Monday, January 23, 2017

[Japan 2016] Uji, Kyoto: Strolling Along The Uji River

Photo By: Elin Chow

After lunch, we left Arashiyama and headed to the next destination of the day - Uji. Uji is a small laid back tourist town located on the southern outskirts of Kyoto on Uji River. It is the second largest city in the Kyoto prefecture.

Uji? How do you get to Uji? To many people, Uji might seems distant and difficult to get to, but it is actually not. Uji is located conveniently close to Kyoto and can be easily reached by JR train along the JR Nara Line. From Kyoto Station, you can take either the rapid or the local train. The one way trip takes about 20 minutes by rapid train and 30 minutes by local train.

At Kyoto Station, the train departs from track 8, 9 and 10. The JR Nara Line is covered by the JR Pass. For those who do not have a JR Pass, the one way fare from Kyoto Station to JR Uji Station is 240 Yen.

Besides JR Uji Station, the Uji area is also serviced by the Keihan Uji Station. You can use the Keihan Electric Railway to get to Uji. Both the JR and Keihan Uji stations are located 10 minutes walk from Uji River. However, the Keihan Uji Station is more convenient in Uji because it is located closer to the river.

If you are alighting at JR Uji Station, you will first encounter the Uji Tourist Information Center located just right in front of the station.

Drop in Tourist Information Center to pick up a free copy sightseeing map. If you are any questions about the various tourist spots in Uji, the shop assistant will do their best to help you.

The city of Uji lies between the ancient city of Kyoto and Nara. Despite being a city of great cultural, political and historical importance, it is surprisingly off the foreign tourist beaten track. The small town is not popular place to visit for foreigners and is often overlooked by first-time visitors to Japan. After all, it is not one of the main attractions of Kyoto.

But Uji is a great place to escape hustle and bustle of the city and tourist crowds. There were few foreign tourists when we visited the town.

The city of Uji is surrounded by lush green and Uji River, which is 5-10 minutes walk from JR Uji Station. The source of the river is Lake Biwa, the largest freshwater lake in the country. Uji bridge spans across Uji river with a fairy busy road passing over it. This is one of the oldest bridge in Japan, first constructed around 646.

Uji is home to many famous historical sights, including the Byodo-In Temple and Ujigami-jinja shrine. Most of the attractions in Uji are located within a short walk from Byodo-In Temple and Uji river, so it is possible to reach most of them by foot.

Located just beside Uji River, you will find the Byodoin Omotesando Street, which leads to the famous Byodoin Temple. As I headed down the cobbled stone street, I started to see more local tourists.

Uji is famed for its excellent tea cultivation and production for hundreds of years. The tea produced in Uji is usually regarded to be of superior quality. The best place to purchase tea and tea-related souvenirs in Uji is Byodoin Omotesando Street.

The 300 meters long street is lined with restaurants and shops selling tea and tea-related products and local arts and crafts. Some of the shops have tea roasters facing the street where fresh brew of tea are sold for immediate consumption, filling the air with the fragrance of intoxicating tea leaves.

Strolling down the street, you will see Itohkyuemon, a long-established Japanese tea shop based in Uji, Kyoto.

Itohkyuemon offers a wide range of green tea products, such as high quality tea, sweets, ice cream, noodles and alcoholic beverages. 

At the end of the street, you will find the famous Byodoin Temple. You will know it once you see the red Torri gate. Registered as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the temple was first built in 998 as a countryside retreat villa for political Fujiwara no Michinaga. The temple was turned into a temple by Michinaga's son, who also ordered the construction of the spectacular Phoenix Hall.

Byodoin Temple is open from 8.30 am to 5.30 pm daily, with the last admission at 5.15 pm. The entrance fee was 600 Yen, which does not include admission to the Phoenix Hall. The Phoenix Hall is featured on the back of the 10 Yen coin. To enter the Phoenix Hall, a separate 300 Yen entrance fee is required, which includes a short guided tour.

We did not pay to enter the temple because we were traveling on a low budget. But do not worry, Just like Arashiyama, you can still enjoy the beautiful city of Uji without spending a penny. The cobbled stone approach to the temple is lined with colorful maple trees. It was beautiful everywhere we looked.

Continue down the street will bring you to a flight of stairs leading to Prefectural Uji Park. 

Set along the bank of Uji River, Uji park is a popular spot for locals to enjoy cherry blossom in spring and fall colors in autumn. Running through the park is a paved road lined with maple trees and surrounded by nature. 

