Kyoto, Japan

I always enjoy visiting Kyoto and I’m always a little surprised that I enjoy it as much as I do. It’s more religious, more spiritual, more traditional than Tokyo…all adjectives that in my day-to-day life I’m not looking for. But somehow, on vacation, churches, temples and shrines are so much more interesting. Some of these sights I saw on my last trip here, and some were new, but they never get old.

Shimbashi (Shirakawa Minami-dori) is supposedly one of the prettiest streets in all of Asia (not just Kyoto). Our first day there, we took a lovely evening stroll down it.

Shimbashi in Kyoto, Japan

Shimbashi in Kyoto, Japan

Shimbashi in Kyoto, Japan

The Golden Pavilion Kinkaku-jiThe Golden Pavilion Kinkaku-ji in Kyoto, Japan

Bamboo Forest in Arashiyama on the western outskirts of Kyoto. It’s a bit of a trek to get to, but it’s so worth it. Once here, other than the gazillion tourists, it’s almost like you’re on the set of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.

Bamboo Forest in Arashiyama, Japan

Bamboo Forest in Arashiyama, Japan

Near the Bamboo Forest is Tenryu-ji, one of the top Zen temples and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Tenryuji Temple in Arashiyama, Japan

Maple tree in Arashiyama, Japan

Cherry blossoms in Kyoto, Japan

Maple Tree in Kyoto, Japan

Tenryuji Temple in Kyoto, Japan

The food in Kyoto is traditional and excellent. We started off with a kaiseki dinner in our ryokan, Seikoro. Seikoro was a charming little inn where we slept on tatami mats, ate traditional Kyoto cuisine, and relaxed in our private onsen wooden bath.

Kaiseki in Kyoto JapanAnother night we made reservations at Yoshikawa, an all-tempura restaurant as I am a fan of everything fried.

Yoshikawa Tempura in Kyoto Japan Yoshikawa Tempura in Kyoto JapanFor lunch, we often ate at Ippudo, the same ramen restaurant we ate at in New York. Eating during off-hours, there was no wait and it’s fairly close to Nishiki Market if you want to do a bit of shopping.

One of my favorite parts of the entire trip was visiting a Kyoto temple at night when it’s illuminated. The experience is only available in spring and summer (so I was not able to go on my last trip in the dead of winter). If you decide to go, check with the Tourist Office to see which temple will be open. We didn’t do this at first and just decided to go to Kiyomizu-dera, which was definitely not open during that week. After we checked with the Tourist Office, we found that Shoren-in was open and visited it on our last night. It’s truly magical – serene, quiet, very few tourists, and beautifully illuminated.

Shoren-in Temple Night Illumination in Kyoto Japan

Shoren-in Temple Night Illumination in Kyoto Japan

Shoren-in Temple Night Illumination in Kyoto Japan

Shoren-in Temple Night Illumination in Kyoto Japan

Shoren-in Temple Night Illumination in Kyoto Japan

Shoren-in Temple Night Illumination in Kyoto Japan

Shoren-in Temple Night Illumination in Kyoto Japan

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3 thoughts

  1. I really want to go to Japan so bad. Sometime I am even dreaming that I am there. I used to live in NYC for eight years and I love, love, love big and very fast pasted cities so I am sure that I will love Tokyo. But also another part of me is very much spiritual and I admire gorgeous nature like the bamboo forest and all of the pretty flowers in Kyoto so I would love to go there for sure too. How far is it from Tokyo? Can you drive or you need to fly as well? I used to live for a year in Bangkok and absolutely love this city!!! But for some reason I have a feeling that Tokyo is very different. Thank you for the beautiful pictures and sharing your excpirience!!

  2. To get to Kyoto from Tokyo, I’d recommend taking the shinkansen train (the bullet train). It’s super fast, efficient and reliable and takes about 2 1/2 hours. No need to drive or fly. If trains in the U.S. were like the shinkansen, I’d take one to get from SF to LA all the time. Hope you get to visit Tokyo and Kyoto soon!

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