ASIA, HOTEL REVIEW

4 Days in Kyoto

Our Japanese adventure continued in Kyoto, also known as the city of ten thousand shrines. You haven’t truly experienced Japan until you have visited both Tokyo and Kyoto. Tokyo was modern and relatively new (it was completely rebuilt after being destroyed in WWII), yet Kyoto was much older and filled with history. With only 4 days in Kyoto, figuring out what to see and do was quite a task. Kyoto alone has over 1,600 Buddhist temples. There’s also several great places nearby that warrant side trips if you have the time.

Here’s a quick video of our experience in Kyoto…

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DAY 1

After a great few days in Tokyo (read about it here: Tokyo) , we caught the bullet train towards our next stop. Two and a half hours later we were in the breathtaking city of Kyoto. We stayed at The Ritz-Carlton Kyoto, which was absolutely beautiful and perfectly located. The only complaint I had was about the concierge. I always turn to the concierge to help fine tune the details, and although the team there couldn’t have been nicer, they were not nearly as knowledgeable about the city as they should have been. Other than that, this hotel was truly amazing!

Ritz Carlton Kyoto is the place to stay in Kyoto. Perfectly located in the center of the city, with all the luxuries of a Ritz mixed with Japanese culture. Must stay when in Japan.

roomRitz Carlton Kyoto is the place to stay in Kyoto. Perfectly located in the center of the city, with all the luxuries of a Ritz mixed with Japanese culture. Must stay when in Japan.

We wanted to begin sightseeing as soon as we got there, but after a quick lunch, it was already 3pm. In Kyoto, temples close really early, so we decided on Kiyomizu-dera Temple and the surrounding area since it’s open late. We chose to walk the 2-miles each way, so that we could really see the city.

Visiting Kiyomizu-dera Temple and the surrounding area when in Kyoto, Japan.

Visiting Kiyomizu-dera Temple and the surrounding area when in Kyoto, Japan.

Visiting Kiyomizu-dera Temple and the surrounding area when in Kyoto, Japan.

For dinner we didn’t have to go far. The very popular Sushi Mizuki was located right in our hotel.  We sat at the sushi bar, where we were served by a female sushi chef, which she explained is very unusual in Japan. She was so nice and everything she prepared for us was delicious.

Dinner at Sushi Mizuki in the Ritz Carlton in Kyoto, Japan

DAY 2

With so much to see and do in Kyoto, getting an early start is a must. On day 2 we headed straight for Arashiyama Bamboo Grove. We decided to go there first in hopes of beating the crowd. It was only 8am and raining a bit, so we were lucky enough to see it practically empty. The bamboo forest was incredible. They say that those trees can grow up to 3 feet per day!

You must see Arashiyama Bamboo Grove when you visit Japan. Make sure to go early to avoid the crowds. The bamboo forest was incredible. They say that those trees can grow up to 3 feet per day!

You must see Arashiyama Bamboo Grove when you visit Japan. Make sure to go early to avoid the crowds. The bamboo forest was incredible. They say that those trees can grow up to 3 feet per day!

You must see Arashiyama Bamboo Grove when you visit Japan. Make sure to go early to avoid the crowds. The bamboo forest was incredible. They say that those trees can grow up to 3 feet per day!

We were hoping to visit the monkey park next, but it would have been a long walk and it was raining quite a bit, so we opted to continue onto something else. Instead we headed over to Kinkaku-ju Temple (better known as the Golden Pavilion). This place was beautiful, but super crowded. I would suggest visiting right when it opens.

One of the most famous temples in Kyoto is Kinkaku-ju Temple (better known as the Golden Pavilion). This place was beautiful, but super crowded. I would suggest visiting right when it opens. It's an iconic temple in Japan.

Next was Ryoan-ji Temple to see the Zen Rock Garden. I can’t lie; this place was rather disappointing. There really wasn’t much to see, so we quickly continued onto the next.

Near the Golden Temple in Kyoto, Japan is the Ryoan-ji Temple, known for the Zen Rock Garden

From there we made our way to Menbakaichidai for their famous fire ramen. They literally set your bowl of ramen on fire. It’s not the best meal you’ve ever had, but it’s an awesome experience. The owners spoke very little English, but they couldn’t have been nicer. They even ask for your cellphone to mount onto selfie sticks behind the counter so that they can record the full experience for you.

