May 30, 2023

Two Weeks in Kyoto Zen Temple

Japan had been on my listing for a LONG time. For some cause although, I all the time struggled to make a visit occur. However lastly, it occurred! And since I used to be excited to make it right here, I didn’t need it to be a fast journey.

In the long run, we determined to spend 1 month complete in Japan.

We spent the primary two weeks in Kyoto and it was excellent. Every single day was rewarding and we didn’t remorse spending two weeks on this metropolis in any respect. It’s calm, picturesque, pleasant and filled with actions and locations to go to. The meals is ever so tasty, it’s simple to get round and it’s additionally very reasonably priced. It actually was the perfect base.

We additionally have been there throughout autumn and it was attractive because of this. The plentiful nature and really spectacular colours have been far past something we might have hoped for and it definitely helped make this an much more rewarding journey.

In case you’re considering of going to Kyoto, whether or not it’s for two days or 2 weeks, I hope the knowledge under from my very own expertise proves useful!


Since we have been spending two weeks in Kyoto, we primarily based our lodging state of affairs on three issues – house, worth and placement. We work on-line on daily basis so we wished to have more room than an ordinary resort room, which may be fairly small in Japan. After all, we additionally didn’t need to pay a fortune for lodging both. And we most well-liked to be in a comparatively central, however not overly touristy neighborhood.

After some looking out, we discovered a spot that matched all the above.

Resi Stay Nishijin
For about $85 USD per night time, we had a big studio (40 sq meters / 430 sq toes) with a small front room, two sofas, little kitchen, comfortable beds and a balcony. It was fairly trendy, with the sort of lavatory and bathe space that you really want – Japanese fashion with all types of devices and settings. The wifi was robust, the warmth and AC labored very effectively and it was spotless. Resi Keep has a number of places in Kyoto however we selected the one on Nishijin. It was an area, quiet space, with small lanes filled with quaint picket homes, loads of high quality eating places, a meals market, good supermarkets and a bus cease in entrance of the constructing with buses that may take us anyplace we wanted to go.

Additionally, since we like to stroll in every single place, we have been an approximate 30 – 60 minute stroll from nearly anyplace within the metropolis. This suited us very effectively.

As Kyoto is an honest sized metropolis, there are of course a variety of totally different choices for lodging. I’d suggest doing analysis first although on the kind of neighborhood that you just want to be primarily based in. I do know lots of people instantly head for the Gion, Nishiki or Kyoto Tower areas however these may be very crowded. So it undoubtedly is determined by what you’re on the lookout for.

Once more, we managed to seek out a terrific deal on for the Resi Stay Nishijin ($85 USD per night time), so such offers are attainable.

Meals, Meals, Meals (You’ll be able to eat all of it with 2 weeks in Kyoto!)

Oh my. The meals was unimaginable. Each single meal.

At first, we might do a variety of analysis to seek out the most effective native eating places to eat at. However by the top of our two weeks in Kyoto, we have been assured that anyplace we went into would serve up a scrumptious meal, no matter whether or not or not we might learn the menu.

Some eating places have English menus, some don’t. Some have photographs of the dishes on the menus or on the partitions, others don’t. Some even have fantastically creative creations of their menu objects in a show case in entrance of the restaurant or within the window, and naturally, some don’t. So generally what you’re ordering and more often than not you haven’t any concept.

Both approach, consuming in Kyoto and past was a significant spotlight of this journey.

Our meals journey may very well be summed up by three classes:

1. Eating places/Cafes – I might give an inventory of the locations we ate at, but it surely’s not value it. Belief me after I say that you just simply must pop into anyplace you move that appears fascinating (particularly if there’s a line of locals out entrance ready to get in) and see the way it goes. This was by far the most effective technique of selecting eating places and the success fee was 100%. From sushi to ramen, kaiseki to soba, Shojin ryori to okonomiyaki and the whole lot in between, prepare for a meals journey like no different.

2. Nishiki Market – See under beneath actions. This place is meals heaven and we visited this market a number of occasions with a purpose to eat ALL the issues.

