Kyoto, Japan (Part one)

Accommodation

Our guided tour with Intrepid Travel ended this week and we are staying in Kyoto for the next 5 days to explore on our own. I booked the Good Nature Hotel for our stay on Booking.com. I love this hotel! It has nice big beds, a table/seating area to eat, a spacious bathroom with a bathtub/shower, and there is a market on the first floor that serves vegetarian food. Definitely a plus for me since I’ve had difficulty finding food easily here.

Joe with our backpacks. Yes, he bought the same one as me since he said, “You know how it’s done right.”

Arashiyama Bamboo Grove

I was looking forward to visiting this bamboo grove since I’ve seen so many pictures of it online over the past couple of years on Instagram. It was a really lovely walk and very picturesque. I would recommend it and I would recommend that you go as early as possible to beat the crowds. It’s a more pleasant experience when it’s quiet and you can hear the birds chirping.

We saw people taking traditional wedding photos in the grove

Fushimi Inari Shrine

If you do one thing in Kyoto make it a visit to Fushimi Inari Shinto shrine. It’s famous for its thousands (10,000+) torii gates that spread over the trails on Mount Inari. I’m going to do a separate post on this shrine because I loved it so much and took over a hundred photos there! In the meantime here’s a little sneak peek.

Kinkaku-ji (Golden Pavilion)

One of the more impressive Buddhist temples we visited on this trip was the Golden Pavilion. The way the sunlight reflected off this temple was stunning, especially with the reflection into the water. It was really beautiful and stood out after visiting multiple temples on this trip.

Kiyomizu-dera

Another one of my favorite temples from the trip was Kiyomizu-dera. This Buddhist temple was founded in 780 and was named a world heritage site in 1994. It has an amazing view of Kyoto from the top. I would recommend going at sunset for some great views. The maple leaves around this temple also looked really beautiful this time of year.

We saw multiple people dressed up in traditional kimonos taking pictures at this temple

Ginkaku-ji (Silver Pavilion)

Another temple worth visiting in Kyoto is the Silver Pavilion. The temple itself isn’t as stunning as the Golden Pavilion in my opinion, but it does have a nice zen garden and moss garden on the grounds that make up for it. You can also hike up the hillside and get a nice view of the temple with the city in the background.

Nijo-jo Castle

We visited Nijo-jo Castle as part of the tour. It wasn’t on my radar before the trip, but I’m happy our guide recommended it. It’s a world heritage site and was built in 1603 as a residence for Tokugawa leyasu, the first shogun of the Edo era. There are some beautifully decorated rooms in this residence. You weren’t allowed to take pictures inside so I only have pictures of the grounds around the castle.

Intricate woodwork
I love the way they manicure the trees here

What I ate in Kyoto

One thing we heard about and wanted to try in Japan was a conveyor belt sushi restaurant. Kura sushi was recommended to us so we tried it out. There are multiple locations around town.

You sit down in your own booth and pick up trays along the conveyor belt as they come along. Then they count your trays at the end and total up how much you ate. It’s cheap and a fun experience.

You can also order dishes and they are delivered directly to your booth on a separate conveyor belt. It was cool, but they didn’t have great options for vegetarians so I wouldn’t go again.

We were getting a little tired of Japanese food so we started choosing more western food options in Kyoto.

Pizza… we had it twice! So good. We found this pizza place inside Kyoto Station.
I finally found a good salad at Good Nature Station. I’ve gone back almost every day for this salad since it happens to be on the first floor of our hotel.
Vegetable gyoza (dumplings) from Chao Chao Gyoza.

Sweet treats

Yes, I’ve had a lot of dessert on this trip! I have a huge sweet tooth. The good thing is I have no guilt since we’ve been walking 15,000-25,000 steps per day to make up for it.

Matcha (green tea) soft serve ice cream over matcha cake
Pastry fish filled with sweet red bean paste
Strawberry waffles. I think they wasted an entire can of whipped cream on this one waffle!
I’ve had many green tea lattes
Matcha tiramisu
Laduree Paris has a store here so I picked up some macarons

Next up: more from Kyoto

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