Travel Photography: Osaka and Kyoto
Eli and I have been traveling together for about a decade now. Over the years we've learned a lot about what works for us and what doesn't. We have a list of guidelines that we add to with each trip, or more accurately, with each travel mishap. 3, 5 and 10 day trips work best. Trips over 10 days require rest days else we turn into mumbling mush by the end. At the very least, we spend 2 nights per location. Morning flights are generally a recipe for grumpiness so we try to stick with afternoon and evening flights.
Unlike some travelers that can spend months in a city, Eli and I tend to tear through new places quickly. We're not lingerers.
For some reason, we decided to allocate 4 days to Osaka on our latest trip to Japan. After our first day, it became very clear to us that we had covered everything we wanted to and were suddenly faced with 3 looming days with nothing to do.
When Eli and I were originally planning this trip, I kept trying to sneak in a couple of days in Kyoto. I've been to Kyoto once before and really wanted to go back and see the philosopher's path with cherry blossom blooms. Eli has been to Kyoto many times before and was far less interested. With not much to do in Osaka, we made a game day decision and headed over to Kyoto for a quick visit. Thankfully we had a JR rail pass and were able to hop over with no problem. In under an hour, we were at the Fushimi Inari Shrine eating a waffle snack from the train station.
My one previous visit to Kyoto was in the winter so it was deeply satisfying to see it in the spring with the cherry blossoms in full bloom. More than any other city in Japan, Kyoto completely captivates me. It is a complete time warp. I could spend months just meandering the temples and shrines of Kyoto. If you go to Japan, go to Kyoto.
Unfortunately, we had to head back to Osaka. Next time around, I will insist on more time in Kyoto. Either way, we made the most of our time in Osaka by visiting some of the more touristy bits and visiting every cafe and store that caught our attention. Additionally, we stayed at the St. Regis Osaka for our last 2 nights and reveled a bit in having concierge help.
We haven't quite figured out what our new guideline is post-Osaka but it's something along the lines of "no more than 3 days in a city unless we have specific plans or it's a really major destination."