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.

Luggage space can sometimes be at a bit of a premium on the Shinkansen, so make sure you don’t overpack!

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.

If you have forgotten to bring something to eat/drink with you, there are usually snack carts pushed along the carriages for you to buy some snack.

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.

Our apartment building in Kyoto, yep that is how small the complex was each balcony reflects one apartment.

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.

The Yasaka Shrine is also known as the Gion Shrine. It is over 1,350 years old and is located between the popular Gion and Higashiyama Districts

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.

This is the ‘dance stage’ featuring hundreds of lanterns which are lit each evening.

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.

I am glad I had plenty of room on the Memory Card for Kyoto, photographic opportunities abound. Here again the Lanterns adorning the stage at the Yasaka temple.

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.

I am a sucker for a good lantern hanging from a rooftop photograph
If you want to explore the city in a slightly different way there are plenty of people around to sell you a rickshaw tour of the main sites around the Higashiyama area
Make sure you take the chance to wander down laneways and alleys, you will find that just off the main tourist roads are much quieter streets.

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!

I don’t have a clue what this is – do you know? Leave a comment below.
The food thus far in our first couple of hours in Kyoto has been quite lovely. I think these were Takoyaki from memory.
I am always taken by the design and texture of these old buildings. The grainwork on the timber is amazing and I just love the frosted glass from the shopfront.
The Kiyomizudera (Pure Water Temple) has been on this site since the year 780. It features many different shrines and buildings throughout the complex.

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.

A key part of the fun in visiting Kiyomizudera is the walk up the hill through the laneways of the Higashiyama District.

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 shops and laneways of the Higashiyama district, bathed in the glorious afternoon glow of sunlight.
Unfortunately we didn’t get much time after the sun started setting to explore all the famous buildings around the temple.

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.

Sometimes you are just in the right place at the right time – I absolutely adore this image taken as the sun sets over the Kiyomizudera temple in Kyoto.

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.

A big thank you as always to those of you who follow along with my blog. I hope you are enjoying the posts and as always please feel free to leave a comment or hit that like button. That’s all for today! See you tomorrow.