Travelogue: Japan – Suntory Yamazaki Distillery, Arashiyama, Nishiki Market

This day by far was probably one of my most chilled day I had, or so I thought. Went cafe hopping in the morning before taking on a whisky tour at Yamazaki Distillery and ending off with a meal at Miyoshi. I realised as the days passed, it was getting harder and harder to wake up in the morning. hee. Anyway took a bus to Cafe Arrietty to have brunch cos they were rated as having one of the best pancakes in Kyoto. The cafe was located near Kyoto Woman’s University and thankfully I went when they were just opened so there wasn’t much crowd at all

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It’s quite a small cafe and I spent the longest time deciding which pancake to get. In the end I decided to go for the Autumn special pancake

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Autumn Pancake ¥1,000

Topped with Pumpkin Cream and Vanilla Ice cream

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I love the fluffy texture and the slight eggy sweetness of the pancake but I didn’t have the stomach to finish it all. I have no idea how the lady beside me did it!

Cafe Arrietty

451-1 Myohoin Maekawacho, Higashiyama Ward

Kyoto, Kyoto Prefecture 605-0932, Japan

And then I decided to walk to Kyoto station cos I needed to digest what I just had, but not before popping into Kaikado Cafe for a cup of coffee and just chilling till it’s time to make it for my train. I thought the interior was very Japanese-like with hints of Scandinavian design, sorry for the lack of better words. ha. It was airy and bright and felt like a good place to just spend the afternoon away if you had nothing else to do

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Oh, I thought it’s also a good place for lots of outfit shots. lol

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Cafe Au Lait ¥870

The beans are from a Japanese Roaster – Nakagawa Wani Coffee which I thought tasted pretty decent to me. Balanced and easy to drink, though somehow they kinda reminded of Nespresso coffee I had at home :/

Kaikado Cafe

Japan, 〒600-8143 Kyoto Prefecture, Kyoto, Shimogyo Ward, Sumiyoshicho (Kawaramachidori), 352 河原町通七条上ル

And since I still had time to kill, I went up to the sky garden at Kyoto station. Well, it wasn’t much of a garden and the views weren’t that great either. So I walked one round and decided to go straight to the train platform

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View from the top

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I was quite tickled by this. I don’t think people would be very happy after the birds attacked their food..

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In the end I made it to the distillery much earlier before my tour time since I thought I could just roam the grounds and visit the shops to see what kind of whisky they had for sale. I was kind of disappointed since the only Japanese whisky they had was the Chita. Yup that’s right. They did not even have the Yamazaki for sale. And it was quite different from what my friends who had been there experienced since they told me they give you a bottle of whisky for keepsake (with the date you visited). 没有 leh! So.. I ended up only buying 2 whisky glasses. lol

 

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All the bottles on display!

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Decided to go for the paid tasting session where you could select any or all of the whisky produced by the distillery to try. Started with 2 and I thought I could try more later. In the end the queue was so long and my tour time was nearing so I didn’t try any more

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Really wanted to give the 25 years a try as well. Oh man 😦

So our English tour (¥1,000) commenced at the 2nd level of the museum and we were brought to the production side across the road. It was really warm, not sure if it’s the temperature or the effects of the whisky or both. lol. We went into the malting room, followed by mashing, fermentation, distillation and maturation and the guide tried her best to explain to us in English. She was really cute and anxious because it was her very first tour in English but we were so impressed by her level of command even though at times we tried very hard to decipher what she was trying to say

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The gentle aroma of the malt filled the entire place

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So the peat was passed around for us to smell. Apparently it’s supposed to have a smell. So when my neighbour passed the peat to me with an unexplained look, I could understand why after I passed it on to the next person. I smelled it 3 times, each time harder than the previous but I couldn’t smell anything!! So we looked on to the next person and were all trying to contain our amusement. It’s more like.. is there something wrong with our nose or something?

