I’m actually living in Tokyo and I never been to Kyoto until last summer. At that time I decided to go for a 4 days trip in the old traditional city Kyoto. ISI also has a languge school in kyoto but im following courses in Tokyo. So this special blog will focus on the tourism part only. I would like to share with you how you can enjoye a small trip in Kyoto : transportation, food, good tips and visits. So take a seat, fasten your seatbelts, and let’s go.
Former capital of Japan, Kyoto is a city located on the island of Honshū. It is famous for its many classical Buddhist temples, as well as its gardens, imperial palaces, Shinto shrines and traditional wooden houses. Its fame also comes from its traditions such as kaiseki cuisine, a meal composed of several studied dishes, and from the district of Gion, the district of geishas (women offering entertainment services).
Let me introduce one of the first things to think about before planning a trip, the transportation.
That can be surprising. But for me at that time the less expensive way to go in Kyoto was by flight. I took a lowcost japanese airlines company called “Peach”. It took only 1h30.
And something that i also love about japan, its the japanese services. Everything was very esay, to booked the flight tickets, and to the aiport the staff was very helpfull to lead you on the boarding gates. Here some pictures. I highly recomend you the peach company.
But if you have aerodrome phobia, mean that you are afraid of taking plane, don’t worry they have so many other way to go to Kyoto just as fun.
The Japanese high-speed train provides the fastest and most comfortable Tokyo-Kyoto trip, averaging less than three hours. Rail is proving to be one of the most convenient means of transport as the link is between the main stations strategically located in the heart of the two cities.
Trains run every day, with one or two departures per hour from 6 a.m. to 6.30 a.m. and until 8 p.m. to 8.30 p.m. The route is direct and serves the main stations of Tokyo, Shin-Yokohama, Odawara (for Hakone), Nagoya, Kyoto and Shin-Osaka; some Shinkansen continue live on the Sanyo Line sometimes to Okayama. The bonus of the trip is the view of Mount Fuji that appears on a clear day from the right side of the train from Tokyo after less than an hour of travel, around Odawara. This comfort explains the high cost of transport (around 12,000 yen). For non-Japanese tourists and international students the Japan Rail Pass covers this route.
The cheapest trip is the night bus, with the added bonus of one night’s accommodation saved. At the fastest, the bus leaves around 10 p.m. from the capital from Tokyo or Shinjuku stations, arriving in Kyoto around 5:30 a.m. At the fastest, the bus leaves around 10 p.m. from the capital from Tokyo or Shinjuku stations, arriving in Kyoto around 5:30 a.m. Different coach companies share the market. The best known among foreigners remains Willer Express, which offers a relatively simple online reservation in English. Their Japan Bus Pass package, valid for three to seven days, allows enthusiasts to travel at will on the well-developed road network across the archipelago.
I wanted to make my small trip in kyoto as the most authentic. I then booked a RBNB in a traditional japanese style house. Here some pictures of the house i booked. Was wonderful cause it was just next to the river, i really had the feeling on that time to live like on the old past of japan, was a wonderful experience. They have plenty options to sleep in kyoto, the application booking is for me the most convenient as far to booked a accomodation in kyoto.
Kinkaku-ji is the customary name given to the Rokuon-ji Buddhist temple, located north of Kyoto. Very famous, listed as a Unesco Heritage and therefore extremely popular with visitors, it is nicknamed the Golden Pavilion for its magnificent facades covered with gold leaf.
My first visit in Kyoto was the golden temple and it was wonderful, let me share with you some pictures of the temple. Its really convenient to go to the temple by bus. In kyoto they dont have that much metro and the bus is the most developped transportation way.
The Byôdô-in, a temple of Chinese inspiration
It is easy to get to the Unesco protected site, located a short distance from Kyoto. The temple is also very well known in Japan because it adorns the back of the red 10 yen coins. The main building of Byôdô-in is built on an island.
