Kyoto Japan an Expat Travel Adventure to this Ancient City- 1AdventureTraveler

Kyoto Japan…An Expat Travel Adventure to this Ancient City

One of my favorite expat travel adventure is to Kyoto, Japan Travel.  I can’t seem to get enough of these ancient temples, colorful shrines, and lush green gardens.  Visit the land of the rising sun and have a wonderful experience.  Let us learn more on Kyoto Japan.

Kyoto Japan an Expat Travel Adventure to this Ancient City- 1AdventureTraveler | I can’t seem to get enough of these ancient temples, colorful shrines, and lush green gardens. Visit the land of the rising sun and have a wonderful experience.

Brief History of Kyoto Japan

Kyoto was fist settled in the 7th century and was once the capital of Japan.  A place where the traditional culture of Japan still exists with 17 UNESCO World Heritage sites, 1600 Buddhist temples and over 400 Shinto Shrines.

I have been to Kyoto Japan a few times, one being late spring and another early fall.  My next trip back to Kyoto is approaching soon and looking forward to more temple, shrine visits, and to sample some tasty cuisine.

Location & Transportation Tips – Kyoto Japan

Kyoto Japan an Expat Travel Adventure to this Ancient City- 1AdventureTraveler

The city is laid out in a grid pattern and is easy to navigate.  Kyoto Station is the city’s main station and is located at the southern end of the city.  Most of the attractions are further north of the Kyoto Station Area and can be reached by taxi or local buses.  Stop by the Kyoto Tourist Information Center (TIC) on the 2nd floor to obtain your City Map, Map for Tourist, and a City Bus Sightseeing Map.

Two days is enough time to get a chance to feel the magic of Kyoto Japan with four days the ideal length of time.  The best time to visit is spring (March to May) and fall (late September to November).  Cherry Blossoms bloom in the spring and the fall foliage seasons in autumn are just amazing.  These seasons brings millions of tourists a year to Kyoto so plan ahead.

There are lots of wonderful places to visit while you are here but I will share with you a few of my favorites.

Best Places to Visit – Kyoto Japan

Kyoto Japan an Expat Travel Adventure to this Ancient City- 1AdventureTraveler

Ginkaku-ji “The Temple of the Silver Pavilion” [Eastern Kyoto]

A Zen temple built in 1482 by shogun Ashikaga Yoshimasa.  The outside temple was never completed in the silver finish.  See the beautiful rolling moss covered hillsides, dry garden, and dark pools.

Open 0830-1700 Mar-Nov; 0900-1630 Dec-Feb Y500.   Bus 203 from Kyoto Station to Ginkakuji-michi stop.

Kyoto Japan an Expat Travel Adventure to this Ancient City- 1AdventureTraveler

Kiyomizu Temple [Eastern Kyoto]

Beautiful hillside temple that has a spectacular view of the city built in 798 with reconstruction since then dating from 1633.  View the fall foliage or lush green trees from the beautiful huge verandah.  Make sure to visit the shops lining the street leading to the temple.  Open 0600-1800 Y300.  Kyoto City Bus 206 from Kyoto station to the Kiyomizu-michi or Gojo-zaka stops.

Philosophers Walk  [Eastern Kyoto]

Enjoy this scenic pedestrian path that runs along the canal.  Cherry trees line this shaded path.  Great time to take walk the path is during spring/fall.  The walk is named after the philosopher Kitaro Nishida.  I like to start at Nanzenji Temple and end at Ginkakuji Temple the south to north route or you can reverse the order.  A beautiful walk but allow some time enjoy.

Kyoto Japan an Expat Travel Adventure to this Ancient City- 1AdventureTraveler

Nanzen-ji [Eastern Kyoto]

Zen Buddhist temple converted from the former residence of the Emperor Kameyama.  See several temples in the foothills and walk through these expansive grounds.  Monks in training are still taught here.  Don’t forget to see the Hojo which is a Natural Treasure that houses 16th century screens and paintings.

Open 0840-1700  Hojo garden Y500.  Sanmon gate Y300-400, grounds free.  Kyoto City Bus 5 Kyoto station to Eikando-michi stop, walk approx 10 minutes.

