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.
The Golden Pavilion Kinkaku-ji
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.
Near the Bamboo Forest is Tenryu-ji, one of the top Zen temples and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
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.
Another night we made reservations at Yoshikawa, an all-tempura restaurant as I am a fan of everything fried.
For 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.
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