Temple of the Golden Pavilion, Arashiyama Bamboo Grove, torii path at Fushimi Inari Taisha, Pontocho, Kiyomizu-dera… oh the list goes on. With 1,600 Buddhist temples and 400 Shinto shrines as well as palaces and gardens, Kyoto is easily one of the best preserved cities in Japan with beautiful remnants that draw the attraction of hundreds of thousands of visitors. After ≪two nights in Osaka≫ and a ≪quick day visit to Nara≫, we headed for this City of Ten Thousand Shrines with pounding hearts and away we went.
First thing’s first, we checked-in at ≪Citadines Karasuma-Gojo Kyoto≫ for a two-night stay.
This was by far the biggest hotel room we’ve stayed at this whole trip. Our reservation was for a studio twin room for two nights and the total came to ¥ 27,799 (~$302 CAD) including tax.
Immediately after we checked-in, we ventured out to see Kinkaku-ji.
Kinkaku-ji, also known as Temple of the Golden Pavilion, is a three-story Zen Buddhist temple with the top two stories covered in pure cold leaf, making it one of the most popular attraction sights in Kyoto. The temple houses Buddha relics, making it impossible to physically enter the pavilion, but if you look closely from across the pond, you can see the statues inside.
We ended the visit with a leisure walk around the garden then found a soba restaurant at a nearby bus stop.
We then hopped on the bus and headed to Arashiyama.
The bus stop we got off at was right beside the Togetsukyo (Moon Crossing) Bridge. Head in the opposite direction and you’ll start to see signs directing you to the bamboo forest.
We came right before the sun set and do not let these photos fool you because it was soooooo busy here!! We waited forever to get a clean shot, but that never happened hence I had to work a bit of my Photoshop magic.
If you want to avoid the crowds and enjoy a nice tranquil visit, come in the early morning, as early as 6am even. Don’t worry about the hours because there’s no real opening or closing times, it’s just an open bamboo path. Very beautiful scenery here and definitely makes for a relaxing bike ride too.
Also a quick side note, refrain from wearing shorts or short sleeves if you can. I’m super paranoid when it comes to showing skin in the summer time because my blood just attracts mosquitoes like crazy. Before leaving the hotel, I literally bathed in bug repellant, but I guess it wore off by the time we reached here and I left Arashiyama with at least 15 mosquito bites on my legs, no jokes.
Since it was quite the long ride here, we thought we’d at least explore the area a little. But there really wasn’t much else to do so off to dinner we went!
After the Golden Pavilion, this was my second most anticipated itinerary in Kyoto. It is a ramen shop called Menbakaichidai and what makes it extraordinary is their fire ramens here.
The text in red reads “The tencho-san may look angry, but he isn’t. He was born this way.”
We had to wait outside for 10-15 minutes because there was a TV show filming in session. But as soon as they were ready for us, they sat us down. The tencho-san then asked where we were from and handed us a menu accordingly. They had menus in English, Chinese, Japanese, and so many different languages, how thoughtful!
My dad decided to go with a regular ramen, but I obviously came for what they’re known for. I was asked to move to the bar instead where the tencho-san later went over safety instructions. The whole procedure was so formal, so intense, it made me even more anxious!
Despite the mean mugging face the tencho-san had put on, he was actually super friendly and had a great sense of humor. He even asked us where we were staying at. He gave us maps and circled where the restaurant was as well as the bus stops nearby, and told us different routes to getting back to our hotels. Very very nice and sweet fellow. We of course had to get a photo with him and as he counted down 3, 2, 1, he hit my head against my dad’s. It was completely unexpected but we sure had bright smiles for the picture.
They were still filming the TV show by the time we were leaving. The film crew blackened the host’s face and had her put on an afro wig to show the aftermath of the ramen explosion. I don’t know what show it was, but needless to say, if you’re ever in Kyoto, this restaurant is worth the visit.
Read about In the Streets of Kyoto Part 2 ≪here≫. And don’t forget to check out my Japan vlog!
As always, another great post with amazing pictures. I have been to Kyoto once but never to the locations that you have posted here as our family was worried that we would get lost in Japan so instead opted for a tour package. Just wondering, what are your thoughts on someone wanting to travel alone to Japan but understand limited Japanese? Thanks!
Hey there! We actually rented a pocket Wi-Fi so that really helped with directions. Now in terms of visiting Japan with limited understanding of Japanese… If you're ordering in restaurants, finding your way around the subway stations, etc., you will have no trouble in the bigger cities. As long as you speak slowly and use very simple English and short sentences, the locals will be able to understand you. Oh and ask the young folks. English is taught in schools and a lot of young people are actually eager to practice their English. However, if you visit the countryside, you might experience some hardships. Worse comes to worse, have a pen and paper on you. You can draw, you can make gestures, or better yet get one of those Japanese travel phrases books and just keep it in your pocket. Japanese people are quite friendly so don't feel intimidated to travel alone just because you don't have a good grasp of the language! 🙂
I love the pictures you have put up of Kyoto in this blog. Arashiyama is loaded with scenic beauty and this is going to be my highlight when I visit Kyoto. I am absolutely intrigued by the pictures. I would end my day having a bowl of ramen just like you did.