On the third day in the land of takoyaki, we jumped to another city – KYOTO!! It carries a reputation as the most beautiful Japanese city. And even I’ve just been there for a day, I will definitely agree without a heartbeat. If Osaka is the culinary capital, Kyoto is the cultural capital of Japan. The city is all about quiet and beautifully preserved temples, shrines, gardens, houses, stores and traditions. Kyoto has captured my heart and I’ll tell you why.
HOW TO GO TO KYOTO
Kyoto is nearer to Osaka City and can be access via different railways. If you’re coming from Tokyo, take a shinkansen or a Willer overnight bus. You can also read my previous post Japan: Airfare, Visa, Budget & Travel Guides.
from Shin-Osaka: Our airbnb is near Shin-Osaka so we opted for a shinkansen. It’s the fastest route, 15 minutes to be exact, but also the most pricey one. (Y1260 ≈ P665) Good thing is that it’s covered in our JR Pass. If you’re on a budget, you can take the JR Kyoto Line. (Y560 ≈ P265, 24 minutes)
from Osaka Station: There are two railways you can take here depending on your itinerary. Take the JR Kyoto Line (Y560, 29 minutes) if you plan to go to Central Kyoto first. BUT if you want to be in the Bamboo Grove (Arashiyama) early morning then take the Hankyu Line. (Y400 ≈ P190, 44 minutes)
FIRST STOP: FUSHIMI INARI-TAISHA
If you have search Kyoto in google or Pinterest, the famous torii gates of Fushimi Inari will surely pop out one way or another. It is the most famous Shinto shrine in the whole city of Kyoto so I didn’t miss the chance to see it with my own two eyes. (And an artsy photo with it of course!)
From Kyoto Station, we transferred to the JR Nara line and went down at Inari Station. You’ll never miss it because it’s just in front of the station. We arrived as early as 8:30 AM but it’s already crowded with tourists and students in their school uniforms. (I don’t know why they’re not in school) This shrine never sleeps at all!
The weather is gloomy that morning but the whole shrine is as bright as the sun. I learned that it’s not the color orange, it’s vermilion, the color said to expel evil spirits and diseases. At the main gate, a group of Japanese kids in their kawaii uniforms asked for a photo with me. (understood it after a 5 minutes charade with them) I don’t know if they find me Japanese model material (LOL) or maybe they just needed it for their reaction paper. Both ways, they remind me of the animes I used to watch. I wanna hug them four!
Some basic facts about Fushimi Inari Shrine are: (1.) It is the shrine of Inari, god of rice & sake; (2.) The main shrine is located at the base of the mountain named Inari as well and it has 10,000 torii gates leading to the top; (3.) Torii gates symbolize an entrance to a sacred place thus the top of the mountain is a place for private worship.
Hiking up will take 1 to 2 hours and we don’t have much of that time (and I’m terribly concern for my parents’ legs) so we decided to pass and just make wishes on the shrines instead. There are a lot of ways – ringing the giant bell, writing it in papers, carrying a heavy rock, buying mini torii gates – to say your prayers, especially for prosperity. I tried almost all because there’s nothing to lose anyway.
Foxes are everywhere in this shrine so I did a little research that leads me to the knowledge that foxes are the messengers of god Inari. If you’re still not contented with all the wishing rituals you did, you can continue hiking up until you reached the entrance leading to the famous 10,000 torii gates. These gates are donated and their names are carved in each one. The names are written in the back so you won’t actually see it unless you turned back.
We didn’t finish the trail to the mountain and decided to go back and leave for our second stop which is a little far. On our way out, we saw a line of stores and food stalls just beside the tower gate. My mom got crazy with the souvenirs shop while I go find myself a breakfast. I got attracted to the smell and fresh squid of the takoyaki (500yen ≈ P250) that I just found myself watching them cook and buying after. But no regrets people, it’s the best takoyaki of my life.
SECOND STOP: ARASHIYAMA
From Southern Kyoto, we rode a train to the West side of the city. Arashiyama is one of the famous sightseeing districts in Kyoto. The district has temples, gardens, shrines, monkey park, a postcard-like bridge and, of course, the ever-famous Arashiyama Bamboo Grove. It’s the main reason why we travel 30 minutes from the city to this Kyoto outskirts.
It is a
long long long long walk from the train station to the Bamboo Grove. I did enjoy the view though. It’s like I’m walking in Nobita and Doraemon’s neighborhood. I saw some bicycle rentals on our way and I’m keeping that in mind for next time. (Or for you if you’re going soon)
The Bamboo Grove is small from what I expected. The photogenic part is in the last part of the path but it also the area with most tourists. I’ve already prepared myself beforehand (it took me a month) with the photobombers and I advised you to do the same. (to save your heart) Nevertheless, the grove is sublime and serene to hate.
