Day 3: Ninjo Castle (二条城) & Kinkaku-ji (金閣寺)
Destination: Ninjo Castle (二条城), Kinkaku-ji (金閣寺), Kyoto Ramen Koji
Our first stop of the day was Ninjo Castle, which served as the residence for Tokugawa Ieyasu, the first shogun of the Edo period. The castle was eventually opened to the public and declared to be a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. The inside of the castle is filled with beautifully painted screens and is also home to the famous nightingale floors which “sung” to alert the residents of intruders sneaking into the castle.
After a tour of the castle, we stopped by a nearby restaurant for lunch.
The restaurant is pretty friendly towards foreigners; I imagine they would, being so close to a tourist spot. This is one of those DIY Okonomiyaki places where you order the batter and you make the actual Okonomiyaki yourself.
Okonomiyaki is a Japanese savory pancake that contains a variety of ingredients which varies based on the flavors you choose. The batter is mixed and then spread across the flat grill and flipped when one side is cooked. The owner is quite friendly and will gladly teach you how to make your own okonomiyaki.
After lunch, we made our way towards Kinkaku-ji or also known as the Golden Pavilion. Kinkaku-ji is also a World Heritage and a renowned Zen temple. The temple has been burned down many times throughout history–the most notable time was when a frantic monk in 1950 who claimed the temple was too beautiful.
Before we left, we made some quick wishes at the temple. I’ve been basically making the same wish at all of the temples I have visited so maybe my wish will be granted?
After we finished our tour of the temple, we did some quick shopping in nearby beauty drugstores. Japanese beauty drugstores are different from its American counterparts and the entire store is piled high with products ranging from low-priced goods such as Canmake to more expensive brands such as SKII. If you hold a foreign passport, you can actually purchase these items tax-free as long as you spend 50,000 yen or roughly 50USD.
Some good places to visit for your shopping spree include Don Quijote (this is where the sake kit kats can be found), Bic Camera, and Isetan. I swear, heaven is a mix of Bic Camera and Isetan. The beauty drugstores you see on the street are also a great place to stock up. Sadly, I did not get any pictures of these places since my hands were too full of goodies.
Kyoto Ramen Koji
After shopping, we visited Kyoto Train Station’s Ramen street for dinner. The 10th floor of the Kyoto Train Station features eight restaurants, each representing a different region of Japan and sells the eight different regional varieties of ramen.
In order to place an order, you have to buy a ticket from a vending machine. There are vending machine in front of each restaurant so you can place your order there. After getting your ticket, you hand it to someone in the restaurant and you’re done! This place is friendly towards tourists and so there are English options on the vending machines.
After dinner, we made our way down towards the first floor of the station. On the way down, I grabbed a donut from Mister Donut. Isn’t the packaging adorable? Apparently Mister Donut was originally started in America but its headquarters was eventually moved to Japan.
End Day 3