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My vacation in Kyoto, a guide to enjoying the thousand-year-old city

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Kyoto City

I continue with my guides to japan, one of the best countries in Asia for tourism because it has a history, culture, nature and a friendly and considerate society towards its visitors. I could tell they are great hosts and I wouldn’t be wrong.

This same week I posted a guide to Hiroshima, the city of the atomic bomb, but for lovers of typically Japanese history and culture there is Kyoto, former imperial city. So if you’re going to Japan this year, a trip to Kyoto is definitely worth it because it’s close to Tokyo and it’s a city full of temples and very beautiful.

Kyoto

Cherry blossoms in Kyoto 1

Kyoto was the capital of Japan for centuries, until 1868, and today knows how to combine the old with the modernThat is. Japanese history has passed over it many times, internal wars and battles, fires, earthquakes, but fortunately it escaped the bombs of World War II enough, so it retained its century-old charm and its oldest structures are still visible today.

Kamo River

Today It is the seventh largest city in Japan and it is inhabited by nearly one and a half million people. It is a quiet city, almost in the countryside, far from the raging crowds that characterize Tokyo. Although Kyoto Station is an excellent example of modern architecture, it’s about the only thing of its kind you’ll see in the city. The urban layout is rectangular and most of its streets bear names or numbers.

Central Kyoto is not around the station but at the junction of Kawaramachi and Shijo-dori streets. The station is south of the center, but the city’s main avenue starts from the station and leads straight to the Kyoto Imperial Palace as if it were an axis. Another way to get oriented, for me the most useful, is the Kamo river. You can walk along the edge for most of its course and it has some very nice recreational areas.

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How to get to Kyoto

Shinkansen in Kyoto

The bullet train is the best means of transportation as it connects all major cities in Japan. From Tokyo you use the JR Tokaido and the Hikari services take 160 minutes, while the Kodama (slower as they stop at more stations), around four hours. The Japan Rail Pass covers the trip but if you don’t think about it, buy a one-way ticket it costs 130 dollars. There are passes, like the E-Voucher which allows you to travel round trip and includes the Kyoto Tourist Pass for just over $200 and gets you back within a week.

there is also the Puratto Kodama Economy Pass: You use the Kodama service with reserved seats for 100 dollars and it can be purchased until the day before in JR agencies located in stations. Another option is the Tokyo–Osaka–Hokuriku Arch Pass, also a rail pass that connects the two cities via Kanazawa. Costing $240, it’s a longer tour, but it costs less than the 7-day JRP and lets you explore other parts of the country.

Japan Rail Pass

Sure, there are also buses but it takes between seven and eight hours and I don’t think it’s highly recommended. If you want to save, there is local trains but they take nine hours and there is a transfer. sufficient.

Ultimately, getting around inside Kyoto there are two metro lines, trains and buses. If you like to walk, you don’t need to use one. Really. I was staying about 600 meters from Kyoto station and walked all over the city with no problem. Of course, maybe if you go out at night, you can speed up the route with a bus or a taxi. There are many taxis, of all colors, and the descent of the flag is around 6 euros. And the day, well you rent a bike And that’s it, it’s one of the best alternatives.

What to see in Kyoto

kyoto tower

Speaking of means of transport, I must say that the city’s main tourist attractions are not close to a metro or bus station. That’s why I advise walking. Especially if you go in high season, spring or autumn, when there is a lot of tourism and car traffic can become heavy. And the buses are small so… you know.

Sunset in Kyoto Tower

You can first visit the kyoto tower. The truth is that next to Tokyo Tower or Tokyo Skytree it loses, but it is in front of the station and it is worth going up and seeing it. It’s a bit poor, but there is a good view. I went for coffee at six o’clock in the evening and it was nice to be there, quiet, watching the sunset. Measure 131 meters and it was built in 1964. It costs 770 yen and with the ticket you get a discount at the cafeteria.

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Not far from the station is the Kyoto Imperial Palace, a magnificent complex inside a huge park. The parks can only be entered with a guided tour, there are tours in English, and inside you can also see the Sento Palace and some residences of medieval nobles. Visits are free, but you receive them on weekdays. To do this, you must make a reservation at an office in the same park with your passport in hand.

Kyoto Station 2

The Kyoto Station It also deserves our attention: it is magnificent, the best welcome. It was built on the 1,200th anniversary of the founding of Kyoto and dates back to 1997. It has a grand futuristic design, with a huge central hall and escalators that go up to the shopping malls on the sides and to the galleries underground. Hara Hiro was the architect, as was the Umeda Sky Building in Osaka. You can go up to the terrace or go at night and see how the stairs that seem to reach the sky are illuminated.

Kyoto Station

Kyoto is the city of temples and shrines. If you don’t want to visit 1200, I’ll leave you with the ones I can’t miss. There are others that you will see as you walk around and that, for me, is enough. I think that he Kiyomizu Temple It is the first, in spring and in autumn much more for its colors. I arrived by walking calmly and it’s very easy to locate as it’s to the east of the station. He is Legacy of the world.

Kiyomizu Temple 1

Its wooden terrace rises 13 meters above the hill and the view is magnificent. There are pagodas, shrines and other temples in the complex that you can walk around inside. Outside you can walk for free and to enter the fee is 400 yen. If you like to see it lit up in the spring and fall, it’s illuminated from 6-9pm. Beautiful! When you are done visiting it, you can walk around higashiyama district, a well-preserved historic district with many shops and places to eat. I had lunch there and it is lovely.

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Pontocho

At dinner time, the best is Pontocho, near the Kamo River. It’s a alley with restaurants and bars on both sides and the proximity to the river make it the best place to go on a summer night. With the cherry blossoms the Tetsugaku no michi o Path of the Philosopher Another option is a cherry tree-lined canal in the beautiful Higashiyama district that stretches for two kilometers. Gion, finally it is geisha district, today a district with shops, restaurants and tea rooms. There is tourism and it is a beautiful place, although nowadays finding a geisha on the street is expensive.

cherry trees in kyoto

Kiyomizudera, Yasaka and Higashiyama go together. Kyoto also has an aquarium, a manga museum and a new museum inaugurated last month. railway museum which is great.

Tours from Kyoto

nara

Nara is one of the possible walks, but since Kyoto has so much to see, the truth is that you have to plan well if you are going to visit Nara from Kyoto or from Osaka, for example. Another destination is fushimi inari shrine, North. It’s beautiful and worth the detour because there are a thousand orange toris crossing each other. The perfect picture! 233 meters of toris, can you imagine that? To get here, you need to go to the station, take the train that goes to Nara and get off at the second station, Inari. In five minutes you arrive and the place is super close, you can walk from the station.

Arashiyama

I have this time visited Arashiyama and I loved it. It’s half an hour, tops, from Kyoto by train, and it’s a small country town. There are new neighborhoods, houses still under construction, mountains, a wide river that you can take a ride on rental boats, and of course, the famous bamboo forest from Arashiyama. My advice: if you can, take the romantic train because it goes along the river and it’s a great little ride.

Arashiyama 1

Three or four days in Kyoto are enough. Don’t be alone with the temples and go out at night, take a walk or just stay by the Kamo River watching the Japanese people enjoying their lives.

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