After admiring the bamboos, we took our lunch in the area but walked a little far away from the grove because the stores are pricey and crowded. We decided to ditch the other temples (golden and silver pavilion) and stay a little more in the area. I underestimated Arashiyama on my itinerary planning. I thought that the area is all just about the bamboos. And I’m telling you right now that it’s not. The district is old but attractive, serene despite the tourists and just simply very Japanese.
It’s hard to leave Arashiyama especially if you’ve just been there for just 3 hours. There are still a lot of places where we haven’t seen but time is not really on our side on this trip. So maybe next time my dear Arashiyama. Wait for me next time. (I’ll be back with the bikes down the streets!!)
Summary of Expenses (in pesos)
Shinkansen to Kyoto – P665 (*included in JR Pass)
Train to Inari Station – P60
Mini torii gates for wishes – P250
Takoyaki – P250
Train to Saga-Arashiyama – P60 + P115 (*included in JR Pass)
Lunch – P300
Street foods – P300 (bought 3 ranges from P100-P150)
Train back to Kyoto Station – P115 (*included in JR Pass)
TOTAL: P1,100 (spent most in foods)
*If you don’t have a JR Pass, I advised you to get the Kyoto 1 Day Bus Pass for 500 yen (P250) that will give you unlimited bus rides to the whole Kyoto tourist spots for 1 day. But Kyoto to Arashiyama will take 45 minutes instead of the 15 minutes train. So start early!
My part 2 Kyoto story will be up too soon. But if you’re heading to Kyoto sometime soon, you can ask me questions down the comment section. 🙂
Oh my god… thanks for this post… I do really need this as I am heading there in March.. and this sure comes in handy as a reference… I want to visit this two places badly too… your pictures are amazing!!!
Thank you Miera! Yes, please don’t miss these two!
I just can’t get over with all the views that you’ve showed I’m actually a nature lover and, I wish I could see the end of the trail when you’re in the shrine, i think it’s a very good place judging on these pictures, and those bamboo Grove are stunning, it reminds me of a lot of Japanese Samurai movies, you’re so blessed to have a glimpse of this places even if it’s just 3 hours but the memory is priceless.
Nature lover too! I wish I did finish it too but time is not really on our side. Maybe next time, I can show it to you guys. (*crossing finger in going back there haha)
They say Japan is very good in preserving their culture. I didn’t get surprised when they chose to speak in Japanese during the Miss Universe Coronation night which was held in their country. They love their language even if others can’t really understand the emcees and other narrating. I admire the love for culture, definitely! It’s hard to look at those emojis not being emojis. See, I still call it emojis! hahaha! Hope I can visit Japan too, soon!
They actually don’t like speaking English. They have preserved their culture, as well as their traditions, beliefs and attitudes. One thing I observed is that they love Korean dramas and Kpop more than theirs. I call it emoji too. I actually don’t know what they’re called.
Seeing your photos looks like my watched animes came to life. o.o It made me remember of Kamasama Hajimemashite <3 I also want to try their legit takoyaki!! Will definitely visit this place when I step in to Japan!
TRUE!! Never saw Kamasama but I’ll search that one. Their takoyaki is like 100% different from the one here. haha
I am in love with Japan! It is this one country that I’m pretty sure I’d be traveling to more than once in this lifetime. The first time I went to Japan, it was love at first sight. I’m glad you enjoyed Kyoto and Arashiyama. I was there last year and I have nothing but good stuff to say about these places. In fact I am going back this year – hopefully, I get to see a lot of autumn colors.
Same feelings Russ! If ever, I’ll be given a chance to choose what country I can go back to, I’ll choose Japan as well. So jealous you’ll see it in autumn. I wanna go back in autumn as well.
You had me at those streed foos emojis!! They’re so cuuute hahaha <3 Will definitely try those once I visit Japan (hopefully very soon!)
I saw all the emojis of japanese food and I’m freakin’ proud haha!
Japan is part of my bucketlist, its a beautiful country! I wonder why theres no way to apply a visa here.
Your photos are pretty as usual ? Glad that youd able to capture some without the photobombers and that photo with your sister is so cute! Love the outfit too, if only i can wear maxiskirt for my 3inch legs, haha
Thanks for sharing tour travel experiences , very informative and helpful, do u have the list of expenses too? So we can have an idea what to expect when we plan to ?
Hi Joanna! I have a separate post for the visas and travel guides. You can check it here http://beadeegee.com/japan-travel-guides-and-tips/ I’ve updated all my japan travel posts na rin with the summary of expenses. 🙂
Thanks Bea, heading to the post now 🙂
Japan is really in my top country to visit! Truly hope I get there soon enough. This arc in Kyoto is also well-photographed. I hope to see it soon, and also a lot of things that Japan is known for. There are just too many things to take in 🙂
Super nice! Grabe, ang ganda talaga tsaka super linis and the places to go to, sobrang maintained… then again, the same can be said of the whole country. I am curious, ang ganda ng picture ninyo (ikaw) doon sa parang daanan na maraming organge na stips na me nakasulat na Japanese words. Ano iyon? I thought that was the best photo pero nung nakita ko naman ang bamboos, wow!
