Kyoto: Shrines, temples… repeat!

Home to colourful shrines, impressive temples and relaxing zen gardens, there is so much to do and see, we only uncovered a fraction of what Kyoto has to offer during the four days we spent here. Originally Japan’s capital city, it isn’t uncommon to see ladies dressed in kimonos exploring the little streets of Gion. A tradition which has continued and is lovely to see.

Still recovering from the lack of sleep since Fuji we were quite happy to board the train to Kyoto and nap! The journey to Kyoto took roughly 3 hours, 2 of those spent on the bullet train.

The bullet train is THE best train I have ever travelled on. All of the Japan’s trains are amazing but as well as being clean and spacious the bullet train is super speedy too! Some of my best naps to date have been on Japanese trains. My dad likes trains and enjoys napping, he definitely would have appreciated this!

Arashiyama

This was the first place we visited in Kyoto. It’s a lovely area to walk around and explore with a mixture of temples, gardens and shops. There were lots of people being carted around in rickshaws which added to it’s charm. We noticed pickled vegetables and plum wine were being sold in most of the shops and we were welcomed in to one to taste test. The plum wine was nice, but I wasn’t too sure about some of the pickles. They were a little too salty for me, including one we tried which was 19% salt.

The two attractions we visited in Arashiyama were the Tenryu-ji Temple and the Bamboo Forest.

The Tenryu-ji Temple is a UNESCO world heritage site and we love UNESCOs! We didn’t go into the temple itself but walked around the landscaped garden which wraps around it. The garden is one of the oldest in Japan and amazing to think it has retained the same form as when it was originally designed in the 14th century. That’s pretty impressive considering the temple has been ravaged by fires eight times!

The leaves on the trees were just starting to change colour when we visited. In a month the garden will look beautiful, full of vibrant autumnal colours. It’s a shame we missed this!

Not far from the Tenryu-ji Temple is the Bamboo Forest. It’s one long windy path lined with towering bamboo shoots. It was nice to walk through, although the day we visited it was so busy! We did plan on going back early morning to take some better pictures but didn’t have the time.

There is also an awesome chopstick shop in Arashiyama where we bought our first pair of chopsticks! It was literally like walking into the Japenese version of Ollivander’s wand shop (Harry Potter for anyone who doesn’t kniw. There were so many to choose from, although the chopsticks didn’t choose us, we had to choose them!

We spent ages in there. We chose our favourites and had our names engraved in Japanese symbols too! This was a great complimentary service the shop offered. Of course Sam chose the pretty glittery one!

Fushimi Inari Shrine

Upon exit from Inari station a huge red tori gate stands at the entrance to the path for the Fushimi Inari Shrine. The shrine is famous for the thousands of torii gates behind the main temple which lead the way up Mount Inari.

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Fushimi Inari shrine

All the torii gates have been donated by individuals or companies. We followed the path of torii gates up to the viewpoint and relaxed with a beer whilst we waited for the sun to set.

Unfortunately it was a little too cloudy to see the sunset but it was nice to chill before heading back down.

Gion

Famously known as the Geisha district, Gion was my favourite area in Kyoto. We headed over late afternoon and loved it so much we went back the following morning.

There is one main street with lots of little side streets off it full of shops, teahouses and small restaurants. Late afternoon is a great time to go because the shops are still open but as the sun starts to set all the lights come on and the streets look beautiful.

There is a Geisha show every evening around 5pm. We only realised this as the show was finishing but it would have been a great thing to do if we had known about it beforehand.

We had dinner in a yakitori restaurant just a few meters away from the main streets. Yakitori is skewered chicken cooked over a charcoal fire and seasoned with tare sauce. It made a change from the standard noodles and rice we had become accustomed too!

The following morning we went out in search of a teahouse. We were looking for a traditional Japanese teahouse, something similar to the one we found in Tokyo. We were really tight for time and after some failed google searches we went to the cafe we had passed the night before. Tsujiri is a very modern version of a teahouse. If you like green tea then this is the place for you!

Green tea flavoured everything

It wasn’t the traditional teahouse we were looking for but it definitely was an experience! Everything was flavoured with green tea.

Absoluetly loved Kyoto. Could have spent a week there so we were sad to leave after our four days. Can’t wait to visit again some day.

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