Japan had been on my record for a LONG time. For some cause although, I at all times struggled to make a visit occur. However lastly, it occurred! And since I used to be excited to make it right here, I didn’t need it to be a fast journey.
Ultimately, we determined to spend 1 month whole in Japan.
We spent the primary two weeks in Kyoto and it was good. Each day was rewarding and we didn’t remorse spending two weeks on this metropolis in any respect. It’s calm, picturesque, pleasant and stuffed with actions and locations to go to. The meals is ever so tasty, it’s straightforward to get round and it’s additionally very inexpensive. It actually was the perfect base.
We additionally had been there throughout autumn and it was attractive in consequence. The plentiful nature and really spectacular colours had been far past something we may have hoped for and it definitely helped make this an much more rewarding journey.
Should you’re pondering of going to Kyoto, whether or not it’s for two days or 2 weeks, I hope the data beneath from my very own expertise proves useful!
Since we had been spending two weeks in Kyoto, we based mostly our lodging state of affairs on three issues – house, worth and site. We work on-line day by day so we wished to have more room than a normal resort room, which may be fairly small in Japan. In fact, we additionally didn’t wish to pay a fortune for lodging both. And we most well-liked to be in a comparatively central, however not overly touristy neighborhood.
After some looking, we discovered a spot that matched the entire above.
Resi Stay Nishijin
For about $85 USD per night time, we had a big studio (40 sq meters / 430 sq toes) with a small front room, two sofas, little kitchen, cozy beds and a balcony. It was fairly fashionable, with the sort of rest room and bathe space that you really want – Japanese fashion with every kind of devices and settings. The wifi was sturdy, the warmth and AC labored very effectively and it was spotless. Resi Keep has a number of areas in Kyoto however we selected the one on Nishijin. It was a neighborhood, quiet space, with small lanes stuffed with quaint wood homes, loads of high quality eating places, a meals market, good supermarkets and a bus cease in entrance of the constructing with buses that might take us wherever we would have liked to go.
Additionally, since we like to stroll all over, we had been an approximate 30 – 60 minute stroll from nearly wherever within the metropolis. This suited us very effectively.
As Kyoto is an honest sized metropolis, there are of course a number of completely different choices for lodging. I’d suggest doing analysis first although on the kind of neighborhood that you simply favor to be based mostly in. I do know lots of people instantly head for the Gion, Nishiki or Kyoto Tower areas however these may be very crowded. So it positively relies on what you’re in search of.
Once more, we managed to seek out an ideal deal on Reserving.com for the Resi Stay Nishijin ($85 USD per night time), so such offers are attainable.
Meals, Meals, Meals (You possibly can eat all of it with 2 weeks in Kyoto!)
Oh my. The meals was unimaginable. Each single meal.
To start with, we might do a number of analysis to seek out the very best native eating places to eat at. However by the top of our two weeks in Kyoto, we had been assured that anyplace we went into would serve up a scrumptious meal, no matter whether or not or not we may learn the menu.
Some eating places have English menus, some don’t. Some have images of the dishes on the menus or on the partitions, others don’t. Some even have fantastically creative creations of their menu gadgets in a show case in entrance of the restaurant or within the window, and naturally, some don’t. So typically you recognize what you’re ordering and more often than not you don’t have any concept.
Both approach, consuming in Kyoto and past was a significant spotlight of this journey.
Our meals journey could possibly be summed up by three classes:
1. Eating places/Cafes – I may give a listing of the locations we ate at, but it surely’s not value it. Belief me once I say that you simply simply have to pop into anyplace you move that appears attention-grabbing (particularly if there’s a line of locals out entrance ready to get in) and see the way it goes. This was by far the very best methodology of selecting eating places and the success price was 100%. From sushi to ramen, kaiseki to soba, Shojin ryori to okonomiyaki and every part in between, prepare for a meals journey like no different.
2. Nishiki Market – See beneath below actions. This place is meals heaven and we visited this market a number of instances so as to eat ALL the issues.
