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Autumn Fall in Kyoto and Kanazawa- Japan

木漏れ日- Komorebi - Sunlight filtering through the trees

View Japan- traditional Kyoto to Kanazawa on PhilFhi travels's travel map.



Persuaded to visit Japan, we really did not know what to expect. It was not on our radar. It really did not take long for it to surpass our expectations; fresh delicious food, incredibly courteous people and a culture built on respect and pride- not to mention spectacular scenery and trains that leave on time! Autumn fall is a must for you to visit in November in this area. Kyoto has so much to explore in and around the city, whilst you would enjoy Kanazawa as a base to explore- we could have stayed much longer here to hike in the alps.


We travelled to Kyoto by the Thunderbird Express. Our hotel positioned itself in a narrow, dim lit street near the centre. Our first experience was to eat at a Yakitori where we had such a typical warm welcome, small Japanese kebabs. What a find!


On our first full day, we hired bikes and cycled to Arashiyama where we visited the bamboo forest. Cycling is great around Kyoto as well as being incredibly easy. Everybody was so polite to us as we navigated the rules of the road!

Bamboo Forest


We visited Tenryu - ji temple - with beautiful gardens, displaying the on set of autumn's red trees peering over the river. Over Togetsukyo bridge we climbed the steep steps to to Monkey Park- the most well behaved monkeys I have ever had the privilege to meet. Better than the tourists!


Monkeys visiting the tourists in their enclosure- Monkeys free, tourists behind the cage


"Just get off your phones and look at us will you!"



Taking a ride in a traditional jinrikisha taxi


"No-it's my turn!"


Cycling past small rice paddy fields led us up hill to Ryoan - ji temple - rock garden/ old manor house....


...and then on to Kinkaku - ji temple (Golden Temple) as the sun started to set. It's final statement was to exhale onto The Golden Temple in a truly magical way. We timed that really well indeed!


We took the train to Inari - Fushimii nari tiashi shrine - famous for it's orange/ red pillar like structures to the top of the hill. It was a long walk up too! It felt like millions of stairs to the clouds. If you are visiting- arrive very early and the further you climb the fewer the numbers.


Tofukuji temple.


On way home we visited the Higashi - honganji temple. Our step count was fantastic on this day.


After a little rest we walked to the Hyakumanben Chionji Temple in the Gion district and managed to get the last two tickets to Gion Kaikan to watch a Geisha show. This was so fortuitous as it was for locals and not the tourists. It was one of only 10 performances in the whole year where the general public could see Geisha perform.


Giesha were spotted in the evening rushing around the backstreets as we walked, but respectfully we took no photos at this time.

Japanese pancake followed by more yakatori!



We walked up to Kiyomizu Temple with it’s beautiful views across the city. The leaves were gorgeous here.


We were interviewed by children from a local school which was fun.


After that we walked past Yasaka Pagoda and into the old town part of Kyoto.


This was lovely but a bit crowded so we rushed through.
As with all of the old districts, couples and friends, from local or afar were dressing up in kimonos.


Our final stop for this day, was through the market, where we tried Octopus balls. I quite enjoyed it but not to Fhi’s taste.

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In the evening we visited the best Japanese restaurant in town. Effectively we had a private chef who cooked phenomenal seafood and vegetarian dishes.



The perfect end to our stay in Kyoto


We travelled on the Thunderbird Express to Kanazawa; a 3 hour train ride past padi fields, the sea towards our left and mountains to our right. The rice fields were always immaculately presented. As we drew closer to Kanazawa, snow capped peaks could be seen in the distance.

In town, our first walk saw us visit Kanazawa Castle. Humongous tree trunks buffered the roof to make the castle gate impenetrable.


Built in the 1500s and habited by The Samurai until fire partially destroyed the castle, it now stands looking over Kenrokuen Gardens, originally a private gardens to share with guests.

The gardens are stunning. Symmetry between views and water mirroring play a big part.


Also a rope structure, that we thought was decorative, was being assembled on all of the trees. However, this is preparation for winter. The rope holds up the branches and stops the weight from breaking the trees.

It was amazing watching the workers construct so precisely and neatly.


In the evening we ate at an Okonomiyaki. The chef brings the ingredients and cooks the dishes in front of you.



We got up early and caught the bullet train (Hokuriku Shinkansen) to Toyama and then another train to travel up to Takayama.


After a long winding mountain train ride, we arrived. Takayama has a beautifully kept old town. You could imagine how it would have felt to walk it in days gone by.


The beef sushi was delicious.


Signs warned us of bears in the area as we walked closer to the woods.


The reward, up this quiet and off the beaten track pathway, was the most spectacular leaf display. It blows your mind. And you'd enjoy it pretty much by yourself too.


Being on a mountains edge, one side was Japanese maple and other deciduous trees. The other side, ruler straight, ancient ever-greens pierced the sky- pure brilliant green. The contrast was amazing.


The colours were exploding in the forest. Simply breathtaking.


From here we walked to Hida No Sato. This is Hida Folk Village; an actual village, (historical) reconstructed into a museum. Metre thick thatched roofs looked like tents.



It was another early start and a bus journey up to a village called Shirakawago. Shirakawago is a listed world heritage site, protecting the traditional buildings within this mountain town.


Unlike Hida, people still live here. Padi fields are mixed with the same style traditional vernacular houses. The autumnal fall was like an artist’s palette. Wow!
Breathtaking was an understatement. Shirakawago is surrounded by an amphitheatre of mountain walls. You could see that, despite being picture postcard beautiful, it would surely be brutal in the depths of winter.


The best udon noddle beef soup was consumed here. Very hearty and tasty indeed.


Simply walking around the houses and up to the view point was a treasure and well worth a visit.


On our final walk around Kanazawa we walked through the Samurai Quarters with it’s walled and moated area. This was the area where the warriors trained.

Another tempura lunch and one more final exploration of Kanazawa’s old quarter, Daygon entertainment hub, before leaving this amazing city.


Tucking into Kanazawa's much famed gold leaf ice cream. The most expensive Mr Whippy ever.


Kanazawa market

Meticulously clean and ordered, Kanazawa is a mecca for snow crab buyers in November. Ranging upwards of $200 NZ / 100 pounds approx for one in good condition, this was quite an experience to see - people were buying them readily at the start of the day.


If you buy anything delicious to eat in any Japanese market, remember not to walk around eating it- use their little eating rooms to the side if possible.

Posted by PhilFhi travels 21:11 Archived in Japan

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