After 2 months since the first installment (wow big word), I finally had the time to continue my Kyoto day trip. As you can remember, Kyoto has a reputation as the most beautiful 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 spots we visited in the morning.
THIRD STOP: KYOTO STATION
Kyoto Station is the main train station in the city. And if you’re coming from Osaka or Tokyo, you’ll definitely end up here. But no worries since this place is more than just a place to catch trains. Its architecture is so beautiful that it’s impossible not to bring your camera out. There are numerous restaurants and cafes inside that are really good if you love people watching (ahem me). It is also beside Isetan (high-end mall to sa Japan, guys!) if you felt like spending your money.
BUT if you’re like me who loves free things, Kyoto station has this Sky Garden on the 15th floor where you can see Kyoto city and tower for free! I didn’t get the chance to go up since it’s raining hard (#sadlife). Send me photos if you’ve been there!
Of all the train stations I’ve been to Asia, Kyoto Station is my favorite. One factor, of course, is modern architecture and aesthetics. But it’s ambiance is also something I liked. I’ve always seen people and life rushed in train stations but this station has the chill/relax vibe into it (and I love it).
FOURTH STOP: KIYOMIZU-DERA
We were supposed to see three temples- Kiyomizudera, Kinkakuji, and Ginkakuji- but due to several reasons, like the rain and limited time, we have to let go of the two. We decided to see Kiyomizudera because of its uniqueness and being a UNESCO World Heritage Site. No single regret, though.
HOW TO GET THERE:
From Kyoto Station, buy a 1-day bus pass (500 Yen = 215 pesos) in the tourist center outside. Ride bus number 100 or 206 (One way is 230 Yen). Then get off at Gojo-zaka bus stop, from where it is a ten-minute uphill walk to the temple.
From the bus stop (the red mark), you can choose two paths to the temple – the crowded or the quiet one. We chose the quiet and shorter path. Instead of walking all the way to the end of Gojo-zaka street, we turned to Shimizu New Way. But most of the tourists walk until the end of Gojo-zaka then through Higashiyama District which is flocked with tourists.
It started raining when we got in the temple but we still tried our very best to roam around. The entrance fee is 400 yen (around 170 pesos each). Kiyomizudera is meters above and has a wooden “terrace” where you can see the green trees around the temple. There’s nothing much to do inside but appreciate the nature.
Below the temple is the Otowa Waterfall divided into three streams (corresponding to longevity, school/career success, and love life). You can choose in which stream you would like to drink but drinking in all three is considered as being greedy. Since I can’t choose, I decided to not drink in any at all. The temple is not that big so 1 hour is enough to roam it. (+30 minutes if you love taking photos)
FIFTH STOP: HIGASHIYAMA DISTRICT
Just outside Kiyomizudera is a street long of stores and restaurants. It is the ever famous Higashiyama District. You can see everything here from pork buns to eat to cute Japanese souvenirs. The stores are a mix of cheap and expensive and haggling is not exercised here. My only advice is to buy the pork bun you’ll see here. They’re the best!
SIXTH STOP: GION STREET
The rain didn’t stop until 6 PM so instead of doing our walking tour, we decided to just take the bus to Gion street (our last stop). We went back to Goyo-zaka bus stop Northbound and rode bus number 202/206/207. Then, we went down to Gion bus stop.
Gion street is Kyoto’s famous geisha district. It has numerous stores, machiya restaurant houses, and ochiya (teahouses where you will be served by geishas and maikos). Luckily, I saw a geisha on her way to her ochiya but I didn’t choose to take a photo of her. It is advised for tourists to act respectfully around geishas. Don’t be a paparazzi!
SEVENTH STOP: KYOTO TOWER
Not really a stop since the tower is near Kyoto Station. We didn’t dare to go up since it’s cloudy but you can go up on its observation deck for 770 yen (around 335 pesos). Or you can just admire it from afar like we did.
KYOTO TRAVEL GUIDE AND TIPS
- One day isn’t enough for this beautiful city. You can cover all Kyoto’s famous temples and attractions in 2 days but this city is worth getting lost at. 3 full days is recommended.
- Again, buy a 1-Day or 2-Days Bus Pass. With this ride, you can only ride the green one buses. I used this website in determining which bus stop is near the desired temple I’ll visit.
- Rent a kimono!! Kyoto is the best place to wear it because of its preserved culture and gorgeous nature. There are many stores around the city that you can rent a kimono starting at 3,000 yen (around 1,300 pesos) for a day. Go try kyotokimono-rental.
- If you have a budget, treat yourself by booking a ryokan. A ryokan is a traditional Japanese inn where travelers can wear yukata, sleep in a traditional Japanese bed, communal hot spring and eat the best Japanese food. It is quite pricey but a once in a lifetime experience.
- For the backpackers, Kyoto Station has coin lockers where you can store your bags.
- Best time to go to Kyoto? Cherry blossom and autumn season. Imagine Kyoto and its abundant nature in splashing colors of pink or orange.
- Expect to walk a lot here because even Kyoto’s side streets are beautiful. I saw some foreigners on their rental bicycles so that’s an option too.
- Do a side trip to Todaiji Temple in Nara since it’s just a few minutes away from Kyoto Station.
- Nightlife here is not as good as in Tokyo so skip the bars and enjoy the quiet ambiance it also offers.
Summary of Expenses (in pesos)
Train from Arashiyama to Kyoto Station – P115 (*included in JR Pass)
1 Day Bus Pass – P215
Kiyomizudera Temple – P170
Pork bun – P150
Shinkansen back to Osaka- P665 (*included in JR Pass)
Dinner – P300
If you’re heading to Kyoto sometime soon, you can ask me questions down the comment section?