3. Supermarkets – Kyoto’s incredible supermarkets additionally performed a task as there have been a number of nights we simply wished to select up some ready meals and eat again in our resort room. Our favourite was Life Grocery store. The sushi at this grocery store was more energizing and higher than most sushi at correct eating places in different international locations. The set ready meals (of which there are dozens) have been all the time scrumptious too. This was such a cool solution to eat right here, and the procuring expertise, which concerned attempting to determine what most objects have been, was all the time tremendous enjoyable.

*Okay, I additionally want to say the Japanese Fluffy Pancakes. In case you don’t find out about them, please make certain they’re a part of your Japan journey. We ate them extra occasions than I’d wish to admit. Insanely delicate, fluffy, meringue primarily based pancakes that may be made with all types of toppings corresponding to fruit, chocolate, matcha, granola, caramel and extra. Go to A Happy Pancake location (they are often discovered in lots of cities, together with Kyoto, Osaka and Tokyo), stand in line and look forward to a desk after which get pleasure from what is going to undoubtedly be the very best pancake you’ve ever tasted.


Lots of people speak in regards to the Japan Rail Go. It’s a move which you can reserve earlier than you enter Japan and it offers you limitless rides on Japan Rail trains all through the nation. The value begins at about 30,000 JPY ($220) for 7 days, 47,000 JPY ($345) for two weeks and 61,000 JPY ($448) for 3 weeks. It’s deal should you’re going to make use of the trains typically.

Nonetheless, it’s value doing analysis to see if this move is certainly for you. We assumed we would wish one, however after our analysis, we realized that it wouldn’t save us any cash primarily based on our explicit itinerary. Since we have been going to be within the Kyoto/Osaka area, then fly to Okinawa after which fly to Tokyo, the Japan Rail Go was not appropriate. In the long run, our transportation prices have been remarkably low, even with out the Japan Rail Go.

To start out, we flew into Osaka Kansai Airport and that is what we did…

Arrival: Osaka Kansai Airport to Kyoto

Upon arrival on the Osaka Kansai Airport, we walked over to the airport practice station went contained in the JR Trains foremost workplace. The employees communicate English and so they can clarify all your transportation choices.

We ended up buying the ICOCA Haruka Pass which was superb for our keep.

It’s not precisely a move although. It’s extra like a card which you can top-up and use to pay for transportation on buses, subways and nearly all trains (in addition to merchandising machines and at some eating places). The most important profit is a reduction on the Kansai Specific Haruka practice from Osaka Kansai Airport to Kyoto. Since we wanted to get from Kansai Airport to Kyoto after which again to Kansai Airport two weeks later for our flight to Okinawa, we acquired the round-trip low cost.

We paid 5500 JPY ($40 USD) every for our ICOCA playing cards. This included 1500 JPY credit score for use on buses, trains and subways and a 4000 JPY roundtrip ticket for the Kansai Specific Haruka practice from/to the airport. In the long run, we saved about 1000 JPY every on the airport practice, making it very worthwhile.

Then, as soon as we arrived in Kyoto, we merely used our ICOCA playing cards to faucet on to buses, trains and the subway. It additionally labored for trains to Osaka and Nara, the subway in Osaka and for trains, subway and buses in Tokyo as effectively on the finish of our Japan journey.

Trains – Once more, we didn’t get the Japan Rail Go as a result of we realized that we wouldn’t be utilizing trains typically sufficient. We ended up taking the practice from Kyoto to Osaka and again on someday and from Kyoto to Nara and again on one other day. The whole value for these 4 practice rides was 3360 JPY or $24 USD. That appeared like cheap costs to us and the Japan Rail Go would have value much more than that. (We did use the Specific practice from Narita Airport to Shinjuku in Tokyo as effectively however the associated fee for that experience was 3050 JPY or $22 USD so it nonetheless didn’t justify buying the Japan Rail Go since we solely spent a complete of $46 USD on trains.)

Buses – In Kyoto, the bus system could be very simple to make use of. We used Google maps to determine which buses we wanted after which we merely used our ICOCA card to pay for every journey. The fare was 230 JPY per journey, which is barely about $1.70 USD. We took the bus about 10 occasions throughout our keep for a complete of $17.00.

