Kyoto was the capital of Japan and it is famous for hundreds of historic temples, shrines, gardens and palaces. There are quite a number of UNESCO World Heritage sites in this city. So I think it is a must to take a day trip from Osaka to Kyoto to see the amazing sites. Do not give Kyoto a miss if you are in the Kansai region. Most of the wanderers in Japan would recommend at least spending two days in Kyoto for its rich cultural and architectural sites. If you tight in your schedules, then at least take a day trip from Osaka to Kyoto, just like what I did during my recent trip to Osaka.
Depending on which train company you take, a train ride from Osaka to Kyoto only takes about less than one hour.
Tips: take the JR Kyoto Special Rapid Service, which takes 24 minutes for 560 Yen from Shin-Osaka Station to Kyoto Station. We find this is the most economical and time-saving way to go.
One of the UNESCO World Heritage sites in Kyoto, there are always thousands of travellers pay a visit to this temple. High on a mountain, it was a steep climb to the entrance. We took a taxi to this temple to save time and having less climb. Throngs of people walking outside the shops near Kiyomizu-dera and the temple itself. One thing I like about this temple was the fall foliage around the garden and because it was on TOP of the hill, so I could see the scenery and vast Kyoto city from afar.
Tips: taxi can only drop off passengers at the nearest drop-off point, you still need to climb the steep steps towards the temple for about 5 minutes. The main prayer hall is currently under renovation, so you may not get a good photo in the main prayer hall. But other places are still very much Instagram-worthy like the foliage garden and the view of Kyoto city. Besides that, you can try the Otowa waterfall where visitors drink the water for health, longevity and success in studies.
A pair of shopping streets for shoppers. Lined with preserved traditional shophouses, a stroll down these steep lanes is a must if you visit Kiyomizu-dera. Here is one of the best places to shop for souvenirs for family and friends. You can find all kind of sweets, biscuits, chocolates, Japanese fans, pottery, restaurants and tea houses. This is also a food sampling heaven for foodies where many shops handing out samples in front of their stores. You also get to sample the hot green tea sold at some shops too. Some of my recommended food or souvenirs that you can buy here are the soybean doughnuts, soybean ice cream, Malebranche’s Okoicha Langue de Chat Cha no Ka white chocolate.
Lunch at Aburasoba Nekomata, Kyoto
Have you ever tried a dry ramen with no soup? This small restaurant tucked into a street near Kiyomizu-dera served dry ramen and it is rated 4.5 stars by Tripadvisor and Google users. At first, I was sceptical to try this dry ramen but I was curious to know what it tastes since so many patrons had given it at least a 4-star rating. I must say it did not disappoint. It was a very tasty medium soft ramen coated with special sauce, complete with lots of vegetables and some pork belly. If you are looking for something different, authentic Japanese dish, great value and happen to be in the Kiyomizu-dera area, do give this a try.
Fushimi Inari Taisha
It has been voted as the number one top things to do in the whole of Japan for four consecutive years. The thousands of red vivid torii gates are the main attraction. Donated by Japanese businesses, each torii gates is craved with the Japanese company’s name. So when you take photos, you can get one side with Japanese names or just red pillars from the other side.
Most of the time the torii gates are full of people. So either you go there very early or you have to walk further up the steep path where there are fewer crowds. Check out the map to see where you can go.
Crowded areas at Fushimi Inari Taisha
Less Crowded Areas at Fushimi Inari Taisha
Map of Fushimi Inari Taisha
The crowded Nishiki Market has everything you need to see of an authentic Japanese market. Spanning with hundreds of stores in this five-block-long street, you get a glimpse of many fresh produces, live seafood, beautiful flowers, Japanese sweets, pickles, dried food, knives, cookware and ready-made food such as yakitori and sushi. Be prepared to sweep into the tide of the crowds as the streets are narrow and not much space to move around.
“Pretty woman walking down the street, Pretty woman the kind I like to meet, Pretty woman…”
Everywhere you can see pretty women walking down the streets complete with kimonos, hairdo, bags and Japanese sandals. The price to rent can be as low as 2,900 Yen with basic hairdo and accessories to complete the look. Of course, there are premium options to choose, from professional hairstyling and makeup to silky premium kimonos. You can wear the kimono and stroll along Kyoto streets till the end of the day to return the kimono. Extra charges apply if you return the kimono the next day. Have a go at this to satisfy your inner Japanese soul. Click here if you want to find out more about kimono rental.
Kyoto has a lot of places to visit, however, due to the transportation issue, these are the only places we managed so far for one day. I think it was pretty awesome for all of us especially my kids for trying to keep up with us. I hope someday we could come back to Kyoto and spent more time exploring.
Tips: Most of the top sight-seeing attractions are far from subway stations. Though taking buses is more economical, we decided to take a taxi instead to save time and get the best out of the limited time we had in Kyoto.
Want to read more about my adventures in Osaka? Click the following links.