Gion District (Geisha District) [Eastern Kyoto]

Wonder the streets and catch a glimpse of a fully dressed Geisha among the private clubs and tea houses. Visit in the evening and see them as they go to dinner.  Hanami-koji is the main north-south avenue of Gion.  The south section Shijo-dori is lined with 17th century restaurants and tea houses.

Kyoto Handicraft Center [Eastern Kyoto]

A huge multi-floor building the houses this Handicraft center that sells co-operative great Japanese souvenirs.  Items sold include kimonos, pottery, swords, and more. Kyoto City Bus 206 to Kumanojinja-mae stop.

Kyoto Japan an Expat Travel Adventure to this Ancient City- 1AdventureTraveler

Kinkaku-ji “The Golden Pavilion” [Western Kyoto]

The building was originally built in 1397 as a retirement villa for shogun Ashikaga Yoshimitsu whose son converted it into a temple.  The Temple was burnt to the ground in 1950 by a young monk and rebuilt.  See the shinny gold leaf on the outside of the temple placed upon completion.  The reflection of the temple in the pond is a great photo opportunity and the make sure to visit the lovely gardens.

Open 0900-1700 Y400.  Kyoto City Bus 205 from Kyoto station to Kinkakuji-michi stop; or Kyoto City Bus 59 from Sanjo-Keihan to the Kinkakuji-mae stop.

Kyoto Japan an Expat Travel Adventure to this Ancient City- 1AdventureTraveler

Fushimiinri Shrine [Southern Kyoto]

Built to honor Inari, the Shinto god of rice, see the thousands of red lacquered Tori Gates.  To learn more about these Tori Gates and the beautiful island visit me at  “Miyajima Japan

Take the JR Nara Line to Inari Station or Keihan Railway to Fushimi-Inari station.  Entrance is free daily from sunrise-sunset.  Not far and worth the visit.

Restaurant/Bar Recommendations – Kyoto Japan

Hafu Restaurant

zip code 604-0983
471-1 Sasaya-cho, Nakagyo-ku, Kyoto-city (located on Fuyacho-street, and
Ebisugawa-street to the north)
business hours lunch:11:30-13:30 L.O. dinner:17:30-21:30 L.O.
closed on every Wednesday

Mouth watering Kobe Steak Dinner.   Original Location.  Call ahead make reservations and sit at the counter.  Order the multi-course dinner.  It is worth the price.  Estimated in US dollars $100

Hafuu Honten (the original) is more in Japanese style combine with modern atmosphere.
We have 16 seats at the bar counter, and 20 seats for the table in the back.
Sitting at the bar counter, you can watch all the chef’s work and enjoy chatting with the staff.

If you don’t have reservations pop in when they first open and you might be able to find a place to sit at the counter.  I went there 2 days in a row at that time and meet up with the same lovely couple and had a great chat.  Then posted our reviews on Hafuu Honten Original on Trip Advisor.  A taxi is easiest to get there but I suggest to take the address written in Japanese along with the phone number.  Its in a residential area and some taxi’s have a hard time finding it.

Hotel – Kyoto Japan

Hyatt Regency Kyoto Hotel

5 Star Luxury Hotel

644-2 Sanjusangendo-mawari, Higashiyama-ku

Kyoto,  Japan, 605-0941

Tel: +81 75 541 1234

Trip Advisor Hyatt Regency Kyoto Hotel

Nice semi-western style hotel with a great location.  Comfortable rooms with Luxury amenities.


  • The Grill
  • Trattoria Sette
  • Touzan
  • Touzan Bar
  • Grill Lounge and Terrace
  • Pastry boutique
  • Room Service
  • The Muses

RIRAKU Spa Kyoto & Relax Yoga Class

I enjoyed my stay here.  I travel by train to Kyoto, transportation is available from across from the train station to the hotel.  Inquiry at the hotel before going to set that up.  Well worth it.

Other – Kyoto Japan

The places I listed here are just a few of the many wonderful places to visit while in Kyoto Japan.  I have shared just a tip of what this ancient city has to offer.  I travel by train to Kyoto and by bus and occasional taxi while there.  Yes, they have a few Starbucks along the bus routes.

Please feel free to leave your comments and share any additional places you found to visit or additional tips for others.   Kyoto is a place everyone should see in their lifetime.  For other Asia Travel Locations see my Japan Travel for some of my favorite places to visit.     This 1Adventure Traveler is ready for my next visit to Kyoto.  See my other blog on Osaka Japan.


