I’ve lumped my Kyoto travel diary and eats together as I only stayed 4 days- nothing like Tokyo but still hefty.
I thought I’d just write out my whole itinery and if some of you liked, could use for your own trips as well !
The easiest way to get around Kyoto is probably the bus but I took the subway quite often (I do love my ICOCA card – so handy!) A day ticket on the bus costs 500 yen and generally covers a good portion of Kyoto (not Fushimi Inari though).
Day 1 – Fushimi Inari Taishia, Kiyomizudera, Gion
These were the biggest on my bucket list.
It was a little early when I arrived at 9am and shops and food markets were still opening but there were definitely not alot of people around which was fantastic. I’m an early riser and I love seeing shrines in soft light and when there’s not a million people running up and down taking photos.
They love their foxes. Their ‘fox’ udon (no it’s not actually made from fox) is also a speciality.
It’s quite a walk up to the lookouts but there are a few gardens and ponds that you’ll pass which are quite pretty. There are better views of Kyoto though.
The shops leading up to Kiyomizu dera are a must. I picked up a couple of pottery items from the little shops there for a bargain and they have such a variety!
It’s a big tourist destination and shopping area so beware of the ‘fake’ stuff you see around.
As you can see, they are still renovating Kiyomizu but it is a beautiful sight, definitely worth my 500 yen. The walk is gorgeous and you’ll get fantastic views of Kyoto.
Known as the Geisha and Shopping district of Kyoto.
Achievement of the month: I SPOTTED 3 GEISHAS. I mean, I spotted 3 Geisha’s.
I stumbled upon Gion Sakai, a beautiful patisserie with stunning cakes (look at that!) I must suggest a few items you need to purchase. Firstly, the whiskey chocolate biscuits. They are heaven on earth. Chocolatey and good hit of whiskey at the end. It’s a perfect balance between the two but beware, it expires after 2 weeks. That goes for most of the food products in Japan, check the expiry date otherwise you’ll be crying your heart out.
Day 2: Rock Garden, Kinkakuji, Ginkakuji, Yasakusa, Gion
Temple hopping is expensive, I spent a good $20 AUD just on the entry fee. Be sure to budget around and research which ones y0u are interested in.
Rock Garden ; I am indifferent to this Rock garden.
Kinkakuji- Beautiful golden temple. And that’s all there is.
Ginkakuji – THIS. THIS GEM. The temple itself was definitely not as gorgeous as Kinkakuji but the garden was out of a picture book.
I also had the chance to partake in a tea ceremony at Gion – they were extremely knowledgeable and answered all our questions. They went through the use of the equipment and the manners needed when attending a tea ceremony. Everything was so interesting and I highly recommend attending a session just to hear the cultural movement involved with a tea ceremony!
This is the infamous Uji tea store- their kit kats and all other green tea snacks all seem to use this brand. Prepare for a line – I only waited about 20 min so it wasn’t too bad.
I love the bitterness from the green tea at Uji, and I can no longer mochi from home now that I’ve had proper mochi. Where has it been all my life??
Day 3: Nishiki Markets, Arashiyama
Beware of the hours. I had a grand plan of having dinner at Nishiki markets but of course when I got there at 6pm, everything was closed. ITS A LUNCH THING. Open from 10am – 6pm.
Nishiki Markets are incredible. There is everything you need – fresh, fried, dried, cooked….utensils, snacks, confectionary..everything. I also found my love for warabumochi. How can some powdered sugar and bracken sugar be so glorious??
So after spending my morning and lunch time at Nishiki markets, I headed over to Arashiyama as the Hantouro was on!! (Winter lights)
It gets super cold at night so be sure to bring an extra layer or two! I couldn’t handle the cold and left at 7:30pm.
The main town is about a 10 minute walk from the station but the walk there is an absolute delight and The Togetsu bridge is as stunning as ever.
Of course, Arashiyama is known for their bamboo forest grove and its serenity and sheer peacefulness is a sight to behold.
Oh, get yourself a soybean/tofu ice cream. It’s bloody delicious.