Welcome at day 2 of our crazy schedule to get most of the highlights in Kyoto. If you missed the first part, you can read it here. Whether you’re a business traveller with a day to spare, on a tight schedule or just wanting to see as much as possible. We will give you as much of a complete overview of Kyoto as possible.
Fushimi Inari Taisha
Nothing wakes you up more than an early morning exercise, for this head over to Fushimi Inari. This site is accessible all day so come as early as you like. This should give you the opportunity for some beautiful undisturbed shots of the 10.000 torii along the way to the shrine at the top. As an added bonus, the shrine will come with a beautiful view of Kyoto. Both the site and the views are very photo-friendly.
From the top of the hill head north through the forest path. This way you can walk all the way towards Tōfuku-ji. This temple is famous for its fall foliage, the 600-year-old 22-meter-high entrance gate (Sanmon) and the different gardens.
Take the Keikan main line to Shichijō station, from there it’s a short walk to Sanjūsangen-dō. This temple houses 1.001 Kannon statues, 124 of them date back to before the 1249 fire. The others were made in the 13th Century after the fire. The main Kannon statue and some others were made by the sculptor Tankei. The outside gallery was used for archery competitions.
Take the bus (line 202, 206 or 207) or walk for 25 minutes to Kiyomizu-dera. This temple complex with its wooden platform is an iconic site in Kyoto. The way towards the complex is lined with souvenir shops and all kinds of people dressed in traditional Japanese clothing make their way towards the temple.
The temple provides great views of the city from its viewing platform. If you want a good view of Kiyomizu-dera itself, make your way to the opposite hill via Otowa waterfall.
Within the complex you’ll find various Shinto shrines helping people with their love life. Popular to test the quality of your relationship are the two ‘blind stones’. Walk between these two love stones with your eyes closed, if you can reach the other stone, you don’t have to worry about your relationship.
Head north towards Nanzen-ji by taking bus 206 to Higashiyama station. Take the Tozai line for one stop to Keage station. From here it’s a short walk to the Nanzen-ji temple complex.
Start with the smaller sub temple of Konchi-in. It is famous for its’ dry gardens designed by the 17th century tea master Kobori Enshū. At Nanzen-ji you’ll also be able to get some great shōjin ryōri, Buddhist vegetarian meals.
On your way towards the Philosophers’ path you’ll pass Eikan-dō. This temple is a great place for maple leaf viewing in November.
Continue northwards along the Philosophers’ path. This walk through the wooded hillside along a canal is named after a 20th century philosopher who walked here daily. After some 30 minutes, you will reach Ginkaku-ji.
It’s always important to align your expectations with reality to avoid disappointment. Ginkaku-ji (the silver pavilion) is not silver nor is its roof or anything else. But what it is, is a beautiful pavilion hidden away in a wooded area next to a pond and stylized Japanese dry gardens. So instead of impressing you with its shiny metals, it teases you with long windy hedged paths. Offering just a brief glimpse of the pavilion before you finally come up close.
Now it’s finally time to relax. Head over to the Gion neighbourhood. This is Kyoto’s famous Geisha district. Here you’ll find a lot of traditional wooden houses, many of which now function as restaurants. If you are up to spending a lot of money on food, head over to some of the best kaiseki-ryōri (Japanese haute cuisine) restaurants here. Otherwise an inexpensive but still great dining opportunity is always just around the corner wherever you are in this city.
We hoped you have enjoyed this itinerary. Also read our five-day itinerary to Tokyo and its surrounding area.