Last stop of this trip to Japan sees us exploring Kyoto (previous stops Tokyo, Takayama and Shirakawago, Kanazawa). We arrive in Kyoto with a JR Thunderbird train, from Kanazawa (no Shinkansen, for this low budget trip) the ticket can be easily done in a small spot at the station one or two days before, the cost is around € 53 per head about.
Kyoto station is new and very modern (designed by arch. Hiroshi Hará, is a work of modern architecture to be included in the visit) contains everything, from plans and floors of shops to a floor dedicated to restaurants where you can always find something good, up to a cinema and a panoramic terrace from which if you had welcomed us a sunny day you could have enjoyed a beautiful view of the city, but it was not so, to welcome us was the rain!
The rain and clouds accompanied us for the following four days, but this did not make us give up from going to discover the temples and beauties of Kyoto.
Temples and beauties of Kyoto.
At the Information office of Kyoto Station you can find maps of the most beautiful routes of the city (Kyoto walks www.jnto.go.jp),but also magazines in English with the program of activities underway in the city in the current month, maps of public transport and those of the various areas of this great city plus much more, so the passage to the tourist information office of the station is recommended to choose your own 4-day Kyoto itinerary.
Being our first stay here we opted for a classic itinerary and as the best things in Kyoto are reserved for those who want to walk, legs on their shoulders and we walked!!!
Having to keep in mind that at 16:30 maximum 17:00 temples and museums close, you have to concentrate within these hours the cultural visits and then turn to neighborhoods in the second afternoon, remembering, however, that here you have an early dinner:
1 day in Kyoto
We decide to start from the higashiyama area south (from Kyoto St. City bus, bus n. 206 departs from D2 or bus n. 100 starts from D1, stop Gojozaka or Kiyomizu-michi).
The walk includes a visit to some temples through some characteristic streets full of Japanese in traditional costume that make the walks always fascinating. On the temples to visit you have to make choices and we opt for Kiyomizu-der temple which offers out of the ordinary experiences, a temple where you can do a lot of things, you could define interactive, beautiful and fun. In this case it is not blasphemous to define a fun temple because they also consider it that way and bring the children, almost as if it were an amusement park. Here we too have given ourselves to interactivity with the temple, always in orderly rows, we enter a dark cave where following a rope we must find the sacred stone to express a wish and make it turn from both sides then find the exit again in the dark! definitely mystical! Then I try the challenge of overcoming with closed eyes the distance between two stones placed in the garden, but like everyone, alone I would not have done it (with my eyes open an optical illusion makes the path seem flat, but in reality it hangs considerably and with eyes closed it is impossible to go straight). We bought blessed trinkets brings good luck, we blessed ourselves with water from the temple fountain….
And it's lunchtime! To optimize the time we eat on the fly some skewers including a fried tofu that for the law of "fried becomes delicious everything" was delicious!!!
We proceed through more or less crowded streets to the most beautiful street in Kyoto, Ishibe Koji where always in the rain we pretend to be back to the Edo period.
- Ishibe Koji
The Kodai-ji temple with its beautiful Zen garden awaits us now and then arrive just after the closing time of the Chion-in temple. We will return to visit it the following day, but I can say that it was not worth it because apart from the triumphant entrance portal, the main pavilion is closed for restoration until 2020!
After 4:30 pm you can relax a bit by taking a matcha tea and warming up your moistened bones a bit before returning to the delightful Gion district and stand in line at the Gion Corner to watch a show synthesis of all the traditional Japanese arts: tea ceremony, ikebana, koto (Japanese harp), gaga just (court music), kyogen (ancient comedy), including some traditional Kyomai dances performed by real Maiko.
Where to dine in Kyoto
For dinner we try a traditional restaurant Junidaya Hanamikoji and eat a delicious dish that is cooked at the table before our eyes, sitting on the ground, experience to do, but I prefer a comfortable chair!!!
