After visiting Tokyo - the capital city and Hakone - the town surrounded by nature, I was more than happy to be in Kyoto city, which gave me the feeling of traveling back in time all of a sudden. The air itself in the city was something different and you keep getting the feeling of being in a historical ancient town of the country.
Almost every shrine and temple in this city is made in traditional Japanese architectural style. Surrounding mountains are said to make Kyoto city's summer more hot and humid and winters colder. Kyoto city is one of the oldest city in Japan and also the wealthiest during the 19th century.
From Hakone, I went to a train station named as Mishima to take a bullet train which will bring me directly to the Kyoto station making my traveling quicker and easier. There are multiple trains which run between these two stations and you can choose as per your schedule. For me, I always prefer to be in the next city as early as possible, so as to spend more time.
There are plenty of options to stay in and around Kyoto depending on the kind of stay you are willing to enjoy. From high end branded hotels to guesthouses to the experience of traditional Japanese style housing. Most of the hotels in Kyoto also offer an additional service of Hot Water Public Bath which you should never miss when you are in Japan. I have stayed in Campana Hotel Kyoto and have had a wonderful stay there.
Since I had more than 1 and half day in my hand to go around the Kyoto city I wanted to make most of it and visit as many places as I could in that much time. Although I did not have time to cover Toori Gates in Kyoto, I am hoping to visit it next time. And there is much more you can see if you are planning to stay in Kyoto for more than 2 days.
Best Places To Visit In Kyoto
1. Kinkakuji Temple
- The literal meaning of the word Kinkakuji means the Golden Pavilion Temple which is situated in the Northern part of Kyoto.
- The temple is made up of three different level of which 2 upper levels are covered in Gold Leaf because of which it is known as Golden Temple.
- Each level is made up of different structural style, the first level being built in the Shinden Style which is used for palace buildings, the second level is built in the Bukke style which is used for Samurai residences and the third level is built in Chinese Zen style.
- The temple is built in the middle of the pond, and you cannot actually enter the temple but admire the view from a viewpoint and get some good photographs.
- It was a retirement villa for the shogun Ashikaga Yoshimitsu which was also burned down twice during the war times but was restored every time.
- The vehicle drops you in the parking and you need to walk almost 45 minutes inside the complex once you enter and exit from the other side.
Timing:- 09:00 AM to 05:00 PM
Visit Duration:- 1 Hour
Ticket Cost:- 400 JPY
2. Nijo Castle
- When we talk about a castle, we think of huge walls built surrounding the huge structures but Nijo Castle in Kyoto city a completely different castle in itself.
- The whole castle is made up of wood and is not huge in its height but in its width.
- The castle was built as the residence for Tokugawa Ieyasu who was the first shogun of the Edo period in 1603.
- It is also listed as UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1994 because of its outstanding building.
- The whole castle is divided into three parts being the Honmaru - Main Circle Of Defense, Ninomaru - Second Circle Of Defense and the gardens which are surrounding these two parts.
- Once you get off at the parking, you can straight away walk inside from the entrance and if you wish you can avail the service of an audio guide, otherwise can collect an information booklet for yourself which gives you information about each room as you are walking through the castle.
- Remember that you need to remove your shoes and socks before entering the castle and photography is not allowed inside.
Timing:- 08:45 AM to 05:00 PM
Visit Duration:- 1 Hour
Ticket Cost:- 600 JPY
3. Arashiyama Bamboo Grove
- One of my most favorite places in outskirts of Kyoto city, the place where you get to experience some of the best nature trails.
- The district is particularly very popular during the cherry blossom and the fall season because of the way nature has been gifted to this area.
- The Bamboo Grove and The Togetsukyo Bridge being the most visited landmarks of the place you should never miss.
- Togetsukyo Bridge literally means the Moon Crossing Bridge which is in the central part of the district and looks particularly attractive because of the mountains in the background.
- The Bamboo Groves is one of the best nature trails I have experienced, as you walk through the path, you are surrounded by tall bamboo treed on both sides which creates a shaded area in the center.
- As you keep walking and reach at the end of the grove you can visit the Tenryuji Temple and further walk into the lane which is always crowded for souvenir shops and food outlets.
4. Kiyomizu Temple
- The "Pure Water Temple" one of the most celebrated and visited temples in Kyoto as well as in Japan added to the list of UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1994.
- The main hall of the temple is situated on the hill which is at the end of the shopping street always being crowded by tourists and locals alike.
- Once you reach the end of the shopping street you need to climb the hill which takes approximately 20 minutes to reach the main hall.
- The main hall is attached with a wooden stage which gives a view of the surrounding area from up there.
- The Otowa waterfall is situated at the base of the temple and the water is divided into three different flows. Each flow is said to give you luck about longevity, success at school life and the third one is for the love life.
- The most attractive part of this temple complex is that you will see many tourists roaming around in traditional Japanese attire - KIMONO.
- One can find many shops who offer Kimono wearing on the rental basis for the particular number of hours. They also help you wear the Kimono ad allow you to go around and come back to the shop in the given time.
Timing:- 06:00 AM to 06:00 PM
Visit Duration:- 2 Hours
Ticket Cost:- 400 JPY
5. Gion District
- A very famous district for its tea houses and area where you can get a chance to spot a Geisha if you are lucky enough.
- Geisha is an artist who performs during a tea ceremony, although the tradition is not that much in practice nowadays.
- The specialty of the structures on these streets is the width of the houses. As you look at the entrance you will find it very small, since the taxes were dependent on the amount of space occupied on the street for the house's front side.
-However, the same house is quite huge once you enter it which can actually go up to 20 meters inside.
- If you are willing to experience the Japanese culture, you can visit one of the tea houses where you will be entertained by Geiko and Maiko while having your Japanese tea. It is not just about what they are performing but also about the elegance, the politeness they show, the gestures they do is something which cannot be copied.
- There is also a theater in this area where you can enjoy and learn about the culture of Geisha which happens at Gion Corner.
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