Japan is known for Ramen, in Kyoto check out Menbakaichidai for their famous fire ramen. They literally set your bowl of ramen on fire.

Japan is known for Ramen, in Kyoto check out Menbakaichidai for their famous fire ramen. They literally set your bowl of ramen on fire.

Japan is known for Ramen, in Kyoto check out Menbakaichidai for their famous fire ramen. They literally set your bowl of ramen on fire.

After lunch we walked over to Nijo Castle for a quick visit since it was right around the corner.

Nijo Castle in Kyoto, Japan

We then got on the subway and headed to the outskirts of the city to visit Daigo-ji Temple. Although it isn’t one of the more significant temples, it is absolutely beautiful and worth visiting. Daigo-ji sits on a huge property, so expect to spend hours just walking around.

My favorite in Kyoto, Japan was Daigo-ji Temple, it's on the outskirt of the city. Although it isn’t one of the more significant temples, it is absolutely beautiful and worth visiting. Daigo-ji sits on a huge property, so expect to spend hours just walking around.

My favorite in Kyoto, Japan was Daigo-ji Temple, it's on the outskirt of the city. Although it isn’t one of the more significant temples, it is absolutely beautiful and worth visiting. Daigo-ji sits on a huge property, so expect to spend hours just walking around.

My favorite in Kyoto, Japan was Daigo-ji Temple, it's on the outskirt of the city. Although it isn’t one of the more significant temples, it is absolutely beautiful and worth visiting. Daigo-ji sits on a huge property, so expect to spend hours just walking around.

The most significant structure in Daigo-ji is the 5-story pagoda seen below. This pagoda was built in 951 and it is the oldest structure still standing in Kyoto. Although the most significant, it wasn’t my favorite.

My favorite in Kyoto, Japan was Daigo-ji Temple, it's on the outskirt of the city. Although it isn’t one of the more significant temples, it is absolutely beautiful and worth visiting. Daigo-ji sits on a huge property, so expect to spend hours just walking around.

My favorite part of Daigo-ji was Bentendo Hall.  Actually, it was my favorite place in all of Japan. I felt such a sense of peace and tranquility there, probably because there was no one else around.

My favorite in Kyoto, Japan was Daigo-ji Temple, specifically Bentendo Hall. It is located on the outskirt of the city. Although it isn’t one of the more significant temples, it is absolutely beautiful and worth visiting. Daigo-ji sits on a huge property, so expect to spend hours just walking around.

My favorite in Kyoto, Japan was Daigo-ji Temple, specifically Bentendo Hall. It is located on the outskirt of the city. Although it isn’t one of the more significant temples, it is absolutely beautiful and worth visiting. Daigo-ji sits on a huge property, so expect to spend hours just walking around.

In the evening, we grabbed a quick dinner near our hotel and walked around the Gion District, where the Geisha’s roam by night. We even stopped by a tiny local bar, the Fishbowl, where we hung out with the owner Jesse. He told great stories!

Kyoto's famous Gion District, where the Geisha’s roam by night. Japan

Kyoto's famous Gion District, where the Geisha’s roam by night. Japan

Kyoto's famous Gion District, where the Geisha’s roam by night. Japan

DAY 3

This was the morning of everything orange! First was the Heian-jingu Shrine since it was the closest to our hotel and it opens early. There was some construction going on in the street… check out how awesome their barricades are!

Day 3 in Kyoto we visited so many orange temples. First up was Heian-jingu Shrine since it was the closest to our hotel and it opens early.  Japan

Day 3 in Kyoto we visited so many orange temples. First up was Heian-jingu Shrine since it was the closest to our hotel and it opens early.  Japan

Next we headed over to Sanjusangendo Temple, which is famous for having 1,000 life-size wood statues. Unfortunately, you’re not allowed to take any pictures while inside, but it’s beautiful. Here’s a picture from the Internet, just to give you an idea of what we saw.

