Fall Leaves in Koyoto

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  1. iolaire
    Original Member

    iolaire Gold Member

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    Returned from a trip to Japan and Kyoto at end of November. We were there for the fall leaves and it was peak season in the temple grounds with perfect Japanese maples changing color.

    We flew on points that we earn from credit card sign up bonuses. It was Business Class there and First Class back on Japan Airways with the connection from DC to Chicago on American. I spend a ton of time working on getting the flights, booking the outbound flight just after last Christmas and the return (in business) just after New Year’s. Then up until about November 1st I checked daily to see if the First Class flights were available as on Business was available when I booked. I was very happy when two weeks out First Class opened for the return! But looking back both flights were great, so I should not have felt bad if we didn’t get any First Class segments. Going there we opted for the Japanize set meals and they were very tasty, coming home we did the western set meal as that came with caviar service which is always an experience when offered in First Class.

    For the first two nights (really one day) we stayed in Tokyo near Shinjuku station. The first night we arrived at the hotel at 5 PM Saturday and just went to sleep, then explored around Shinjuku station. We found a Temple cleaning from a festival the night before and realized that we missed the chicken Festival that was held Friday and Saturday. It was not a festival named after a rooster, probably something fertility related as a sub shrine had a large wooden chicken in the rafters that a woman/girl stood on a seat to touch… There we had a good tempura meal at a sort of fast food tempura place and then for dinner ramen for me and fried chicken for Susan.

    On Monday we took the bullet train to Kyoto a trip of about three hours which was calm and un eventful. On arrival we had a great pork katsu meal in the station before heading to a Japanize house style inn (not one of those extremely expensive ryokan’s). The inn was nice with tatami mat beds that were comfortable. But it was in the Japanize style without heat in the common areas so that initiated the colder part of the trip as it was probably 35*-50* in Kyoto. There was a heater in the room so after it bit our room was comfortable, but trips to the shared bathroom was chilly and we therefore skipped our showers for a few days.

    The main purpose of this trip was to visit Kyoto during the fall leaves season and we hit that perfectly at various temples. As you will see in the photos some of the temple gardens were in ideal colors, and even the outdoors areas like the photo with the boats were very colorful. Our days were taken with excursions to temples and one day we had a special lunch at a tofu restaurant Shoraian in a park area. That lunch turned out wonderful, it was pricy for us at $110 for two, but not really pricy for fine dining in the area. Despite being a “tofu” restaurant a lot of the meal had different veggies in addition to the different types of tofu and the set meal we bought included a wagyu beef course. That beef course was very good, and as it turned out miles better than the wagyu beef steak on the flight home in first class.

    Our nice meal for the trip was lunch at
    Shoraian - Tofu Restaurant
    http://www.syouraian.jp/
    京都府京都市右京区嵯峨亀ノ尾町官有地内
    Sagakemonoocho, Ukyo-ku, Kyoto, Japan
    based on the recommendations from @oneeyejack at https://insideflyer.com/forums/threads/5-days-nights-in-tokyo-dining-suggestions.58958/#post-1905152

    Its located in a park area in Arashiyama facing the river. I believe you can access it from the Arashiyama bamboo forest but we accessed it via the river. Its in a park and you need to walk in. Our guest house made reservations for us, that was the start of November for the last week of November and we were told it was the last reservation available for the three days we had open. We were VERY happy to have the reservation because the entire Kyoto area was very crowed because of leaf season.

    It was a set meal with multiple courses. You pick one of three courses and we both went with the most expensive option that included wagyu beef. Our check totaled $118 with the two meals and one extra glass of plum wine (the set menu also include one small glass of house plum wine).

    Its called a Tofu restaurant but there are still many non tofu items. Overall the menu is hard to describe other than its traditional Japanese food of numerous types, about seven or so courses and overall it was a great experience which I highly recommend. The best dish was the wonderful Tofu Gratin with Namafu, which had both cheese and a soya based product, it was a wonderful creamy dish.

    Rather than trying to do my own full write-up, which I'd do poorly, I'd suggest reading this blog post which also rates good the Tofu Gratin with Namafu: http://www.tinyurbankitchen.com/shoraian-syourian-tofu-restaurant-kyoto/

    After four nights in Kyoto we headed for a temple stay in Koyasan. That turned out to be a bit of a bust because it was cold and the temple had zero walls other than the rice paper walls and we were tiered from the trip there. It was supposed to be 2-3 hours but had an additional 1.5 hours tacked on because a cable car was disabled in a typhoon a few weeks ago. So we did less sightseeing than I expected but did visit a huge Buddhist graveyard among huge cedar trees.

    We had a set meal in our room for dinner that ended up being similar to the lunch at Shoraian (but vegetarian), but in no way did it compare in quality to the restaurant meal, plus most parts of the meal was very cold maybe 45* so I’m very thankful we had the great similar meal at Shoraian. I was very happy we already had the Shoraian meal when we had a vegetarian temple meal where all the dishes were about 45* and completely uninspiring as we ate it in our very cold room with the heater blowing.

    I don't recommend a temple stay when it’s cold because the temples are open to the elements and the rooms with rice paper walls will be freezing, as will the walks to the bathrooms... Luckily that was the one place we had the Japanese baths so we were able to warm ourselves up prior to going to bed. At some point the heaters did an ok job and got the rooms relatively comfortable.

    Then we headed to two nights in Osaka and really just relaxed with one excursion to the Ramen museum and shopping at two grocery stores coming home for treats to use as souvenirs. We spent a final night in Tokyo prior to our flight and then came home. We enjoyed the first class lounge in Tokyo where they had made to order sushi and then boarded our first class flight. We were more subdued on the return flight so really just relaxed, ate and drank and I watched movies well Susan napped. (I don’t sleep well on flights.)

    It was a great trip and it was very nice to not have to schedule around dialysis. Towards the end we were a bit burned out, the cold weather helped contribute to that a lot, and I’m sure it would have been much harder had we been on the tight schedules that we live around on dialysis.

    The river photo is on the walk to the restaurant.
    River.JPG

    The trees were ideal
    Iolaire_Tree.JPG trees.JPG

    And then there is a simple temple shot from the gardens.
    Temple.jpg
     
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  2. anileze

    anileze Gold Member

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    Very engaging trip report
     
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