8 Days in Japan - Day 6 in Kyoto/Nara

Jul 25, 2017 -

Day 6 in Kyoto and Nara

Key Highlights

- Breakfast at Nishiki Market Sukiya (Not Recommended)
- Hike up Monkey Park Iwatayama
- Break time at Sagano Bamboo Forest
- Lunch at the JR station
- Take the JR Line to Nara
- Walk to Nara Park
- Stop by Tōdai-ji Buddhist temple
- Drinking at Harushika Brewery & Sake
- Dinner at Katsukura at the Kyoto Station

This would be our last day in Kyoto, but we would end up spending half of it elsewhere. Breakfast at the hostel was hot dogs, so we decided to pass and search for more traditional Japanese food. We left the hostel at around 9:00 AM and walked about a mile to Nishiki Market with hopes of finding breakfast there. The marketplace was relatively small, but we realized we were really early. The vendors were just setting up and nothing was really for sale. We did find a convenience store and since we were going to be out the entire day, we picked up some high quality sunscreen. It doesn't feel oily and is very light on the skin. Much better than the stuff we get in the states.

Nishiki Market - Had we stayed until it was fully opened
We figured instead of waiting around for the market to open, which looked less than spectacular compared to the Tsukiji Market, we decided to stop at a Japanese fast food place called Sukiya. This place was terrible because it was understaffed and they gave us the wrong order. We had ordered a large bowl and they gave us a normal bowl, but charged us large. They were inattentive and dismissed what I said. Needless to say, the Sukiya meal was a wasted meal.

Anyhow, onwards! Our next destination was Monkey Park Iwatayama. Rumor is that you hike up a steep mountain and at its peak there are wild Japanese monkeys that you can feed. Because they are wild animals, you have to feed them while you are caged in and they are "outside". It was quite an experience and one that I would most certainly do again.

Monkey Park Iwatayama Entrance!
After coming down the mountain, about two miles away we stopped at Sagano Bamboo Forest. It's a fairly touristy spot and easy to spot with signs pointing in the direction of the forest. Imagine bamboo to your left and right and that is literally what it is. The walkways are paved, so you aren't walking through something like an Amazon jungle.

Amazing View of the Sagano Bamboo Forest
By the time we finished both the hike up to Monkey Park Iwatayama and visited the bamboo forest, it was just past 1:00 PM. We decided to make a half day trip to Nara, which is about an hour away by rail towards Osaka. But not before we grabbed a bite to eat at the station.

When we arrived at Nara, the first thing we did was walk toward the Nara park. It is about a thirty minute walk from the station. One of the best things about Nara is the wild deer. The wild deer are a bit aggressive if you feed them, but you can get up close and personal with them. Just make sure to be firm, put your hand out against them, look big, otherwise they will walk all over you.

Yes! There is wild deer all around Nara
Just about a mile away from the park, is the Tōdai-ji Buddhist temple. It was once one of the powerful Seven Great Temples. The world's largest bronze statue of the Buddha Vairocanais is housed in the Tōdai-ji temple. The temple was has since been remodeled and is a huge tourist attraction. If you make your way there you'll see a lot of large Koi fish in the lakes around the temple. For 100 Yen you could feed the Koi fish bread sticks. My travel partner and I had our fair share of temples and decided to forgo going inside due to the fee they charged of 500 Yen per person.

What is visiting Japan without visiting a sake place? About forty minutes walking distance away from the temple is Harushika Brewery & Sake. For a small fee of about 400-600 Yen, you can sample a variety of Nara's famous sake along with traditional Japanese tsukemono pickles pickled in sake lees (a by-product of the brewing process). The Harushika Brewery & Sake are English friendly. We sampled 5 different kinds of sake. They even let us keep a sake cup at the end of the experience! Before leaving the place, I bought a bottle for only 600 yen, which ended up being a souviner for my brother.

It was getting dark and we were chasing daylight. We decided to head back and find a place to eat dinner. Back at the Kyoto station, we found a Katsudon place called Katsukura at THE CUBE on the 11th floor. It was a delicious experience with sesame seeds your grind and crispy fried pork coupled with a delicious sweet and BBQ sauce. Oh they even had authentic Japanese miso soup!

Katsudon for Dinner at Katsukura
After dinner, we made our way back to the hostel to retire for the night.

8 Days in Japan - Day 7 in Yamazaki/Osaka
8 Days in Japan - Day 8 in Tokyo
8 Days in Japan - Day 1 in Tokyo
8 Days in Japan - Day 2 in Tokyo
8 Days in Japan - Day 3 in Tokyo
8 Days in Japan - Day 4 in Hakone
8 Days in Japan - Day 5 in Kyoto
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