12 Dec Kyoto Travel Guide : 4 days itinerary
Japan is a country with many beautiful contrasts. From one side to another you will find different cities each with their own traditions and uniqueness. Kyoto is one of the most popular cities for visitors as it combines the traditional with the modern. It is also relatively close to trendy Tokyo so it is easy to combine the two cities in your visit. Below you will read the short Kyoto Travel Guide that we made for you or what to do in Kyoto in 4 days.
Let’s talk about Kyoto!
Where is Kyoto and how to go.
Kyoto has been the capital of Japan for over 1000 years! Today it has about 1.5 million inhabitants. It is located in the Kinki chihō area and is 450 km from Tokyo (by road). Other nearby cities from Kyoto include Osaka (50 km) and Nara. Kyoto is considered the center of traditional Japanese culture and Buddhism. Kyoto city does not have its own airport. The nearest airport is Osaka, 36 km away. To visit Kyoto you will go either from Osaka or from Tokyo. Osaka as we said is closer and you can go by bus from the airport (55 minutes). Alternatively, of course, there are many trains that connect the two cities and it is the best choice you have especially if you have bought the Japan Rail Pass. If you land in Tokyo and go to Kyoto later, your best choice is the train again as it is the fastest way to get there. With bullet trains, you will need about 2.5 hours. Keep going to see what to do in Kyoto!
Visit the Fushimi Inari-taisha Shrine.
One of the most impressive and unique attractions in Kyoto is Fushimi Inari. This is a very special temple that honors the god Shinto, who is the god of rice. In fact, it is the most famous temple dedicated to Shinto. Fushimi Inari is composed of many Torii Gates. Torii Gates are red wooden “gates” that symbolize the transition from the worldly to the sacred. The temple is located in the sacred forest of Inari and the Torii Gates reach 233 meters high. So get ready for a little climb. When you reach the end you will be rewarded with a beautiful view from the mountain. The climb will take you about 2-3 hours while calculating a total of half a day for your visit. The temple is located outside the JR Inari Station. You do not pay a fee to visit it, nor are there specific hours that it is open. Ideally, visit it very early in the morning to avoid the crowds.
Take a look at the flavors at Nishiki Market
What to do in Kyoto if you are a foodie like us? But to visit the Nishiki market! It is a closed market full of shops located to the right and left of the central “artery” of the market. You will find countless food shops and it is an opportunity to try what you find strange and delicious. From Japanese omelet to seafood, yakitori, soya donuts, and so on. Of course in the market, you will also find shops with clothes, souvenirs, 100yen stores and whatever else you need. The peak hours are slightly claustrophobic since a lot of people gather but it is really interesting to just “dive” into the experience! We went almost every day since it was close to our accommodation. In fact, we did a Food Tour with Noe from Japan Wonder Travel which was really unforgettable since we had the opportunity to ask all our critical questions to Noe such as how they flirt in Japan!
Walk in the Gion area.
A walk in the so-called Gion District is a must on our list of Kyoto Travel Guide. You consider it the best area for fun, with small cute shops and teahouses, an artistic vibe, and very beautiful aesthetics. Of course, the area is also known as the Geisha area, since there you can see real Geishas. Interesting fact the name for geishas is geiko, while for trainees it is Meiko! As you understand, we did not sit in the streets waiting to see any geiko or Meiko. Also, keep in mind that you will see many tourists dressed like that. Perhaps the most famous street in Gion District is Hanami-koji. You will see the beautiful wooden houses in the row, while you will find many expensive restaurants to taste traditional Japanese cuisine.
Take a walk in Arashiyama Bamboo Grove.
This is the so-called Bamboo Forest of Kyoto and as you can understand from its name it is a bamboo forest that extends to a large area-park. We included this forest in our Kyoto Travel Guide because the bamboos are very tall and create a spectacular photogenic landscape. We visited the forest at noon and we did not enjoy it very much as it was VERY crowded. Keep in mind that it is a very popular place! It is open all day and has no fee to enter. It is also just a ten-minute walk from Saga Arashiyama Station, JR Sagano line.
What to do in Kyoto – last but not least!
We will start with another temple, Eikando Zenrinji, which is also easily accessible, so it is easy to enter the program. We will continue with walks on the Philosopher’s Path and Pontocho where the restaurants are located on the river. We really enjoyed it there, especially at night, although we did not dine at any of the restaurants but drank by the river. Also, if you are in Kyoto during the lush flowering season, it is worth going to Maruyama Park. Finally, something we didn’t do and regretted it was to take part in a tea ceremony! This is a must experience for your Kyoto Travel Guide list as it’s more than just a hot drink. it is indeed a spiritual process.
See more about our trip on Instagram (highlights stories #Kyoto).