Kyoto: Heart of Traditional Japan

In Kyoto, we mostly enjoyed visiting temples and shrines. The number of temples in Kyoto was overwhelming. Before our trip I outlined our route to see the ones that would interest me the most with limited time and budget.

Here is the route for our two days in Kyoto:

Day 1: Philosopher’s Path -> Ginkakuji -> Choin Temple ->Heian Shrine->Maruyama Park-> Yasaka Shrine  -> Hagashiyama Street, Kiyomizudera ->Gion/Pontocho Alley for atmospheric dinner

Day 2: Fushimi-Inari Taisha Shrine ->Arashiyama to see Togetsukyo Bridge, Bamboo Grove, exterior of Tenryu-ji Temple

Here are some of my memories from Kyoto:

  1. Japan was having an abnormally warm winter and temperature in Kyoto can reach 60C during the day. We were pleasantly surprised to be able to catch the tail of fall color in mid-December.IMG_3892
  2. The view from Silver Pavilion of Kyoto was great. On philosopher’s path leading to the Pavilion there were plenty of stores selling street food and other goodness, some of which we sampled.IMG_3733IMG_3757
  3. I love the edo-era architecture on Higashiyama street. However, it was also very crowded and touristy. Mug mug found a store with free sampling of marinated goodness and proceeded to sample every single plate they have in the store. I stayed away the entire time due to germ concerns.IMG_3854
  4. On Higashiyama street, we came across dozens of girls (and sometime guys) dress in kimonos. At first we thought there was a festival going on and locals were dressing up to celebrate (think Oktoberfest in Munich), and I even took a couple stalker pictures. As it turned out, they are mostly tourists renting kimonos for pictures around attractions. There are a handful of stores that specialize in this. I only figured this out when I saw a kimono store brochure in my hotel room.IMG_3856
  5. On our last day in Kyoto, we went to Fushimi Inari-Taisha and Arashiyama on our last day. Both of which requires some hiking. The fall color from the Oi river is great, and would have been more amazing a week earlier. We hiked up to the monkey park and was more impressed by the view of Kyoto from the peak than the moneys.IMG_4104IMG_4172IMG_41626. Honotaro festival was not as romantic as I thought it would be. It was very crowded and touristy. I imagine I would prefer the bamboo grove in daylight in a more serene setting, than with colorful lights and throngs of tourists.IMG_4183

This is one of the posts from our two-week trip to Japan and Vietnam. Below is our itinerary. For other posts, please click on the links below:

Index Page: My Two Week Itinerary in Japan and Vietnam

Day 1 & Day 3 : Kyoto: Heart of Traditional Japan.
Day 2: Deers in Nara
Day 4 – Day 5: Hakone: Hot Spring Ryokan and the Non-sighting of Mt. Fuji
Day 5: City Lights in Tokyo
Day 6: Last Day in Tokyo: Meiji Shrine and Tsujiki Fish Market
Day 7-8: Ha Long Bay: A night at the Bay of Descending Dragon
Day 9: One Day Tour in Hanoi
Day 10: Historical Sites in Hue
Day 11 -12 Hoi An : Picturesque Ancient Town


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