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Top 5 places you have to visit in Kyoto

The Top 5 places you have to visit in Kyoto.

Continuing this Japan mini-series here are the top 5 must things you have to do in Kyoto! We spent a few days in Kyoto, and walking down the streets and alley ways really felt like you were stepping into a completely different time period. 

Here are my top 5 places you have to visit in Kyoto.

Fushimi Inari Taisha Shrine
  1. Fushimi Inari Taisha Shrine

This is by far one of the most breathe taking places I’ve visited.  There is a set trail you can follow up the mountain (warning, this is not to scale). This will take you through a different sets of tori gates. Some big and some small and at some angles will make it look like there are an infinite number of gates. Perfect for that instagram photo. 

Its also opened 24/7 (but check) and if you’re brave enough you could even take a visit in the dark. 

We rented kimonos when we visited the shrine , great for photos but it was quite a climb. The footwear is quite difficult to walk in so I’d bring trainers alot with you so you can switch out. 

2. Kinkaku-ji – The Golden palace

Like most of the main attractions in Japan Kinkaku-ji was crowded. However, it is still worth the visit. For the reasonable price of 400yen, you get this beautiful view of the golden place, followed with a trail around the palace gardens. 

I don’t remember there being many places to sit, so we sat on a few rocks. If you’re lucky enough you’ll see the koi fish being fed.

3. Nijō Castle

Now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Nijo castle. The castle was under construction when we visited, but we were still able to walk around the grounds. The castle is surrounded by beautiful Japanese gardens. Definitely a place to visit if you want to embrace Japans history.

4. Arashiyama – Bamboo Forest

Another one of the most popular and instragramed places in Japan. A path which is surrounded with long bamboo shoots. The photos really don’t do this place justice. You pretty much feel immersed into nature.

We got up bright and early so we could avoid the crowds. However, its was still very crowded so just note this if you’re visiting. We had to be very patient and quick if we wanted a photo with no one in the back ground. In addition to this , we witnessed a proposal here too!

Also, I wouldn’t recommend visiting at night as there aren’t any lights. 

5. Yasaka Shrine

The Yasaka shrine sits in the Gion district of Kyoto. If you’re looking for a  shrine to visit at night, this is the place to be.  You can take a really nice stroll around the grounds. Admiring the architecture and the lanterns surrounding the area.

Here are some of the snacks and meals we had in Kyoto.

Taro and sweet potato flavoured ice cream
japan street food
Yakitori -Fushimi Inari Taisha Shrine Market
japan street food
Okonomiyaki - Fushimi Inari Taisha Shrine Market
Dango - near Arashiyama
Yakult drink from the vending machine
Sushi - Chojiro

Top Tip

Renting  kimonos is a must in Kyoto. I think the traditional dress suits the cultural Kyoto settings.  However, as a warning we did have strangers taking photos with us and caused a fair bit of back pain.

In conclusion, kyoto is one of the must beautifully traditional places and has so much to offer. There are my top 5 but there is so much more to discover. I hope you enjoyed this post and stayed tuned for more Japan content here – Osaka, Tokyo and Nikko to come! 

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The JR Pass Facts

  • The JR pass is designed for tourist only so you will need to validate the JR pass purchase with your passport
  • There are five Tokyo railway lines that you can use with a JR Pass.
  • You can purchase your JR pass online before you travel but you’ll then need to pick this up at a main Station.