All along the path, there are benches where people can take a rest and take in the beautiful scenery. Enjoy a bento or drink under the shade of colorful trees beside the picturesque Uji river. The atmosphere is incredibly relaxing and peaceful. For those seeking to spend some quality time with nature, this is the best place to enjoy some quietude and tranquility.

At Uji Park, you will also find several stone bridges that connect the park to the other side of the river. 

If you walk across and stand on the bridge at Uji Park, you will see a vermillion colored bridge some distance away, connecting one side of the river to the other. The bright orange red contrast perfectly against the lush green mountains. Absolutely stunning!

The riverside is lined with several cafes and tea houses where you can relax and enjoy a cup of hot tea while taking in the view.

It was nice to stroll around and all along the river at your own leisurely pace. The river adds a very special feeling to the entire place - so tranquil and calming. 

All along the river, you will see many small boats which you may hire for cruises in the day, The boats are also available for cormorant fishing (also known as Ukai) during mid June to late September.

Uji Park consists of Tonoshima and Tatibanajima islands, which are connected by the vermillion colored Kisenbashi Bridge, Tachinbanabashi Bridge, Asagiri Bashi Bridge and Nakajimabashi Bridge.

On Tonoshima island, you will find a 13-tiered stoned pagoda erected by Monk Eison. The pagoda is known as Jusanju Sekito in Japanese. Measuring a total of 15 metres in height, this is the highest stone pagoda in Japan.

To reach the stone pagoda, you have to cross vermillion colored bridge to the other side of the river.

The beauty of Uji is equal to the better-known Arashiyama, but far less crowded. I love the tranquility and amazing view that the city offers, and this is also what makes Uji a perfect day-trip destination without the rush and the crowds. If you are short of time, sightseeing in Uji can be limited to 2-3 hours.

Uji is a place where you wish time would stop so that you could stay longer. Retracing our footsteps back to JR Uji Station, we took the JR train once again and headed back to Kyoto Station.

At Kyoto Station, we walked through the entire Porta Mall in search for something to eat. We could not decide what to eat because there are simply just too many choices of restaurants to choose from, and everything looks delicious.

After walking around for half an hour, we finally decided to have our dinner at Wa Pasta & Cafe Co Na Na, a Japanese and Western fusion restaurant that specialize in Wafu Pasta, or Japanese style pasta.

The restaurant serves a good selection of high quality meals. English menu with pictures are available and most of the staffs speak reasonable English.

Japanese style pasta are lighter than the usual Italian pasta, and with a dose of Japanese Asian flavours in order to suit Japanese taste and preference. The pasta are cooked in dashi base or soy base instead of the usual tomato sauce or meat sauce.

Mushroom, Thick Slices of Bacon & Coddled Egg Pasta

Price: 1,328.40 Yen

Clams & Mushroom with Soy Flavored Sauce Yuzu Citrus Pasta
Price: 1,058.40 Yen

I ordered the Mushroom, Thick Slices of Bacon & Coddled Egg Pasta and my husband ordered the Clams & Mushroom with Soy Flavored Sauce Yuzu Citrus Pasta. Both were perfectly cooked and really not too heavy.  However, we actually find the price a little too expensive.

After dinner, we took the Karasuma Subway to Shijo Station and headed to Nishiki Market again to do some souvenir shopping. If you interested to know what I bought in Japan, please read my "Huge Beauty + Snacks Shopping Haul" post.

Then we visited this little sweet store located just beside the Karasuma Subway line at Kyoto Station to get some sweets. The store assistants were very friendly and polite. 

Price: 1,260 Yen

My husband bought these soft green tea cookies sandwiching green tea cream. These are incredibly delicious. The texture of the cookies are very soft and chewy. But just to be warned, these soft green tea cookies tend to sell out really fast. So please be early if you are interested to try these.

Price: 1,140 Yen

We bought some Japanese-style mochi in ground peanuts as well. Japanese-style mochi is a bit like Hokkien-style Muah Chee. The Japanese rice balls are made from sticky rice flour in sweetened coarsely ground peanuts. It was sweet, in fact, too sweet for my liking, but very soft and moist. We really love the soft and chewy texture of the rice balls. Most importantly, they do not stick to your teeth!

We could not finish an entire packet that night, so we decided save it for breakfast the next morning. I doubt anyone can finish 500g of mochi in a night. We turned in early that night too. It was a really tiring but fulfilling day. This is also our last night in Kyoto. We could not wait to explore the beautiful city of Osaka next!

