Osaka, Japan

Our next destination was Osaka. Jess and I stayed in the district of Shinsaibashi, the city’s main shopping area, for three nights.  

A highlight from our stay was Osaka Castle. The castle is surrounded by a large moat and stone wall, and offers incredible views of the city. 

Umeda Sky Building was also an interesting attraction. We gave its observation platform a miss, but spent a bit of time admiring the unconventional-looking building from the ground. 

Escaping the city on our last day in Osaka, we visited Minoo Park. An easy trail took us past a range of shops and temples, and plenty of trees adorned with a mixture of autumn colours. At the end of the trail was a waterfall (and lots and lots of people). Photos just don’t capture the beauty and magic of this place.

Highlights (not captured on camera) included a Louvre exhibition at the Osaka City Museum of Fine Arts and an evening drinking cocktails at Bar Rock Rock (a dingy bar which has literally been visited by every big person in rock, metal and pop). 

Our last evening was spent at a small goth/metal joint called Rock Bar Midian. The only other person at the bar was a fellow Aussie who had grown up with the guys from The Amity Affliction.  

Nara, Japan

Nara was a destination that both Jess and I had been really looking forward to. We were particularly interested in seeing the deer that roam the area. 

What we didn’t expect, though, was the huge number of deer. Hours were spent photographing and feeding them as we wandered through Nara Park and its surrounding streets, and visited Kasuga Taisha Shrine and Todaiji Temple. 

While most of the deer were pretty friendly and relaxed, some got a little too excited/aggressive at the sight of food or a bag. But what a fascinating animal.  

Kyoto, Japan

Kyoto was a huge contrast to Tokyo. Jess and I stayed at a traditional hostel in a quiet area of Shimogyō-ku, void of the bustling nightlife and seediness of Shinjuku.  

It’s too hard to pick a highlight from Kyoto. Although Jess and I were only in Kyoto for a few days, we visited so many beautiful spots.

We checked out Ginkakuji Temple (and its garden), Nanzenji Temple and Kiyomizudera Temple on our first day.

Our second day was spent in Nara (I’ll share photos from this day in a separate blog post).  

But it was our third and final day in Kyoto that was the most busy. First stop was Kinkakuji Temple, an impressive piece of architecture with its top two floors covered in gold leaf.

Next was the district of Arashiyama where we walked through the famous bamboo groves, enjoyed a rickshaw ride and visited the Iwatayama Monkey Park.  

We ended the day at the torii gate-covered hiking trail at Fushimi Inari Shrine. 

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