Thursday, 29 October 2015

Otsu, Uji, Osaka: 1-Day Itinerary

I wanted to make the most of my Seishun 18 pass (青春18きっぷ) and I was able to pack three prefectures and three cities into one day. Of course this only allowed me to see one or two sights in each city but I didn't mind because I had specific targets for each anyways.

Lake Biwa seen from Otsu, Shiga
Starting from Himeji (姫路) I took the JR Rapid Service to Otsu (大津) which took 100 minutes because I could not ride the Shinkansen with the Seishun 18 pass. Otsu is the capital of Shiga Prefecture (滋賀県) and is one of the cities that you can see Lake Biwa (琵琶湖), the largest freshwater lake in Japan.

From the JR Otsu Station, I took a city bus (200 yen) to Otsu Port to see Lake Biwa. The weather was gorgeous, albeit a bit hot and the gentle breeze made it a pleasant visit. You can rent bikes and ride along the water in the park next to the port. I ate lunch here overlooking the lake and went back to the JR station for the next destination.

Tourist street in Uji
Matcha drink in Uji
The train ride to Uji (宇治) in Kyoto Prefecture (京都府) was between 30 to 40 minutes and required one transfer in Kyoto city. From JR Uji Station, there were clear signs and photocopies of instructions for tourists to get the directions to Byodo-In Temple (平等院). The Byodo-In Temple has a home on one side of the 10 yen coin. The walk to the temple was about 15 minutes and on the way you pass through a souvenir street selling matcha products in every shop since that is what Uji is famous for. The admission to Byodo-In Temple cost 600 yen.

Byodo-in Temple
Comparing the temple on the back of the 10 yen
Inside is the Phoenix Hall
There were a decent number of people inside when I was there in the late afternoon but incomparable to the crowdedness of Kinkakuji (金閣寺) in Kyoto. Therefore it was more pleasant to just stand and observe the temple while comparing it to the 10 yen coin in my hand. There were some women in yukata taking photos with their friends which matched the environment very well.

Famous matcha store
After having some matcha dessert at a nearby store, I hopped on the next train to the last city and the last prefecture of the day: Osaka (大阪) in Osaka Prefecture. The train ride was between 50-60 minutes and required a transfer in Kyoto again.

Shinsaibashi area
In Osaka, I met my friend at Shinsaibashi (心斎橋) to look around the shops and ate some takoyaki around Dotonbori (道頓堀). Osaka was very crowded and lively on this Saturday evening. We had a tabehoudai (食べ放題) dinner which means all-you-can-eat but the one we went to wasn't that great so I won't mention it.

All in all, my trip covered a decent area and I was able to go about leisurely. If I had more time, I would probably eat more matcha goodies in Uji!

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