2 day in Kyoto
we dedicate ourselves to the area of Higashiyama north (from Kyoto St. with City bus, bus n. 5 departure from A1 or bus n. 17 depart from A2 or bus n. 100 departure from D1, stop Ghinkakuji-michi). The walk includes a visit to the
The walk includes a visit to the Ginkaku-ji temple with its beautiful gardens then continuing through the so-called philosopher's path that unravels at the base of the temple to the Nanzen-ji temple with an intermediate break at the Honen-in temple. This walk along the canal is delightful in any season even in the intermittent rain, I can only imagine what it is like as soon as the cherry trees decide to bloom!
For lunch today we allow ourselves a stop, also to warm up a little and we find a very small family-run restaurant where the lady of the house for a very reasonable price (1650 yen about € 13 in two) prepares us two delicious hot soups! Ramen and soups are always a great solution to spend little, eat something delicious and warm up on cold days!
Where to dine in Kyoto
We head back to Gion to discover other well-kept streets full of ancient charm walking aimlessly until dinner time, when it was time to try the famous okonomyaki (at Teppanyaki Mary)a frittatona containing everything you want, cooked on the plate, which became famous for being the dish he prepared in his restaurant Marrabbio, father of kiss me Licia, in the homonymous Japanese cartoon or anime!
If I may allow myself, no offense to Marrabbio, but I didn't like that much, much better than the fish cooked on the Teppan-yaki plate.
3 day in Kyoto
He sees us, in the morning, climbing the hill of the endless torii of the Fushimi Inari Taisha (keihan line, Fushimi Inari station or Jr train to Nara Inari stop).
The orange torii galleries and stone foxes that accompany the path up to the top of the hill, then down again connecting 5 Shinto shrines and their cemeteries, catapult you, if you have the strength to continue the climb to abandon the crowds, in a world apart from the mystical and suggestive flavor, an experience that only the most memorable temple in Kyoto can give.
For the afternoon we change area we head to Ryoan-ji (reachable from Kyoto st. by city bus, bus n. 205 departure from B3 or bus n. 101 departure from B2, kinkakuji – michi stop) where other wonderful times await us: Kinkaku-ji,super crowded but not to be missed with its golden pavilion that is reflected in the lake of the delightful garden.
Ryoan-ji temple famous for its very essential Karesansui style garden (published in all garden architecture books as an example of essentiality, balance and zen beauty) I could not miss it after studying it on the photos of my books.
We close the day of famous and crowded temples with a small and delightful temple full of peace, silence, serenity, but above all devoid of crowds, at the base of the hill of the Ninna-ji temple called Gochisan Renge-ji Temple.
For today just take the bus and you return home destroyed! For dinner a nice bento sushi from the supermarket close to home! Great and cheap!
4 day in Kyoto
Last unmissable stop Arashiyama (from Kyoto St. with City bus, bus n. 28 departure from D3 Arashiyama stop or JR train to Saga Arashiyama)another intense day awaits us, but finally the sun shines to accompany us and we have the first real taste of Sakura (cherry blossom period) at the Tenryu-ji temple that thanks to the sun and the flowering trees is elected by us the temple from the most beautiful garden!
The Bamboo Grove is super crowded like all the famous places, so we abandon it immediately (to then take it back at a better time) and dedicate ourselves to the solitary garden of the Okochi villa that belonged to the homonymous actor Okochi Danjiro who became famous for samurai films, he created his dream garden in 30 long years. Included in the ticket there is also a Matcha tea and a sweet as a tradition to be enjoyed before tea.
We continue the walk to the north visiting Jojakuko-ji temple and Nisonin temple and then wander a little through the neighboring streets until we reach the beautiful and perfectly preserved house called Rakushisha (of the fallen persimmons) residence of the haikai poet Mukai Kyorai, a truly unmissable gem.
With the advance of the afternoon we return to the bamboo forest, the crowd has thinned out and now we can take a last walk at sunset among the fronds of bamboo slammed by the wind.