13 Oct 2010
Christina Lund Sørensen
I'm a keen collector of refrigerator magnets and I have a newfound passion for 'usu nigori' - sparkling sake

For the past couple of blog posts I’ve been ranting on about how few sights can be found in Osaka. Well, in fact it doesn’t really matter, unless you’re planning to not leave the city at all, because two of Japan’s most culturally rich cities are within close vicinity of Osaka – Kyoto and Nara.

I opted for a daytrip to Kyoto, which is only 30 – 40 minutes away by train. With the Shinkansen (bullet train) you can even get there in about 15 minutes, but it also costs a lot more then the local JR trains. When you get to Kyoto it’s easy to get to the sights, busses from outside Kyoto Station head of to all the castles, shrines etc. every five-ten minutes.

The Tokugawa Shogun

There are numerous shrines and castles in Kyoto and it’s impossible to see them all in a day. I chose to focus my energy on the Nijo Castle (Nijo-Jo), which was build by the first Tokugawa Shogun in 1603, when Kyoto was the capital of Japan (back then Kyoto was called Edo).

An amazing castle with beautiful wall paintings and when I passed the Samurai Room and walked across the Nightingale Floor, I almost expected the Shogun and the lords to sit somewhere with a cup of tea and a couple of Geishas hanging around.

The Nightingale Floor is constructed in such a way, that when you walk on it, the floor says the sound of birds singing or at least chirping somehow. An important tool in Old Japan as it helped the Shogun and the Samurais detect if intruders or enemies were trying to sneak up on them in the middle of the night. Cunning indeed.

Nijo-Jo (Nijo Castle)


A must when visiting the Nijo-Jo is a stroll in the Ninomaru Garden afterwards. At one point I almost thought that I’d spotted a real Geisha, but then she pulled out her iPhone from the kimono and we were back in 2010.

iPhone Geisha

Personally, I’m not a big fan of going to these declared tourist sights. It’s always crowded and there are signs telling me what I can do and what I can’t do. I often feel like I’m walking in a herd of cattle, when visiting these places, and I definitely felt that way at Nijo-Jo, but in this case I wanted to see it, so I was willing to pay that price.

Ninomaru Garden

What about you, dear reader? Tell me about your best/worst experience, when you visited a tourist sight. Do you feel like cattle, just like me? Do we have to visit The Eiffel Tower, Big Ben and The Statue of Liberty, when we travel, in order to really feel that we’ve been to our chosen destinations.

Comments
  1. I do want to visit – or at least see the big sights. But just like you I get a bit tired of ‘the flock’ so I try to combine it with something more local. The few times that I have avoided the main attactions I have regretted it when I went back home.

    Mette, Wednesday, October 13, 2010 05:18
    • Hi Mette,

      I definitely see your point and of course there’s a reason why these attractions are attractions. It seems like you’ve found the perfect combination buy doing a little bit of both the sight seeing and finding secret local places.

      Christina Lund Sørensen, Wednesday, October 13, 2010 05:40
  2. Hi Cristina!
    I want all types but most of all I would like to find those treasures that you can cover in half-a-day, in the morning or evening.

    Many times my meetingshedules will allow me enough time to be a 200 or 300-minute tourist in the morning or evening during travels. These moments make the travelling worthwile, as the business part is mostly similar hotels, boring offices or huge conference centers.

    I often try to find a hotel close to the things I want to visit, instead of where the meetings are – so I can get there quickly. Location is more important than stars and service. I’ve stayed in “real dumps” just because they allowed me to visit more places in the time available. As long as the room is clean, reasonably quiet, has a shower and a fairly comfortable bed – most of the time I will only sleep there, anyway.

    Being a 300-minute tourist makes it important to get around quickly. It can mean a taxi, but more often than not I find that public transportation is faster, especially in large cities. The challenge is getting to know the public transportation system befor I get there, especially figuring which routes wil get me where I want to go and what ticket to get.

    24 hour or longer system passes are good thing, even if they can be a bit expensive. They save valuable time, as I don’t have to stand in line in order to buy separate tickets or try to figure which tickezones I am going to travel through.

    I would also like you to tell us more about the public transportation system in the places you visit, is it fast and easy to navigate or should it be avoided… it would help me and other 300-minute tourists!

    Jeff, Wednesday, October 13, 2010 14:23
    • Hi Jeff,

      I’ll try and do more to tell about public transportation. I’ve already mentioned the subway in Tokyo, the Shinkansen and the JR line, but will keep it up. I have a little more then 300 minutes the places I go, but I know how it is to be in a hurry and wanting to see things.

      Thank you very much for your post, it gave me good insight in the concept of 300-minute tourism.

      Christina Lund Sørensen, Thursday, October 14, 2010 18:24
  3. Hi Christina,

    To answer your question, yes I have visiting the some big sights in my trips.
    But I waited to climb up in Tour Effel 60 minutes and no regret. As you said, that is the price out taxes.
    Someone told me I can see on the web the Tour Effel photos. Indeed, but never I couldn’t feel the structure vibration in the wind at 250 metres.

    dana mocrei, Wednesday, October 13, 2010 16:04

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