Hi Robert! The orange strips are torii gates. It’s the symbol of entrance in a Shinto shrine. Imagine 10,000 of that line up to the mountain. Sobrang saya lang maghike. (but I didn’t ahaha) The bamboos are beautiful too as well but I loved the torii gates more.
Seems that you love to travel a lot 🙂 I wish I can visit there too. The view of Kyoto reminds me of the anime Samurai X that I usually watched. What brand of camera do you usually use on your travel?
I only used my Samsung Note 3 here. But I bought a Fujifilm X-A2 on this trip. I usually used that on my travels na. 🙂 I’ve watched Samurai X and I agree with you in that.
Japan!!! I just love everything written and done regarding japan. I have been to tokyo last year but sadly we weren’t able to visit kyoto. From the looks of it, kyoto is also a sight to behold and be amazed at. Your post is written so well! Great writing! 🙂
Hi Chardy!! Tokyo is nice too. Maybe next time you can go see the Kansai region naman. Thank you so much for enjoying my travel post.
I keep hearing great things about Kyoto and all the activities you can so there. I don’t think I could spend just a few days here. I would want to see and do much. This is a great guide to keep for a trip or to share to help someone heading over there.
Oh my god this brings back good memories. I was just there last September. Aside from Fushimi Inari, I went to Kiyomizu-dera. I wasn’t able to go to Bamboo Grove though because it wasn’t part of our itinerary. But Kyoto has thousands of shrines and temples so I am definitely going back to explore more.
I went to Kiyomizu as well. I’ll share it on my Part 2. You should go back and visit Arashiyama. It’s worth it.
i didn’t visit the bamboo grove when i went arashiyama because it was winter! would love to revisit kyoto at least another 2 times, for spring and autumn! Will definitely visit the bamboo grove the next time I’m there. And i love the tori gates at the inari shrine too! just the perfect spot for an ootd shot, but without the horrible crowd.
Is the Bamboo Grove doesn’t look beautiful on winter? I would love to see Kyoto in autumn too. Kyoto is best toured at early morning when there’s still no crowd.
Are there real foxes? Or just statues? I never knew foxes are considered a messenger of god Inari. Anyway, did any of the wishes you made came true?
No they’re not real. Just statues. But it will be nice if they have real ones too, dangerous though(?). I still don’t know yet. haha my wishes take a lot of time to come true I think.
There is so much to see in Kyoto! and everything closes at 5pm so I also had to make a VERY hard decision to prioritize the sites I wanted to see. Definitely need to go back to see Arashiyama next time. I can dedicate a whole day exploring it 🙂
SO TRUE Christine! I wanted to go back din and maybe I’ll allot 3 days in Kyoto alone.
This is probably one of the best posts about Kyoto that I’ve read ♥
You’re so sweet! Thank you! 🙂
Japan is one of the countries I want to visit someday, but not now, not in the near future. Hehe The shrines must really be must-visit because they’re rich in culture, but I don’t I’ll go, since I’m not interested in these ones. Even in the Chinese temples here in the PH, I only visited them because my family wanted to. Hehe It’s just that I’d rather not go, than go with a different intention. So I admire people who actually go and pay respect. 🙂
Now that’s the famous Bamboo Groves! I heard it’s really difficult to take a solo picture because of the crowd of tourists haha my supervisor even told us that he went very early just to avoid the crowd and it was worth it because he had a lot of good solo photos! 🙂
The students might be doing an educational tour? And they included you in their reaction paper! Haha looking like a japanese could also pass, because you look like one! Hehe
I love seeing one country’s culture that’s why I never miss going to temple or shrines. Some of my friends are actually like you and it’s okay. We have all different travel habits and ideals. We chose to go to Fushimi first eh that’s why we sacrificed a photo ops with the Bamboo Grove but it’s okay. It’s just a photo anyway. As for the students, I think they are. I didn’t know I look Japanese because I’m often mistaken as Korean or Chinese. But they look all the same naman so baka.
One thing that I would like to see in Kyoto is Kinkakuji! I can’t wait to visit Japan soon! I’m looking forward to your next post about Japan <3
The golden temple?? It is included in our itinerary too but and hirap pala isiksik lahat ng 1 day. I’ll be posting soon. 🙂
[…] Japanese city and I wholeheartedly agree with that. (What am I to say to that?? char!) Read Japan: A Day in Kyoto Pt. 1 to know how to go to Kyoto and the two big tourist spot we visited in the […]