Subway – We didn’t use the subway/metro system throughout our two weeks in Kyoto. Between the buses, taxis and strolling, we coated all over the place we wanted to go. Nonetheless, we did take the subway/metro throughout our day journey to Osaka and it was additionally simple. We once more used our ICOCA playing cards to pay for every experience, which value both 180 JPY or 230 JPY relying on the gap. We took the subway 4 occasions throughout our day in Osaka and it value us a complete of 820 JPY ($5.85).

Taxis – Because of the favorable alternate throughout our keep, taxis have been truly fairly cheap and much inexpensive than we had imagined. We took 20 taxis throughout our 2 week keep in Kyoto and the entire value was 30,000 JPY or $214 USD. As we have been in Kyoto in November, there have been some chilly and windy days the place we merely wished to get right into a taxi and out of the chilly. And since most rides value $10 USD, it ended up being choice. Additionally, the taxis are a cool expertise with the robotically opening doorways, extraordinarily clear and roomy interiors and devoted drivers who make certain they get you precisely the place you want to go. There’s additionally no humorous enterprise so you possibly can flag any taxi understanding you’ll merely pay the official metered fare.

Strolling – We additionally walked a ton. Kyoto is a good strolling metropolis particularly because it permits you to wander by means of random neighborhoods that you just wouldn’t go to in any other case. This was definitely how we discovered a lot of our favourite eating places, cafes, architectural curiosities, hidden temples and so forth.

Two Weeks in Kyoto Fushimi Inari

Actions for Two Weeks in Kyoto

With two weeks in Kyoto at our disposal, we took our time by way of actions. We’re not the sort of vacationers to make an inventory effectively upfront and to run round all day checking issues off. We want to get up, do some work (we each work on-line), search for a sight or space that appears fascinating, head out for a late breakfast/early lunch and see the place the day takes us.

Throughout our keep, right here’s the place the times took us:

Fushimi Inari – Properly value visiting. This well-known Shinto Shrine is devoted to the god of rice and is dwelling to hundreds of orange torii gates that line the lengthy pathway that loops across the hillside. We did the complete 1.5 hour stroll up the hill and again down once more and it was stunning. The upper up you go, the much less vacationers and the extra time you need to absorb the peaceable setting.

Kinkaku-ji Temple – This temple is positioned within the west of Kyoto and it was our favourite. Kinkaku-ji is a Zen temple that’s coated in gold leaf. It’s location, proper on the sting of a small lake, makes for a mighty eye-catching sight. Naturally, the gardens across the temple have been meditative too and there’s a pleasant path to roam round.

Nijo Castle – A formidable fort within the heart of Kyoto that was as soon as dwelling to highly effective shogun that dominated over Japan for 200 years. The positioning consists of a fort and palace however the palace was closed for renovations once we have been there. However the picket fort was fairly a show of the shogun’s wealth and energy with its limitless rooms, intricate wooden carvings, painted panels and sheer measurement. The grounds surrounding the fort, together with the very nice tea home/backyard, made for a pleasant go to too.

Thinker’s Path – This was a brief and reflelction-inducing 2 km stroll alongside a meditative tree-lined canal surrounded by nature and conventional properties. It’s positioned between the Ginkaku-ji and Nanzen-ji temples on the east facet of the town. In case you stroll slowly and go to a number of temples alongside the way in which, you possibly can flip this exercise into an all day occasion. That is particularly the case should you cease for a espresso/pastry break on the cozy Botanic Coffee Kyoto midway alongside the trail.

Nishiki Market – This large coated market stretches alongside one lane for what looks like an eternity. You enter one finish and good luck attempting to get to the opposite finish with out stopping dozens of occasions to strive all types of road meals being served on the meals stalls alongside the way in which. Squid on a skewer, sea urchin, fried shrimp, omelette sandwiches, hen katsu, roasted chestnuts, limitless pastries, so many types of mochi, dumplings, tofu and on and on and on…it by no means ends and it’s the proper place to spend a few hours attempting each meals merchandise you possibly can. On the east finish of the market, there may be additionally a non-food market that stretches alongside two coated lanes going north to south. You could find some fascinating outlets right here, together with those who promote conventional Japanese art work, so its value exploring too.

