Kyoto | 3



“It’s hard to forget you, Kyoto. Even till hodiernal”


I tried as much as I could to enjoy my last night in Kyoto. I did pretend to myself that I wasn’t that tired after my side trip to Nara, struggled looking for halal food like a headless chicken in Minamijodocho, and a little ‘homework’ I brought along. I arrived at the hostel around 9pm, dropped my things on the bed, took bath and went to the kitchen to take a cup of dessert I left in the fridge. I met with two young ladies from the UK again at the lounge area and as usual, we shared our journey that day, where we went and other interesting stories from our sightseeings. It wasn’t only with two of them I had conversation that evening.

I also met with a gentleman named Simon that sat on the couch beside those ladies. We suddenly acquainted ourselves and shake hands. Funny enough, I had a little awkward moment with Simon after I asked where he came from and said “Oh German”. Had no clue if my voice tone “Oh German” sounded like I underestimated him. Trust me, what I had in mind when I said that words was “Germany” reminded me of my long-time plan years ago to study the language and there was nothing happened till today so I found it funny for myself. When I shared this story to my best friend who used to learn German, he said that some German men are surprisingly sensitive, oh now I see. They’re a bit different with their neighbor, Austrian, that I know is so much friendlier.

An awkward moment that taught me to learn more about European and their cultures, noted.


“I woke up in Kyoto with a cheesy wish; having a magic wand”


Final day in a city that stole my heart made me a bit melancholy. Like I wish I had a magic wand that could be used to stop the time, changed the day on the calendar and made my stay in Kyoto three days longer.

I woke up by 6am and re-packed my things (this what I called ‘homework) before I checked-out. I had no time to lollygag that morning even just to have a cup of hot tea. I went straight to Kyoto station to drop my new goodie bag filled with mostly souvenirs, sigh!! and my clothes in a locker and took train to JR Inari Station to explore Fushimi Inari. It was a good time to pay a visit to the important Shinto shrine in southern Kyoto in the morning. When I arrived around 8am and stood under the giant Torii gate at the entrance, I was like “oh this is the famous orange guy I used to see in Instagram and I finally here”.

I was so excited to experience the most Instagrammable tunnel in Kyoto that has thousands of vermilion torii gates with less tourists. And it was another opportunity indeed to photograph the tunnel itself though I had to admit it wasn’t that easy capturing those vibrant orange colors only with an iPhone. I felt like I wanted to swing my magic wand and had Sony a7R in my hand then. Mindless dreaming, I know.









As far as I know, most foreign visitors come to Fushimi Inari Shrine is to explore the mountain trails. I did it too though it wasn’t till up “UP”. I didn’t mind to do morning exercise by walking on the trail then I’m lying but you know something, when you only have dorayaki for breakfast and sure you’ll be okay to have a pleasant day hike then I can say you’re significantly different from me (read; fake backpacker). I’ll make confession on this post, when I was at Fushimi Inari and walked alone along the upper precincts, it made me felt a bit eery. I couldn’t imagine a mysterious air could be on the various graveyards and miniature shrines along the path in the late afternoon or evening.

At Fushimi I met with three backpackers; Matt who is originally from Birmingham, spent seven months traveled in Asia before went for his master (how I kept silent when he told me how awesome Nepal was which reminded me how many times my best friend, Maya, blandished me to accompany her to that country), Joel who is Canadian that moved to Taiwan six years ago to teach English and currently working there (sure, he speaks Taiwanese and Chinese fluently, me too – Rúguǒ nǐ wèn wǒ yīnggāi wèn shuí – you see?) and another one OMG I forgot his name :P (since he was the only one that spoke Taiwanese with Joel and barely shared stories with me). 

I closed my trip at Fushimi with the chessiest thing I ever did in my entire life to a very new friends (read; iPhone selfie like teens!). I’m deeply ashamed right now that’s why I didn’t blow the picture below :P if I remember why I did that :| though it was just like “can we have a moment before we go guys?” sort of, then.
