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Fermentation

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Distillation

The stills were made of different sizes to give the spirit different flavour and character

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Distilling it out

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And we smelled raw whisky as well. It was.. really raw

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Maturation room

I tried to find the barrel in which the year I was born in but I didn’t manage to find it 😦

Lastly, ending with the tasting session that was included in the tour! We get to try the White Oak Cask Malt Whisky, Wine Cask Malt Whisky, Yamazaki Single Malt and another portion of Yamazaki Single Malt which we mixed with soda to get a highball. Yep, it was a lot of whisky and given both the first two cask had a higher percentage of alcohol in them. I was glad they gave some snacks to go along with it. We ended off the session doing a survey and I laughed at the part which they asked ‘Which part of the tour you enjoyed the most? (Other than the tasting session)’ and I’m like hmm.. I guessed everyone had the same thinking

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The highball making session

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They even had their own soda produced. Wow

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Though I’m not sure if their own soda made any difference to it. lol

I rushed back to the train station so that I could make it for Miyoshi booking at 6pm because the transfer was quite tight and I didn’t want to be late for the most expensive meal on this trip. I’m glad to say I made it on time!

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Miyoshi – you can read it up here

Retired for the night cos I had to wake up really really really early the next morning. How early? hmm 4.30am so that I could get to Arashiyama at 6.30am! I know – I don’t know why I tortured myself on a trip. ha. Anyway I took JR line to Saga-Arashiyama and began my walking trail to the bamboo forest. I was quite disappointed when I reached cos it wasn’t quite what I was expecting. The bamboo trees were sparse and loosely apart so it felt very different from photos. I felt confused. Despite that, I took a few photos since I made the effort to reach so freaking early. Then later I thought again, it felt like there’s another place out there or an area I had not ventured so I looked at Google Maps and there was another pin which was further in. So I decided to take my chances and continue walking and yay! I found the shot where everyone took!

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This was how it looked like then I was like huh. You mean that’s it?

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And then it looked like this too

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But yay finally found it! Love the calmness of the bamboo forest

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Time-Checked: 6.30am. I thought I was the abnormal one. But there were many photographers there as well, apparently all thinking of the same thing

So I wandered around the area and made my way towards Togetsutei bridge so that I could have a cup of %Arabica as well. And gosh, the queue was insane. I can’t believe I waited 45 minutes for a cup of coffee. That was cos friends of the barista visited so they turned to serve them first. And given there were only 2 barista at the cafe with 1 being the cashier, there was effectively only 1 person making the coffee at any point in time. And every time they messed up the latte art, they re-do the whole thing again. It wasn’t that bad when I reached but the queue was much worse later

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View from the bridge

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The location was quite out of nowhere too

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And so while waiting for my coffee, there was this AT lady who was standing infront of me taking selfie of herself with the baristas in the background. I was like … because the shop was tiny and packed and there was no space to stand and she took a whole 15 minutes doing it. Gosh, some people!

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Finally! Tried the Single Origin (¥550) this time and I definitely preferred it to the blend

Then I continued to roam the area, though abit half dead at the point of time, clearly the coffee wasn’t working its magic. Visited the Tenryuji garden but only paid entrance fee to the garden access instead of the full main hall since I figured there’s probably nothing much to see inside, before dragging my feet to Jojakkoji temple for more autumn leavings viewing

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Good Morning Arashiyama!

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Passed by the same exact spot 3 hours later and look at the crowd! I had to say waking up early was worth the shot

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Tenryuji Garden ¥500

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which was honestly nothing much

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Caught sight of a photoshoot on the way to Jojakkogi temple

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Look who’s guarding the entrance to Jojakkogi!

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I think this place had the prettiest colours of all

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Even the fallen leaves in a myriad of colours

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When bamboo trees and autumn leaves unite

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Spent some time chilling by the river, watching the boats go by and seeing how everyone tried to take photos of the boats underneath the autumn leaves. And yeah, I was one of them. lol. Lunch was spent at Yudofu Sagano, a place known for serving tofu dishes in Arashiyama for many years, then paid a visit to the Kimono forest before heading back to hotel to sleep

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Row, row, row your boat

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In a Sukiya-zukuri style building. The place was lining with people even before it opened but fear not, the place is big enough to accommodate everyone. And well, as you know, they only have one item on their menu which is the yudofu course

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Yudofu Course ¥3,800

I was quite surprised by the whole course. There were so much tofu that at some point it felt too much. I mean I like tofu, but this was on another level. And I couldn’t finish it all. The lady beside me was telling the staff the meal tasted very delicious (and she finished everything) and I’m like.. huh? It’s just plain boiled white tofu leh. How delicious can it be?? I mean yes, it’s silky, soft and melts in your mouth but still!

