Categories Hotels Japan Recent Discoveries Top 10 Travel with TJD

Japan: Your Vacation Guide in Kyoto

Monday, May 29, 2017
Japan: Your Vacation Guide in KyotoLike1

Japan has always been on my bucket list. I think it is on almost everyone I meet. It’s one of those places that takes you on mystical journey to another world. Actually, it is exactly like that and here’s is your vacation guide in Kyoto.

No exaggerations. 

I fell in love with Kyoto because of that energy and feeling. Transported into another time. Looking around me on the streets of GION, I can almost see everyone’s face with awe and satisfaction that they have also ticked that off their list.

The smell of woodsmoke, the drift of incense; a procession of monks in black-and-gold robes and the silence and stillness from the crowd as a geisha pass them by.

Kyoto cannot be done in just one trip. It’s a start though. It’s a place you need to dig deep into its’ roots and understand its’ history and culture. 

Then there is the food…But that’s for another post. For now, here is a guide to Kyoto when you are planning your vacation to Kyoto, Japan.

TOKYO TO KYOTO

Trains are the best way to get around Japan moreover the bullet train that we took from Tokyo to Japan. Japan’s high speed bullet trains, also known as Shinkansen trains, offer visitors an experience like no other with speeds reaching up to 320 km/hr! The main Shinkansen lines with bullet trains include Tokaido, Sanyo, Tohoku, Joetsu, Nagano and Kyushu. The 2 shinkansen terminals in Tokyo are at “Tokyo” and “Shinagawa” stations. It takes 2 hours and 20 minutes to reach Kyoto.

Here is an excellent guide on the bullet train and inside information.

Learn more
SLEEP

Stay at The Ritz-Carlton in Kyoto

As a first time visitor to Kyoto and a hotel lover (junkie), The Ritz – Carlton in Kyoto is a property that has to be on your bucket list to stay. It was built on the banks of the Kamagawa River with views of the Higashiyama mountains in the East and minutes away from Kyoto’s popular downtown and 15 minutes away from Kyoto Station and a bike or walk ride away from Gion. We checked into our room facing the Kamogawa river and from the moment you step into the room, you are in the presence of tranquility. The hotel organizes tours and excursions and even a private shrine viewing with sunrise breakfast with monks. The dining at The Ritz-Carlton is nothing shy from exquisite such as Mizuki, a Japanese themed restaurant and the Italian La Locanda. Delicacies with the Pierre Herme boutique by the lobby every time you pass by, you would stop and admire the selection of Macaroons and signature cakes. The most impressive dining of them all was breakfast. There are three types of rooms here: Deluxe, Deluxe Garden, and Luxury; and three types of suites: Garden, Garden Terrace, and Garden Terrace Tatami.

The average room price ranges from ¥63,000/$532 US for a Deluxe City View room with one King bed to ¥268,000/$2,262 US for a top-floor suite with a private balcony and mountain view.

Highly recommended and a walk, cycle, taxi away from the center.

BOOK HERE
THINGS TO DO IN KYOTO

Visit Gion

Take a walk from The Ritz-Carlton in Kyoto to Gion, Kyoto’s most famous geisha district, located around Shijo Avenue between Yasaka Shrine in the east and the Kamo River in the west. It is filled with shops, restaurants and ochaya (teahouses), where geiko (Kyoto dialect for geisha) and maiko (geiko apprentices) entertain. Gion is one of my favorite places in Kyoto with the traditional wooden buildings and the historic district is the most popular place for seeing Geisha especially at around 5pm where the Geisha starts to head out. Please make sure you respect the laws and don’t get up in their faces and respect their presence as she walks by. Always take photos from the side or back, but leave their path open.

Kimono Experience 

The Ritz-Carlton in Kyoto offers the Kimono Experience. You are brought into a room filled with colorful material and Kimonos for you to choose from, with a hair stylist and a make up artist and for the next 15 minutes, you are being pampered and taken care of by professionals. It’s an experience you cannot miss out on and a chance to be drawn into the culture by local attire. 

Bamboo Forest 

The Japanese have a long history with bamboo, in myths and legends, metaphorically linking a man’s strength with this plant. The Bamboo Forest of Arashiyama paths which are over 500 meters long, set between Tenryuji temple and Nonomiya Shrine. You can either walk along the forest by foot, cycle or by rickshaw. You can find the rickshaw almost at every corner and they take you to great secret spots!

Japanese Tea Ceremony 

For over 1,000 years, Japanese drank tea and up to the 16th century did they start to take it seriously. Kyoto remains the center of the Japanese tea ceremony world (and tea growing world) and a popular place called Camellia is known to be one of the best amongst many. The Japanese Tea Ceremony It is a choreographic ritual of preparing and serving Japanese green tea, called Matcha, together with traditional Japanese sweets to balance with the bitter taste of the tea.

Fushimi Inari Shrine 

On my bucket list for the longest time! Despite not hiking to the very top (lack of time), you should make sure you do! The hike to the summit of 233m Mt. Inari-san and the pilgrimage circle around the shrines near the top is one of the most interesting short walks around Kyoto. It’s also the best way to see all of Fushima-Inari Taisha Shrine. One of the most memorable moments in Kyoto and one of the most beautiful shrines.

