Kyoto is how most tourists perceive how Japan would look and feel like. You’ll be able to see many people in kimonos, visit numerous shrines and temples, and enjoy authentic Japanese cuisine. In fact, the entirety of Kyoto can be considered as a huge tourist spot!
Having said that, most places are usually cramped because all of them are tagged as #mustvisit! In this blog entry, I’ll share with you details on our Kyoto itinerary – bookings, visiting hours, and where to stay!
Fushimi Inari Taisha
The Fushimi Inari Tiasha is famous for its thousands of bright orange torii gates. The torii gates along the entire trail are donations from different companies and individuals. Fushimi Inari is the most important shrine dedicated to Inari, the Shinto god of rice.
We went to Fushimi Inari on a rainy afternoon. It’s just a 5-10 minute walk from the Fushimi Inari train station and coin lockers are conveniently placed outside the station.
There are literally hundreds if not thousands of people along with us during our visit. Patience is truly a virtue if you want a clean shot with the torii gates.
The trail starts with Senbon Torii “thousands of torii gates” which is composed of 2 parallel rows of dense torii gates. After that, the rest of the trail follows and the torii gates are not as dense as the ones in Senbon Torii.
There are around 10,000 torii gates as of today. Most tourists stop after the Senbon Torii so there’s a big chance that you’ll have some peace and quiet while trekking the trail up.
It was raining the whole time we were there but the umbrella came in handy for a quick photo opportunity!
For more information about Fushimi Inari Taisha, this website can answer all the questions you might have: Fushimi Inari Taisha
Arashiyama Bamboo Forest
Arashiyama Bamboo Forest is located far from other tourist spots in Kyoto. The place is very serene, you’ll here the mild wind blowing and birds chirping.
We had to ride the JR Express in order to be there early because there are no buses yet when we left the hotel. The nearest station would be the Saga-Arashiyama Station (correct me if I’m wrong), good thing we all have our ICOCA Cards!
The area is open 24/7 and there are no entrance fees. The best time to visit would be very early in the morning – before 9AM.
We were there at around 7:30AM and there are just a couple of tourists along with us. When we left before 9AM, more tourists and even local students started to flock the area. If you want to really enjoy the scenery, you really have to be early.
Kinkakuji (Golden Pavilion)
Kinkakuji is the most beautiful sight in Kyoto, at least for me. It’s just pure beauty and it is golden, literally!
Kinkakuji is a zen temple with the top two floors covered in pure gold leaf. The gold leaf is an important element because it is said to purify negative thoughts and feelings towards death.
Kinkakuji is also recognized as one of UNESCO’s World Cultural Heritage being one of Kyoto and the whole Japan’s most historical buildings. There is a 400 JPY entrance fee and it is open from 9AM to 5PM.
You can also get fortune readings near the exit! Luckily, we all got good readings.
Camellia Garden Tea Ceremony
We opted for a private tea ceremony so we booked Camellia Garden which is located near Ryoanji Temple. A traditional tea ceremony experience in Kyoto is a must and I would highly recommend booking with Camellia.
During the tea ceremony, you will learn on how to be a guest in an actual tea ceremony – the proper etiquette. And a tea master will also teach you on how to make a delicious tea on your own.
This is one of the highlights of our Japan trip and I’m planning to make a separate blog entry entirely for the tea ceremony experience we had in Camellia (hopefully in the coming weeks).
Here’s Camellia Garden’s page for your reference: Camellia GARDEN
Where to Stay – Grand Japaning Hotel
We stayed at Grand Japaning Hotel Nijo. I’m lucky to book it during a flash sale in Agoda. It only costs 2,500 Php during that booking but it’s originally priced at around 4,000 Php!
Our room was very spacious since it is good for up to 5 pax. I love the tatamis and we were also provided with some sleeping clothes.
The amenities were great and were really complete. Too bad we stayed for just 1 night.
The place is also near a 100-yen shop and just a few minute walk from Adachi, a hidden gem restaurant in Kyoto.
I will be making another blog post on “Where to Eat in Kyoto” because this is getting really long now. Let me know in the comments if you have questions or you have Kyoto travel tips to share. I’ll see you in the next weeks, thanks for reading!