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My last trip to Osaka and Kyoto was a perfect vacation after half year of work, and it was my third time there. Unlike previous trips, this time I didn’t rush at all and I gave up most of the famous sights so I just visited one or two places a day. I tried to explore these cities’ hidden gems, which you won’t find them on guidebooks. And normally I would prefer to walk instead of taking public transport if possible, because then I can have deeper understanding of how the city actually looks like by strolling around 🙂 And the following article is going to introduce some of the “hidden gems” in these two amazing cities. You could consider them if you also want to make your Japan trip different from other tourists!
Nanten-en is an authentic Japanese onsen ryokan located at the suburb area of Osaka, well, a really suburb area of Osaka called Amami. I took 1-hour train to get there from the city, and literally the ryokan is just next to the station. Amami is a small village which doesn’t even have a vending machine or convenient store, the ryokan itself is already the landmark of the village. So for local people, here is definitely an ideal place for weekend getaway; and for foreign tourists, it is a good place to experience the authentic half-board culture in Japanese ryokan with hot spring.
Since there’s no other restaurants/convenient stores nearby, you can only choose to have the dinner and breakfast at the hotel, but trust me, this authentic ryokan with over 100-year history knows how to make good Japanese food. I strongly recommend you to choose the Kaiseki Cuisine（懷石料理） for dinner. You can enjoy quality food here with much lower price than in Tokyo or Kyoto.
The village and the Amami Station, if you are looking for entertainment, this place might be a bit boring but for me, the tranquility here is priceless. (@Fashionmimo)
Well, Chion-in（知恩院） is well-known. The temple is located at Gion, the heart of Kyoto while also the busiest part of the city. However, even though thousands of people visit the temple at day time, only few of them know that actually you can actually spend a night here.
Nothing is special if you choose to stay here, only if you choose to attend their morning buddhist ceremony, this would be one the the most memorable things you’ve done in Kyoto!
Since photo shooting is not allowed during the whole ceremony, so I found the picture on Google. In a nutshell, only hotel guests would be invited to attend the ceremony and it starts at 6:30 every day, which means you need to wake up very early and the staff will lead you to the temple. The whole ritual includes monk chanting and worship. Overall it is a very interesting experience.
Now it’s time to talk about food! AWOMB is an experimental restaurant in Kyoto providing artistic DIY sushi set, which means you can make your own sushi with the material provided like this:
Super cute isn’t it? I believe that every girl would scream out like I did when they first see this! Despite of the food, the interior decoration of the restaurant should not be ignored as well, it is influenced by Japanese minimalist aesthetic: the gate is too small to be noticed, everything inside is made by wood…
Normally the restaurant is very popular and requires reservation, if you want to walk in, hope you have the same luck as we have! (Yes we made it!)
AWOMB has two restaurants and a studio, both of the restaurants are in the central area of Kyoto but with different policies, for more detail you can refer to their website http://www.awomb.com/ (@Fashionmimo)