I’m sure you’ve already read what I wrote about Tokyo, however if I had to pick one city in Japan which I liked the most, it would definitely be Kyoto. But I can’t quite say why. I just feel that. It’s probably the vibe. There’re tons of things to see in and around Kyoto, so that’s probably why it felt like my favorite city immediately. We’ve done another 100 km on bikes as a part of a training for Eco-Challenge, and that just proves how Kyoto is bike-friendly.
How many days to spend in Kyoto?
Move to the city. You won’t be able to see everything if you’re here for a short vacation. There’re hundreds of shrines, temples, bamboo forests, all sorts of bistros and stylish cafes, so give up, you really can’t make it. I also thought we could. However, if you want to do what I did, reserve 3 days.
5 places to see in Kyoto
1 Fushimi Inari Taisha
This Shinto shrine is a symbol of Kyoto. Its origin dates back to the 8th century, when Kyoto was still the capital of Japan. And what makes Fushimi Inari different from other shrines? There are thousands of iconic red gates called torii. These were donated by entrepreneurs who believe that they’ll have a good karma and their business will prosper if they do so. Therefore, there are inscriptions in Japanese on each gate, carrying the names of donors.
The shrine is dedicated to Inari, the god of rice, and that’s where its name comes from. The mountain on which the shrine is built has the same name. You can hike to the top of the mountain to get some sick views, but be ready for thousands steps and 2-3 hours of sweating.
Due to popularity, Fushimi Inari is crowded from early morning to late evening. To solve this problem, I have two suggestions. Get up early and visit Fushimi Inari right after sunrise. Then go and hike as high as you can – not many people do that since the famous picture of torii gates is taken all the way down at the entrance. There is no entry fee.
2 Arashiyama Bamboo Forest
Arashiyama is a bamboo alley located on the western side of Kyoto. It’s a bit out of hand, but getting here on a bike at 6am is pretty easy. That’s exactly what we did. It may seem as if the alley is endless, but to be honest, I was a little disappointed that it epnded after 400 meters. It’s basically a hyped instaspot, but if you want to have a good picture, don’t miss it. Ideally right after sunrise again if you want to avoid the crowds. There is no entry fee.
3 Golden Pavilion (Kinkaku-Ji Temple)
The Golden Pavilion is a part of the Kinkaka-Ji Buddhist Temple. It attracts tons of tourists from all over the world mainly because its two upper floors are covered with pure gold, so its value is almost incalculable. It is said that remains of Buddha are hidden inside. The complex has extensive gardens, which are worth a walk. You have to pay a fee to get in.
4 Kiyomizu-dera Temple
Another complex of Buddhist temples that is worth a stop. The name of the temple is derived from the waterfall located inside, but unfortunately I didn’t find it. There are several superstitions linked to Kiyomizu, so if you see somebody walking with a scarf on their eyes, you will know that they are trying to find true love. Not only at Kiyomizu-dera, but also around this neighborhood you’ll certainly see a lot of Japanese women wearing kimonos, and they’re perfect models for your pictures. It takes more than an hour to walk through the complex, so make sure you reserve enough time. There’s no entry fee.
5 Nishiki Market
Foooood! Lots of food! I never miss the local market and Japan was no exception. Nishiki Market offers everything from fresh fish, meat and fruit to nuts, chocolate and all kinds of matcha. You can also grab a bite to eat for a great price. The offer of grilled seafood specialties and all kinds of noodles is really great. The whole market is covered, so you can come here when the weather is not on your side.
There’s much more to explorein Kyoto but I don’t suppose that you’d spend more than three days here. The best way to see the most is to rent a bike. The city is too big to walk and too expencive to take a cab every time you want to go somewhere.
The best option for transfering from Tokyo to Kyoto is definitely the shinkansen. Not only it’s a cool experience, but also you can’t get from one city to another any faster. This train ride at a speed of 320 km/h!
There’s a map at the end of this article to show you guys all the places we visited here.
If you have any questions or thoughts, let me know in the comments below! I’ll be happy to answer:)