Kyoto Travel Guide

Scattered with temples and shrines, Kyoto hosts a rich history of Japan. Not to be missed on your travels, be sure to stop by these show stopping sights.

Temples and Shrines

Fushimi Inari Taisha

A well recognised location, Fushimi Inari Taisha is a popular shrine to visit in Kyoto. With as many as 32,000 red torii gates lining the trail up the mountain, it surely is a sight to see. I recommend getting there early in the morning, as it can get crowded. The gates can get busy, but the further you go up the trail, the crowds tend to thin out and you can enjoy the shrine. There are also food stalls and souvenir shops to enjoy. You can easily get there as it has a train station close by.

fushimi inari taisha

Kiyomizudera

This impressive structure is a buddhist temple which overlooks Kyoto. A wooden temple built with no nails, it is magnificent as it is old (1200 years!). While it is very popular and busy with tourists, its worth visiting. I recommend going early in the morning to best the crowds. The building is surrounded by pagodas, shrines, and a three-stream waterfall which grants powers of love longevity and knowledge. Be sure to walk through the historical streets on your way there, and don’t miss some yummy local sweets. You can get here by bus and a small walk.

Kinkakuji

If you only go to 1 or 2 temples in Japan, then Kinkakuji surely shouldn’t be missed. Named the Golden Pavilion, and rightly so, the small building is covered in gold. It’s situated on a lake, so you can’t go inside. After enjoying the pavilion, tour through the gardens. Again, go early to beat the crowds, it was really busy when I went, and the viewing area can get very crowded. Theres a small fee of 400 yen, but worth it in my opinion. It’s accessible by bus with a small walk or taxi.

kinkakuji

Natural Beauty

Philosopher’s Path

Strolling along the Philosopher’s path will brighten your day. A 2km canal close by Kiyomizudera, the beautiful stone path is lined with cherry blossom trees. Named after a 20th century Japanese philosopher who would walk the path everyday. While the walk itself is quite short, the path in surrounded by temples, small shops and cafes. Spring time would be beautiful to go see the cherry blossoms.

Arashiyama Bamboo Grove

This bamboo grove is so popular in Kyoto, it has to be on the list. A small walking trail with both sides seeming with bamboo, its a scenic and very pretty walk. Its nestled on the western outskirts of Kyoto in Arashiyama, which hosts plenty of temples, pretty mountain and river views and nearby Iwatayama monkey park. Arashiyama plays host to my favourite coffee shop, % Arabica Arashiyama, which you can read about below.

arashiyama

A girl’s gotta eat

% Arabica Arashiyama

Coffee can be a hit and miss in Japan, we normally went to starbucks, but I was really excited to go to % Arabica Arashiyama. This very small and coffee shop makes excellent coffee and the windows which line the wall give a beautiful view of the mountains and river. This place is extremely popular, but luckily when we went it was very hot so there weren’t many people. Also the heat was a perfect excuse for an iced coffee.

3-47, Sagatenryuji Susukinobabacho, Ukyo-ku Kyoto 616-8385 Japan

Gyoza Chao chao

This place may be small and like any other small business, but we were on the hunt for some gyoza and you will not be disappointed at Gyoza Chao Chao. Cheap beer and countless gyoza await you in this haven, my personal favourite is the pork gyoza, but the chocolate gyoza was a surprising second. All the dishes are made right in front of you. All the dishes are really cheap, so theres no excuse to not order one of everything.

117 Ishiyacho, Kiya-Machi Sanjo Kudaru, Nakagyo, Kyoto

Wendy’s

Wendy’s reminds me of Hungry Jack’s, but better. An American burger chain, for those who aren’t too keen on seafood or had too much ramen. The extensive menu can cater for everyone. Gotta say, you have to try the chips. There are only two in Kyoto, one located near Nishiki Market, which I recommend checking out.

Nishiki market

What are you favourite places to go in Kyoto? I’d love to hear from you

Thanks for reading,

Laura

 

Have you seen my Tokyo Travel guide? Be sure to check it out!

