Kyoto is an unmissable destination if you travel to Japan, here you can breathe the authentic Japanese atmosphere, find out what to see in Kyoto.
The history of Kyoto is a history of wars, invasions and earthquakes. However, the city was largely spared from the bombings of the Second World War, and today it is still possible to admire a large number of period palaces. Kyoto is absolutely the cultural capital of Japan, it is famous for being the city of 10,000 shrines. Just think that it still has 1,600 Buddhist temples and 400 Shinto temples today, moreover, 17 historical monuments of Kyoto are Unesco World Heritage Sites.
Among the wonders of Kyoto, do not miss a visit to the temples of Kiyomizu-dera, Kinkaku-ji, Ginkaku-ji and Ryoan-ji.
How to get
- From Tokyo you can take the SHINKANSEN Ikari JR high-speed train if you have the Japan Rail Pass you will not have to pay anything, if you do not have the Japan Rail Pass the cost for one way is 13600 Yen (109.53 Euro) the Tokyo Station – Kyoto Station route in about 2 hours and 40 minutes.
(You can reserve seats at the Midori No Madoguchi ticket office, just show your Japan Rail Pass, specifying on which train you intend to travel, and your preference for the carriage (smoking or non-smoking), the departure time and destination ).
- From Kyoto Airport , JR Haruka Limited Express
This train connects the airport with Kyoto Station in approximately 70 minutes.
The cost is 2,850 Yen (22.95 Euro).
Once you arrive in Kyoto station, you will find a Tourist Point, where inside you can find maps of all kinds, including explanations on where to find the right buses, the customer service staff are very kind, and will be able to give any kind of explanation or advise.
I recommend staying in the center as much as possible, in order to stay close to the station as most of the shrines are located outside the city of Kyoto, and it will be more convenient to get around being close to the station.
You can try the Ryokan experience, the Ryokan accommodations are the typical accommodations of the Japanese culture, you will find different structures that offer this type of accommodations, the more modest ones have a very low cost, the larger and more luxurious ones have a more luxurious cost, we have personally opted for that. more modest, minimal Japanese style, the room lacked nothing, but I do not recommend more than a couple of nights as futons are not exactly the emblem of comfort.
What to see in Kyoto
Fushimi Inari, Red Torii
As soon as you leave the station, on the other side of the road you will find yourself in front of the large Shinto portal from which the climb on Mount Inari begins. The Fushimi Inari Taisha is dedicated to the Japanese fertility deity, Inari, for this reason, in fact, you will come across many statues representing the Foxes, called “Kitsune”. According to the Shintoists, foxes are the messengers of the deity Inari. It was built in 711 and is among the most important historical symbols of Kyoto.
Going up the hill there are fewer things “to see” including an ancient cemetery halfway up the hill. On the way you will pass through thousands of red torii (red doors) from the largest to the smallest. Climbing to the top and descending takes about 2 hours or so and is not demanding, halfway you will find a typical Japanese kiosk where you can refresh yourself, personally we did not know we were going to climb a mountain, it was a wonderful experience. I advise not to go there late because everything starts to close and there is a maximum time to access the rest of the climb.
How to arrive : From Kyoto station take the JR Nara , to arrive after about 5 minutes at the JR Inari station. If you have the Japan Rail Pass you don’t have to pay for the ticket.
One of the temples that I liked the most, the grandeur is breathtaking, the colors are extraordinary. Its name refers to the sacred and beneficial waters that the visitor can drink that flow from the Otowa-no-taki waterfall.
Kiyomizu-dera is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and was among the finalists of the Seven Wonders of the Modern World.
Tainai Meguri, a mystical experience at Kiyumizu-dera.
Before going into the sanctuaries look for the Tainai Meguri, near the pagoda, you can have a mystical experience, I was quite impressed, you get an additional ticket the cost is 100 Yen (0.80 Euro cents). They will make you take off your shoes and go down a staircase that gradually gets darker, (you will have a wooden handrail to follow all the way) once you touch the ground and enter the cave, it will be completely dark , your eyes will no longer be needed, it will be only you who will go on holding on to the handrail (I never left it I was terribly scared), the path is flat there are no steps. After a while, you will begin to see a soft light illuminating a large circular rock , you will have to put your hand on it, make a wish and turn the rock, after which, you can go out along the exit staircase. If you suffer from claustrophobia I do not recommend this route.
How to get: From Kyoto station take the bus number 206 to Kiyomizudera, the ticket can be bought in the car at the end of the ride, make sure you have cash, you will have to pay it into the slot before getting off the bus in front of the driver, if you have 1,000 Yen tickets you can change them for coins in the appropriate machine always placed inside the car. Cost : 230 Yen (1.85 Euro) per person per way.
Timetable: From 6.00 to 18.00.
Cost: 400 Yen (3.22 Euros).
Kinkaku-ji Golden Temple
The Kinkaku-ji temple, together with other historical monuments of Kyoto, is part of the Unesco Heritage.
The Kinkaku, the famous Golden Pavilion, is a shariden, or a Buddhist hall that contains the relics of Buddha, is part of a larger temple called Rokuon-ji Temple but known as Kinkaku-ji Temple or Pavilion Temple Gold.
A tree-lined avenue leads you to the pond in the center of which you will find the Kikakuji, shining with its golden light . Despite its small size, the majesty of this building remains undisputed. On top of this three-story building, a phoenix appears to be watching the visitors who have come to admire the monument.
Hours: The Temple is open from 9.00 to 17.00.
Cost: 400 Yen (3.22 Euro) per person.
How to arrive: From Kyoto station take bus number 205.
Ginkakuji Temple – silver pavilion
Ginkaku-ji is also called the Silver Pavilion and is a Zen temple, consisting of a main temple and several secondary structures. It is not really silver in color as the artist Ashikaga Yoshimasa delayed covering it with silver leaves and after his death no one continued with his idea.
How to arrive : From Kyoto station take bus 5 or 100 to the Ginkakuji-mae stop.
Cost: 500 Yen (4.02 Euro).
Not to be missed:
Japanese tea ceremony
The tea ceremony (Cha no yu) is a ritual of Japanese culture linked to Buddhism and more particularly to Zen philosophy.
It was an unexpected and beautiful experience, they dressed us from head to toe with the respective kimono, according to Japanese tradition. The owner of the tea house explained to us how the whole ritual would work, she was very elegant in her movements while she showed us how the ritual was performed. Once finished, he followed us in the preparation of tea, and step by step we prepared the Japanese tea by immersing ourselves totally in their traditions and in their culture. It is not a simple preparation of tea, but a set of precise, elegant moves, a moment of prayer, respect and cordiality.
I am attaching the link of the tea house where I went, it is located in the center of Kyoto, but obviously there are really a lot of them, Kyoto Maicoya tea ceremony , I booked online for fear of not finding a place once in Kyoto, on this site by booking online I had a 20% discount on the total price.
Full cost: approximately 6,500 Yen (52.25 Euros) per person.
Unfortunately, most of the ATMs on the street are entirely in Japanese, you can find the ATMs in English in the supermarkets located along the streets.
It was difficult to find restaurants with a menu also in English, most have a menu only in Japanese and we found ourselves several times to get up, I recommend asking before entering the restaurant if the menu is also available in the language English.
Not everyone speaks English, indeed most speak only Japanese, but they know how to make themselves understood, and are extremely kind and courteous.
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