[Great resource “Fodor’s Japan” Travel Book, and Trip Advisor]

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Kyoto Japan an Expat Travel Adventure - 1AdventureTraveler | I can’t seem to get enough of these ancient temples, colorful shrines, and lush green gardens. Visit the land of the rising sun and have a wonderful experience.

Also, please have a look at the link up’s I’m participating in with #FollowMeFriday on Facebook.  Here you will find fantastic adventures by other professional bloggers. 


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45 thoughts on “Kyoto Japan…An Expat Travel Adventure to this Ancient City”

  1. Great Post. Very informative and useful. We previously been to Japan but not Kyoto. We will make sure to keep your article in mind when we will visit Kyoto one day. Keep up the good work Stephanie!

    1. Thanks Tavel4lifeblog,
      Glad you found it informative. Hope on your next trip to Japan you get a chance to visit Kyoto. Such an amazing city.
      Happy Travels 🙂

  2. Just beautiful and definitely one of my first stops on my inevitable visit to Japan. Will definitely use this for planning when I do.

  3. Thank you for all the information. I have been wanted for a long time to visit Japan but I always postponed, maybe now is time to reconsider it as I read just wonderful things lately.

    1. Thanks Oana,
      If you do make it to Japan at least try and see Kyoto with its history and culture it is amazing. This guide lets you know what not to miss.
      Happy Travels 🙂

    1. Hi wayfaringsarah,
      There are so many temples there and I also like Ginkaku-ji Temple. So much history in Kyoto and a wonderful place to visit in the spring and fall.
      Happy Travels 🙂

    1. Thanks Siddharth and Shruti,
      I hope you get a chance to visit Kyoto one day. I find Japanese architecture is very peaceful and minimal and love it too. My favorites are Ginkaku-ji “The Temple of the Silver Pavilion” and Fushimiinri Shrine with the red lacquer tori’s. Beautiful. What is your favorite?
      Happy Travels 🙂

  4. Kyoto the beautiful city with a canopy of cherry blossoms and carrying a history of beautiful geishas in their vibrant and colourful costumes , is that one place I want to visit

  5. I must have seen thousands of pictures of the Fushimiinri Shrine on Instagram but never knew exactly where it was. I just asked my brother if he’d been to Kyoto and said that the Fushimiinri Shrine is the best thing to do there and he also has a picture of it on his wall!

    1. Hi Only By Land,
      Yes, the Fushimiinri Shrine is amazing and a must place to visit while in Kyoto. It is on the outskirts of Kyoto and takes a few minutes by train but worth the visit. Morning time is the best before the crowds arrive. You definitely want a photo with no one in it plus one with you in it.
      Happy Travels 🙂

    1. Hi Scarlett,
      Kyoto is amazing and you would love to play in the falling cherry blossoms. How awesome there are cherry blossoms in Portland.
      Happy Travels 🙂

  6. I had no idea, the city was so old and used to be the capital! That explains why it’s so popular. Train travel seems like a great (but expensive?) way to see more of Japan and is something I would totally wanna do some day. 1600 temples sounds a lot!!! Id like to see someone who has seen them all haha! Fushimiinri Shrine is in the bucket list too, of course! Great post, thanks for sharing!

    1. Thanks Kreete,
      Japan and especially Kyoto is a must see. I have heard from someone that you could visit Kyoto everyday and find a temple you have not seen yet. My favorite is Fushimiinri Shrine. Hope you get to visit one day.
      Happy Travels 🙂

  7. It’s amazing how many temples and shrines you can find in Kyoto. It was amusing and fascinating how we would find tiny narrow temples sandwiched between two modern stores while walking down the shopping strips. I hope Kyoto continues to preserve the traditional culture of Japan.

