On our last excursion around Kyoto was a day trip to Kanazawa and Tojinbo Cliffs. These two places were such beautiful destinations, and encompassed some of the sweetest surprises and highlights of our trip. I have to tip my hat to my husband, since this trip required more navigation than usual of the local trains in order to arrive to each location on time. The only regret we had was not spending a day in each city, so we hope to one day visit these cities again!
Named as one of the Three Great Gardens of Japan, Kenroku-en is a spacious park where visitors experience a sense of seclusion and antiquity. Through meticulous planning, the park's appearance changes during each season and offers different feelings of beauty. After visiting many cities saturated with cherry blossoms, we were pleasantly surprised to see plum blossoms at the park since the weather in Kanazawa was still relatively cold. The punchy, vibrant flowers accented the park with a warm introduction of spring. We highly recommend visiting Shiguretei, the tea house located in the park, to enjoy a tea ceremony and have an exclusive view of the park.
Higashi Chaya District
Similar to Kyoto's Gion district, Higashi Chaya District maintains its traditional charm with its narrow streets, tea houses, and water canals. It was a treat seeing a wedding couple having their portraits done there. Dressed in embellished kimonos, the couple made it hard not to resist sneaking a photo of them!
Located in Fukui Prefecture, Tojinbo Cliffs is a breathtaking site of basaltic cliffs that spans about one kilometer long. We learned after we visited that the shape of these rock formations is extremely rare, and Tojinbo Cliffs is one in three places in the world that share the same columnar joints. Getting there was quite an adventure, since it involved going back onto the Shinkansen and taking several local trains in order to arrive to the city. After two hours of train rides and a short hike up, we were taken aback by the its beauty, not to mention catching everything at golden hour! One thing that stuck out to us during our walk there was how quiet the city was. We hardly saw anyone on the street, and we had to use our broken Japanese to navigate our way to the cliffs. We loved the sense of quietness and solitude as we walked back to the returning train in the evening. For dinner, we highly recommend Echizen, which forever changed the way we saw soba.
Many often visit Kyoto to witness its traditional sites situated in the bustling city. This includes countless temples, castles, and gardens that are carefully preserved during the time when Kyoto was Japan's capital. During our stay, my husband and I enjoyed visiting some of the well-known spots located in the downtown area, such as Nijo Castle, Gion District, and Arashiyama (see the blog post here!). Although there were many more places to see in the city proper, we knew that there was more out there in the Kansai region to explore. In this post, I am excited to share about Amanohashidate and Osaka, and Kanazawa and Tojinbo Cliffs next!
When my husband and I planned our itinerary for Kyoto Prefecture, we were surprised to find a gem like Amanohashidate - known as one of the three most scenic spots in Japan (in addition to Itsukushima Shrine from my previous post). Roughly translated as "Bridge to Heaven," Amanohashidate is a sandbar that spans about 3.5 km across the mouth of Miyazu Bay. Visitors can easily walk or rent a bike to cross the sandbar, while being surrounded by thousands of pine trees. We were refreshed to see a different side of the prefecture, and was an escape from the tourist-filled city of Kyoto. A highlight of this attraction was Kasamatsu Park, where there are options to either take the cable car or chair up to the mountain. We highly recommend taking the chair, since you can get a better view as you ascend upward!
Osaka Castle & Nishinomaru Garden
Osaka Castle is one of the most famous landmarks of Japan that is easily accessible and seen since the main tower is built on two raised platforms. Since it was the peak of cherry blossom season, we couldn't help but leisurely walk around the surrounding lawn of Nishinomaru Garden. The vast green space was filled with hundreds of blossoming trees and different varieties, and the best part was the park hours were extended to thoroughly enjoy this special occasion!
A prominent attraction in Osaka, Dotonburi runs along the canal and is a popular place to go to enjoy traditional to modern Japanese food. The area had a lively atmosphere at night, and is known to have a billboard of the iconic Glico running man. Takoyaki and okonomiyaki are popular food items associated with the city, and we personally recommend visiting Acchichi Honpo and Takohachi!