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There, tofu :/

I would say it was an interesting experience

Yudofu Sagano

Japan, 〒616-8385 Kyoto Prefecture, 京都市右京区嵯峨天龍寺芒ノ馬場町45

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Kimono forest

Well it’s not exactly a forest forest.. and it was difficult to get a clear shot just cos people were walking up and down

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The crowd at lunch. The streets was just lined with people, and more people that I was glad I came early to enjoy the morning peace, though it drained much of my energy

Goodbye Arashiyama, you had been good 🙂

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Spotted on the way back to hotel and I was amused – wondering what those things were

So I went back to hotel and caught up on my sleep before heading to Nishiki market for a quick bite. Do note most stalls close at 5pm so try not to go to late else you won’t get to enjoy much. I think I was there around late afternoon and it was mega crowded with lots of tourists. The tour buses must had all come at the same time :/

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Everything looked soo good, or maybe cos I was hungry

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Grilled Shrimps ¥500

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Grilled Oysters ¥500

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Fishcake with Potato Fillings ¥280

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And caught sight of this oyster bar at the end of the market so I decided to join the queue and go for some fresh oysters

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Raw Oyster ¥300 / piece

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Roasted Oyster ¥300 / piece

The roasted oyster wasn’t that bad but the raw oyster definitely tasted better

This place serves a variety of seafood as well, like scallops, clams and prawns but since I already had them, I decided to give it a miss

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Ending the night with a green tea parfait at a random place just cos who says no to parfait in Japan right?

I spent my last full day in Kyoto rushing from one appointment to another, clearly making full use of it. Woke up slightly later and settled on my luggage delivery to Tokyo so I can travel light. I love these luggage delivery services and glad that the hotel offered them. Then made my way to Kiyama for lunch which turned out to be an enjoyable experience. My companion was just busy recommending all the food places in Kyoto to me and even asked me out for dinner but.. sadly I had plans made so I turned down his request 😦

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Washoku lunch at Kiyama

3 hours later, got on a cab, rushed to Maiko-Henshin Studio Shiki for my maiko makeover. Not much photos here cos I was rushing to get everything done so that I had enough time to rush for my last appointment. And there were other customers who were there at the time as well so I was glad my makeup was done faster and I chose my kimono fast as well. And anyway, they had a strict no-photo policy (other than the free-time) so not like it made much difference

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So anyway, one photo of me! It looked.. so unlike me :/

I’m glad I only opted for the in-studio shots cos the shoes were really not easy to walk in. I was wobbling and balancing on the rocky pavement. It was challenging, but still it was a fun experience. But maybe once is enough, cos not cheap, not cheap :/

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Last stop for the day! Always wanted to try a Japanese nail salon just cos they are well known for the attention and details so I had randomly googled that morning and found this place that was having a promotion as well. I must say it was quite a different experience. They had individual spaces separated by curtains and a selection of movies for you to choose from while you do your nails. And you do not have to worry about disturbing your neighbours just cos the sound comes straight from the back of your head. And each hand has their own table to rest so instead of you moving your hand, the manicurist moves from one table to another. Wow

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And I decided on Les Miserables

I have pre-selected the category I wanted online and so I just needed to pick from the designs when I’m there. And just so you now, I googled translated everything from the online booking form. That was how much of an effort to do my nails. lol

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I was really very pleased with it. It has been more than a month and till now the nails are still lasting and surviving. I’m quite impressed

For those who are interested to try this place, here’s the address:

Lian Nail Salon

Japan, 〒604-8025 Kyoto Prefecture, Kyoto, Nakagyo Ward, Shimoosakacho, 350-1 ウォークビル2F

So that’s basically summarised my journey in Kyoto which I really enjoyed it thoroughly. Onwards to Tokyo next!

Previous Travelogues if you are interested:

Travelogue: Japan – Takayama & Shirakawago

Travelogue: Japan – Nara, Fushimi Inari, Eikando Temple, Tea Ceremony En

Travelogue: Japan – Kiyomizudera, Autumn Illumination, Kifune Shrine & Dinner with Maiko