Kyoto Japan for Tradition and History
Shrines, Temples, Gardens, Museums, Shopping.........
Kyoto is a small city with about 1.4 million people. It is a very beautiful city, and a view of the oldest, traditional Japan.
Here you will often see young and old alike, walking the streets in kimono. There are so many shrines, temples, gardens, castles, museums, and specialist shopping areas, you cannot possibly expect to see Kyoto in the two or three days most travellers opt for here.
I suggest doing your research, planning what interests you most.... and finding accommodation in the area, or by the station where all the buses leave from.
Kyoto Hotel - Great Price, Great Location!
Our hotel was very central to the South East part of the city, which was a wonderful area to stay. just before we left home
we booked our hotel through Hotels Combined
- a 4 ½ star hotel for half price.
Explore Kyoto on Foot!
Walking is the best way to see Kyoto. We only used transport to and from the train station to our hotel.
When you arrive, pick up the leaflets that have Walking Tours with Maps. You will find them at the information centre on the 9th floor of the Train station, or in some hotel foyers.
They have divided the city into four areas, and have a walking tour for each section. By following a map, you get to see all there is in the one area without missing anything.
South East City Walking Tour East
Our circuit included
- Nijojo Castle - this was very impressive with beautiful painted frescoes throughout, and wonderful ceilings. The floorboards were built to squeak so the occupants were warned of intruders!
- The Imperial Palace – ( was the longest walk we had.)The Palace is situated in Kyoto Imperial Park, so it is a huge complex, which takes time to walk.
NOTE:You need to go before 2.00pm to get the English speaking session, and you must apply for permission in advance with your passport, at the agency's office in the Kyoto Imperial Park. Reservations over the internet are also possible at this link - Internet Reservations - So allow extra time to sign in.
- Kyoto Arts and Crafts Centre - This is set up so local artists can display their work. There was a range of ceramics, furniture, woodwork, and artists were working on cane weaving and wood carving. It was an interesting change from the temples and shrines.
- We wandered through the Antiques area en route home to our hotel.
- I was keen to see Heian Jingu Shrine and Gardens which I highly recommend. This expansive shrine, with male and female monks going about their daily routine was delightful.
From the vivid orange and green colour scheme, to huge white stone open areas, to the beautiful gardens. It costs 600 yen – a very small fee, to visit these exquisite gardens, and it is well worth it!
You can enjoy a drink and a snack overlooking the ponds of Japanese irises, gorgeous in purple bloom. There are pathways round the lake, and over a bridge, where the water is thick with carp
- Second Hand Yukatas and Kimonos - There was a very interesting road of shops selling old yukatas and kimonos at very cheap prices heading toward the Shrine.
- Leaving Hiean Shrine you come to International Museum of Modern Art
- the Kyoto Zoological Gardens
- Kyoto Municipal Museum
- Shoren-in-Temple – This is quite different to other temples and worth a look. It is a much simpler building and revered by Japanese and Buddhists.
- Chion Temple is huge. You walk up wide stone steps through the biggest "shan-mon –( entry gate)" in Japan, to view the huge and very impressive temple. The bell - also the biggest in Japan at 74 tons, takes 17 monks to ring it ! Chion is the head temple for Pure Land Buddhism which was founded in 1175. This was a site for the filming of the "Last Samurai" movie! I rated it a MUST SEE!
- On through Muriyama Park....this beautiful park is the most popular place in Kyoto to view sakura in April. We also saw it at dusk with all the lanterns on., and the surrounding streets are just beautiful to walk both in daytime and at night, with all the lanterns and lights.
- On past Yasaka Jinga Shrine which also has lanterns at night. These narrow streets transport you back in time. There is a great little icecream, and snack shop set in a courtyard. Try the green tea ice cream.
- Past Kodajii Temple - you can see the big buddha – we didn’t go in
- Down to an area of shops - Kiyomizu – zaka with traditional sweets, omiyagi( gifts) , restaurants and more. This area was as popular with the Japanese as with tourists. It is a very old, historic area.
- We walked up some steps that could tell a million stories – this is a preservation area for historic buildings, and on down past a narrow lane giving an excellent view of Yasaki Pagoda.
- Crossing through a carpark we came to Kenninji Temple which was shut.
This whole area is a very lovely part of of the city.
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Kyoto Japan - Shopping and Restaurants
- The Teramachi Shopping Arcade has everything from clothes, books, drawings, other traditional Japanese crafts, cafes, coffee shops etc. This area ( temple area) is great for wet weather with its enclosed arcades.
- The Nishiki Food Market is wonderful – both for the building itself, and the fantastic array of food stalls etc.
- The Yak and Yeti Nepalese restaurant is near there( from the Arcade turn into Nishiki Market St and it is upstairs. )Try their lassi. Mmmmmmmmmmmm!
Kyoto is the ultimate Japanese experience if you have limited time, and want to go to only one place. Tokyo is much more mixed, and modern by comparison.
NOTE: There is much more to see in in this unique city. I have just covered the South East Area that we saw.
More Japan Links
Tsukiji Fish Markets
12 Tips on how the Tokyo Train System works
Kamakura Day Trip
Fuji-Go-Ko ( Fuji Five Lakes)
Japanese Lessons and Ipod Phrasebook
Return to Japanese Holidays
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