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Top 10 Things To Do In Japan

I recently came back from Japan, and it’s so different to Australia in nearly every aspect. The culture, atmosphere, food, and people are all amazing, and if you’ve ever been interested in going, I encourage you to take the chance. I wanted to share my top 10 things to do in Japan. Some of these I have done, but this is also kind of like my bucket list. So, let’s get started!

10. Japanese Festival

Quintessentially Japanese, festivals are held on a regular basis across Japan. An important aspect of Japanese culture, they are truly an experience in themselves.  With floating shrines, food stalls, and an energetic atmosphere, they are not to be missed. The Snow festival on the north island of Hokkaido is very popular with a giant snow sculpture competition.

9. Themed cafe 

If you know a themed café, you can bet your ass there’s one of them in Japan. From cats, to maids, to robots and even anime characters, Japan has it all. They can be a bit pricey for what they are worth, but its more about the experience than the food or drinks. They have gone above and beyond and there is even a cat café on a train that hosts kittens from nearby animal shelters in Ogaki located in the Gifu prefecture.

train cat cafe

photo credit

8. Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park

The memorial park is a beautiful area to walk around in, and a reminder of World War One and the dropping of the first atomic bomb. It includes the Bomb Dome, the only structure left after the bomb exploded. Preserved as a ruin, it’s a UNESCO world heritage site. Further on, there are memorial monuments to those who died. Finally, ending at the memorial museum, where you can learn about the event and look upon items affected by the blast including watches, glass bottles and clothing. This is an experience that is enlightening and respectfully pays tribute to the event.

hiroshima memorial park.jpg

7. Visit the snow 

Crazy, but I’ve never been to the snow, so this has to go on my list. Not to mention that Japan is very popular for ski season. The north island of Hokkaido has popular ski resorts; and so does the mountainous area of Hakuba, which is not far from Tokyo if you’re thinking of a side trip.

6. Bullet Train

Known as a Shinkansen, it’s the best way to travel in Japan. And with speeds up to 320 km/h, it’s also the quickest way to see Japan. Japanese travel is extremely efficient and incredibly smooth. An experience in itself, this is a must while in Japan. If you plan on travelling a lot, be sure to check if a rail pass is worth the investment on your next trip!

5.  Floating shrine on Miyajima Island

Just 10 minutes off the coast of Hiroshima is the beautiful island of Miyajima, home to the floating shrine Itsukushima. There are also wild deer on the island so keep a look out for those cuties! There is also a ropeway to the top of the mountain where you can enjoy the amazing views.

top 10 japan

4. Temples of Kyoto

Kyoto, the former capital of Japan is a beautiful city full of otherworldly temples. With over 1600 temples, you are never short of temples to visit. One of the most famous is Kiyomizudera, a Buddhist temple and also a UNESCO world heritage site. Completely made out of wood, the views over eastern Kyoto are amazing. If you’re wanting a bit of bling, visit Kinkakuji, a Zen Buddhist temple covered in gold leaf. While you can’t go inside, it can be viewed across a small pond, and surrounded by beautiful gardens.

3. Shibuya Crossing in Tokyo

The busiest intersection in the world, Shibuya Scramble is an interesting experience. Live out movies like Tokyo Drift, and Lost in translation, this spot can’t be missed. It’s said that over 1000 people cross during peak hour. I watched the pedestrians up high from Starbucks, it’s such an interesting experience!

shibuya crossing

2. Cherry blossoms in spring

How could I not put this on the list! One of the most popular seasons, and also the most beautiful is cherry blossom, or sakura season. While it varies year to year, the season occurs in late March- early April in Tokyo and Kyoto. Japanese people enjoy appreciating the blossoms at popular parks like Ueno Park, or on a boat on Chidorigafuchi moat in central Tokyo. Not to mention all the different sakura themed food and drinks available during the season. Yum!

1. Mount Fuji

Synonymous with Japan, Mount Fuji is the highest peak in Japan. On a clear day, you can see Mount Fuji from Tokyo Skytree. You can climb Mount Fuji in the summer, and is a popular activity among tourists and locals. Only an hour away from Tokyo, you can grab a bus there and enjoy the surrounding lakes and lush greenery.

top 10 japan

Photo credit

 

What would you do in Japan? Leave a comment below!

 

Thanks for reading,

Laura