Sanjusangendo Temple, which is famous for having 1,000 life-size wood statues. Unfortunately, you’re not allowed to take any pictures while inside, but it’s beautiful. Must see when in Kyoto, Japan.

Equally impressive were the grounds of Sanjusangendo, which we roamed for quite some time. I fell in love with the gigantic orange doors!

Sanjusangendo Temple, which is famous for having 1,000 life-size wood statues. Unfortunately, you’re not allowed to take any pictures while inside, but it’s beautiful and the grounds are equally gorgeous. Must see when in Kyoto, Japan.

Sanjusangendo Temple, which is famous for having 1,000 life-size wood statues. Unfortunately, you’re not allowed to take any pictures while inside, but it’s beautiful and the grounds are equally gorgeous. Must see when in Kyoto, Japan.

Sanjusangendo Temple, which is famous for having 1,000 life-size wood statues. Unfortunately, you’re not allowed to take any pictures while inside, but it’s beautiful and the grounds are equally gorgeous. Must see when in Kyoto, Japan.

The third stop, to continue our morning of everything orange, was the very popular Fushimi Inari Shrine. It’s famous for the pathway of orange torii gates. They say that over 10,000 torii gates create the pathway, which is 2.5-miles long, going uphill through the woods.

When in Kyoto you have to visit Fushimi Inari Shrine. It’s famous in Japan for the pathway of orange torii gates. They say that over 10,000 torii gates create the pathway, which is 2.5-miles long, going uphill through the woods.

When in Kyoto you have to visit Fushimi Inari Shrine. It’s famous in Japan for the pathway of orange torii gates. They say that over 10,000 torii gates create the pathway, which is 2.5-miles long, going uphill through the woods.

When in Kyoto you have to visit Fushimi Inari Shrine. It’s famous in Japan for the pathway of orange torii gates. They say that over 10,000 torii gates create the pathway, which is 2.5-miles long, going uphill through the woods.When in Kyoto you have to visit Fushimi Inari Shrine. It’s famous in Japan for the pathway of orange torii gates. They say that over 10,000 torii gates create the pathway, which is 2.5-miles long, going uphill through the woods.

At this point, we had a few hours until our afternoon sake tour, so we headed to Nara for a super quick visit of the deer park. I refused to leave Japan without going to feed the deer! I kept the side trips separate. You can read all about it here: Nara Deer Park.

Back to our adventures in Kyoto….

By the time we made it back to Kyoto, we were just in time (actually a bit late- sorry Jason!) for our sake tour. My husband and I love doing wine tours when we travel, so we figured that we would try the equivalent in Japan. Although we are not sake drinkers (at all) and apparently sake tours are not common in Japan, we found a small tour (JD Kai – Food/Sake Tasting) that was just perfect. In a few hours we got to learn all about sake and try several varieties, all while seeing a really cool neighborhood.

Sake tour in Kyoto, Japan

Sake tour in Kyoto, Japan

Sake tour in Kyoto, Japan

Sake tour in Kyoto, Japan

Sake tour in Kyoto, Japan

DAY 4

Our last day in Japan was dedicated to more side trips. There were 2 places we were still dying to see, so we headed out early in the morning to make it to both Hiroshima and Miyajima. They have their own dedicated post with tons of info.

LINKS TO MY OTHER POSTS ABOUT JAPAN

Japan Travel Tips: Everything you need to know

What to see and do in Tokyo

Side trip to Nara Deer Park (from Kyoto)

Day trip to Hiroshima & Miyajima (from Kyoto)

4 Day Itinerary for Kyoto Japan | Everything to see and do near Kyoto | Ritz Carlton | Kiyomizu-dera Temple | Sushi Mizuki | Arashiyama Bamboo Forest | Kinkaku-ju | Golden Pavilion | Ryoan-ji | Zen Rock Garden | Menbakaichidai | Fire Ramen | Nijo Castle | Daigo-ji | Pagoda | Bentendo Hall | Dion District | Geisha | Heian-jingu Shrine | Sanjusangendo | Fushimi Inari Shrine |  Nara Deer Park | Sake Tour | Hiroshima | Miyajima #kyoto #japan #arashiyama #bambooforest #arashiyamabambooforest #Sake #temples
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4 Comments

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