Kyoto – Arashiyama

Arashiyama (嵐山 Storm Mountain) is a district on the western outskirts of Kyoto, Japan. It also refers to the mountain across the Ōi River.

There’s lots to see and do here, we stayed a whole day and had to choose only a few of the many sights to see in the time we had.

The most well know is probably the Bamboo Forest.

The main temple is Tenryū-ji (天龍寺)—more formally known as Tenryū Shiseizen-ji (天龍資聖禅寺)— It is the head temple of the Tenryū branch of Rinzai Zen Buddhism and was completed in 1345! Although after many fires most of the current building was constructed after 1865.

The Moon Crossing Bridge

The Iwatayama Monkey Park on the slopes of Arashiyama. Over 170 monkeys live at the park. While the monkeys are wild, they have become accustomed to humans. It was quite a walk to the top of the hill which had fantastic views over Kyoto.

A Kimono Forest

Another big day – A great place to spend it

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Kyoto – Fushimi Inari Taisha

The Fushimi Inari Shrine is at the base of  Mount Inari and has trails up the mountain to many smaller shrines which span 4 kilometers and takes about 2 hours to walk up – we didn’t make it the whole way!

Inari is the god of rice. Since early Japan, Inari was seen as the patron of business, and merchants and manufacturers have traditionally worshipped Inari. Each of the torii at Fushimi Inari Taisha is donated by a Japanese business.  There are thousands of them!


So, clearly heaps of Tori Gates!

There were also lots of little shrines off to the sides of the main path.

On the way down there were lots of street food choices for lunch.

This was a big day of walking!

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Kyoto – Nijo Castle

After four nights in Osaka we moved to Kyoto which is only about an hour away on the local trains but very different to Osaka.

Our hotel here, the Mitsui Garden Hotel Shinmachi Bettei, also has hot spring baths but our room is more ‘Western Style’ and the hotel is not quite as kid friendly – although it’s very nice.

On our first day here we walked from the hotel to Nijo Castle, photo’s were not allowed inside but it was very impressive, built in 1679 it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

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Osaka Aquarium

Osaka Aquarium is one of the largest in the world.

The main central tank has two whale sharks sharing the space with hammerheads, reef sharks, groupers and  rays.

In a separate tank there are even sun fish!

And the seals were very cute

We came mainly to see the whale sharks and sun fish but there is lots lots more to see too!

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Harry Potter World – Osaka Universal Studios

The Harry Potter World part of Universal Studios in Osaka exceeded our expectations.

The Hogsmead Street and Shops and Hogwarts Castle are very authentic and the Butterbeer tasted much better than we expected.

Since our main reason for visiting Universal Studios was for Harry Potter World I will keep our pictures of the other theme areas separate.

The park is pretty big and although we stayed only half an hour away by subway, I think it would be worth staying in the Universal Village Hotels and getting a two-day pass – but we certainly made the most of a single day.

Ari was picked to be part of the Olivander’s wand show which was pretty special for him.

The wands that the kids bought can be used around Hogsmead to cast spells.

We really loved our day here!

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Osaka – Onyado Nono Namba Natural Hot Spring Hotel

Our hotel in Osaka was lots of fun, very kid friendly, the whole place has tatami floors so you need to leave your shoes in a locker at the entry, they provide ‘house clothes’ that you can wear from when you come in at night til when you leave in the morning, the rooms are ‘traditional Japanese style’, it has hot spring baths and saunas which we used every day, the breakfast was fantastic and they provide free ramen noodle bowls in the restaurant every night from 9pm. It’s also right above the train station and Namba Walk with lots of food options directly underneath. 

Couldn’t ask for more!

The street opposite the hotel

There’s a Studio Ghibli shop in the Namba Walk

We’d definitely recommend this hotel

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After flying from Gold Coast to Tokyo we only had an overnight stay in Narita before flying to Osaka.

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