I left Fushimi Inari past 10am and took train to Hankyu Kawaramachi Station to the next destination which I found later was a dangerous place: Disney Store. It was the easiest meeting point I and Aria had agreed the day before when I shared how exhausted I was, looking for halal ramen somewhere near Nara. I arrived at Disney Store thirty minutes earlier and paralyzed with those stuffs. I felt awry and sorry to myself that I couldn’t even say no to Stormtrooper mug, Darth Vader key chain, and other small stuffs till I got a voucher 25% discount for the next purchase. Aria was laughed on WhatsApp when I told him that the store was dangerous esp for a person who used to be a loyal Mickey Mouse fan years back.

I was so relieved when I finally met Aria with his wife, Atrida along with Kenichi, their cute toddler in Kyoto. It wasn’t only that, I was relieved after I gave the voucher to Aria cause if I didn’t, I would need one more goodie bag for those stuffs. Moonstruck.

Before I entered Disney Store I went to the restroom on the sixth floor and couldn’t resist to photograph an afternoon scene on one part of Shijo Dori street. Somehow I love how the composition of those vehicles was on the picture.






The fact that it was Friday and Aria deliberately took a day off from his part-time job made me felt grateful. One, sure it was an opportunity I finally met him and his little family in another part of the world. Two, I could still go for Friday prayer with him and again, in another part of the world. For me it always be an experience every time I can pray outside Indonesia especially in a country where mosque can be sparse found.

I must write this here, another reason why I felt so happy that day was the fact that his wife, Atrida, is kind of person who is very open-minded. It is the easiest way to guess kind people by the way they smile from the first time you meet them. And Atrida was just like that, very welcome and inspiring in the same time cause OMG she got her PhD from Kyoto University months ago in a very young age (I asked Aria and Atrida to share some stories while they were lived in Kyoto, I’ll share that too on this blog. Though in the moment they’ve come back to Indonesia, I promise, their story is interesting).

Aria and I prayed at イスラーム文化センター (Kyoto Prayer Hall) located at the basement of the Islamic Kyoto Centre. A very small space yet special cause it is the only mosque you can find in Kyoto. After we finished praying, Aria asked me which way we should take to our next destination. Either we walked straight or came back to see Kanogawa River where we passed on our way to pray, in case I wanted to spend minutes to see the famous river in Kyoto. I said wherever we were convenience with I was OK, then we went back to the river. Aria and Atrida told me how beautiful Kamogawa will be in spring where all you can see is “those greens will be all pink and you can imagine how your day will be under the cherry blossom trees”“I’ll come back for that season, buddy” an answer I said with a smile on my face and an imagination for my Hanami picnic.

Sometimes I have no idea how life spreads surprises. At Kamogawa where we met with fellow Indonesians after Friday prayer, Arya introduced me to Fahmi, a PhD student that surprisingly is my best friend’s best friend, Ayos. After Fahmi shared memories he had with Ayos in the same university I and Aria went too, I asked him to take a picture together and sent to Ayos. He was so surprised how we met just like that in Kyoto and said “it was like serendipity.


I like how “serendipity” just like that (and the best reason why I had to write it on the picture below when I realised that Zara-tee made me looked a bit fatter than the actual, no way!).


Right after we spent an hour at Kamogawa river, we took bus to a sushi restaurant called Musashi Sushi for a lunch. That is the best thing when you have friends who are living in a country you’re traveling to. They can take you around to the best spots and share so many stories about the people, the places, the culture and the food. What do you expect more in the afternoon in Kyoto rather than having fresh sushi for lunch with good friends? 

Aria and Atrida told me that Musashi is one of the must-try sushi restaurant in Kyoto, it’s affordable, reliable and fun and their sushies are fresh indeed. Even though I can find kaiten-zushi at sushi restaurant in Indonesia, but experienced it in Japan was another impression. I could see how sushies are made more than just a ‘food’, but it is a revered form of art.

