Last November, I was sent to Kyoto as an ambassador for a campaign called EnjoyJapanPH (KrisTV’s The Japan Diary is also part of the same project), which basically aims to broaden and open the doors of Japan to the Filipino community.
Many Filipinos are still afraid of traveling to Japan because of the impression of difficult visa requirements (they are much more lenient now – I haven’t heard of any tourist getting denied a visa recently, and some of my friends and family members even got 5 year visas), expensive goods (you just have to know where to look for reasonable-priced food and fashion, plus the konbini is your best friend), no English translations (their bus, train, and other public transportation all have English, and there are also maps, apps, magazines, and brochures to guide you along the way), etc. but in reality, it’s not so different from traveling to our neighboring non-English-speaking countries. If anything, you can count on the Japanese to be the most polite, most helpful people you can ever encounter as a traveler. Clearly, there is no reason for any fear or doubt. It’s also one of the safest places in the world! I managed to travel on my own, and I’m sure you guys can do it too! I rented a pocket wifi at Kansai Airport for the length of my stay, and pretty much just Google Map-ed everything. :)
I couldn’t be any happier when EnjoyJapanPH chose me as their social media ambassador, moreso when they sent me to Japan to cover Kyoto during the peak of autumn (mid November). Visiting Kyoto during fall (and just before my birthday, no less) has always been one of my ultimate dreams, so this trip was easily my most memorable trip of 2014.
When people ask me about my favorite place in Japan, I always answer Kyoto. I’ve been to other famous places in Japan (Tokyo and Osaka included) enough to be 100% sure about my answer. Kyoto just trumps all in my book. It was the capital of Japan for more than a thousand years, so you can just imagine how deep and rich the tradition and culture is in this place.
But before I get started with 12+ posts worth of momiji (maple leaves), let me show you what most people first see when they arrive in Kyoto – Kyoto Station a.k.a. my most favorite station in Japan. While Nagoya Station holds the record for Japan’s biggest station, I prefer the Kyoto Station (and the surrounding layout of structures) because it’s a lot more quaint and compact, without being too suffocating.
In front of Kyoto Station is Kyoto Tower and Kyoto Tower Hotel. My hotel is that second narrow building from the left.
I stayed at Hotel Hokke Club Kyoto, which was just right beside Kyoto Tower Hotel. Behind my hotel was a giant Yodobashi Camera that closes until late in the evening. Since a lot of tourist destinations stop accepting visitors once it gets dark (around 5pm), I usually head back to my hotel to rest and kill time at Yodobashi. I managed to buy all my friends and family pasalubong here!
One side of Kyoto Station. I went during peak season so there were so many taxis waiting for tourists outside the station.
However, it’s these bus terminals in front of the station (and my hotel) that saved my life (and wallet). There are a lot of touristy destinations in Kyoto that you can’t easily access by train (i.e. Kinkakuji, Ryoanji), so they have these city buses that stop at particular places.
There are three loop buses that you have to remember if you’re going to all the touristy places – The Kyoto Easy Sightseeing Raku Bus (Raku 100, Raku 101, and Raku 102). There’s a flat rate of 220 yen, which totally beats expensive taxis with rates that start at 700 yen.
The first thing I did when I arrived in Kyoto was go to the Kyoto Tower! Even if I’ve been to Kyoto twice before, this was my first time going up the actual tower!
The beautiful city of Kyoto. The City of Ten Thousand Shrines.
Perfect timing. I was able to see this view right before the sun went completely down.
All the people in the tower were couples! I feel like Kyoto is a wonderful place for honeymooners.
Triciaception. Me taking a photo of me taking a photo of me taking a photo.
After an hour or so, the sky went totally black! I almost forgot that the days are shorter during this time of the year.
Kyoto Station, lego version! Because it was Kyoto Station’s 15th anniversary. People stopped to look at all 5 meters of this glory.
One of the reasons why I love Japanese stations – classy-looking ads with the prettiest faces. Here’s one with my favorite model, Kiko Mizuhara!
All this time, I’ve been blabbing about Kyoto Station, and I haven’t even posted a photo of what it looks like inside.
This, my friends, is the beauty that is Kyoto Station. I love it so much – it looks like something straight out of a video game. But the real reason why I am so enamored by it is because of the juxtaposition of modern and traditional Kyoto.
Yay for the holiday spirit in Kyoto! I was so surprised they put this Christmas tree up so early! Didn’t think they would until December.
Have a Snoopy Christmas!
Every night, outside the station, right by the bus terminals, they also have this amazing colorful musical fountain show (lol, what a mouthful).
WHEN WILL YOUR FAVE STATIONS
Above the Isetan Department Store in Kyoto Station is a light show that attracts locals and tourists alike.
Every photo of Kyoto Station is definitely Instagram-worthy.
Schoolgirls and salarymen (hypnotized by Kyoto Station’s night lights). Two kinds of people you can commonly see in the streets of Japan (not just in Kyoto).
Grabbed a fancy sashimi platter at the G/F restaurant in my hotel. Hello Kyoto! <3
You just might qualify to win a trip to Japan with #EnjoyJapanPH #POTW (Photo of the Week) Contest!
They just ended their Week 1 (Japanese Food) and Week 2 (Japanese Items) contests, but the excitement’s only beginning now. The Week 3 challenge is JAPANESE FASHION!
Post your favorite Japanese-inspired OOTDs, or Japan-taken street style snaps on your Facebook with the tags #EnjoyJapanPH and #POTW. Tag the EnjoyJapanPH Facebook page to let them know, and let your friends like your photo! The photo with the most likes wins!
You can read all about the contest here. Hope to bump into you in Japan!