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Let's Go To: Kyoto, Japan


I have yet to meet someone that doesn't list Kyoto as one of their favorite cities, not excluding myself. Even though I grew up in Tokyo, I've only visited a handful of times and could never get enough of the historical, aesthetically pleasing city. Every time I go back home to Tokyo, I try to go on a short domestic trip and decided to visit Kyoto again - especially because it was cherry blossom season!

This was my 3rd time visiting Kyoto, I've visited once during the summer (I do not suggest that as it's extremely hot and humid) and once during fall (highly, highly recommend because of all the gorgeous fall foliage).




Tofuku-ji Temple - Of all the shrines and temples I visited, this may be my favorite. It was pouring rain the day I (reluctantly) went. Wow, it was gorgeous. It's not tourist-infested - in fact, I think I walked past less than 10 people during the 1+ hour visit. They have a long, beautiful hallway that's surrounded by maple trees which I can only assume is stunning. The temple itself, gardens and gates were grand but mostly peaceful. I highly recommend a visit when looking for things to do in Kyoto and want to get away from the crowds.




Fushimi Inari - I don't know why it took me this long to visit Fushimi Inari. While it's considered a shrine, the entire mountain of Fushimi Inari is considered a deity. It's most well known for the tens of thousands of Torii gates, creating what seems like an endless tunnel up the mountain and back. One thing to note is how long and rigorous the hike is. If you're mentally prepared to get through the entire mountain, great. But if you're unprepared like I was in jeans and flats with no water, you'll only make it part way. A passerby told me that it takes about 4 hours to climb up and back down. It's important to note you can still enjoy it without the hike.



Kyoto Tower - Truth be told, after visiting Tokyo Tower, Tokyo SkyTree, CN Tower - the likes, the Kyoto Tower is a little bit underwhelming. Standing right in front of Kyoto Station, Kyoto Tower offers the same type of experience as other towers; beautiful views, long elevator rides up, binoculars, etc. It's not well maintained and much smaller in height and space compared to other towers. However, it's still fun to visit, especially at such a low price of 700Y ($7.00 USD). If you do, I recommend timing it for sunset.


Philosopher's Path - If you're visiting Kyoto during cherry blossom season, please make it a point to walk through the Philosopher's Path. A famous Japanese Philosopher used to walk down this path while meditating, hence the name. Beautiful is an understatement.

Kyoto Station - This may sound odd but Kyoto Station itself is a sight to be seen. I'm kicking myself for not taking a photo of it but it's probably one of the biggest, most modern stations in the world. There's hundreds of shops and restaurants, even a 4 star hotel in the station alone. They have an entire half-floor dedicated to souvenirs, too! We definitely frequented the station during our stay.




Kiyomizu Temple - My number one, absolutely favorite place to visit in Kyoto. The wooden giant is a sight to be seen whatever season it may be. However, spring, fall & winter would be best with the cherry blossoms, fall foliage or snow. I've been there during all seasons except winter and I'm eager to come back for that. I do not recommend Kyoto during the summer in general as it's freakishly hot and humid. Kiyomizu Temple also has the 'relationship temple' on-site where you can pray for a happy marriage or to meet that perfect partner. One thing to note: a huge part of the temple is under construction which makes for not-so-great photos. Make sure you check on the website to see if any construction is still going on.



Kyoto Imperial Palace - I was beyond excited to be in Kyoto during the 10 days the Imperial Palace was open for viewing! While the Emperor resides full time in Tokyo, he visits Kyoto a few times a year. The Imperial Garden is open for viewing most of the year but there are only a handful of times where the Palace itself is open. It was gorgeous inside. All the old buildings, gardens and art was beyond impressive - what a life to be the Emperor! A big thanks to the friendly taxi driver suggesting I take advantage of it!


Food On The Go - I consider food a crucial part to the success of travel and Kyoto was blowing my mind! I forgot how many little shops there were, pretty much at every tourist attraction. Places like Kiyomizu Temple and Ginkaku-ji Temple for example, have several shops and restaurants along the street that leads you there. A lot of the shops will sell snacks on the go; cookies, mochi, cherry blossom flavored ice cream and anything else you can imagine! All I can say is bring cash and enjoy!

Kyoto Tower Hotel - My family and I stayed at the Kyoto Tower Hotel Annex, located about 5 minutes away from the Kyoto station. It's considered a "business-economy" hotel (think Best Western, Hampton Inn, Holiday Inn Express) but that was one of the last rooms available through the city due to cherry blossom season. It's the most expensive and busiest time of the year in Japan but especially Kyoto. As an example, the Kyoto Tower Hotel Annex normally runs at around 6,000Y ($60 USD) per person a room but we paid 27,000Y ($270 USD) per person!




Ginkaku-ji Temple - Ginkaku-ji, also known as the Temple of the Silver Pavilion has an interesting backstory. Hands down the first thing that comes to mind when visiting is, "wait, it's not silver". This is where the history comes in. Ashikaga Yoshimasa, a shogun back in 1460, had plans on building this garden and pavilion. However, it is said that he ran out of money and wasn't able to paint it silver. There are some other theories as well. Don't let that deter you from visiting, though. The property is a stunning, mossy and beautifully maintained haven. The route takes you around in a circle, passing through waterfalls, a viewpoint for a panoramic view, patterned sand and more.

Next stop: Tokyo, Japan - Part III (Read Tokyo Part I & Tokyo Part II)


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Travel Monkey

5 comments

  1. I visited Tofukuji during autumn foliage season and it was tourist infested! lol.. Your photos make Kyoto look serene. Not sure if it is because of the season I was there or what, but Kyoto seems to be perpetually crowded with tourists from my memories.

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    1. Oh my! I'm so jealous you got to visit Tofukuji during fall foliage - I can only imagine how stunning that was! Yes - probably super busy with tourists during that time! It was raining a few days when I was there so maybe the tourists stayed in! I was ok with it, haha! :) Thanks so much for stopping by! xoxo

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  2. I looove this post! Beautiful photos and great tips.
    I really hope one day I can visit Kyoto to see the cherry blossoms, so I think spring would be perfect for me :D
    And I'm saving your post for when I go!!

    Thank you for joining #MondayEscapes once again :D

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    1. Hi Allane! I hope you get to visit Kyoto during cherry blossom season as well, it really is something else! Thanks for stopping by and for hosting, as always! xo

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  3. What a great article! Japan is so high on my list!

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