In this second leg of their adventures in Japan, Bjorn and his friends explore Kyoto on a budget. After leaving the busy streets of Tokyo, Kyoto ends up being the perfect destination for our group of artsy, game loving, 20-something year olds, to unplug and unwind with nature. Read on for their itinerary and what did and did not meet with their expectations.
Kyoto Itinerary at a Glance
Accommodations: IMU Hotel Kyoto
- Day 7:
- train trip from Tokyo to Kyoto
- Lunch: bento boxes
- visit Kiyomizu-dera Temple
- explore Fushimi Inari Taisha
- Day 8: Arashiyama
- visit Tenryu-ji Temple
- hike through the Arashiyama Bamboo Forest
- cross the Togetsu-kyo bridge over the Katsura River
- chat with monkeys at Arashiyama Monkey Park
- walk to Kinkaku-ji, the Temple of the Golden Pavilion
Day 7 in Kyoto
In the morning, we picked up a JR Rail Pass to use the Shinkansen and other Japan Rail lines. We then picked up a bento box to enjoy on the Shinkansen bullet train, and away we went! The speedy train took us from Tokyo to Kyoto in about 2.5 hours.
After dropping off our luggage at IMU Hotel Kyoto, we went to explore Kiyomizu-dera Temple. This scenic and expansive Buddhist temple provided a view of the city below, lush greenery, and stunning architecture. There were plenty of shops on the way to the temple including one with Studio Ghibli merchandise.
We later explored Fushimi Inari Taisha, an important Shinto Shrine. It is most famous for the rows of torii gates lining the trails into the forest behind the main buildings. These symbolic gates mark the boundary between with spiritual world and the human world.
Day 8 in Kyoto
This was my favourite day of our adventures in Japan. We explored the nature in Kyoto by touring Tenryu-ji Temple and the Arashiyama Bamboo Forest. After wandering the gardens of Tenryu-ji Temple, we hiked up the mountain through the bamboo forest to get a picturesque view. It was much longer than we expected, but it was worth the sweat. Taking in nature and breathing in the fresh air, feels so healing to me.
After enjoying some snacks, we crossed the Togetsu-kyo bridge over the Katsura River.
On the other side of Katsura River, we traveled up the mountain to the Arashiyama Monkey Park. I’m not going to lie, I was a little scared to have the monkeys walking around so close to me, especially after seeing signs with scary monkey faces telling us not to look them in the eyes. After my initial fear settled down, I was able to acknowledge how absolutely cool it was to be on a mountaintop hanging out with monkeys.
We then took a few trolleys and walked up to Kinkaku-ji, which translates to ‘Temple of the Golden Pavilion’. Although, the site’s official name is Rokuon-ji, it is more commonly called Kinkaku-ji as the top 2 floors of the pavillion are completely coated in gold leaf. Surrounded by greenery, the structure overlooks a pond, making it even more picturesque. This was a magnificent sight to take in. It is no wonder that the popular name overshadows the true name of the site.
Tune in to the next leg of our trip to Osaka.