This city is a lot smaller than Tokyo and is far less crowded; I love it more I think because it has more of a Japanese feel. I could say other than snowboarding in Niseko of course, that Kyoto was probably my most favorite city to visit in Japan, for it has some truly stunning sights.
They say that the once capital city of Japan, Kyoto is becoming even more unpopulated with the majority of its residence being older, with the younger crowd coming just to study at universities and then move on to more prosperous jobs.
With a good amount of things to see, Kyoto can be done in a short amount of time for the city itself isn’t too large. You could spend 3-4 days here and see just about everything.
Not far from where I was staying in northern Kyoto is this Golden Pavilion, a Zen Temple completely covered in gold from the top two floors. It is a remarkable temple that stands above a large pond and is a must see in Kyoto.
The temple was built as a retirement villa for the shogun Ashikaga Yoshimitsu and it later became a Zen temple after he passed in 1408. It has been burnt down a few times over it’s existence and has been rebuilt with each section or floor dedicated to either Buddha or samurai residences.
Admission is 400 yen and a visit will take not much longer than 1 hour or more to see everything.
With not many castles in Kyoto, Shijo Castle is the number one to see for its architecture. It has some of the best examples of the Japanese feudal era and became a UNESCO world heritage site in 1994. It too is right next to the Imperial Palace Gardens which you should either visit before or after the castle.
Shijo Castle, Kyoto
The castle was built in 1603 for the shogun Edo Period. The Ninomaru Palace is the main attraction where the shogun stayed during his visits. The palace was constructed with nightingale floors, which means they squeak when stepped on as a security measure against intruders, pretty cool.
Admission is 600 yen and 1-2 hours there will allow you to see the palace and its surrounding buildings and gardens.
Kyoto Imperial Palace and Garden
If you came to Kyoto for the Sakura (cherry blossoms) then here is the place to see them. In the Imperial palace gardens during spring you will be in awe at the sight of these beautiful flowers.
Sakura (cherry blossoms) in the Imperial Palace Gardens, Kyoto
Here at the Kyoto Imperial Palace is where the emperors once lived. Now the grounds are open to the public where you can stroll about in the gardens, have a jog and breathe in some clean fresh air. The garden houses many different types of trees and vegetation and is a nice place to visit and to either relax or stroll about.
Fushimi Inari Shrine
Myself amongst the gates at Fushimi Inarie
Located in the south east of Kyoto, this shrine sits below a mountain named Inari which, at the top, is 233m above sea. The mountain has trails of 4km leading up it and off to other separate smaller shrines. It is a nice hike, where, halfway up you can view the Kyoto cityscape.
Fushim Inari Shrine, Kyoto
Walking up this mountain from the base of the Shrine you will pass through thousands of red gates which make for great photography, not to mention how cool it is passing through all these gates. If you get to Kyoto, I do suggest making an effort to see this popular sight.
This is the district most famous for geisha’s, where shops, restaurants and teahouses line the streets and the geishas there will entertain. However in Kyoto geisha’s have a specific name being called geiko, or for the trainees or apprentices they are called the maiko.
The main street in Gion, Kyoto
If you are interested in the Japanese culture you can head here for some traditional Japanese dining and cuisine although it may cost you more than your average meal at any other restaurant in Kyoto.
Have you been to Kyoto, if so what did you see and what was your favorite?