TAPintoTravels - Not many know this, but Kyoto was actually the capital of Japan for more than 1000 years. Because of that, the city is completely full of traditional Japanese culture. You can see traditional Japanese style homes, temples and streets. You can also find some amazing traditional Japanese food. The people of Kyoto are very proud of their traditional city, and they have every right to be. It’s not uncommon that you’ll pass a pair of beautiful geishas, dressed in their elegant and colourful robes.
When travelling through Kyoto, Japan, I found an incredible amount of things to do. To be honest, I was actually blown away with the amount of options I had. Even though I feel like I did everything with enough time, I do wish to return and do them ALL again.
So here you have them, the 7 Things I wish to do again in Kyoto, Japan.
1. Visit the Bamboo Forest
Located in Arashiyama, a quick 15 minute train ride from the centre of Kyoto is this unique bamboo forest. Once you’re there, be sure to follow the path ALL the way around. A lot of people stop in the first section, but it actually keeps wrapping around. It’s where you can take the best photos.
Walking through this Bamboo Forest in Arashiyama is one of the most peaceful things I did Kyoto. There are sections of the bamboo forest where you can see nothing but bamboo. It is truly fascinating.
TIP – Be sure to get to the Bamboo Forest early. As early as you can.
To get a good photo you want to make sure no one else is in the frame. This place gets very busy and very quickly. It’s definitely worth it though.
2. Visit Iwatayama Monkey Park
Looking for more things to do? Have you ever seen a snow monkey?? They have this amazing grey hair and their little faces are red. They are honestly the coolest monkeys I’ve ever seen. Near the Bamboo Forest, you can visit Iwatayama Monkey Park. Be prepared to walk up a steep path to get there. You may need some semblance of physical fitness, but the walk is definitely worth it.
All of the monkeys are wild. You can see them taking baths in the pond, sleeping in the trees or hustling tourists for bananas and nuts. There’s actually an enclosure where you can feed them from!(The enclosure is for the humans though, not for the monkeys)
TIP – Get to Iwatayama Monkey Park early as more and more people go as the day gets on. Also, be sure to take some Yen so you can buy some nuts and fruits to feed the monkeys with. There is also a very small entry fee to access the park.
3. Visit Sushi Inari Shrine - 10,000 Torii Gates
Located just 5 minutes from the centre of Kyoto is the Sushi Inari Shrine. Otherwise known as the 10,000 Torii Gates. As the name suggests, there are supposedly 10,000 of these fascinating Torii Gates to pass through. It’s said that the gates had been donated by wealthy Japanese families. The larger gates can cost more than $200,000!!
This place is extremely magical. If you get there in the morning or evening, you’ll notice the light from the sun falling through the gates as you visit all of the shrines and make your way to the top. There are plenty of spots to rest and take photos, so don’t worry about that. The walk is free and will probably take you 2 hours or so. You can choose to either walk all the way through the 10,000 Torii Gates and make it to the Sushi Inari Shrine, or just turn back as you please.
TIP – Make sure you go in the morning. Aim to arrive there as the sun begins to rise. If not, you will honestly struggle with taking a photo of the gates on their own. You can also go late in the afternoon. They turn the lanterns on, and it’s absolutely stunning to see. I did it at both times!
4. Visit the Golden Pavilion (Kinkakuji)
A famous temple located in the north of Kyoto. It’s called the Golden Pavilion (Kinkakuji). Although it is still an extremely popular area, not as many tourist visit this site like the first 3 mentioned sites. To get there, you just need to take a 40 minutes bus ride from the centre of Kyoto.
The Golden Pavilion is a Zen Temple which is coated in gold leaf. It also sits on a gorgeous lake. If you get there at the right time of the day, you will see it reflected on the water.
It should also be noted that the Golden Pavilion is free to visit - free things are always good.
5. Visit Ryoanji Temple
When looking for things to do in Kyoto, Japan, a trip to a temple is always a good option. The Ryoanji Temple is truly extraordinary. To get there, you pass through these beautiful Japanese gardens. There is also a massive lake in the middle of the grounds, and the temple itself has a Zen garden. The Zen garden is made up of tiny rocks, green moss and white pebbles. The monks maintain this garden as a form of meditation; drawing patterns into the snow white pebbles.
TIP – go to Ryoanji Temple straight after the Golden Pavilion. It’s just a short walk away, so you can do both on the one visit.
6. Try Okonomiyaki
Eating. It's possibly my favourite thing to do in Kyoto .. well that and check out the sites! You definitely need to eat. And what a better way to eat then by having some food typical to the Kyoto region. This dish is described as a savoury pancake. But don’t think bacon and maple syrup. Think noodles, meat, sauces and vegetables cooked into a water and flour base. When you order Okonomiyaki, they will generally serve it to you on your own grill. It’s already cooked, but it keeps the food nice and warm. Plus you feel empowered as it feels like you’re cooking your own food!
7. Stay at Mosaic Hostel Kyoto
For me, Mosaic Hostel Kyoto ticked all the boxes. This hostel was nothing short of comfortable, neat and friendly. The staff were all incredibly helpful, it was postitioned right in the middle of the city, and the rooms were immaculate.
The dorms all have the Japanese capsule style setup, and the beds are actually very comfortable. During summer, it’s great to use the rooftop and lookout over the city. There are a couple of hammocks up there also, so make sure you take a book with you!
As you can see, visiting Kyoto has been an experience which I will never forget. It’s a city that I one day wish to revisit. A trip to Japan would honestly not be the same without visiting this culturally rich city.
Since the age of 19, Matthew Baloglow (TravelledMatt) has been exploring the world and leaving lasting impressions wherever he goes. Upon turning 25, Matthew had travelled to more than 40 countries. After living in Colombia for 6 months and learning to dance salsa/speak Spanish, Matthew is now currently living in Melbourne, Australia and works for himself as an Internet Marketer. Together with his travel blog, TravelledMatt, Matthew Baloglow wants to create an online platform in which he can teach others that are aspiring to live a digital nomad life. Matthew believes that life is too short to stay in the one place. Although his previous travels have involved him working in his home country (Australia), saving and then travelling, Matthew has now found a way to sustain his travels whilst working remotely.
Matthew’s aspirations to keep travelling and exploring the world have not yet tapered off. The lifestyle in which he has created has been one that he’s only ever dreamed of achieving. Constantly working on his blog, TravelledMatt, Matthew Baloglow feels as though his journey has only just begun.
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