A Weekend in Kyoto: Day 1

Filed in Japan by on September 21, 2014 • views: 1593
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An Overview

We choose Kyoto because we did not need a visa with our US passports and it was only a 1.5 hour flight from Incheon International Airport.  This quick long weekend get-a-way was ideal to release some of the stress we were getting with some of our new projects in South Korea.  Kyoto also has over 1,600 temples and shrines that would make this the perfect place to relax and unwind.

Getting to Kyoto

The moment we landed at Kansai International Airport in Osaka we felt a wave of stress get released from our bodies.  Japan is a very organized and clean country. From Osaka, you can take the very comfortable express train to Kyoto Station which is just over an hour.

Inside the reserved car on the express train to Kyoto

Inside the reserved car on the express train to Kyoto

 

Express train to Kyoto

 

Kyoto Station

Kyoto Station is one of Japan’s largest strain stations and a major transportation hub.  This multilevel complex has a mall, food court, bus terminal, and subways and trains go in and out of here to all over Japan.  Don’t let this very large complex scare you.  There are lots to do in here to make your trip in Kyoto fabulous!  The first thing we did after arriving at Kyoto Station was to stop by the Tourist Information center on the second floor.  Here we picked up our 2 day bus passes and the Kyoto Tourist Guidebook.  All of the beautiful food on display was making us hungry so we decided to try some authentic Japanese food.

Food Counter by the Train Platform

Food Counter by the Train Platform

 

My Lunch

 

Our Guesthouse

Once we had gotten some food into our stomachs, it was time to find the place where we would be staying.  We booked the Ryokan Sakura a head of time on Japanese Guesthouses.  These guesthouses book up fast so book early in advance.  It was a very easy 10 minute walk from the station with our 1 suitcase.

Our Room

Our Room

 

Outside of the Guesthouse

 

Reception Area

 

The Garden

The Garden

We picked this guesthouse because it was family owned and operated and was modern but with a bit of a traditional flare.  We were not so if we would be able to sleep in the floor.  Our western room was very comfortable with a TV, our own bathroom, and we had one of the best nights sleep ever in these beds.    The staff at this guesthouse made us feel like we were part of their family in their house.  To our amazement they all spoke fluent English!

Nishi Hongan-ji Temple

After a quick drop off of our bags, we decided to visit the temple closest to where we were staying.

The Main Gate

The Main Gate

 

The Main Building

 

Inside the Temple

Inside the Temple

 

The Walkway

Most of the temples close between 5 and 6pm.

Walking Tour to Gion

From here we walked to the Gion area in east Kyoto. We could have saved a lot of time by taking the bus but didn’t realize they were all in English and the bus maps we picked up at Tourist Information were very easy to follow till later that evening. On the way to Gion we discovered Shosei-en Garden that had sadly been closed already for the day, but with some of the photos I took, you could see inside a bit.

Outside of the Garden with the Kyoto Tower in the Background

Outside of the Garden with the Kyoto Tower in the Background

 

Inside the Garden

Inside the Garden

 

Inside the Garden

Inside the Garden

 

Houses in Kyoto

Even though the houses are small to western standards, they looked very well kept and organized. Even walking through the narrow streets, it was quite peaceful. Some even had garages and a small garden in front.

House with a Small Garage

House with a Small Garage

 

House with a Small Garden in Front

House with a Small Garden in Front

 

House with a Large Garage

House with a Large Garage

 

 

Kamo River

This beautiful river is very scenic peaceful. One can gaze at the birds flocking to catch fish here. This river also has a very well maintained bike path.

The Kamo River

The Kamo River

 

 

Arriving in Gion

The Main Street in Gion

The Main Street in Gion

The scenic long walk to Gion made us very hungry.  We had shabu shabu before in South Korea but heard that the Japanese version was different.  Sure enough we found a Japanese shabu shabu place.  Another delicious meal was served to us.

Vegetables Served with the Shabu Shabu

 

 

Shabu Shabu

Shabu Shabu

 

After dinner we decided to walk around the area a bit as we heard this was the place where one would most likely see the ladies in their traditional kimonos.  We saw a lot of the lady’s wearing their kimono’s at the temples as well.

Lady Dressed in a Kimono

Lady Dressed in a Kimono

If you are interested in shopping, this is a great place to do that too.

 Yasaka Shrine

After dinner, we walked around some more and noticed that Yasaka Shrine was beautifully lite up.  It is also open 24 hours!  What a perfect first night in Kyoto!

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The Main Entrance

 

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Looking out into Gion from Inside the Shrine

 

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Prayer Lanterns

 

Prayer Bells

Prayer Bells

 

After an exhausting full-filling day, we decided it wasn’t in our best interest to walk all the way back to our guesthouse and did not want to pay for a cab.  We decided to be adventurous and take a public bus outside of our comfort zone in South Korea.  To our surprise they were in English!  Even in the dark we had no issues getting back to our guesthouse.  The bus drivers are also quite friendly.   Just remember that they drive on the left side of the street here.

A Bus in Kyoto

A Bus in Kyoto

Inside the Bus

Inside the Bus

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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About the Author ()

A global citizen who has spent 40 years traveling mostly through Africa and Asia. To date she has been to 81 countries on 7 continents and currently resides in Uijeongbu, South Korea where she writes about her travels around the world.

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  1. It looks like you had a very nice weekend in Kyoto.

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