If you are interested to know more about our trip, you may want to check out our 7D6N Osaka - Kyoto - Nara - Kobe Trip Itinerary + Overview for the list of attractions that we had visited during our 7 days in Japan. For anyone planning your first trip to Japan but have no idea where to start, you should read my "How To Plan A Trip To Japan" post.

Be sure to follow me on Facebook or Twitter for the latest updates on my 7 days adventures in Japan! You might also want to check My Wanderlust page for some of my other travel adventures.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

[Review] Kanebo Suisai Beauty Clear Powder

Photo By: Elin Chow

I have been wanting to try Powder facial cleansers because they are such a big hit in Japan right now. The Kanebo Suisai Beauty Clear Powder is perhaps the most popular and best-selling drugstore brand powder facial cleanser in Japan. So I decided to pick this up to try when I was in Japan. This is also the most expensive item I have bought in a Japanese drugstore.

I am usually very picky when it comes to facial cleansers, but I must admit that I have fallen in love with the Kanebo Suisai Beauty Clear Powder ever since I bought it during my Japan trip last November. The result is just amazing!

If you are interested to know what I bought in Japan, please read my "Huge Beauty + Snacks Shopping Haul" post.

What Kanebo Says

Kanebo Suisai Beauty Clear Powder is a water-activated enzyme powder cleanser and exfoliator that claims to exfoliate, shrink the appearance of pores and remove excess sebum and dead skin cells without drying out the skin.

The powder contains 2 types of enzymes - Proteolytic enzyme (Protease) and Sebum Degrading enzyme to exfoliate dead skin cells and remove excess sebum. In addition to that, it is also formulated with soy milk extract and hyaluronic acid to moisturize and brighten the skin. Most importantly, it is free of fragrance and artificial colorants - just perfect for sensitive skin.

1. Packaging

The Kanebo Suisai Beauty Clear Powder is sold in either packs of 15 or 32, and each comes in individually packaged little Hexagon-shaped plastic capsules containing 0.4 g of the product. The packaging is very small and lightweight, which makes it super convenient for travelling because it will not take up a lot space. I can simply throw a few capsules of it into my bag without having to worry about spillage.

Most importantly, it is TSA friendly because the product comes in a powder form. Since it is powder, you can easily pass through airport security checkpoints, unlike other liquid cleansers. The Hexagon-shaped capsule also makes it easy to hold and open with wet hands.

2. Texture

Unlike most other exfoliation products that you will find in the market, the Kanebo Suisai Beauty Clear Powder gently exfoliate your skin without slightest irritation because it does not contain overly harsh grits or microbeads. The grits are ultra fine and gentle. With a little water added, the powder instantly transform into a nice milky foam, just like any other facial cleansers that I have tried. The texture is silky smooth and does not feel harsh on the skin.

3. Clean, Exfoliate and Hydrates

To be honest, I was skeptical about the Kanebo Suisai Beauty Clear Powder. Powder Cleansers? That sounds really odd. But the result is surprisingly good. The powder gives you the super clean feeling after wash. I love how smooth and baby soft my skin feels every time I wash my face.

In addition to that, it brighten and deep cleanse to remove any impurities without stripping away moisture from the skin. However, I actually find the powder a little drying if you use it every single day. I would not recommend this product for daily use, especially for people with super dry skin.

I am not sure whether this product is effective at removing blackheads, but it does help to reduce excess sebum production and occurrence of acne, thus achieving natural and beautiful clear skin.

4. Customizable

Unlike any other cleansers I have used in the past, powder cleansers are customizable depending on the amount of water you mix in. Add lesser water if you prefer more grits and more water if you prefer a more gentle exfoliation.

5. Price

The Kanebo Suisai Beauty Clear Powder is slightly on the expensive side, considering the amount of product given. I bought a pack of 32 from Tsuruha Drug Dotonbori Store in Osaka for 1,700 Yen, which is about RM 68.51. The price is much more expensive than most of the Korean brand facial cleansers I found in the market. Furthermore, you will get more product, but at a much more cheaper price.

6. Smell
Since it is in a powder form, I was expecting a strong powder smell. But surprisingly, it is fragrance free and does not have any noticeable smell.

How To Use

Kanebo Suisai Beauty Clear Powder is really to use. One capsule of it is meant for a single use. But I usually only use half of capsule of powder instead of one. It is more than enough. 

