Enjoy A Rainy Day Trip to Kyoto. Here's How!

by - Saturday, October 20, 2018

Hello! The 3rd part of my Kansai Trip (Osaka, Nara) will be about Kyoto. I’ve been to Kyoto for two years in a row now but Kyoto really never loses its magic to me. I keep coming back! And this time I successfully made it through a rainy day trip...here's how!

(Golden Pavilion)
First stop, the Kinkakuji! I was not able to go to Kinkakuji last year so this time I made it a personal mission to make it there no matter what. It was a rainy day during my Kyoto trip but luckily, I was able to made it to the Golden Pavilion with just some morning drizzles.

Kinkakuji is a Zen temple located at Northern Kyoto, around 40 minutes from Kyoto station by bus. It is built near a pond with its top two floors completely covered with gold leaf. Everything about it screams elegance and extravagance which reflects the preferences of the wealthy families and aristocrats in Kyoto during those times.

Unfortunately, it is not possible to get inside the temple itself but the windows at the ground floor are usually open for viewing.

After viewing the Kinkakuji, visitors are then shown to a path behind the temple that leads to the temple's garden.

Just like most of the touristy places in Japan, brace yourself as Kinkakuji is really crowded. The place is no doubt stunning in real life and in photos (especially) but the crowd make it almost unbearable. I know I’d always talk about Kyoto being peaceful and tranquilizing but all of that is non-existent during peak season. You’ve been warned.

Entrance fee: ¥400 (adults)
opening hours 9:00 - 17:00

Nijo Castle
This isn’t originally part of my itinerary but somehow I’m glad it was a rainy day, I ended up googling places to stay indoors and found the Nijo Castle!

After Kinkakuji, I made my way back to Kyoto station pondering whether should I head back to Osaka where my hotel was and call it a day. But all of this would just go to waste I figured so I stayed in a coffee shop to grab some lunch searching for places, and voila! To Central Kyoto off I went! ^_^

The 'Karamon' Gate

Nijo Castle is a huge revelation! Its interior is the best surviving example of how Japan's feudal era's castle palace looks like. Before entering the palace, visitors are asked to take off and leave their shoes at a designated area. I think I brought mine in as they gave away some plastic bags for our umbrellas and I used it to pack my shoes into my bag.

Once you enter the castle palace, the first thing you'd notice are the squeaking sound the wooden floors make. This so-called nightingale floors were used as security measure against intruders. The sound resembles that of a chirping bird, it's not irritating but it really is noticeable.
I wonder how people back then walk on them?

The palace rooms are mostly open for viewing but cannot be entered. They are covered in tatami (Japanese-style floor mats). The walls/dividers and sliding doors are painted with sophisticated intricate designs while the ceilings are also elegantly decorated. I seriously want to bring my Fine Arts and Archi friends here so we can all cry together over how beautiful everything is.

Some rooms even feature life-sized figures of Shoguns, feudal lords, and other government officials sitting inside the rooms in their traditional Japanese costume. This brought back so many forgotten feelings why I love this country.  Entering Nijo Castle left me wanting to read up more about Japanese history. Nijo Castle is so beautiful you got to see it for yourself.

The castle from behind

Video and photo taking is not allowed inside the castle palace and I'm not even complaining. Entering Nijo Castle itself is indeed a remarkable experience you'd never experience elsewhere so I love that what happens in Nijo Castle, stays in Nijo Castle!

Outside the castle palace is a traditional Japanese landscape garden called 'Ninomaru Garden'.

This is the part where the photos looked hazy because of the rain.

Here's a late-blooming cherry tree I caught during my trip. Nijo Castle also features plum and cherry orchard. Different varieties of plum and sakura trees are planted throughout the castle grounds making it a nice spot for cherry blossom viewing during Spring.

Nijo Castle
General Admission ¥600
opening hours 8:45 - 16:00

Kyoto Railway Museum
Remember the other museum I mentioned in my Osaka Castle Park post?

Located 20 minutes away on foot from Kyoto Station is the Kyoto Railway Museum which was opened in 2016.

It is a 3-floor museum boasting with 53 retired trains from the old steam locomotives to the more recent electric trains and the supreme of all the Japanese trains (my personal favorite), the Shinkansen.

They also have a restaurant in case you're starving!

There are several models of shinkansen (bullet trains) which run on different routes and regions on different speeds. Here is the W7 model that runs on Hokuriku line and connects mainly Nagano and Fukui prefectures.
An example of steam locomotive

Another type of shinkansen (retired).

In Kyoto Railway Museum I was able to experience walking underneath an elevated train and observe the train's design and inner workings from a completely new angle (video on my Instagram highlighted stories).

Life In The Railway
This is the part where things get really engaging. The second floor is full of interactive exhibits and simulations. The above photo features a ticket vending machines complete with a mock-up train tickets and ticket gates. After getting your ticket (for free) visitors will then proceed to a simulation of a ticket gate. The ticket gate is transparent so that visitors can see its inner workings and observe how the tickets move from one side to the other end.

I was lucky that during my visit, one of the main shinkansen displays was wrapped as Evangelion 500 shinkansen to honor the ending of the operations of the said bullet train. Running since 2015, the operation of 500 Type Eva bullet train ended last May 13th and was replaced by HELLO KITTY shinkansen, which also runs on Sanyo line (Osaka to Fukuoka, Western Japan).
Source: Evangelion Bullet TrainHello Kitty Shinkansen

Kyoto Railway Museum
Entrance fee ¥1,200
10:00 to 17:30, close every Wednesday


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