Sightseeing in Kyoto (Part One) – Just my travel Notes
The top of every list of places to see in Japan includes Kyoto, it is pretty much at the top of every Top 3 list outside of Tokyo and Osaka. After the excitement of the Japanese Grand Prix we left Nagoya and headed to Kyoto.
The journey from Nagoya is only about 37 minutes using the Shinkansen, again as we had our 21-day Japan Rail Pass it made it a breeze. Basically you just head to the train station and look for the Midori-no-madoguchi (Ticket Office) and book your seats. They are pretty easy to find and have a green logo. If in doubt just ask one of the staff.
As I have previously mentioned – make sure you checkout Hyperdia for the train timetables. There is sometimes a chance that the train you want to take may be full, the benefit of the Shinkansen (and using Hyperdia to plan) is that there is usually another train within about 20 minutes of the one you wanted. In our case the train we wanted to take to Kyoto was full but there was one shortly afterwards with spaces.
Kyoto train station is huge – the place has an amazing design and it is almost a tourist destination in itself. We booked an AirBNB Apartment for this leg of the trip. Our apartment was near Shijo subway station and on the route for the #50 local bus.
Kyoto has quite an extensive public transport system so getting around is not much of a hassle. From the train station we got on a local bus which had a stop only a few meters from where our apartment was.
If you use the buses there is a daily pass you can buy for around 500Yen which allows unlimited travel on the buses in Kyoto. Just be aware though that with the traffic and also the bus seems to stop about ever 2 minutes it can take a little time. You may be better to catch a train and walk rather than the bus.
After we got ourselves settled into the Apartment we decided to head out for a quick explore for the afternoon. Kyoto is quite a large city, with a population of about 1.5 million, but most of the main key sites are located pretty close together. One of the best strategies to explore Kyoto is to have no strategy at all – just wander around explore side streets and alleys and see what you can find.
There are plenty of “MUST DO” Temples and spots to check out in Kyoto, we were just happy to wander around this first afternoon and see what we could see.
We headed up to the Gion District and wandered around the lovely Yasaka Shrine. Something to remember is that Kyoto is extremely popular with locals and tourists alike. If you want to try and enjoy your visit without too many people you need to either be up really early or explore late in the afternoon. Otherwise, just accept that you get to share the city with thousands of others.
You will be spoilt for choice when it comes to food. As you walk along the main footpaths around the temples there are so many vendors selling all manner of food. My key advice is that if you don’t know what something is, buy it and eat it to find out!
We made it to the Kiyomizudera temple just as the sun was hitting that point in the sky that photographers love – Golden Hour. It is a time of day, usually quite short, when the sun is just perfect for photography, and bathes everything it touches in a gorgeous golden illumination.
The approach to the temple is amazing, the laneways and streets are full of shops and restaurants that have been catering to visitors of the temple for centuries. You really can feel a stunning energy in this area.
The temple is also famous for it’s illuminations – where during the Hanatoro event in March and also during the autumn leaf season in November the buildings are all illuminated each evening.
That was it for today, after wandering for a little more we headed back to the apartment and grabbed some dinner.
Thanks for reading – have you visited Kyoto? What was your favourite part? I would love to hear from you so feel free to add a comment.
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