I recently used some annual leave to make a quick trip next door to Japan for 4 days. It was my first time in Japan and it felt like I was finally getting the chance to visit after hearing about how great Japan is from basically everyone. I picked Kyoto as I thought that the amount of days I had might be better suited to Kyoto and I was after a relaxing and cultural trip and not one for a busy city.
From Incheon airport, I flew into Osaka Kansai which was about a 2 hour flight. Getting from Osaka to Kyoto was only an express train ride away on the JR Haruka Express (you can buy tickets in advance here for a cheaper price than at the train station). It’s about an 80 minute train ride. Upon arrival at Kyoto Station, I found a place to have lunch and then walked to my accommodation which I had purposely booked to be in walking distance.
One thing to note about the train lines in Japan, they are all privately owned and by different companies. It is super confusing at the train station because each company will have their own ticket vending machines. It would be best to get a travel card that you can load money on to tap on and off. For my trip, I went with the IC card.
Eager to not waste any time, after checking into my accommodation, I walked to the Kiyomizudera Temple which is a temple with a wooden stage on the side of a hill. It is said that this wooden structure is not held by any nuts and bolts but by interconnecting the wooden beams together. Walking there, I was able to see the surrounds of mountains, pottery stores and traditional style houses.
To get to the Kiyomizudera, you need to walk through the bustling uphill streets below Higashiyama District. Here, you will find plenty of souvenir and snack stores to peruse on your way either up or down. It was really crowded when I went and it was on a weekday!
On the temple grounds, you are able to walk around to see other parts of temple below as well but the main attraction is the wooden stage. The temple closes at 6pm and many of the stores and restaurants in the surrounding street were closed at 5pm.
Up nice and early on Day 2, this morning I was headed to the Fushimi Inari Shrine which is infamous for its orange gates. A shinto shrine, it is free to enter and walk around. A helpful tip, you should definitely go early to avoid the crowds and tour groups. I didn’t walk all the way to the top as it was raining the whole morning and also I was short on time. Maybe next time! It is such a serene and peaceful site. I really enjoyed my morning there.
On my way down, I was already hungry but it wasn’t quite lunch yet so I stopped into the Fushimi Inari Sando Chaya dessert cafe (because why not?) and had myself a baked mochi with red bean and soybean powder. It came with a tea and some strips that tasted like salty plum but I am unsure what it was. Together, the tastes of the sweet red bean, chewy mochi and sour/salty plum was such a delight with the array of tastes going on.
Across the street, I spotted a man selling seafood which he would then bbq. It took my a good few minutes to decide if I wanted a crab leg (I guess this day was already back to front starting with dessert) so decided to try one, It was so good!
Wanting to fit another site in, I stopped next at the Sanjusangen-do Temple, which is on the same train line as the Fushimi Inari Shrine. This temple houses 1000 golden kannon statues inside. Infront of them are 28 statues of guardian deities and in the middle there is a huge buddha statue. It’s amazing because these are all made of wood and then covered in gold leaf. The details are craftmanship are extraordinary. Pictures were not allowed inside but it was such a sight to see (and you can google them). The grounds were quiet with the smell of incense in the air. You can walk around the grounds before or after.
I went back onto the train and headed to the Gion district to have lunch. I found myself a ramen restaurant and was the only one in the restaurant! I had a walk around the area which is one of the geisha districts in Kyoto. There is little signage around of what the restaurant or cafe or shop might be so you will need to take your trip to have a look around or research beforehand. I guess this added to the old district feel of the area. I also stopped by at the Yasaka Shrine to have a look.
I then headed to the Nishiki Market where you can find restaurants, snacks, souvenirs and fresh food. I had myself a shot sake for 1,000 yen and my dinner was takoyaki which had a good chunk of octopus inside. Attached to Nishiki Market is actually another mall that runs perpendicular to it (closer to the Kyoto-Kawaramachi Station side of Nishiki Market) which has so many stores. If it’s raining and you’re looking for somewhere indoors to explore, try here!
After ALL the walking, it was time to head back to my accommodation to sleep and be ready for Day 3.
7 thoughts on “Day 1 and 2 in Kyoto, Japan”
Thanks for sharing your trip. My daughter is studying in Japan this spring/summer and I hope to visit her in Tokyo. We want to go to Kyoto for a few days. This is a great jumping off point for planning our trip.
That’s amazing! Kyoto is such a peaceful city- I hope you get enjoy your trip. Thank you for reading!
Oh it’s amazing that you could get some annual leave and go to Kyoto! Japan is really an amazing country and Kyoto really seems like a stunning city that I would love to visit next time I’m in Japan! All of those shrines are truly stunning! Thanks for sharing!
Thank you for reading! I hope you will get to return soon!
You had a wonderful time in Kyoto! The Kiyomizu temple is certainly a stunner, and definitely worth going early to beat the crowds! Alas, while I’d visited Kiyomizu, I didn’t get to visit the Fushimi Inari Shrine due to time constraints, but I’d love to go back to Kyoto for that! The red bean baked mochi looks divine (and very rich!), and I’m glad you got some delicious takoyaki, especially for cheap! Glad Japan really was fun for you. 🙂
The trouble is that there’s so much to see in Kyoto! It’s hard to get time in just a handful of days. Thank you! Next time, I will try some more tofu dishes.
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