Kurama (鞍马) & Kibune (贵船) Hike on 20May2013

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Kurama and Kibune are small towns in the hills north of Kyoto & excellent for a short day hike. It is just 30mins ride on the Eizan line from Demachiyagi Station, and about 1 hr all-in starting from (say) Gojo. 🙂 the hill is only 266m and the hike distance is about 2.6km and can be comfortably completed in 1.5hrs (though in our case we took 2 full hrs). 🙂

we started late and decided to take an early lunch along Kawaramachi so we got a 600yen subway pass & took the subway to Shinyakusomae station and walked down Kawaramachi. we found a cheap eat Yayoiken (see  Great Affordable Eats @ Kyoto) and took a 690yen bento lunch each.

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we then took the Tozai line to Keihan Sanjo station and changed to Keihan line to Demachiyanagi station & hop on the Eizan line for a 30mins journey to Kurama. 🙂 the train carriage had a few rows of seats facing out the windows. we could see momiji (maple trees) right by the window as the train passed. one needed only imagine how it would be like during autumn koyo (falling leaves) time. At Kurama station there was a poster of the Eizan train driving through the myriad of autumn colours. 🙂

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we started the hike from Kurama side.

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there was a 200yen entry fee (爱山费) at Niomen (仁王门) head of the trail from Kurama side. we did not take the cable car which was just a very short ride & cost 100yen.

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the entire hike was largely shaded even though it was a hot day. we were armed with the usual bottled tea from the vending machine, liquids were something important to have.

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the hike was really pleasant with some steeper slopes and stairs, though it was a bit tiring for my sis.

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there were lots of maple of course (but we already knew that the best time for visiting Japan were during autumn and sakura, so we could only imagine the autumn colours but it was expected and ok). there were lots of giant cedar trees.

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we reached Kuramadera, the main temple.

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we reached the top. there was clear direction signs with distances to Kurama & Kibune. 🙂

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the stretch of cedar woods (with rows & rows ramrod straight cedar trees) was impressive. 🙂

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we reached Kibune about 3.11pm (Japan Time – camera is set to Singapore time), about 2 hrs after we started. 🙂

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we climbed up to Kibune Jingu (贵船神社). surprise surprise they had free wifi…useful if unusual. 🙂

Kibune is also popular for its kawadoko dining, where you sit on some floormat platforms secured over the flowing river beneath and watch the rapids & falls. some say the temperature can be up to 5degC cooler than ambient.  there is also the  nagashi-sōmen (流しそうめん flowing noodles) where you try to catch somen flowing really quickly down a bamboo pipe & dip in sauces like you eat cold soba. 🙂

while we were walking along Kibune river side where all these restaurants were located, there were hardly any customers. perhaps this was not the season & the costs was quite high.

anyway we walked along the Kibune road by the river and came upon a bus station where we paid 160yen each and got to Kibuneguchi station to catch the Eizan train back to Kyoto. 🙂

c.h.e.f andy

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Kyoto & Osaka Trip with Sister @17-22May2013

my Kyoto trip(17-22may2013) planning was somewhat disrupted by the Hong Kong trip (10-13may2013).

anyhow I had booked earlier in Feb2013 a Jetstar promotion fare to Osaka for 2pax for just S$545. 🙂 when planning the trip I also searched for a cheap hotel, and booked a 5-nights stay for 48,510yen (about S$600 or S$120/night) at Citadines Gojo Kyoto.

my wife told me recently JR (Japan Rail) had introduced new tourist friendly & great value “Haruka & Icoca” card. this costs just 3000yen for 1-way by Haruka Express from Kansai Airport to any of Osaka, Kyoto, Kobe etc and 4000yen RETURN and include a Icoca store-value card with 1500yen store value PLUS 500yen deposit which you can get full refund. this means in my case I only pay 1000yen by Haruka Express between Kansia Airport & Kyoto 🙂 & the current fare for non-reserved seat is 2770yen 1-way.

previously you could only purchase a JR West 1day pass for 2000yen (or 3days or 5days if you plan to do lots of travelling) and you could only buy a 1day pass once. so I used to get a 1day pass on arrival to Kyoto on a 90mins journey on Haruka Express, and pay the full fare returning from Kyoto to Kansai Airport.

