.

100-yen shop

100-yen shops like Daiso are excellent for all those souvenir obligations. You can pick up cute items like magnets, keyrings and sweets. Most items come in at 108 yen, about $1.30 AUD so you can avoid the overpriced shops for items of the same quality.

Convenience stores

If you don’t want all your money to go on food, or hungry on the go; then convenience stores are your BFF. It feels like Family Mart, 7 Eleven, and Lawsons are on every street corner in Tokyo! Their onigiri, sandwiches and set meals are all really cheap and great quality. Be sure to check out the yummy ice creams they have as well.

Restaurants in shopping centres

Many shopping centres have 1 or 2 floors dedicated to restaurants of every cuisine. These restaurants are excellent because they’re not too expensive, and it’s delicious! Many also have plastic examples of their food in the windows so you know what sort of food they serve. It doesn’t need to cost you an arm and a leg to have a great meal.

Have you been to Tokyo? Where are your favourite places to go? Share them in the comments below!

Thanks for reading,

Laura

Surviving Long Haul Travel

As I write this I am flying over the pacific ocean crammed in economy. The humidity is low and the aircon is up high. I can feel the life of me being sucked dry from my face. Not even an abundance of movies can distract me from the impending pimples and cracked lips that comes with the dry atmosphere of a plane. But I have a solution to this issue, and it includes setting up a facial station on my lap.

Because let’s face it, who doesn’t love having a mini facial on the plane? People tend to get too comfy on plane rides, so why not give it a go, all You have to lose is the respect of the complete strangers you’re flying with.

Cleanse

I like to make sure I use clean hands with hand sanitiser, and then use micellar water and cotton pads to clean my face. I would prefer to use a cleaner and wash my face, but I don’t trust the cleanliness on planes.

Toner

After cleaning my face, I need to make sure to put the good stuff and hydration back in. I start with a calming and hydrating toner by Mario Badescu. Containing aloe vera and lavender, it soothes my skin and smells good.

Eyes

The skin around your eyes is thinner and more susceptible to damage and losing their moisture. I used an eye cream with hyaluronic acid in it to make sure the area is extra hydrated. Mario Badescu has an amazing eye cream containing hyaluronic acid.

My skin specialist said that you should put the eye cream on the skin over the eye socket bone, as the area has fewer pores, the cream will migrate upwards.

Moisturiser

I then use a hydrating moisturiser to keep all the goodness in. I used a very hydrating mask by Sportsgirl, but unfortunately they don’t stock it anymore. Estée Lauder advanced night repair serum is a great option because its packed with hyaluronic acid. Clinique’s moisture surge is another that I have stated using and find it very hydrating. These 2 choices are a bit pricey so I recommend get samples or smaller version to try it out.

Lips

My lips were so dry during the flight, it was unbelievable! It would be a good idea to have lip balm within arms reach at all times. I nearly had a split lip by the end of the flight. I really like this lip balm from Mecca designed for overnight moisture. In hindsight, whenever you wake up mid flight, I recommend reapplying your lip balm.

Hands

A good hand cream is always essential, your hands can dry up just as much as your face. I enjoyed a hand cream by Grown Alchemist. It smelt so nice and does a good job. Be sure to rub it into your nails and cuticles too.

Before descent

In the last hour before landing, I put on an eye mask to make sure I didn’t look like a zombie. I used a Skyn Iceland eye mask.While it says only 20 minutes on the packaging, I kept it on for about 40 minutes. Much better.

As I walk off the plane, I’m glad no new pimples have arisen overnight, and that my under eyes are hydrated. I’ll remember the lip balm for the plane back. But in the meantime I will apply it rigorously!

What are your tips for surviving plane rides, skincare or otherwise, be sure to pop them in the comments below!

Thanks for reading, Laura xx

Top 10 Things To Do In Japan

I recently came back from Japan, and it’s so different to Australia in nearly every aspect. The culture, atmosphere, food, and people are all amazing, and if you’ve ever been interested in going, I encourage you to take the chance. I wanted to share my top 10 things to do in Japan. Some of these I have done, but this is also kind of like my bucket list. So, let’s get started!