Two Weeks in Kyoto Nishiki Market

Kyoto Sanjo Purchasing Avenue – A smaller model of Nishiki market, if this road is near the place you’re staying, it’s additionally value visiting for some scrumptious meals. It closes at 5:00pm so it’s extra of a lunch space, however with its meals stalls and tiny eating places, there may be an infinite quantity of choices and it’s a lot much less crowded than Nishiki Market.

Gion – That is the well-known geisha district of Kyoto and it must be visited, no less than as soon as. It’s fairly crowded with vacationers through the day however should you duck away from the primary streets, it rapidly turns into extra quiet. Conventional buildings and houses, picturesque picket bridges, high-end eating places on Hanamikoji Avenue, limitless outlets promoting all types of Japanese meals objects and much more temples to get pleasure from may be discovered right here. We visited this space twice, as soon as through the day and as soon as at night time. Through the day, we walked from Kennin-ji Temple (with its gorgeous work and Zen backyard) to Hokan-ji Temple (well-known for its 5-story pagoda), as much as the Yasaka Shrine after which wandered by means of each lane we might discover. At night time the neighborhood is far quieter and extra atmospheric with all of the lanterns and lights, with some locations to eat and several other bars as effectively.

Miyagawasuji – This neighborhood is a fast 10 minutes stroll south of Gion and the distinction was notable. As one of many different final remaining geisha districts, it’s dwelling to conventional properties and outlets, tiny native eateries and a few of the quaintest streets in Kyoto. Nonetheless, there have been only a few guests on this space. It’s a small neighborhood however undoubtedly a singular place to go to to absorb a Gion-like vibe with out the crowds.

Tea ceremony – We discovered a easy tea ceremony within the Gion neighborhood (Tea Ceremony Camellia) the place we might study in regards to the tea custom in a pleasant setting. The session was solely 50 minutes however there have been solely 6 individuals taking part, making it extra intimate. The hostess was a chic, refined lady who taught us about and demonstrated the normal tea-preparation strategies. We then ready our personal tea, drank it and that was that. It was a really nice exercise.

Temples – We visited so many temples throughout our two weeks in Kyoto that I can’t title all of them right here. If we noticed a temple, we might typically poke our head into the doorway of the grounds. If one thing attracted us, we might go in (most temples cost between 300 – 1000 JPY entrance price). We went into big temples and tiny temples, and all types in between. Whereas strolling round random neighborhoods, we all the time saved our eyes open for a few of the extra hidden temples, generally positioned in residential areas. These have been fairly fascinating as they might don’t have any guests and whereas small, they have been typically a peaceable oasis.

Arashiyama – Residence to the famous bamboo forest, and in addition dwelling to the largest vacationer crowds we noticed throughout our total journey. It threw us off as quickly as we stepped off the native bus as there have been simply so many individuals. To get away from the crowds, we ducked into the Hogon-in Zen Buddhist temple because it appeared quiet. Fortunately, it was and we have been handled to a few of the most wondrous and colourful autumn surroundings we might have hoped for. The tranquil gardens instantly put us comfy. After this good break, we walked straight to the Bamboo Forest which was, as anticipated, full of individuals strolling shoulder to shoulder alongside the trail. We walked rapidly and on the finish, we turned proper alongside one other path and saved strolling. After 5 minutes, the crowds disappeared and we loved a peaceable wander by means of native neighborhoods and nature. We quickly reached Saga Toriimoto (by chance), a well-preserved road filled with conventional fashion properties. That led us to the Adashino Nenbutsuji Temple which had solely 2 different individuals inside, its personal (uncrowded) bamboo forest and hundreds of fascinating stone memorial statues.

That is what I like about journey – the randomness of days like this.

After the temple, we began strolling in direction of Kyoto heart (which was 2 hours away by foot). After half-hour, we stumbled on a easy cafe referred to as Cafe Yamamoto and went inside. We have been handled to a memorable expertise with scrumptious home-made truffles, glorious espresso, a comfy inside and really pleasant employees. It was a spotlight being inside this welcoming, random place.