3. Supermarkets – Kyoto’s unbelievable supermarkets additionally performed a task as there have been a number of nights we simply wished to choose up some ready meals and eat again in our resort room. Our favourite was Life Grocery store. The sushi at this grocery store was more energizing and higher than most sushi at correct eating places in different nations. The set ready meals (of which there are dozens) had been at all times scrumptious too. This was such a cool strategy to eat right here, and the purchasing expertise, which concerned making an attempt to determine what most gadgets had been, was at all times tremendous enjoyable.
*Okay, I additionally want to say the Japanese Fluffy Pancakes. Should you don’t find out about them, please ensure they’re a part of your Japan journey. We ate them extra instances than I’d wish to admit. Insanely gentle, fluffy, meringue based mostly pancakes that may be made with every kind of toppings corresponding to fruit, chocolate, matcha, granola, caramel and extra. Go to A Happy Pancake location (they are often discovered in lots of cities, together with Kyoto, Osaka and Tokyo), stand in line and anticipate a desk after which get pleasure from what is going to undoubtedly be the very best pancake you’ve ever tasted.
Lots of people discuss in regards to the Japan Rail Go. It’s a move which you can reserve earlier than you enter Japan and it provides you limitless rides on Japan Rail trains all through the nation. The worth begins at about 30,000 JPY ($220) for 7 days, 47,000 JPY ($345) for two weeks and 61,000 JPY ($448) for 3 weeks. It’s a superb deal in the event you’re going to make use of the trains typically.
Nevertheless, it’s value doing analysis to see if this move is certainly for you. We assumed we would wish one, however after our analysis, we realized that it wouldn’t save us any cash based mostly on our explicit itinerary. Since we had been going to be within the Kyoto/Osaka area, then fly to Okinawa after which fly to Tokyo, the Japan Rail Go was not appropriate. Ultimately, our transportation prices had been remarkably low, even with out the Japan Rail Go.
To start out, we flew into Osaka Kansai Airport and that is what we did…
Arrival: Osaka Kansai Airport to Kyoto
Upon arrival on the Osaka Kansai Airport, we walked over to the airport practice station went contained in the JR Trains predominant workplace. The workers communicate English they usually can clarify your entire transportation choices.
We ended up buying the ICOCA Haruka Pass which was very best for our keep.
It’s not precisely a move although. It’s extra like a card which you can top-up and use to pay for transportation on buses, subways and nearly all trains (in addition to merchandising machines and at some eating places). The most important profit is a reduction on the Kansai Specific Haruka practice from Osaka Kansai Airport to Kyoto. Since we would have liked to get from Kansai Airport to Kyoto after which again to Kansai Airport two weeks later for our flight to Okinawa, we acquired the round-trip low cost.
We paid 5500 JPY ($40 USD) every for our ICOCA playing cards. This included 1500 JPY credit score for use on buses, trains and subways and a 4000 JPY roundtrip ticket for the Kansai Specific Haruka practice from/to the airport. Ultimately, we saved about 1000 JPY every on the airport practice, making it very worthwhile.
Then, as soon as we arrived in Kyoto, we merely used our ICOCA playing cards to faucet on to buses, trains and the subway. It additionally labored for trains to Osaka and Nara, the subway in Osaka and for trains, subway and buses in Tokyo as effectively on the finish of our Japan journey.
Trains – Once more, we didn’t get the Japan Rail Go as a result of we realized that we wouldn’t be utilizing trains typically sufficient. We ended up taking the practice from Kyoto to Osaka and again on someday and from Kyoto to Nara and again on one other day. The entire price for these 4 practice rides was 3360 JPY or $24 USD. That appeared like affordable costs to us and the Japan Rail Go would have price much more than that. (We did use the Specific practice from Narita Airport to Shinjuku in Tokyo as effectively however the price for that experience was 3050 JPY or $22 USD so it nonetheless didn’t justify buying the Japan Rail Go since we solely spent a complete of $46 USD on trains.)
Buses – In Kyoto, the bus system may be very straightforward to make use of. We used Google maps to determine which buses we would have liked after which we merely used our ICOCA card to pay for every journey. The fare was 230 JPY per journey, which is barely about $1.70 USD. We took the bus about 10 instances throughout our keep for a complete of $17.00.