10. Japanese Festival

Quintessentially Japanese, festivals are held on a regular basis across Japan. An important aspect of Japanese culture, they are truly an experience in themselves.  With floating shrines, food stalls, and an energetic atmosphere, they are not to be missed. The Snow festival on the north island of Hokkaido is very popular with a giant snow sculpture competition.

9. Themed cafe 

If you know a themed café, you can bet your ass there’s one of them in Japan. From cats, to maids, to robots and even anime characters, Japan has it all. They can be a bit pricey for what they are worth, but its more about the experience than the food or drinks. They have gone above and beyond and there is even a cat café on a train that hosts kittens from nearby animal shelters in Ogaki located in the Gifu prefecture.

train cat cafe

photo credit

8. Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park

The memorial park is a beautiful area to walk around in, and a reminder of World War One and the dropping of the first atomic bomb. It includes the Bomb Dome, the only structure left after the bomb exploded. Preserved as a ruin, it’s a UNESCO world heritage site. Further on, there are memorial monuments to those who died. Finally, ending at the memorial museum, where you can learn about the event and look upon items affected by the blast including watches, glass bottles and clothing. This is an experience that is enlightening and respectfully pays tribute to the event.

hiroshima memorial park.jpg

7. Visit the snow 

Crazy, but I’ve never been to the snow, so this has to go on my list. Not to mention that Japan is very popular for ski season. The north island of Hokkaido has popular ski resorts; and so does the mountainous area of Hakuba, which is not far from Tokyo if you’re thinking of a side trip.

6. Bullet Train

Known as a Shinkansen, it’s the best way to travel in Japan. And with speeds up to 320 km/h, it’s also the quickest way to see Japan. Japanese travel is extremely efficient and incredibly smooth. An experience in itself, this is a must while in Japan. If you plan on travelling a lot, be sure to check if a rail pass is worth the investment on your next trip!

5.  Floating shrine on Miyajima Island

Just 10 minutes off the coast of Hiroshima is the beautiful island of Miyajima, home to the floating shrine Itsukushima. There are also wild deer on the island so keep a look out for those cuties! There is also a ropeway to the top of the mountain where you can enjoy the amazing views.

top 10 japan

4. Temples of Kyoto

Kyoto, the former capital of Japan is a beautiful city full of otherworldly temples. With over 1600 temples, you are never short of temples to visit. One of the most famous is Kiyomizudera, a Buddhist temple and also a UNESCO world heritage site. Completely made out of wood, the views over eastern Kyoto are amazing. If you’re wanting a bit of bling, visit Kinkakuji, a Zen Buddhist temple covered in gold leaf. While you can’t go inside, it can be viewed across a small pond, and surrounded by beautiful gardens.

3. Shibuya Crossing in Tokyo

The busiest intersection in the world, Shibuya Scramble is an interesting experience. Live out movies like Tokyo Drift, and Lost in translation, this spot can’t be missed. It’s said that over 1000 people cross during peak hour. I watched the pedestrians up high from Starbucks, it’s such an interesting experience!

shibuya crossing

2. Cherry blossoms in spring

How could I not put this on the list! One of the most popular seasons, and also the most beautiful is cherry blossom, or sakura season. While it varies year to year, the season occurs in late March- early April in Tokyo and Kyoto. Japanese people enjoy appreciating the blossoms at popular parks like Ueno Park, or on a boat on Chidorigafuchi moat in central Tokyo. Not to mention all the different sakura themed food and drinks available during the season. Yum!

1. Mount Fuji

Synonymous with Japan, Mount Fuji is the highest peak in Japan. On a clear day, you can see Mount Fuji from Tokyo Skytree. You can climb Mount Fuji in the summer, and is a popular activity among tourists and locals. Only an hour away from Tokyo, you can grab a bus there and enjoy the surrounding lakes and lush greenery.

top 10 japan

Photo credit

 

What would you do in Japan? Leave a comment below!

 

Thanks for reading,

Laura