Imperial Palace – We by no means actually deliberate to go to the huge Imperial Palace complicated within the heart of Kyoto. However on our final day, we had some free time so we walked over. And it was nice. The huge grounds is mainly a park, with loads of paths to walk alongside and as you guessed by now, no scarcity of gorgeous nature to get pleasure from. The Palace itself is open to everybody, totally free, so that you merely enter the primary entrance. You’ll be able to then take a guided tour or stroll round by yourself. It’s a big website so that you want no less than an hour.

Random neighborhoods – Certainly one of our favourite actions, which we spent a while nearly on daily basis doing, was to easily begin strolling. The purpose was to stroll by means of random neighborhoods and see what we discovered. Typically, in these neighborhoods we might seize an area lunch or a espresso or a conventional pastry for a day snack. One instance was once we ended up in Nishimachi, an odd space away from the vacationers the place the local shops have monsters in front of their shops as a solution to entice prospects. So I undoubtedly suggest giving your self loads of time to roam round Kyoto with out a plan! I’ve written about my 5-minute rule to having native experiences and Kyoto is a stable vacation spot to place it into motion.

Day Journeys

We do want gradual journey, so we actually loved attending to know Kyoto greater than if we had stayed for under a few days. We additionally actually liked the quiet, conventional ambiance of Kyoto. However in fact, there’s a lot to see in Japan so we wanted to transcend the town limits as effectively. On two events, we left Kyoto to go to different cities.

Day journey #1: Osaka

Right here’s how our day journey to Osaka went:

  • Took a forty five minute practice from Karasuma Station in Kyoto to Osaka Umeda Station
  • Went straight to lunch at Kaiten Sushi Sakae (needed to strive the sushi belt expertise!)
  • Took the metro over to Osaka Castle and visited the in depth gardens
  • Hopped on the metro and went to wander across the Shinsekai neighborhood, identified for its 100+ yr outdated colourful procuring district
  • Walked throughout the town to the Shinsaibashi space to take a look at the Shinsaibashi-Suji Purchasing Avenue, eat some Japanese fluffy pancakes and absorb the energetic ambiance
  • After sundown, strolled round to take a look at all of the exercise with the huge brightly lit neon indicators, limitless eateries, markets, outlets and loopy crowds
  • Did some meals tasting all through the lanes of the well-known Dotonburi space and nonetheless saved room for a seafood dinner as effectively
  • Discovered ourselves attempting some Japanese whisky at a random bar on a random road nook
  • Took a practice again to Kyoto later at night time

Day journey #2: NARA

This was one other excellent day journey. We boarded a practice at Kyoto Station and 45 minutes later we have been in Nara. And we ended up staying within the city for all the day, getting again to Kyoto at round 9:00pm. Right here’s what we did:

  • Walked from the Nara practice station by means of the quaint heart of city, alongside Sanjo dori Avenue
  • Had a superb ramen lunch at Genkishin
  • Spent a variety of time roaming round Nara Park, dwelling to temples, shrines, gardens, nature walks and hundreds of untamed deer that bow their heads in hopes of getting meals from passersby
  • Walked alongside lots of the paths all through the parks with a purpose to benefit from the nature
  • Visited the 1300 yr outdated Todaiji Temple that is among the largest picket buildings on this planet and residential to an enormous 15 meter excessive bronze Buddha statue
  • Went for a beautiful sake tasting at Harushika Sake Brewery (500 JPY / $3.75 USD for six kinds of native sake)
  • Went to the historic Nara Hotel for a day snack at their tea lounge (the resort has hosted emperors, royalty, presidents, popes, actors and lots of extra)
  • Walked again by means of the parks to the Kasuga-taisha Shinto Shrine
  • One final gradual meander by means of the parks through the night, then by means of the middle of city (perhaps stopping alongside the way in which to get pleasure from some road meals!) and again to the Nara practice station
  • 45 minute practice again to Kyoto

That sums up our two weeks in Kyoto and the encircling area! In case you have any questions in any respect about visiting this space, please don’t hesitate to achieve out and I’d be pleased to help. Take pleasure in your journey to Japan!