We go Japan! Kyoto day trip and eating “hormone” in Osaka

Since H.I.S. provided us with a two-day train pass as part of the tour package, we had to decide where to go. So many choices! If you’re looking for an easy day trip from Osaka, however, Kyoto is always the first place travelers recommend. It’s just an hour away by train, and the vibe is different. You could actually do two days in Kyoto if you have more time; my friend Nolan Buenconsejo, who was exploring on his own, saw different things from me on his day trip there, so when we compared notes later we knew that we had only touched the tip of the iceberg.

I can’t even start to tell you what Kyoto is known for. When people told me to go there, everyone had a different highlight. Whether you’re in search of geisha, dramatic temples, or food, there’s a lot to filter. On top of that, Japanese green tea started here, with the first seeds from China going to Kennin-ji, Kyoto’s oldest Zen temple. I don’t usually like green tea, but here it tastes different — it’s mild and a little sweet, and it doesn’t have what I call “gritty flavor.” Sorry, folks, I consumed a lot of the fresh items, but I didn’t bring much home!

Ultimate Japan in Kyoto

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The train we took to Kyoto has some cars that are one level, and some that are split into two!

When we got back to Osaka, Scott Suzui of “Ultimate Japan” suggested we do yakiniku, but look for a place that serves “hormone.” No, it’s not what you think! The word evolved because “horumono” means “innards” in Japan — more specifically, part of the connective tissue between the cow’s stomachs, which is also known as the milk guts. I’ll show you photos in the gallery, below.

Although you can find horumono in many yakiniku restaurants, we had to go to a specific place because Scott wanted to also eat raw organ meat. This was a common delicacy in Japan until recently, when a chain of restaurants didn’t check their products and their meat made people sick (at least one person died). From then on, serving raw meat was outlawed, even though the majority of such restaurants serve good-quality products that aren’t a health hazard. I’ll tell you more in the photos.

Ultimate Japan in Osaka

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You might want to check out the Ueno area of Osaka, but it helps if you have an idea of where you want to go. Shawn Chinen of “Ultimate Japan” had made a reservation at a specific restaurant, but it was like looking for a needle in a haystack.

As always, these were just the highlights. To see the entire set of photos from this day, click here. Mahalo to H.I.S. for sending me on this “Ultimate Japan” tour!

Up next: exploring Wakayama!