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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Next up: more from Kyoto