Discovering Japan – Kyoto, and Osaka

Kyoto, back in 1868 was the Capital of Japan, today is one of the most touristic places. Famous for preserving classicism in Japan: from the preservation of temples to the ceremony of Tea practice!

Walking around the city, you will discover a lot of hidden places. Temples in between buildings, traditional houses in wood, Geisha walking around, and a lot of local shops.

How to reach Kyoto and how to move around: I took a train from Tokyo to Kyoto Train station, and the journey on the train was stunning! If you are lucky you could see Mt Fuji, depending on the season as it gets cloudy around. I went during the sakura season, (end of march). If you are going at this specific time, check the exact week, as every year the peak can be in different weeks.

Kyoto needs a few days to be seen. If it’s possible for you, stay in the central area as is the best way to move to Kyoto is by bus. It’s cheap, it leaves you closest to the attraction compared to the underground, and on top of that, you move like a local! When you take the bus, opposite to the European culture, you don’t pay at the beginning of your trip, but at the end. Next to the driver, there is the space to insert your coins and you leave from the front. For the Japanese the concept of trust for each other is normal, they don’t even think about not paying for the bus!

The most interesting headquarter is Gion. Along Shijo Avenue, famous to be the geisha living area. If you stay around for a while you can be lucky to see one or trying to speak with them. Lately, it’s even possible to assist a Tea Ceremony, easy to book with an agency. Nishiki Market Shopping district – in the heart of the city, is the biggest market in the city. With more than 130 food shops, take away and eat in. You can try all types of local food, and even more! Also, there are a lot of other typical souvenir shops in the same area. Next to the central station, there is the Toji temple. Suggestive if you visit during the evening, and is one of the oldest temples still standing from 796 a.c. Another spot not to miss in Kyoto, is the Nijo Castel, house of Tokugawa Ieyasu, the first shogun of the Edo era. Inside you can visit the garden, all the rooms full of details of construction and painting. impressive!

Moving outside the center: visit the Arashiyama area (there are 3 different busses, they all leaving you close). You can visit the Matsuno Grand Shrine. Then, Iwatayama Park. which is famous for having monkeys walking free in the park. You can take pictures, have the chance to feed them inside the prepared area, and enjoy the amazing view of Kyoto. Leaving the park, you can get into the heart of the area. Taking the bridge that crosses the Katsura river, you will get to Tenryuji Temple. The area is huge, includes a garden and many different rooms. At the north entrance gate, there is the famous bamboo grove, where you can take amazing pictures! The area is suggestive! You can follow the route, which will guide you until the end. Another amazing area to visit is The Higashiyama district, (Gojozaka Bus stop). The district is in front of hills, which will give you an amazing Instagram picture spot! The area still classic, with all wooden houses and Temples. You can visit the Ginkakuji Temple, UNESCO heritage, Kiyomizu Temple, and many more.

Last but not least: Fushimi Inari Taisha. To get here take bus 5 from the central station and get off at Fushimi Inari. Once you get there, you will see the Fushimi Inari Shrine. Follow all the shrines and start your hiking for 4 kilometers (about 2 h) around the 233 m mountain. The pathway will split in two, doesn’t matter which part you take, in the end, it will get you to the original point. Along the way, you can experience local cuisine, amazing view, small temples, and a lot of picture spots!

View from Fushimi Inari
Nijo Castel
View from Fushimi Inari
View from Fushimi Inari

A day trip from Kyoto can be Osaka. I went to visit the Osaka aquarium, which is one of the biggest ones in the world. worth it to see it! Besides walking around all day, as an amazing city, you can visit the Sumiyoshi Grand Shrine. It’s an ancient Shinto shrine, it became popular for sailors, fishermen, and travelers! The characteristic is the curved bridge before the entry. In the evening you can visit and experience Dotombori. Dotombori is in the heart of Osaka. It’s the most famous for its culinary specialty! The street is full of neon lights showing all the different restaurants, and it’s full of life! Along the river walk, you can go to some entertainment places and finishing your evening in Osaka!

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