Subway – We didn’t use the subway/metro system throughout our two weeks in Kyoto. Between the buses, taxis and strolling, we coated in every single place we would have liked to go. Nevertheless, we did take the subway/metro throughout our day journey to Osaka and it was additionally straightforward. We once more used our ICOCA playing cards to pay for every experience, which price both 180 JPY or 230 JPY relying on the space. We took the subway 4 instances throughout our day in Osaka and it price us a complete of 820 JPY ($5.85).
Taxis – As a result of favorable trade throughout our keep, taxis had been really fairly affordable and much inexpensive than we had imagined. We took 20 taxis throughout our 2 week keep in Kyoto and the full price was 30,000 JPY or $214 USD. As we had been in Kyoto in November, there have been some chilly and windy days the place we merely wished to get right into a taxi and out of the chilly. And since most rides price $10 USD, it ended up being a superb choice. Additionally, the taxis are a cool expertise with the mechanically opening doorways, extraordinarily clear and roomy interiors and devoted drivers who ensure they get you precisely the place that you must go. There’s additionally no humorous enterprise so you may flag any taxi figuring out you’ll merely pay the official metered fare.
Strolling – We additionally walked a ton. Kyoto is a superb strolling metropolis particularly because it means that you can wander by means of random neighborhoods that you simply wouldn’t go to in any other case. This was definitely how we discovered lots of our favourite eating places, cafes, architectural curiosities, hidden temples and so forth.
Actions for Two Weeks in Kyoto
With two weeks in Kyoto at our disposal, we took our time when it comes to actions. We’re not the sort of vacationers to make a listing effectively prematurely and to run round all day checking issues off. We favor to get up, do some work (we each work online), search for a sight or space that appears attention-grabbing, head out for a late breakfast/early lunch and see the place the day takes us.
Throughout our keep, right here’s the place the times took us:
Fushimi Inari – Effectively value visiting. This well-known Shinto Shrine is devoted to the god of rice and is house to 1000’s of orange torii gates that line the lengthy pathway that loops across the hillside. We did the complete 1.5 hour stroll up the hill and again down once more and it was lovely. The upper up you go, the much less vacationers and the extra time it’s a must to absorb the peaceable setting.
Kinkaku-ji Temple – This temple is positioned within the west of Kyoto and it was our favourite. Kinkaku-ji is a Zen temple that’s coated in gold leaf. It’s location, proper on the sting of a small lake, makes for a mighty eye-catching sight. Naturally, the gardens across the temple had been meditative too and there’s a pleasant path to roam round.
Nijo Castle – A formidable fort within the middle of Kyoto that was as soon as house to highly effective shogun that dominated over Japan for 200 years. The positioning consists of a fort and palace however the palace was closed for renovations after we had been there. However the wood fort was fairly a show of the shogun’s wealth and energy with its infinite rooms, intricate wooden carvings, painted panels and sheer dimension. The grounds surrounding the fort, together with the very nice tea home/backyard, made for a pleasant go to too.
Thinker’s Path – This was a brief and reflelction-inducing 2 km stroll alongside a meditative tree-lined canal surrounded by nature and conventional houses. It’s positioned between the Ginkaku-ji and Nanzen-ji temples on the east facet of town. Should you stroll slowly and go to a number of temples alongside the way in which, you may flip this exercise into an all day occasion. That is particularly the case in the event you cease for a espresso/pastry break on the cozy Botanic Coffee Kyoto midway alongside the trail.
Nishiki Market – This huge coated market stretches alongside one lane for what looks like an eternity. You enter one finish and good luck making an attempt to get to the opposite finish with out stopping dozens of instances to strive every kind of avenue meals being served on the meals stalls alongside the way in which. Squid on a skewer, sea urchin, fried shrimp, omelette sandwiches, hen katsu, roasted chestnuts, infinite pastries, so many types of mochi, dumplings, tofu and on and on and on…it by no means ends and it’s the right place to spend a few hours making an attempt each meals merchandise you may. On the east finish of the market, there may be additionally a non-food market that stretches alongside two coated lanes going north to south. Yow will discover some attention-grabbing outlets right here, together with those who promote conventional Japanese paintings, so its value exploring too.