with airfare, hotel & train connections taken care off, next was to have some plan of the sights we were visiting, and to check the best & cheapest subway/train connections & timing to get to the sights etc

we wanted to have mostly walking/hiking outings & lots of eating of course, and so I planned to cover-

  1. southeastern tour of Kyoto including Tofukuji, Fushimi Inari & Uji
  2. walk from Heian Jingu through Maruyama Park to Kiyomizu
  3. hike from Kurama to Kibune
  4. day trip to Nara & Osaka – this was later changed to a day trip to Osaka visiting a few places I selected, namely Tenmangu (天满宫), Osaka Castle(大阪城), Sitennoji (四天王寺), and walking the shopping streets of Tenjinbashi suji, Sinsaibashi, Dotobori & Namba.

c.h.e.f andy

Great Affordable Eats @ Kyoto 17-21May2013

super-value Japanese beef (国产牛) teishoku (set) at 900yen

super-value beef teishoku (set) at 900yen

not every meal has to be kuroge wagyu, teppanyaki course or expensive sashimi. there are lots of great value meals to be had in Kyoto, Tokyo or anywhere in Japan. 🙂

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on the first night of our arrival on 17.5.2013 we chanced upon a very interesting eat at Teramachi/Kawaramachi corner just opposite Takashimaya called 百练 (it is at level 2 of a small building). It  was kind of a family-style izakaya 居酒屋- we were the only non-Japanese around. we visited again at dinner on 21.5.2013, and we were still the only non-Japanese around..haha. 🙂

I ordered this super-value beef teishoku (set). I asked for medium rare & it was nicely done & tasty. It came with the gohan aka rice set including pickles & miso soup.  the beef was served with some pasta (which were ok but irrelevant) – all these for just 900yen. 🙂

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pork shabu shabu for 1500yen

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my sis ordered a pork shabu shabu for 1500yen. It was NOT kurobuta but it was really good, very sweet & tasty. 🙂

thick-cut bacon with asparagus for 500yen

thick-cut bacon with asparagus for 500yen

I saw that our neighbour, a Japanese couple, ordered what looked like ham & asparagus dish, so when we went back 2 nights later, I managed(despite the lack of communications) to get the chef to do up this dish – which was a thick-cut bacon & asparagus for 500yen – it was very good! 🙂

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on arriving on 17.5.2013, we visited Tofukuji then Uji. 🙂 on the way back to Uji JR station about 3+pm, we decided to share a set as a late & light lunch, & was lucky to pick out this rather nice 1580yen set at a 中华料理. the tempura was good, and so was the sashimi & the 2 side dishes – one was just egg, the other was rather more elaborate, and nice too! 🙂

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690yen set @ Yayoiken-kakuni (belly pork), saba, potato croquette, tofu, egg & vege etc

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690yen set @ Yayoiken-kakuni (belly pork), saba, potato croquette, tofu, egg & vege etc

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on 20.5.2013, before setting off for our hike from Kurama (鞍马) to Kibune (贵船), we were looking for a place for early lunch and found this joint Yayoiken @ Kawaramachi. 🙂

the meal was just 690yen, and was quite good too, with kakuni (belly pork), saba, potato korokke (croquette), tofu, egg & vege etc 🙂 maybe Singapore should consider this meal ticket machine system common in Japan. it’s very labour efficient & staff have no need to manage cash too. 🙂

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mini chirasi don set with 5 delightful side dishes for 1190yen

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returning from the hike, we took the train to Keihan Shijo & walked across Kamogawa (鸭川) to Kawaramachi (河源町) side. we found this restaurant on the 7flr of OIOI building along Kawaramachi across the road from Takashimaya.

this fabulous mini chirasi don set with 5 delightful side dishes was just 1190yen & they provide a very tasty soup which you later add to the rice like ochazuke. the mini chirasi don came with amaebi, crabmeat, ikura, 2 pieces hotate, maguro, tamago. the 5 delightful side dishes were ikan bilis, braised beef, tamago & tofu PLUS a  red bean/jelly dessert. 🙂

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we had another set which was somewhat less good (by comparison) also for 1190yen. it was a salmon tekkadon(鉄火丼) – this was quite good – with 4 side dishes.

so good food were aplenty in Kyoto & at very affordable prices too 🙂

c.h.e.f andy