Sushi done, we moved to Pontocho. Though we couldn’t see much in the afternoon, but I still remember vividly how beautiful the alley was. Pontocho could be one of the main reason why I love Kyoto more than Tokyo, those traditional restaurants, shops, tea houses, no cars allowed and no modern buildings. It’s kind of magical place I will definitely revisit if I travel to Japan again.

Next time will be in the evening where I can see is my imagination of Japanese street like I have imagined before; a narrow alley after rain, cold, fluorescent lanterns, Japanese kanji, and Geisha.
















Pontocho wasn’t the end of my trip in Kyoto. Aria and Atrida brought me to one of the most famous tea store in Kyoto, Tsujiri. If I mentioned that Disney Store was a dangerous place where Japanese ‎¥‎ could fly away to the cashier, Tsujiri was more than dangerous. In fact it’s kind of place where you are allowed to say ‘I don’t care, please take all my ¥‎”. You really can, Tsujiri matcha is the main reason why I think it is worth it to spend Japanese ¥‎ because the products are amazing. And for me and Aria who used to study Product Design would be on the same page to say that Tsujiri’s packaging design is absolutely spot on. EVERYTHING is well-designed.

I was puzzled when I was there. Not because I was worried about my Japanese ‎¥‎ cause I had to come back to Tokyo for two more days but “where would I put all those teas in my suitcase if I bought too many? without destroying the beautiful packages? All I saw there was BEAUTIFUL indeed OMG”. I said to Aria that one of my mistakes when I traveled to Japan was I brought a small suitcase and he said “I’ve told you, Zis”.

Tsujiri done, we strolled casually at Gion then moved to Kyoto Marui. It was another dangerous place where again, you are really allowed to scream “I don’t care, please take all my ¥‎”. No, I’m not trying to tell you lies but if you are there you’ll say the same, trust me.

Aria and Atrida brought me to Loft, where you know, if you are like me who can be crazy for some well-designed stuffs, you will always cheat yourself because you’ll never say no to take some stuffs for yourself (oh hello Toy’s Story iPhone case! why I left you in Indonesia…). Aria was very kind when I was in Kyoto but he wasn’t really ‘REALLY’ KIND! because he pushed me to another dangerous place where I realised I’ll never be a real backpacker called Seria, 100 yen shops that is so much better than Daiso I went at Takeshi Dori.

Kyoto Marui was the last stop and the end of our small reunion in Japan. I had only seven hours with them but it was one of the highlight of my trip if I may say. Aria and Atrida (and you too cutie, K) was very VERY kind when I was in Kyoto. It was a moment I won’t forget, also their hospitality I won’t take for granted. Atrida used to write on her Instagram page when she shared her first trip to Tokyo after three years lived in Kyoto just few days before she and Aria flew back to Indonesia that three things a person would need to travel are money, time and health. Sometimes three of them can’t meet on the same thing called an opportunity. And for me, had a short time in Kyoto and met them in the end was a very, very beautiful opportunity.

I had to say goodbye to Kyoto and took Shinkansen back to Tokyo by 8pm. I was almost late cause I had to look for one more Starbucks tumbler for my very best friend, Maya, as promised. Fortunately I was still on time on my way back to Kyoto Station. Inside Shinkansen, I never stopped smiling and gazing through the window, There Is Much More To This, All To Well, and Dear God on my playlist, with a box of bento for my dinner.










There days in Kyoto was one of the best life experience. Even though I really wish I had a longer time but there was nothing I regretted for any single thing I couldn’t achieve during my short stay. All the memories of Kyoto will stay forever in my heart and mind.


Kyoto, you will be one of my favourite city in this world. 


Kyoto | 2


“In Kyoto, I was strolling so casually”


The sun was high when I gazed out to the window. I could feel it though I was inside, trying to wake myself up completely by 6.30am. I was a bit tired yet I had to experience Bamboo Groove as my first destination on my second day in Kyoto. I had a conversation on the phone a night before with Aria, my friend that lived in Kyoto then (he’s back for good to Indonesia at the moment). He suggested to come as early as I could if I wanted to get beautiful photographs at Bamboo Groove. He said it won’t be too many tourists if I came in the morning before 9. As I remember, it was our first conversation since we graduated from the university seven years ago (7? damn I’m old!).

