Time for the next instalment of our Japan Travel Diary: Kyoto!
If this is the first post you’re seeing please check out:
Now onto Kyoto. We only spent 1 night here and had a day and a half crammed full of activities so here we go.
We began the day waking up at about 4am to check out of our hotel and get the subway from Shibuya to Tokyo to catch a Shinkansen (bullet train) to Kyoto just after 6am. So an early start!
The shinkansen experience was amazing – miles better than our trains in the UK. Though we were in the regular economy carriage it was amazingly clean, comfortable and well taken care of. We got bento boxes which I’ll go into more detail on in my Kyoto food post coming up next and just watched the sights of the Japanese countryside whizz past.
Oh and we saw Mt Fuji!
After arriving in Kyoto around 9.30am-ish we made our way to our Japanese style apartment we were renting to drop off our bags. Big thanks to our host who let us do that!
Next we were off to our first tourist destination of the day…
It was pretty busy but it was just after 11am by the time we got here so if you’re looking for those instagramable photos of empty paths get here early! As I mentioned we were only here for one night so our early morning get up was saved for Fushimi-Inari on Day 2.
I thought the cherry blossoms in Tokyo were pretty but they had nothing on the ones we saw in Arashiyama! Kyoto cherry blossoms bloom slightly later than the ones up in Tokyo so we got luckier with our timings for this part of the trip.
Not only do you get to hang out with monkeys at this hilltop park but you get an amazing view of Kyoto! Though be prepared for a 20-30 minute hike uphill…Definitely worth it though. The Japanese macaque monkeys roam freely and it was cool to see them chilling out in their natural habitat.
By this point we were starving so we headed to Nishiki Market for lunch. This place is a haven for foodies as the street food here is exotic and plentiful. More on about what we actually ate in my next post!
Doing a tea ceremony was on my bucket list so before we left on our trip out to japan I found this place online that is based right near Kinkaku-ji in Kyoto. It was a great experience and was fascinating to learn about the history behind tea ceremony’s as well as having some tasty matcha. Even Topher enjoyed the matcha.
Also known as the Golden Pavillion, this was a must do for Topher and I. Kyoto has a ridiculous number of shrines and temples which you would have to spend years visiting to get round them all so you just have to pick a handful if you’re on a short trip. This was one of ours. How gorgeous is it? We got here about 4.30ish so just before it closed at 5.
Our last stop of the day was Yasaka Shrine. Afterwards we wandered around the streets of Gion until it got dark and we realised how shattered we were! I’m not even sure what this place below is called just that we stumbled upon it and it looked pretty.
We got back to our apartment and this place was huge! It’s a definite must do to try and stay somewhere like this. We couldn’t really afford to stay in a pricy ryokan which is a traditional Japanese inn so this was a great alternative.
Though one downside was that we did both get a bit freaked out during the night as we realised the place reminded us of the horror film The Grudge. Both of us had the thought but didn’t want to freak the other out so didn’t mention it at the time! Something we definitely laughed about the next morning.
This was right at the top of my Kyoto bucket list so we got up super early and headed to the south of the city to arrive at the bottom of Mt Inari just after 6am. Something that I highly recommend if this is something you want amazing people free photos of. It was just us, a handful of tourists and some super polite photographers who had the place to ourselves. Perfect!
It is a long hike though so decide amongst your group how far you’re willing to go! If you just want some cool gate photos you don’t need to go far at all. If you want the amazing view of the city you only need to go halfway. If you want bragging rights for getting to the top of Mt Inari, then you will be doing the entire thing. We did the entire thing.
I cannot stress enough that if you just want the gates and the view you don’t need to go to the top. There is no view at the top as there is a hut in the way. There is a shrine but that is it. Oh and this cool sign that proves you did a crap load of cardio. Yeeeessssss. But this is definitely a tired face that regrets wearing a jacket on top of a jumper!
This is the view that you get halfway up. Pretty!
I’m glad we did the whole thing though. Such a beautiful place. By the time we got back to the bottom at around 8am there were a lot more people streaming in so the 6am arrival was worth it for our photos and footage we got. I’ve also seen on vlogs I’ve watched where people arrive around noon and the place is packed! So if you’re going decide what time works best for you.
I’d heard great things about this walking trail so added it to my must do’s. I wasn’t sure if we’d catch the cherry blossoms but we did so that made it even prettier than I can imagine it looks all year round.
This was the last thing we did in Kyoto before heading back to the apartment, getting our bags and heading to Kyoto station to catch a train to Osaka. So I’ll just leave you with this photo of a building across the street from our apartment that made us giggle.