Sakura is the common name for a variety of Japanese cherry trees which blossom in beautiful white or pink colors before their fresh leaves appear. Most sakura trees do not produce any fruit. In Japan the culture of sakura appreciation (“hanami”) has existed since over 1300 years and is one of the seasonal highlights in the country’s annual traditions.
If you plan to visit Japan in late March and early April, you’re most likely expecting to enjoy the internationally famous beauty of the Japanese sakura (cherry tree). Thousands of local and international visitors gather in city parks and along rivers to feast their eyes on the wonderful view of the blossoming cherry trees.
This trip, I travelled solo and the best thing is, its April “my birth month” and its the best month to visit Japan. I choose to celebrate my birthday in the land of the rising sun and see the beauty of Sakura.
I decided to stay in Kyoto. From Kansai Airport to Kyoto Station is 1 hour and 30 minutes by train. The Limited Express Haruka operated by JR West is the only rail service between Kyoto Station and Kansai International Airport. The normal fare for the journey between Kansai Airport Station to Kyoto Station is 2850 yen (1,210 php) 1 trip only.
Haruka Limited Express Train
I choose to stay in a Hostel “Utano Youth Hostel” for 3 nights with free breakfast and with mixed race roommates (6 persons in 1 Rm – all girls) for just 124.30 SGD (4,100 pesos) in 4 nights.
Utano Youth Hostel’s Facade
Lobby & Reception Area
My first day in Kyoto! First stop is the famous Bamboo Forest, “Arashiyama Bamboo Grove”. The Arashiyama Bamboo Grove is one of Kyoto’s top sights, it’s one of the most photographed sights in the city. To access Arashiyama Station is by train and bus. The best way is to take train, (10 min walk from Saga Arashiyama Station, JR Sagano line) or (15 min walk from Arashiyama Station, Henkyu railway)
While I’m on the road I saw this. Rickshaw Ride in lovely Arashiyama! This private tour takes you around the best sites, filled with history and beauty.
Rickshaws first appeared in Japan in the late 19th century, and have been a fun and relaxing way to see local sights. Unlike a car or bus, you stay close to the real Japan aboard one of these. In modern day Japan, the shafu (rickshaw drivers) provide warm and friendly hospitality, guiding you to hidden gems.
And don’t miss out to visit Okochi-Sanso Villa. Okochi-Sanso Villa is one of the top sights in Kyoto. It rivals any of the city’s imperial properties, and you don’t need reservations to enter. The main house here is one of the finest examples of traditional Japanese residential architecture.
Hello there..! Fushimi-Inari-Taisha Shrine. Most impressive sight in all Kyoto. Fushimi-Inari-Taisha Shrine is the most important shrine in the entire city.
Fushimi-Inari-Taisha Shrine Entrance
Unending Orange Torii
The magical, seemingly unending path of over 5000 vibrant orange torii gates that wind through the hills behind Fushimi Inari-taisha Shrine makes it one of the most popular shrines in Japan. The walk around the upper precincts is a pleasant day hike.
This shrine is the central location for some 40,000 Inari shrines throughout the entirety of Japan.
The best way to access this shrine is by train. (5min walk from Inari Station, JR Nara line) or (10min walk from Fushimi Inari Station, Keihan line).
And to end up my first day, I stop here. And Yes! Japan is one of the most safest and cleanest country in the world. Japanese people are so accommodating and you can always see the smile in their faces.
River Park – Arashiyama
From Kyoto Station I decided to try the bullet train to Osaka. Japan’s high speed bullet trains, also known as Shinkansen trains, offer visitors an experience like no other with speeds reaching up to 320 km/hr! My first stop is Osaka Castle, which is a famous landmark, a popular sightseeing spot, and the symbol of Osaka, contains thirteen structures which have been designated as Important Cultural Assets by the Japanese government.
Glad to see you Bullet train.!
Lets become Samurai in Osaka!
Explore Osaka by renting a bike
And the last temple that I really want to see is the Kinkakuji (Golden Pavilion) is a Zen temple in northern Kyoto whose top two floors are completely covered in gold leaf. Formally known as Rokuonji, the temple was the retirement villa of the shogun Ashikaga Yoshimitsu, and according to his will it became a Zen temple of the Rinzai sect after his death in 1408. Kinkakuji was the inspiration for the similarly named Ginkakuji (Silver Pavilion), built by Yoshimitsu’s grandson, Ashikaga Yoshimasa, on the other side of the city a few decades later. Kinkakuji is an impressive structure built overlooking a large pond, and is the only building left of Yoshimitsu’s former retirement complex.
From Kyoto Station you need to take the bus number 101 or 205. Kinkakuji is open daily from 9am to 5pm. Admission is 400 Yen. Take bus numbers 101 or 205 from Kyoto Station to the Kinkaku-ji Michi bus stop. If you are coming from another part of the city, you can also take the number 59 and 12 buses to the Kinkaku-ji Mae bus stop.
Kinkakuji (Golden Pavilion)
From Kyoto to Tokyo by Shinkansen “bullet train” is only 2 hours and 20 minutes. If you do not have a Japan Rail Pass then the fare will be 13,080 yen one way.
On my way to Kansai Airport!
And that’s my birthday treat to myself. My pleasure Japan..! And I would love to see you again and again. Hokkaido see you soon.