I finally arrived at Bamboo Groove few minutes after 8. The morning sun wasn’t friendly enough to me. It was worse cause I wore black jeans and D&G-ish Zara (had no option but I rushed and just found they were the clean ones). When the sun kissed my skin I swore I won’t do the same mistake if I travel on summer again.

Aria was true. It was well worth to wake up earlier and finally explored Bamboo Groove when it was quite. Like I couldn’t imagine how I would enjoy Bamboo Groove if I found many selfie sticks surround me (cause it could be happened in the afternoon). Though I still felt the sun and the humid, it didn’t stop me to breathe easy, felt the gentle breeze and the wind rustling in the bamboo leaves. And it was a serene morning indeed.

At Bamboo Groove I met with Judith, a solo female traveler from Sant Feliu de Guixols, Spain, who spent three weeks exploring Japan. We met for the first time at the entrance and at the bamboo path later on when we faced the same problem a solo traveler always has, looking for somebody who can take a picture of you through your own camera (you guys too?). Speaking and sharing few things with Judith was truly made my morning. And lucky me, she dropped a post card and wished if someday we can meet again either in Spain or in Indonesia.

It was a simply joy I’ll always remember, Judith.


“iPhone pictures below do not do justice unless I captured with A7R then!. Arashiyama Bamboo Groove is a must if you have a chance to visit Kyoto”












After spending two hours at Bamboo Groove, I moved to the most important temple in Kyoto’s Arashiyama district, Tenryū-ji Temple. Located just right after Bamboo Groove, it is mandatory to pay a visit to Tenryū-ji which registered as a UNESCO World Heritage site. I have to tell you this, I know I should put more attention reading the history of Tenryū-Ji while I was there yet my eyes were more tented by all those beautiful straight lines I could find everywhere surround the temple. I wasn’t wowed by the temple itself and struggled to ensure I took symmetric pictures of the lines but stood and wondered how beautiful the zen garden would be either in spring or in autumn.













You know sometimes I’d say, “Oh buddy, money is not everything” to people but sure you could SLAP MY FACE if you were with me in Kyoto on summer then. You would find me easily gave up being, “Oh I don’t mind to be a backpacker, huh?” and lied “This is an exception because true, summer is crazy hot!” and decided to spend my Japanese ¥ for a big bowl of shaved matcha ice along with two mochies beautifully wrapped with cherry blossom leaves.

I entered a matcha cafe right in front of Tenryū-Ji’s gate and spent an hour with cute green-guys as captured below. I remember when I went to the cafe upstairs, the first time I had in mind was I must have a seat by the window, guess what? yep, for picture purpose. Since I had a nightmare when I found my mirrorless didn’t work in Tokyo, seated by the window where I had bright natural light was significant cause I only had my iPhone 6 in hand (hello 7! sigh!). Oh come on guys, should I just sat and enjoyed my matchas without taking picture of them for this blog ? How possible?

I admit I was so shy when I was rearranging those trays to get the right composition for my picture when two Japanese women were enjoying their shaved ices beside me. You may say I shouldn’t do that cause it might be rude (MAYBE??) yet I’m such how garish this might sound a typical Instagramer nowadays when it is so IMPORTANT to snap our food before we eat them, huh? No I’m kidding. What I was thinking just to have them for my own file so that I’ll remember it as one of the memory when I was in Japan.

Don’t worry, two women beside me were typical Japanese, they were so polite and even smiled at me when I was asking to the younger woman (the older one seemed like her mother, I guessed) this question: “Konichiwa haik, do you speak English? may I ask you, are these leaves can be eaten, too?” (sure I was smiling like oh GOD, WHAT A SUCH A STUPID Q?). But when she did answer in English, I was so pleased at least I didn’t just eat the cherry blossom leaves without knowing and I would look like a fool if they could be eaten or not.