Kyoto Sanjo Buying Avenue – A smaller model of Nishiki market, if this avenue is near the place you’re staying, it’s additionally value visiting for some scrumptious meals. It closes at 5:00pm so it’s extra of a lunch space, however with its meals stalls and tiny eating places, there may be an infinite quantity of choices and it’s a lot much less crowded than Nishiki Market.
Gion – That is the well-known geisha district of Kyoto and it must be visited, at the least as soon as. It’s fairly crowded with vacationers throughout the day however in the event you duck away from the primary streets, it rapidly turns into extra quiet. Conventional buildings and houses, picturesque wood bridges, high-end eating places on Hanamikoji Avenue, infinite outlets promoting every kind of Japanese meals gadgets and much more temples to get pleasure from may be discovered right here. We visited this space twice, as soon as throughout the day and as soon as at night time. Through the day, we walked from Kennin-ji Temple (with its gorgeous work and Zen backyard) to Hokan-ji Temple (well-known for its 5-story pagoda), as much as the Yasaka Shrine after which wandered by means of each lane we may discover. At night time the neighborhood is way quieter and extra atmospheric with all of the lanterns and lights, with some locations to eat and several other bars as effectively.
Miyagawasuji – This neighborhood is a fast 10 minutes stroll south of Gion and the distinction was notable. As one of many different final remaining geisha districts, it’s house to conventional houses and outlets, tiny native eateries and among the quaintest streets in Kyoto. Nevertheless, there have been only a few guests on this space. It’s a small neighborhood however positively a novel place to go to to absorb a Gion-like vibe with out the crowds.
Tea ceremony – We discovered a easy tea ceremony within the Gion neighborhood (Tea Ceremony Camellia) the place we may be taught in regards to the tea custom in a pleasant setting. The session was solely 50 minutes however there have been solely 6 individuals collaborating, making it extra intimate. The hostess was a chic, refined lady who taught us about and demonstrated the standard tea-preparation strategies. We then ready our personal tea, drank it and that was that. It was a really nice exercise.
Temples – We visited so many temples throughout our two weeks in Kyoto that I can’t title all of them right here. If we noticed a temple, we might typically poke our head into the doorway of the grounds. If one thing attracted us, we might go in (most temples cost between 300 – 1000 JPY entrance payment). We went into big temples and tiny temples, and every kind in between. Whereas strolling round random neighborhoods, we at all times saved our eyes open for among the extra hidden temples, typically positioned in residential areas. These had been fairly attention-grabbing as they’d haven’t any guests and whereas small, they had been typically a peaceable oasis.
Arashiyama – House to the famous bamboo forest, and likewise house to the most important vacationer crowds we noticed throughout our total journey. It threw us off as quickly as we stepped off the native bus as there have been simply so many individuals. To get away from the crowds, we ducked into the Hogon-in Zen Buddhist temple because it appeared quiet. Fortunately, it was and we had been handled to among the most wondrous and colourful autumn surroundings we may have hoped for. The tranquil gardens instantly put us relaxed. After this good break, we walked straight to the Bamboo Forest which was, as anticipated, full of individuals strolling shoulder to shoulder alongside the trail. We walked rapidly and on the finish, we turned proper alongside one other path and saved strolling. After 5 minutes, the crowds disappeared and we loved a peaceable wander by means of native neighborhoods and nature. We quickly reached Saga Toriimoto (by chance), a well-preserved avenue stuffed with conventional fashion houses. That led us to the Adashino Nenbutsuji Temple which had solely 2 different individuals inside, its personal (uncrowded) bamboo forest and 1000’s of attention-grabbing stone memorial statues.
That is what I really like about journey – the randomness of days like this.
After the temple, we began strolling in the direction of Kyoto middle (which was 2 hours away by foot). After half-hour, we came across a easy cafe referred to as Cafe Yamamoto and went inside. We had been handled to a memorable expertise with scrumptious home-made muffins, glorious espresso, a comfy inside and really pleasant workers. It was a spotlight being inside this welcoming, random place.