The gardens of BYÔDÔ-IN, a paradise on earth. The gardens of Byôdô-in, although modest in size, are still very pleasant for a walk, especially during the cherry blossom season (hanami). One hour is enough to go around and photograph the temple of the phoenix from all angles
Gion is Kyoto’s geisha district. Hostesses in colorful kimonos are often seen on Tatsumi’s wooden bridge or near the chic Japanese shops and restaurants on Hanamikoji Street. Gion Corner hosts traditional Kyomai dance performances, while Kennin-ji Temple is known for its Zen garden. Yasaka Shrine holds seasonal festivals in a courtyard lit by lanterns. The nightlife brings together peaceful sake bars and lively Izakaya-style pubs.
Located between the Uji and Katsura rivers, the hilly Fushimi-ku neighborhood is home to the 8th-century Fushimi Inari Shinto Shrine, which dates from the 8th century and sits on a mountain path lined with hundreds of orange torii gates. Surrounded by gardens with a peaceful atmosphere, Fushimi Castle is a replica of a samurai fortress. The area is known for its sake breweries, and the Gekkeikan Ōkura Sake Museum offers tastings and exhibits. Ujigawa Park hosts a riverside cherry blossom festival in the spring.
Kyoto’s 10,000 torii shrine. Fushimi Inari Taisha is the largest Shinto shrine in Japan located south of Kyoto. Erected in 711, it is dedicated to the goddess of rice, Inari and more broadly to wealth. The beauty of this complex is revealed during a hike along a valley, marked by thousands of vermilion porticoes called torii. The visit is very pleasant, with floors to rest and restaurants accompanying the few shops. Along the way, you can contemplate torii of all sizes, it’s quite fun. The climb to the top will take you around 1h30, but the view is magnificent.
The Kiyomizu or Kiyomizu-dera temple refers to a complex of Buddhist and Shinto temples but is mainly used for only one: the Otowa-san Kiyomizu-dera east of Kyoto, which is one of the most famous places from the city.
Probably one of my favorite visit in Kyoto. This big temple complex is high in the mountain and can afford you a wonderful view on kyoto.
The Arashiyama Bamboo Grove is the common name for the huge bamboo grove in Sagano, near Togetsukyo Bridge in north-west Kyoto. It is popular with tourists and amateur photographers and can be walked across for a distance of about 500 metres. Kyoto’s famous bamboo grove undoubtedly ranks as one of the most famous images of all time, including the torii gate of Fushimi Inari Taisha and Ginkakuji Temple. Its popularity seems to go beyond the borders of Japan.
This visits was magical and wonderful; let me share more pics.
One of the best expereince i had in Kyoto was when i bought a kimono and walk in the gion neighborhood with. I felt japanese. I higky recommend you to try; cause Kyoto is the perfect city for those kind of expereince. Here some photos of my Kimono and walks.
Lets go shopping and buy traditional products from Kyoto
Nishiki Market is a market in downtown Kyoto, located at the east end of Nishikikōji Street, one block north and parallel to Shijō Street and west of Teramachi Street. the market is home to a hundred stalls of various kinds. Among the most represented, we can mention:
-the stalls of all kinds of fish and seafood, including sushi and sashimi;
– shops selling more or less fresh food (teas, vegetables, tofu, spices, skewers, cakes, ice cream, etc.);
artisanal grocery stores of local, seasonal products and other kitchen utensil stores;
but also a few more recent souvenir shops.
At this market you can also by a local matcha products (kyoto is really famous for matcha) or like me a traditional kyoto craft beer.
Kyoto is famous for many things, one of them being Kyo Wagashi, traditional Japanese sweets that are usually served together with thick matcha green tea at Kyoto tea rooms. Most Kyo Wagashi feature anko (sweet red bean paste) and are served to offset and balance the typical bitterness of matcha.
Like me you can buy those sweets to the nishiki market or to the Byodo-in shrine.
End of the special edition in Kyoto
It’s time to head back to Tokyo. I hope to see you all again on my new blog through the wonderful country of Japan.