To use, I will pour half of capsule of powder into my palm and add small amount of water. This will create a milky smooth lather. Massage it over my damp skin in circular motions, then rinse well. I will actually recommend using it twice or thrice every week. Once opened, it cannot store for too long, because otherwise the powder will harden.

My Thoughts

So far, I have a good experience with the Kanebo Suisai Beauty Clear Powder. The result is amazing and leave my skin feeling soft and clean while still being gentle. I am always on a lookout for new, innovative and exciting beauty products to try and this has not disappointed me. This is a very gentle cleanser suited for all skin types, including very sensitive skin.

Will I repurchase this again? Yes, definitely! But at the same time, I would like to try other brands of powder cleansers available in the market as well.

Be sure to follow me on Facebook or Twitter  for any latest updates on my blog. So stay tuned!

Thursday, January 12, 2017

[Japan 2016] Arashiyama: Tenryuji Temple + Togetsukyo Bridge + Bamboo Groves

Photo By: Elin Chow

Good morning! We started our second day of our 7D6N Japan Trip early the next morning. After washing up, we set off to our first destination of the day - Arashiyama. Located on the Western outskirts of Kyoto surrounded by mountains, Arashiyama is one of the major and best known tourist attractions in Kyoto.

The fastest and easiest way to get to Arashiyama from Kyoto Station is by the JR train. Most of the major attractions of Arashiyama can be reached in a 5 - 10 minutes walk from Saga-Arashiyama Station along the JR Sagano Line. The entire train ride takes about 15 minutes, making Arashiyama the perfect place for a day trip from Kyoto.

At Kyoto Station, the train to Arashiyama depart from track 32 or 33. To get to JR Saga-Arashiyama, you can take either the rapid or local train bound for Kameoka and Sonobe. However, please do not take the limited express train as they do not stop at Saga-Arashiyama Station.

JR Saga-Arashiyama Station is located 6th station from Kyoto Station if you take the local train and third station from Kyoto Station if you take the rapid train. The JR Sagano Line is covered by the JR Pass. For those who do not have a JR Pass, the one way fare from Kyoto Station to Saga-Arashiyama Station is 240 Yen.

Besides JR Saga-Arashiyama Station, the Arashiyama area is also serviced by Keifuku Arashiyama Station and Hankyu Arashiyama Station. You can use the Keifuku (or Randen) Railway and Hankyu Railway to get to Arashiyama, both of which are not covered by the JR Pass. All the stations are conveniently located in Arashiyama, so which line you take depend greatly on your starting point in Kyoto.

If you are alighting from from JR Saga-Arashiyama Station, you will first encounter the Saga Torokko Station where you can catch a ride on the Sagano Romantic Train. We had initially planned to catch a ride on the Sagano Romantic Train because we were told that this is a must try for any visitors visiting Arashiyama. But unfortunately, all tickets were sold out days or even weeks in advance.

The Sagano Romantic Train is very popular during the autumn color and cherry blossom seasons and tickets tend to sell out very quickly during these peak periods. However, it is still possible to buy standing-room tickets if all seats are sold out.

Located beside Saga Torokko Station is the Steam Locomotive and Piano Museum with historical locomotives and pianos on display. Locomotives and pianos? What an unusual combination! However, we did not pay to enter the museum because we have no interest in history.

At the entrance of the museum, you will find an old train model on display. There is also a cafe at the museum where you can purchase some snacks and drinks.

Arashiyama is a very touristy district, popular among locals and international tourists, so the area is always very crowded, especially during the spring cherry blossom and fall color seasons. Thus, I would suggest that you visit as early as you could for a more tranquil experience.

There is so much to do and see at Arashiyama area, so I recommend allocating at least half a day for your visit. In fact, I feel that even half a day is not really enough to fully experience the beauty of Arashiyama. I wish we could stay here for an entire day.

Alighting at Saga-Arashiyama Station, we followed the stream of tourists that led us through the busy Arashiyama Shopping Street lined with tea house, souvenir shops and restaurants. The main street of Arashiyama is crowded with rickshaws, cars and sightseeing tourists.

Arriving at a crossroad, we took a left turn and continued down the street, looking for a place to eat. Without even realizing, we ended up at Keifuku Arashiyama Station, a newly renovated building packed with various food stalls and souvenirs shops. If you interested to know what I bought in Arashiyama, please read my "Huge Beauty + Snacks Shopping Haul" post.

