After waking up at the Hyatt Place Kyoto, we headed out in the morning to Bishamon-do, near Yamashina Station at the eastern edge of Kyoto City. After spending some time at this Buddhist temple, we returned to central Kyoto and walked through various shopping areas from Sanjo to Shijo, eating various snacks along the way and having lunch and dinner as well.
After waking up at the Hyatt Place Kyoto, we decided to try something different for breakfast. We were curious if Japan’s McDonald’s is any good! We headed to the restaurant at the corner of Karasuma and Marutamachi, a block and a half from the hotel.
We got a Japan only breakfast sandwich, the Gracoro, as well as a meal with a sausage, egg, and cheese McMuffin. The Gracoro was kind of like a croquette but definitely rather different with some ingredients that we couldn’t identify. The McMuffin tasted pretty much like in the US though perhaps slightly less greasy and slightly less flavor from the sausage. Overall, we probably should have just gotten our usual onigiri from 7-Eleven!
After breakfast, we headed to 毘沙門堂門跡 Bishamon-do-Monzeki by train. The monzeki in the name describes this temple as being an imperial temple. We took the subway to the south one stop to Karasuma Oike and then transferred to the Tozai line.
We took the Tozai line to the east to Yamashina. There was a nice passageway with decorative wood on the walls. After exiting the station, we started the 1km or so walk to the north to Bishamon-do.
The road to the temple passes over a portion of the Lake Biwa Canal.
Soon, we arrived at the temple. We saw quite a bit of red maple leaves!
There were multiple paths leading up to the temple buildings. This one looked rather steep near the top.
This path seemed to be more gradual. We decided to continue on though and walk up via the road.
Although we saw many maple leaves up on the trees, there seemed to be just as many, if not more, on the ground.
It wasn’t a very busy area so there weren’t many cars to dodge as we walked up the road.
We walked by some pretty Japanese maples.
There was a flat area before reaching the temple buildings. This flat area extended from west to east and provided access to three sets of stairs up, two paths down, and the road on the west.
The view downhill and to the south. There were many Japanese maples here as well as other tree species. There was a couple to the left of us who were having wedding photos taken.
We went back to the road and continued walking to reach the temple buildings. This building wasn’t the entrance though. We continued walking past it to the right.
We continued to the east to find this blocked off gate. This is the middle gate of the three gates up at the temple.
The view from the gate to the south and into the sun.
This little island, the stump of a tree, was nearby. It is like a miniature landscape with trees and a big fence.
There was also a stone torii nearby with a shrine behind it.
The view as we continued walking to the east.
This larger gate is the first one that we saw earlier from below.
The gate is directly across from the temple’s entrance. There were some big signs in case there was some doubt as to where to go!
A Japanese language pamphlet was provided. It had a nicely drawn map of the temple and all its buildings.
A map of the interior tour route was also provided. As is often the case, photography was not permitted in indoor areas.
We followed the route indicated on the map.
We sat for awhile here, enjoying the warm morning sun.
There is a nice pretty garden in the back. We weren’t able to walk through it but could enjoy it from the temple buildings.
There were many leaves here on the ground!
We continued following the route, eventually returning to the beginning. The accessible area of the temple wasn’t very large but had areas that were quite beautiful. Overall, the foliage was definitely past peak but was still nice to see.
While on the route, we saw people to the east of the temple buildings. We headed there to take a look.
There was a mix of color above us.
This small building, at the northeast corner, was closed.
We couldn’t go this way either, but this stone bridge leads into the garden that we saw before.
There was a small artificial waterfall.
These were nearby…
There was a bamboo forest to the east of the temple grounds. It looked like it was a small bamboo and log harvesting area.
We headed back to the temple entrance, passing by this stone torii on the way.
The view looking down from the main gate, across from the temple entrance.
We headed back to the west to go down via the road.
After leaving the temple grounds, we noticed a path through the woods to the west. We didn’t follow it but it seems to go to another nearby temple.
The view, looking down from the flat area below the final sets of stairs leading up to the temple.
We headed back to the train station via the same path that we took earlier. Again, we passed over the Lake Biwa Canal. This time, we photographed the canal in the opposite direction.
We passed by a small construction site where new homes were going to be built. It seemed very clean and orderly.
Sanjo and Shijo
After returning to Yamashina Station, we took the train to the Shiyakusho-mae station. From there, we entered the Sanjo Meiten-gai Shopping Arcade and walked to the Kani Doraku crab restaurant to see if we could get a table. They were already sold out for the day. This small Japanese chain is famous for its restaurant at Osaka’s Dotonbori. They have a few locations in Kyoto.
We decided to have a taiyaki snack at 鳴門鯛焼本舗 Naruto Taiyaki Honpo, which was nearby. There are a few long covered shopping streets in this area. We walked around a bit while considering where to have lunch.
We decided to have another snack at ガリゲット Gariguette. This shop sells a product we haven’t seen before. The best description seems to be a crispy mille-feuille, apparently commonly known as a Napoleon in the US. There are a variety of flavors available. We got one filled with strawberries and cream. Japanese style cream though, not the sugary mess one expects when hearing cream in the US. It was pretty good, particularly as it was freshly prepared before being wrapped in plastic.
We decided to have lunch at 若狭家 Wakasaya, a seafood donbori restaurant nearby. No fancy ingredients but still very good, except for the salmon which was kind of weird because it wasn’t fatty at all. The tuna was excellent, particularly compared to the typical US mainland tuna that you get in the average sushi restaurant.
After lunch, we headed south along the Shinkyogoku Shopping Street to the south.
We stopped at Koe Donuts, still at the Shinkyogoku Shopping Street but now further south in the Shijo area. They sell some interesting products, including this one! This is their Donuts Melt Holiday Matcha Tree! It is assembled fresh after ordering. It is basically a soft donut with cream, strawberries, and a Christmas tree made of matcha cream. And powdered sugar snow! As usual in Japan, not overly sweet like one would expect if getting something similar in the US. And the strawberries are Japanese strawberries so significantly better than the typical product we have in US supermarkets. Overall it was extremely well executed and tasted great.
We also got a drink, which kind of matched the Christmas and winter theme!
Here’s how it looks on the sign in front of the store. The photo in the ad does look a bit better but its somewhat close. Not at all like going to a McDonald’s and comparing what you get with what was advertised! Not sure what the English here is supposed to mean though.
After our Christmas donut, we eventually ended up at the nearby 高島屋 Takashimaya department store. They had a nice Christmas display out front. The track used in the display seems to be the same thing that is used in kaiten sushi restaurants! There was some sort of food event going on upstairs so we went to take a look.
Unfortunately, there wasn’t too much of interest as it was mostly raw food items. We did buy some karaage though. It was a bit disappointing, likely because it wasn’t freshly prepared.
Ichiran’s ramen is always excellent! It is very flavorful and they seem to be extremely consistent in their preparation. While it is fairly expensive in the US, it is very affordable in Japan. A bowl of ramen, like what we ordered, is 980 JPY, or about $7 USD.
After dinner, we headed back to our home away from home at the Hyatt Place Kyoto.
We had purchased these baby castellas earlier in the day in a train station and had been carrying them around in a backpack! They were from a store named Ikki. It seems to be a small location of a larger shop, Ikki Kasuteira, from Osaka. They sell a variety of items, however, this train station location only sold baby castellas. These tiny treats come in quantities of a dozen or more at once from various vendors and are filled with flavored cream. They seem to be quite popular and apparently have been around for a long time, though we haven’t had them before.