Bike around Kyoto 

Everyone highly recommends and insist on biking around Kyoto as the best way to explore the beautiful gems. It is one of the world’s greatest bike cities and you will find a bike to rent around every corner. Remember that people drive on the left there and so should you on a bike. You can park your bike in many bike stations parking and take a walk after that. One easy route I found online is Kyoto Station to the Kyoto Botanical Gardens via the Kamo-gawa River and will take you about 2 hours.

Visit Kinkaku-ji (The Golden Pavilion) 

Kyoto’s most iconic sight. We made sure we went there on a weekday very early morning. Wake up at 6am to catch the sunrise otherwise it would be packed with tourist.

Walk the Philosopher’s walk

Cath the Sakura (cherry blossoms) by walking through the philosopher’s walk. Its name comes from the Japanese philosopher of the first half of the ‘the 900th Kitaro Nishida, who taught for several years at the University of Kyoto, and it is said he used to walk along this street during his moments of reflection.

WORDS TO GET YOU BY

Sumimasen – Excuse me

Thank you – Arigato gozaimasu

You’re welcome – Do itashimashite

Goodbye – Sayonara

Doko – Where?

Hai – Means I’m satisfied ( sometimes could mean yes)

Wakarimasen – I don’t understand

Ganbaru – Ill do my best

Oyasumi Nasaii – Goodnight

Like this article? Share it and save it on Pinterest!

Travel Junkie Diary

A bohemian traveler

Leave a Reply

Follow @ traveljunkiediary
  • A huge shift in my energy today as I start working on our next @travelwithtjd - Scandic countries holds an exhilarating amount of joy and peace in my heart, which I’ve learned not to search anymore for reasons to explain it, because some things cannot always be expressed in words. 
We have recently launched Sweden’s Arctic experience on @travelwithtjd other than Finland, Iceland and Norway. The link is in bio if you like to join our polar journeys and have an adventure of a lifetime. Only 2 spaces left for Sweden. Hope to see you on our TJD trips! 
Photo by @dennisstever 
#TravelwithTJD
  • Sunrise view from my room facing the Athenian Riviera from @fsathens from Arion side of the building which is more laidback.
I have to admit though, it’s good to be back home and back to a routine. I tend to pick up emotions from the people and environment around me, and from time to time, it’s good to be grounded. Thank you Four Seasons for a wonderful experience and congratulations on the opening! ❤️
  • It was 18 degrees at the most one morning, and the sun was shining. Jumped on a @fsathens boat and sailed to visit the Poseidon Temple and an afternoon lunch at hidden gem by the sea with the sweetest people. I love being on boats and grew very fond on them since I was very little. ❤️
  • I was lucky enough to have had 3 sunny days in Athens before the weather turned into beautiful rain. It was a great weekend celebrating @fsathens opening. This is one of the pools at sunset from Nafsika side with private cabanas on the sides. That’s my weekend, how was yours? ☀️
  • I landed in Athens couple of days ago to celebrate the opening of @fsathens - Four Seasons Hotel Astir Palace Hotel Athens is a luxury escape resting on a peninsula along the Athens Riviera, just 30-minutes from the historic city centre. 
I ALWAYS love coming back to Greece 🇬🇷
  • I’m caption-less this morning. Might be because my mind is either overloaded or too relaxed, does this happen to you? 😊 - but here is @joalimaldives from where I drone. Happy Thursday everyone!
  • Back in Dubai for 24 hours and summer has already begun here and there is no way I can manage to have Charlie look at the camera!! My summer plans are getting together and with a little inspiration from @theitalianwayuae we are adding Italy’s coast on our itinerary as well! #TheItalianWay
What are your summer plans?
  • Located on Muravandhoo island on the Raa Atoll in the northern Maldives, @joalimaldives celebrates the ‘Joie De Vivre’ ... the joy of living, the joy of everything ❤️
  • You’ve got to find that soul friend... You’ve got to find that person. I’ve always truly believed that. 
Those which answers to these questions—does our friendship feel easy? Am I better for knowing this person? Do they help me become closer to the person I ultimately want to be? Can we be quiet together for a long time?That's the person I want to be be forever friends with. That's my soul person. Do you have yours? 💫
  • I’ve traded my snow gear to flip flops! I’m always happy to be back at @joalimaldives and since the pre-opening, it has flourished so much and the island has come alive! I’m always impressed with the incredible work they do here in attempts to save the marine life, the co-operation they do for the local islands and the incredible staff that has become good friends of mine now! ❤️
How gorgeous is this overwater villa?
  • It’s been a challenging week and the year is passing way too quick!! I’ve already started planning my summer vacation which I’m so ready for and setting new adventures for winter journeys in the arctic on @travelwithtjd - But, Portugal is always a returning choice for me this summer, especially Madeira Island. 
What are your summer plans?
  • I was looking back at some of the memories I’ve made in the past. Everyone say don’t look back... but I always do and smile. 
I look back when we say goodbye at the airport, at old beautiful memories and it’s always beautiful to see what an incredible life I’ve built. Here is a memory of Kenya 3 years ago where I spent 2 nights at Giraffe Manor and woke up at the break of dawn, looking outside my window, and saw these beautiful creatures staring right back at me. 😊 Do you ever look back?