DREAMING IN KYOTO

JAPAN

 

 

I have been longing to go back to Kyoto since we first visited a few years back on our honeymoon. I fell head over heels in love with this city. If Kyoto was a person, they would definitely be graceful, wise and full of interesting stories. There is so much to see, so my biggest recommendation would be to plan ahead and make sure you book enough time to see as much as possible. I’m going to try and keep this post as short as possible, but heads up… i’m not sure I can! I can’t imagine anyone not liking Kyoto, the food, the architecture, the culture, the tradition, the nature. It really has so much to offer and here’s a few things that will make you want to start looking for flights now!

FUSHIMI INARI TAISHA SHRINE

Is this not the most famous location in not only Kyoto, but Japan?

We got here at 5am… 5am people!! We followed the trail through thousands of Tori gates, up millions of steps into a wooded forest to reach the summit of Mount Inari. It took us 2 hours! And this was before sunrise, which meant it was pitch black! By the time we made it to the top, I was a sweaty hot mess hence why i’m not looking too great in the pics! It was hands down one of the best things i’ve ever done in my life and i’m so glad we chose to wake up early, as it was well worth it.  After taking a million pics we headed back down and were greeted by hundreds of tourists making their way up. It wasn’t even 9am! So can you guess my top tip? Yes, obviously get there as early as possible otherwise you will be surrounded by tourists and annoyingly will not be able to walk at your own pace or truly enjoy it for yourself. Just like we had to the first time we visited. However if you’re not much of a walker, you can turn around at anytime.

ARASHIYAMA BAMBOO GROVE

Unfortunately whilst we were in Kyoto there was a typhoon, which meant that quite a few of the bamboo trees were knocked over. It still was amazing to walk through but it was as crowded as we remembered it when we first visited. If this has been on your bucket list for a while then do make an effort to come here as early as possible, otherwise like many other reviews i’ve read, you may end up being disappointed.

 

IWATAYAMA MONKEY PARK

Would you like to see and feed over a hundred snow monkeys who freely roam around a mountain? Yes? Then you have to got to come here. I was gutted when we saw it was closed because of the typhoon, but I have such fond memories of our experience here a few years ago. The walk up Iwata Mountain was only half an hour, but it is a little tiring. But once you reach the top of the park, you’ll be surprised how many monkeys there are. You can buy food and feed the monkeys from the safety of the hut there. Although they may seem cute, I do remember them being a little aggressive and the signs do say not to touch them, so beware! The views from the top are also very beautiful, so even if the monkeys aren’t your thing, the views are worth seeing.

 

GION CORNER

Not a place to be missed when visiting Kyoto. Gion is a glimpse of old Kyoto that’s full of old buildings and traditional tea houses (also known as Ochaya). The streets are very charming even with crowds of tourists. You could spend hours walking about discovering hidden gems. We were lucky enough to see a group of Geisha or maybe they were Maiko, which are geisha apprentices. Many tourists dress as geisha and look lovely but trust me,  you’ll be able to spot the ‘real’ ones! The fact that there were signs around saying not to touch the geisha made me laugh too! We didn’t get a chance to experience an Ochaya this time round because of time, but if you do decide to, make sure to save up some money as they are notoriously expensive.

KIYOMIZU-DERA

This is actually the most visited temple in Kyoto. It truly is a beauty located on a hillside with stunning views and leading onto the temple are streets lined with shops selling traditional confectionaries. Don’t be afraid to go off the beaten track around this area, because again, it is crowded with tourists but you’ll be sure to find some interesting souvenirs. Although it is the most popular temple in Kyoto, honestly I don’t think i would go out of my way to revisit.

 

RAMEN SEN NO KAZE

Ready to be shocked? I am not a fan of ramen!!! Sorry but its true. I don’t understand why people rave about it, until I tried the ramen from here. We first tired it on our honeymoon and for years i’ve been craving it. It’s true that every bowl of ramen you try in Japan is different, but in my opinion, nowhere holds a candle to this family run restaurant. When you visit, expect to wait for more than an hour, but please do not let this discourage you. I promise it is well worth the wait. Take the number card they give you, walk about the market for a while, then prepare yourself for one of the best meals you’ll ever have! The pork chasu was the best i’ve ever had and the broth had just the right amount of spiciness. Sitting here writing this and remembering the taste is making me wish I could have a bowl right now.

SHINKANSEN

Japan’s high speed ‘bullet trains’ or Shinkansen are an experience to enjoy in itself. Top tip, If you’re travelling from Tokyo to Kyoto/ Osaka then sit on the right side of the train for a great view of Mount Fuji (vice versa for if you’re going from Kyoto to Tokyo). And also nothing beats a fresh bento box from the station to eat on the train and relax!

I feel like i’ve barely scratched the surface with this post, since it went so quick and still feels like a dream. But I don’t want to overwhelm you, aka… I need to wrap this post up! If you are considering visiting Kyoto, I hope you find it as wonderful as I did.

J
xx

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