Imperial Palace – We by no means actually deliberate to go to the large Imperial Palace advanced within the middle of Kyoto. However on our final day, we had some free time so we walked over. And it was nice. The large grounds is principally a park, with loads of paths to walk alongside and as you guessed by now, no scarcity of gorgeous nature to get pleasure from. The Palace itself is open to everybody, totally free, so that you merely enter the primary entrance. You possibly can then take a guided tour or stroll round by yourself. It’s a big web site so that you want at the least an hour.
Random neighborhoods – One in every of our favourite actions, which we spent a while nearly day by day doing, was to easily begin strolling. The aim was to stroll by means of random neighborhoods and see what we discovered. Usually, in these neighborhoods we might seize a neighborhood lunch or a espresso or a conventional pastry for a day snack. One instance was after we ended up in Nishimachi, an odd space away from the vacationers the place the local shops have monsters in front of their shops as a strategy to entice prospects. So I positively suggest giving your self loads of time to roam round Kyoto and not using a plan! I’ve written about my 5-minute rule to having local experiences and Kyoto is a stable vacation spot to place it into motion.
We do favor gradual journey, so we actually loved attending to know Kyoto greater than if we had stayed for less than a few days. We additionally actually cherished the quiet, conventional ambiance of Kyoto. However in fact, there’s a lot to see in Japan so we would have liked to transcend town limits as effectively. On two events, we left Kyoto to go to different cities.
Day journey #1: Osaka
Right here’s how our day journey to Osaka went:
- Took a forty five minute practice from Karasuma Station in Kyoto to Osaka Umeda Station
- Went straight to lunch at Kaiten Sushi Sakae (needed to strive the sushi belt expertise!)
- Took the metro over to Osaka Castle and visited the intensive gardens
- Hopped on the metro and went to wander across the Shinsekai neighborhood, identified for its 100+ 12 months previous colourful purchasing district
- Walked throughout town to the Shinsaibashi space to take a look at the Shinsaibashi-Suji Buying Avenue, eat some Japanese fluffy pancakes and absorb the energetic ambiance
- After sundown, strolled round to take a look at all of the exercise with the large brightly lit neon indicators, infinite eateries, markets, outlets and loopy crowds
- Did some meals tasting all through the lanes of the well-known Dotonburi space and nonetheless saved room for a seafood dinner as effectively
- Discovered ourselves making an attempt some Japanese whisky at a random bar on a random avenue nook
- Took a practice again to Kyoto later at night time
Day journey #2: NARA
This was one other good day journey. We boarded a practice at Kyoto Station and 45 minutes later we had been in Nara. And we ended up staying within the city for all the day, getting again to Kyoto at round 9:00pm. Right here’s what we did:
- Walked from the Nara practice station by means of the quaint middle of city, alongside Sanjo dori Avenue
- Had a superb ramen lunch at Genkishin
- Spent a number of time roaming round Nara Park, house to temples, shrines, gardens, nature walks and 1000’s of untamed deer that bow their heads in hopes of getting meals from passersby
- Walked alongside lots of the paths all through the parks so as to benefit from the nature
- Visited the 1300 12 months previous Todaiji Temple that is without doubt one of the largest wood buildings on the earth and residential to an enormous 15 meter excessive bronze Buddha statue
- Went for a beautiful sake tasting at Harushika Sake Brewery (500 JPY / $3.75 USD for six sorts of native sake)
- Went to the historic Nara Hotel for a day snack at their tea lounge (the resort has hosted emperors, royalty, presidents, popes, actors and plenty of extra)
- Walked again by means of the parks to the Kasuga-taisha Shinto Shrine
- One final gradual meander by means of the parks throughout the night, then by means of the middle of city (possibly stopping alongside the way in which to get pleasure from some avenue meals!) and again to the Nara practice station
- 45 minute practice again to Kyoto
That sums up our two weeks in Kyoto and the encircling area! When you have any questions in any respect about visiting this space, please don’t hesitate to achieve out and I’d be completely satisfied to help. Take pleasure in your journey to Japan!