Unlike all other train stations that you will see in Japan, the Keifuku Arashiyama Station do not have ticket barriers. The Keifuku line or Randen is a streetcar running in Western Kyoto, connecting Omiya Station at Omiya Shijo and Arashiyama Station.

Feeling hungry, we decided to grab some quick breakfast from one of the food stalls at the Station.

Price: 500 Yen

Curry Udon

Price: 500 Yen

Although it was really cheap, it was delicious. The Udon was very chewy, thick and soft with simple and flavorful broth.

Tenryuji Temple

Right across the road from Keifuku Arashiyama Station is Tenryuji Temple, the largest temple in Arashiyama district.

Listed as a UNESCO world heritage site, Tenryuji Temple is accessible directly from the main street.

Ranked as first of the Five Great Zen Temple in Kyoto, Tenryuji Temple is the most prestigious temple in Arashiyama district.

There are two entrances to the temple, one on the left side (across the road from Keifuku Arashiyama Station) and another one on the right side. The one on the left side is for vehicles (but pedestrians can also enter from this entrance) and the one on the right side is solely for pedestrians.

We took the entrance at the right side, passing through a large parking lot shadowed by colorful maple trees.

Tenryuji Temple is opens from 8.30 am to 5.30 pm daily and there is an entrance fee to enter the temple. The entrance fee to the gardens only was 500 Yen. There was a separate 300 Yen entrance fee to enter the temple building.

Most of the famous temples in the area charge an entrance fee ranging from 300 Yen to 1,000 Yen. We did not pay to enter the temple because we were traveling on limited budget.

Although there are entrance fee to enter the gardens and temple building, the general grounds of the temple are free to wander around. This means that people with limited budget can also enjoy the Arashiyama district without spending a penny. It is worth visiting to enjoy the spectacular fall colors around the temple grounds.

At the left entrance of the temple, you will find the Hojochi Pond filled with lotus flowers. In autumn, the lotus flowers wither and rot in winter. Besides Spring and Autumn, locals and foreign tourists also flock to Tenryuji Temple during summer when the lotus are in bloom, making it a all year destination.

Autumn in Arashiyama is great with clear blue skies, colorful leaves and perfect cooling weather. Tenryuji Temple is particularly beautiful during Autumn with its magnificent maple leaves on the approach road to the temple, and this is also the reason why people flock here.

Despite the massive crowds, everything feels peaceful and calm. The temple grounds are very spacious and well spread out, so we did not feel like we were in a large crowds. It was comfortable to walk around the area without bumping into anyone.

Togetsukyo bridge

Standing at 375 meters high, Arashiyama mountain is covered by brilliant yellow, orange and red maple leaves and stretches along the Katsura River. The landscape is said to be beautiful throughout the year.

There is a small pier on the river with lots of paddle boats available for rental. The boat is steered by three boatmen and can hold up to ten people. Take a cruise down the river to enjoy the seasonal beauty of Arashiyama.

Along the river, you will also find a lot of rickshaws available for hire. Hiring a one of the best way to see Arashiyama if you do not wish to do sightseeing on foot.

Sit back and relax while your rickshaw driver pull you through and around Arashiyama. Prices generally range from 5,000 Yen - 7,000 Yen depending where you want to go. The driver also acts as a guide, providing a relaxing tour around the area. However, most of the Rickshaw drivers do not speak English. But they still try their best to make your experience enjoyable.

Located at the center of the river is Togetsukyo bridge, the most iconic landmark in Arashiyama district. Measuring 155 meters long, the bridge spans across Katsura River, offering a spectacular view of the Arashiyama mountain and surrounding area.

Strolling down the pathway along the river, we saw an old man painting the colorful mountain.

The area around Togetsukyo Bridge is always very busy, especially during the spring cherry blossom and fall seasons. The pathways and bridge are filled with hundreds of tourists walking around bumping into each other. It was not certainly not a very pleasant experience.

We stood on the bridge in silence, admiring the scenery. But unfortunately, the sky is really gloomy on the day we visited, so I could not take better pictures. The dark sky seems to give a very gloomy atmosphere to my pictures.

Bamboo Grove

Located about 10 minutes from Togetsukyo Bridge is the well-known Bamboo Grove. This is certainly one of the places I look forward to seeing in Arashiyama.

Despite being a popular attraction, we found the Bamboo Grove a little difficult to locate because there were not exactly many signs around. We spent a bit of time wandering around and eventually, we found ourselves ended up on a little sidewalk that is unmarked.