After an hour spent in the cafe I putted on my headsets, played Rather Be, and continued my sightseeing to the central landmark of Arashiyama, Togetsukyo Bridge. Many restaurants, small shops, and attractions can be found nearby. Though the weather in the afternoon was super-duper hot, I was enjoyed every step I took. A little trick I did when I felt too-hot was stopped by the shops and enjoyed the AC. It helped for my body indeed but not for my eyes.

Stopped by two shops with a will to chill but left with some souvenirs in my hand. Japan was dangerous, tho.

Here are some Arashiyama scenes via iPhone while I was strolling casually before headed to Nara.






Nara was my side trip with no expectation cause what I wanted just to spend the rest of that day at Nara-Koen Park. There was one thing I learnt from my trip to Nara. If I have places to see it is important to fuel myself with good food so I’ll have energy to move around.

When I was inside the train heading to Nara station, I was looking for halal restaurant nearby and my iPhone told me to stop to the next station which was JR Kyobate station. Without thinking that I would spend time an hour or two, I decided to look for a place to have a proper lunch before I went to Nara Park. I found two, one was Indian restaurant (oh, I didn’t mind for basmati rice and chicken curry) and another one was halal Japanese ramen restaurant. I picked Japanese one for a distance wise, and thought a bowl of ramen in the afternoon wasn’t a bad idea.

Stepped at Kyobate station I found myself as if I was in the corner of the country. It was very quite place. I could barely imagine how I would spend my lazy afternoon at one of those Japanese houses with a cold matcha and some dark chocolates if I had a couchsurfing host.

Even though it was past 3 and the sun was still high, it didn’t stop me looking for a halal restaurant called Naramachi Jinniyah. I enjoyed my walk to the restaurant located at Minamijodocho though I almost gave up cause hell ya the summer sun was suffocated me. Ten minutes walked and guess what? I stood in front of the restaurant with CLOSE sign on the door, plus my flat face, plus my screaming tummy, plus my salty sweat, plus a little feeling “what the hell I was looking for” and just look at the selfie I took below was my cheesy reward cause I failed looking for halal food.



After I stopped by at Lawson in Kawaradocho for two slices fried chicken (yikes I ate part of the chicken I hate the most (read: skin) like a real hunger!) with a bottle of cold matcha drink and a vanilla cream puff, I decided to take a train back to Nara station.

When I arrived at the station my tummy was screaming for a real food for the second time. I felt like I was OK cause I took enough light food from Lawson but I forgot that moved around burned calories and made me hungry more often. I had to ask my iPhone again where I could find a restaurant with halal food on the menu but first, I stopped at Nara City Tourist Information Centre right away after I saw prayer room sign (as I wished I could find prayer room easily like that in Japan).

After I prayed I decided to walk straight to Nara Park since the day was still bright. Strolling in the afternoon in Nara could be one of my best time in Japan. Just I wished I had enough time and sure, a happy tummy then. I was a little worried if I couldn’t visit Nara Park cause the sky was cloudy and gray yet I smiled for second to admire the orange-ish afternoon light as captured below. My worry was true cause in the end of my side trip, I finally flunked to visit a home to hundreds of freely deers. I had to admit that I couldn’t manage my time precisely when in Nara but hey, it shouldn’t be regretted cause I finally found an Indonesian fried rice at one restaurant at Konishico for my dinner.

I knew it was like incomplete journey that I couldn’t see how cute those deers at Nara Park but at least, I could bring two deers home for my beloved best friend. And it was enough to end my very short visit to Nara.

I didn’t take only deers but ah, I shouldn’t say it here how I spent my Japanese ¥ in the evening at some souvenir shops at Nara before I came back to my hostel in Kyoto.











P.S. FYI, I’m kind of person who always try to avoid eating my own food when I travel to another country cause it’s definitely an opportunity to experience local food. But that day, it was an exception for my dinner since my tummy screamed since afternoon like crazy. And, I had more and more picture I took at Arashiyama and Nara but I didn’t want to boom you with too many pictures here. So more to come!