    1. Hi ThriftyTrails,
      It is amazing all the temples and shrines in Kyoto and some are hidden among the modern stores. Last time I visited it was great to see them preserve some of the temples. Such a beautiful place.
      Happy Travels 🙂

  8. The more I see of Kyoto, the more I want to visit! Japan is top of my bucket travel list anyway so all of your posts are being pinned for when I do visit so I can tap into your wealth of information that you are kindly sharing! Thank you for making our trip here so much easier! #feetdotravel

    1. Thanks Angie,
      Kyoto will be a wonderful place for you to visit on a trip to Japan. So happy you pinned this for later use. The spring and fall are such beautiful times to visit.
      Happy Travels 🙂

  9. It looks so fantastic- Japan is high on my wish list! Saving this post for future reference! #feetdotravel

    1. Thanks Tracy,
      Kyoto is amazing and I’m so happy you will save this for future reference. There is so much to see there and with these highlights it is a tip of the beauty there. Plus there are some other places in Japan to visit too when you get a chance to visit.
      Happy Travels 🙂

  10. Great guide to Kyoto – it was definitely one of my favourite places in Japan and there is just so much to see and do – from visiting the temples and shrines you mention to just soaking in the atmosphere of Gion and the city’s streets and alleyways. Brought back some great memories, thank you!

    1. Thanks Alexei,
      This is just a quick guide to some favorite places to visit but I agree it is amazing to just walk around Gion during the day and night and find some amazing places. I am ready to go back for another visit.
      Happy Travels 🙂

    1. Thanks Paul and Carole,
      Kyoto is a wonderful place to stop at on a visit to Japan. Hope you make it there someday. It is amazing with its history and culture.
      Happy Travels 🙂

    1. Thanks Shona,
      Enjoy your trip later this year and I hope you are there for the changing of the leaves for fall. Glad to hear your saving this for your trip. I have a few other blogs on Japan you might want to check out for you trip that would be helpful.
      Happy Travels 🙂

    1. Thanks Uncover Travel,
      Kyoto, Japan one of my favorite places to visit. The city is amazing and I had to share my tips to navigate the city. So much to see there 🙂
      Happy Travels, Stephanie (1AdventureTraveler)

  11. Thanks for this post! We are visiting Japan next year and all of these spots are on our list of places to visit. The restaurant recommendations are really handy too!

    1. Hi Uncover Travel,
      Thank you for your nice comments. Kyoto, Japan is one of my favorite place to see. Amazing and I only touched on a few activities for you to see while you are there. Hope this gave you an idea where to visit and the food is very good. Enjoy planning your trip and and I look forward to reading about your trip next year. 🙂

  12. I am sorry could finish my e-mail and say Thank you,

    Looking forward to see all these beautiful places with my eyes.



  13. Hello Stephanie!!

    Is Osaka a kids-friendly city? Our twins are nearly 3 years old. When you go there do you plan all by yourselves? or do you use any travel agent? If so could I have their details please.
    Is it necessary to book long before the trip? I check today and the Hotel Intercontinental is fully book for March. Can you recommend another Hotel please.

    1. Osaka is a large city with a very good mass transit system. Trains, subways, and taxis are available and are very “busy”and efficient. A modern city with lots of people. As far as kid friendly, about as much as Korea but with a little planning you can find things for the kids.

      I book the trip myself using www. for good rates on flights, or airline websites directly. I check www. for hotel reviews and recommended places to see.

      In Kyoto the city buses especially during March will be very busy but taxis are available especially with little ones. As with Osaka plan ahead and find some parks for the kids to play in Kyoto. I would keep in mind that there are limited western restaurants here like in Korea and the temples have stairs and cobble stone steps. I try to book in advance to get the best deals.

      I’m here now and just starting to see some budding on the cherry blossom trees and can only image how beautiful it will look here when they bloom.

      Hyatt Hotel in Kyoto is nice with a western breakfast; Hotel Granvia at the Kyoto train station (someone has recommended but I have never stayed), hope this helps. I will post some information from this recent trip soon after I return.
      Happy planning and let let me know if I can be of more help.

    2. Ahhhh……..the memories from my trips in the mid-80’s. Business trips to Kyoto, Osaka and Tokyo. Someday, I would like to return……!

    3. Japan has such wonderful cities to visit. One trip just isn’t enough to experience the culture, bite into such tasty cuisine and see some amazing temples.

  14. The pictures are gorgeous! Thanks for the information about maps and travel details…hopefully we’ll be making this trip before leaving South Korea!

  15. Hi Stephanie, I am sure you would have seen it but just in case, over to the right of the Kiyomizu temple (kind of the direction of the varandah is facing ) is an amazing cemetery. We just happened upon it on our visit and thought it was just stunning. Just thought I would mention it. Cheers

    1. Thanks…I will go exploring for the cemetry there this week. Great…this is one of my favorite temples

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