THE ULTIMATE GUIDE TO EXPLORING KYOTO – PART 1

“Kyoto me my everything” is our tag line for Kyoto. Everything that we could ask for in a place is tucked in this city that is rich in cultural and historical heritage. This is also where modernity meets tradition.

Previously, we briefly mentioned on our post: “Ten Things to Add on your Japan Bucket List” about Kyoto having 2000 shrines and temples. Whew! It is a lot, we know. Out of these countless shrines and temples, there are a few that you can tick from your list on your first visit in Japan, particularly in Kyoto.

 

1- Fushimi Inari

Our best tip is for you to visit Fushimi Inari between 7:00 AM – 08:00 AM. This famous spot in Kyoto is crowded with many tourists after 08:00 AM so it would be impossible for you capture a very good visual of the tori gates once you visit past that hour. It pays to be early: the air is still breezy, the place is not flocked with tourists yet, and since there is no entrance fee and operating hours, you can explore the place as much as you want.

The entrance
Fushimi Inari illuminated by the sunlight
Fushimi Inari and the scripts encrypted on the tori gates
Fushimi Inari early in the morning
A quick stop at the pond on the way to the 2nd station

On our way back, we stumbled upon this great sight!

Amazement to the cherry blossoms never stops
Shower me with these sea of sakura blooming beautifully

 

2- Daigoji Temple

Daigoji is a designated world heritage site that is around 40 minutes train ride from Fushimi Inari. Logically, we could have put this as our first destination during our trip. However, considering the number of visitors in Fushimi Inari after 8:00 AM, we decided against this plan. If you are lucky during spring, Daigoji is one of the places where you can bask in the beauty of cherry blossoms. In fact, we saw another fully bloomed sakura tree here during our visit. 

Varying Sakura colors in every place we visited

Sanboin is the elegant residence of the head priest constructed in 1115. This place is where you can also see an elegant landscaped garden constructed in 1598.

Garden in Spring
Garden
Garden at Sanboin
The bestie at the garden

A walk further inside the temple grounds will bring you to Shimo Daigo. This is where you can find the 38 meter tall pagoda – the oldest in Kyoto.

Oldest Pagoda in Kyoto

Operating Hours: 09:00 AM to 17:00 PM

Admission: 1500 yen (from March 20 to May 15 and from October 15 to December 10); 800 yen (during the rest of the year)

 

3 – Sanjusangendo

If there is another temple you should visit, this must be one of it. This temple is famous for the 1001 statues of Kannon. You can see a human size statues standing in ten rows and plated in gold which is surely a visual treat to everyone.

Notice that this is yet another color and breed of cherry blossoms
Happy Me
Basking in the beauty of the place
The hall where the 1001 famous statues of Kannon are kept
Front view of the hall
Stumbled upon another sakura inside. Hurray!

Operating Hours: 08:00 AM to 17:00 PM

Admission: 600 YEN

 

4 – Kiyomizudera

This is a well known UNESCO world heritage site in Kyoto. The main hall and stage in this temple were built without the use of nails and provide an amazing view of cherry blossoms (spring) and maple tree (fall).

From Sanjusangendo, you can take bus 100 directly to Kiyomizudera and from the highway’s bus station, you will have to walk uphill for approximately 15 minutes. Enjoy all the food along the streets of Kiyomizudera and be sure to ready yourself for the number of visitor you will see exploring its vicinity.

Another pagoda
Kiyomizudera entrance

Operating Hours: 06:00 AM to 18:00 PM

Admission: 400 YEN

Depending on your energy, you can cap the day by heading to Gion where you can do a Geisha or Maiko sightseeing and enjoy the traditional houses along Gion’s streets.

 

5- Gion

This place is commonly known as the “geisha” district that is located between Yasaka Shrine and Kamogawa River.

A geisha or a Maiko?
One of the Gion streets
Strolling around Gion
Street of Gion
Inside Gion
At the Kamogawa River

The Shirakawa area which runs along the Shirakawa canal is also another part of Gion where you can have the best sight seeing view with lesser crowd around.

Even at night, we can still spot early sakura bloomers
Shirakawa Canal
Still a part of Gion

Whew! We just shared to you part 1 of our Kyoto guide. Stay with us as we bring to you many more places that you can explore in 48 hours.

 

Do you have any plans of visiting Japan anytime soon? SHARE this to your friends and invite them to take an adventure to Japan with you!

 

 

 

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