In a desert of glass and steel, Osaka Castle is an oasis of marvelous architectural impregnability. We spent half a day navigating through gigantic stone walls, deep man-made moats and strategically-placed turrets.
A trip to Osaka is never complete without a stroll along the neon-induced Dotonbori. This street and its adjacent canal is well-known for its street food, insane shopping and the omnipresent Glico Man.
We hit the bright lights of Osaka with an intense three-day food hunt across “Japan’s Kitchen.” Everything was not spared from the fluffiest cheese cake ever to the tastiest halal ramen in town.
A ryokan is a quintessential Japanese experience when it comes to hospitality, tradition and cuisine. Our stay in Momijiya Ryokan was a welcome retreat before embarking for the bright lights of Osaka.
Kyoto’s rural northwest is perfect for a day out with nature. Ride the breathtaking Sagano Romantic Train followed by a stroll along Arashiyama Bamboo Forest before ending the day at the zen-like Tenryu-ji.
A trip to Kyoto is incomplete without a visit to Gion. We visited the famed Yasaka Shrine, admired traditional townhouses, ate halal yakiniku and to top it off, a brief encounter with a real geisha.
“Kyoto’s Kitchen” is a 700-year old market full of stores selling seafood, fresh produce, sweets and snacks. We happily went stall hopping and ended up trying 10 foods for a wholesome Nishiki Market experience.
Go handicraft hunting at one of the most bustling monthly pop-up bazaars in Kyoto. Chion-ji Temple Handicraft Market is one huge maze of stalls that sells everything local and artisanal under the sun.
Our first stop in Kyoto is a visit to one of the most revered Shinto shrines in Japan – Fushimi Inari Taisha where I ate a bird, ogle at fierce-looking foxes and be in awe at the endless vermillion torii.
Japan is the most developed country in Asia and with that comes a higher cost of living. That didn’t deter us from traveling to Kansai as we discovered a few ways to save money throughout our journey.