Three Days in Kyoto- Top Things To Do
After spending a week in Japan’s capital, Tokyo, we headed to its former capital Kyoto to spend our last three days in Japan. Our first impression of Kyoto was that it was more aligned with what we imagined traditional Japan to be with it's gardens, shrines and people in traditional dress (although many of the people dressed in traditional kimonos were tourists who had hired the gear for a day. You will see many of these shops in Kyoto). With such a short time in Kyoto we ended up cancelling our plans to use it as base to a day trip to Osaka but rather found there was so much to do. If you are also planning on visiting Kyoto for a short time, this is what I would recommend seeing based on our experiences:
Kiyomizu Temple is a Buddist temple which can be easily accessed via a bus from Gion. The UNESCO world heritage listed temple is a beautiful and peaceful spot that boasts a stunning view of Kyoto. Because of the it’s uphill location, access to the temple is on foot and you pass a large number of little shops targeted at tourists. Once you reach the temple, there are a number of walking paths to take to explore the temple grounds and get different views of the city.
The four-hundred year old market is basically a long laneway full of vendors selling food and souvenirs. The traditional food market is a great way to sample a range of Japanese street style food and the food ranges from the safe fried chicken to the more adventurous mini octopus on a skewer (complete with its mini head!)
Kyoto National Garden
We weren’t planning on going to the National Garden, but feeling tired and sore from being on the move for the previous week we were desperate for some relaxing so paid a visit to the Gardens. We were lucky that we went on a national holiday so had a nice time watching people fly kits, parents play with their kids and people taking their cute dogs for a walk. A great way to observe the locals enjoying the day off. The park is a beautiful place to stroll around with many different areas and also houses the Imperial Palace.
Inari Shrine, with its path of orange tori gates, is quickly becoming an icon of Japan thanks to how Instagram-able it is. What social media doesn’t portray is that the orange path is actually a steep uphill walk! The walk is a little hard if you are unfit and in a million layers like I was. The gated path leads to the main shrine and its pretty surreal to walk through such an icon. And uphill shrines = amazing views. And you can reward your walk near the entry of the Inari by picking up some street snacks at the stalls that reside there, we tried lots of yummy treats there including candied strawberries.
The bamboo forest is located in Arashiyama and is about 30 minutes from central Kyoto. The town is small and peaceful, surrounded by mountains and with a river flowing near it. We reached Arashiyama after 4pm so missed out on the Monkey Park which is another attraction in the town but it did mean we were walking through the bamboo forest as the sun set, which was lovely.
If you are in Japan for a short time, Round 1 is great way to sample a range a number of Japanese leisure activities in one spot from their arcade and video games to bowling. We visited Round 1 for their karaoke level but did have some fun on their photo booth level. You can spend all day here, enjoying the entertainment each level had to offer.