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.
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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
5 Star Luxury Hotel
644-2 Sanjusangendo-mawari, Higashiyama-ku
Kyoto, Japan, 605-0941
Tel: +81 75 541 1234
Nice semi-western style hotel with a great location. Comfortable rooms with Luxury amenities.
- The Grill
- Trattoria Sette
- 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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