Bamboo Grove is open 24 hours a week and entrance is free. The path is flanked by thousands of tall bamboos on both sides swaying peacefully in the breeze. Walking under shade of towering bamboo, I felt as though I have entered into a magical world. My heart felt incredibly peaceful.

The entire path is 500 meters long and you can easily walk the length of it in 5 minutes, which was disappointing as it was so much more smaller than what we have actually expected. It seems impossible to get a nice picture without having anyone in your way because the entire path is crowded with people taking selfies. Well, even if you managed to take some, I believe the photos could not capture the beauty and magic of this place.

The Bamboo Grove of Arashiyama is probably the most photographed tourist sight in Kyoto and is popular among both locals and foreign tourists.Simply google Arashiyama, I believe most pictures you will see will be Bamboo Grove and Togetsukyo Bridge. Along with the thousands Vermillion Torii gates of Fushimi Inari Taisha, the Bamboo Grove of Arashiyama is certainly one of the most famous sight in Kyoto.

The bamboo are used to manufacture various handicraft products, such as baskets, boxes and cups, and you can buy these products from the shops in Arashiyama. I think it will be nice to bring some of these products home as souvenirs or gifts.

Leaving Bamboo Grove, we continued uphill, heading towards the north of central Arashiyama, which I found it to be less touristy and more rural.

We walked through the quiet neighbourhood and secluded residential streets of Arashiyama full of traditional Japanese houses, tiny eateries, lesser known temples and shops.

The quieter part of Arashiyama is also dotted with historical sites, most of them are located quite a distance apart. On this fascinating walk, you will discover many temples that are far away from the crowds, some of which offers really amazing view of autumn maple leaves. But of course, entry is not free.

I took a deep breath of the fresh, crisp air, enjoying the lush greenery and colorful autumn leaves at every turn. However, please be prepared that there will be quite a lot of walking to do, so it will be best to equip yourself with comfortable walking shoes. Most of the areas around Arashiyama are wheelchair and stroller friendly, making it easy destination to get around.

So we kept walking and walking, unsure what to expect. As you walk further uphill in Arashiyama, the crowds start to thin out and this is when you will get to enjoy some tranquility.

I love being surrounded by untouched nature and beautiful autumn foliage, far away from the traffic and crowds. However, detailed maps were not available around this area, so it is easy to get lost in the maze of streets and side alleys.

After hours of endless walking, our legs were aching and our tummies were rumbling. We decided to give up and head back to Arashiyama Shopping Street to search for food. Well, I must admit that I have totally underestimated the size of Arashiyama district. It is a really huge area with plenty to explore. so it is good to come prepared with a list to do and see.

Back at Arashiyama Shopping Street, we randomly walked into a restaurant located just beside Saga Arashiyama Station to refill our extremely tired and hungry body. It is very small restaurant but with great atmosphere.

The restaurant serves typical Japanese food of high quality. Limited English menu with pictures are available, so we did not have any problem ordering our food.

Grilled Japan Beef & Salad Set

Price: 1,130 Yen

Tempura - Large Prawns & Vegetables Set

Price: 1,280 Yen

I ordered the Grilled Japan Beef & Salad Set while my husband ordered the Tempura - Large Prawns & Vegetables Set. The portion sizes were quite small but very filling. Food was delicious with great service, although slightly pricey as expected.

Price: 110 Yen

After lunch, my husband bought a can of hot coffee from the vending machine outside the restaurant. This was very tasty and probably the best I have tasted so far! Sweetened and blended with mellow milk, the coffee has a very nice aroma and a very smooth after taste. Most importantly, it was not too sweet or bitter at all!

Away from the hustle and bustle of the city, surrounded by mountains and natural scenery on all sides, Arashiyama is a perfect place to unwind. The area is absolutely stunning and you will find beauty in every direction. Be sure bring to have your camera ready, or you may regret. This is definitely a must-see destination for those visiting Kyoto.

If you are interested to know more about our trip, you may want to check out our 7D6N Osaka - Kyoto - Nara - Kobe Trip Itinerary + Overview for the list of attractions that we had visited during our 7 days in Japan. For anyone planning your first trip to Japan but have no idea where to start, you should read my "How To Plan A Trip To Japan" post.

Be sure to follow me on Facebook or Twitter for the latest updates on my 7 days adventures in Japan! You might also want to check My Wanderlust page for some of my other travel adventures.