Kyoto diary – Day 1

Start your first day by visiting some near-by temples: Heian Jinja and Yasaka Jinja.

Heian Shrine is a big temple near the Kyoto Modern Art Museum and Kyoto National Art Museum. The whole environment at Heian Shrine is very zen; empty spaces all covered with stones. The very nice garden, Shin-en Garden (entrance Fee: 600 Yen) displays two ponds with lilies and plants and a pavilion where you can just sit down and unwind from long walks. Newly weds love to go there for their photo shoots.

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The next stop is at Yasaka Temple, a Shinto shrine in the Gion District of Kyoto. Situated at the east end of Shijō-dōri (Fourth Avenue), it was built originally in 656. The shrine includes several buildings, including gates, a main hall and a stage.

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Another noteworthy temple is the Kodai-ji temple, located in the Higashiyama mountains (just South of Yasaka temple). Established in 1605 by a noblewoman, Kita-no-Mandokoro in memory of her late husband and samurai, Toyotomi Hideyoshi. Its design and exquisite craftsmanship is well renowned all over Japan and thousands of visitors are expected every years during autumn when the foliages and gardens are lit at night and offer outstanding sceneries. Tel. +81(0)75-561-9966

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Feeling hungry? A highly recommended Donkatsu restaurant, Katsukura is located in the Sanjo shopping strip of Kyoto. An expert in breaded pork cutlets, they have rapidly expanded with twenty-six branches all over Japan, twelve are readily available around Kyoto. They take pride in serving top premium quality pork loin and fillet cutlet. A specialty, Yuba croquette (¥ 1,550) was a surprising and delicious mix of vegetables and pork filled croquette. A good deal is to order the Sangen Pork Ton-Katsu Zen set (from ¥ 1,280 – 80gr to ¥1,950 – 160gr) which comes with barley rice, miso soup and free-refill pickled vegetables. Served with two different sauces to choose from, it was really tender and perfectly cooked to preserve the meat flavors.

The Kyoto-style interior of the restaurant is very tasteful and reminiscence of a Japanese tavern atmosphere.

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After a long day of temple visits, back at the Kyoto Traveler’s Inn hotel, rest your tired feet and immerge yourself into a Japanese tradition at their public baths which opens until midnight. You can get fresh Japanese beers from their vending machines in the hallways (change is available at the front desk).

大浴場 Kyoto Travelers' Inn
大浴場 Kyoto Travelers’ Inn

Kyoto Travelers’ Inn hotel

Highly recommended and budget friendly is to check in at the exquisite Kyoto Traveler’s Inn, which is perfectly located in the heart of the old Kyoto. It offers forty Western style rooms and thirty-eight Japanese style tatami rooms all fitted and equipped for couples, group of friends or family. Free WIFI is available at Café Green Box and on every floors in every room category. They offer a choice of Western style breakfast or Japanese style composed of fresh vegetables, miso soup, grilled fish and rice bowl. For travelers staying at the hotel, their public bath opened from 3pm to midnight is a great way to relax after a long day walking around the city. Bicycles are also available for rent by the day or for the whole week. Tel. +81(0)75-771-0225

Kyoto station & Kyoto Tower

After arriving at Osaka KIX airport, you can travel by train to the futuristic Kyoto Station, which has the feeling of a set for 2001: A Space Odyssey. The top is reached by ascending its Stairway to Heaven escalators. Rent a bicycle to start your visit from one of the numerous rental stations available around the huge Isetan building or next to Kyoto Tower. Bicycling around town is the best way to enjoy every little traditional streets and get to discover hidden treasures that are usually not on tourist maps. Lovely wooden traditional shops, houses and tea shops were a reminiscence of scenes out of the Memoirs of a Geisha novel. Don’t forget to pick a free copy of Explorer Kyoto, a useful map and guide of the best each city (Osaka & Kyoto) has to offer.

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Another alternative, if you fly in through Osaka International airport, is the very convenient MK shuttle offering inexpensive door-to-door service, greeting you at the arrivals at KIX Osaka airport. The reasonably priced (¥ 3,600/person) shared shuttle van brings you to your final destination in Kyoto in approximately an hour and half. Price includes one suitcase up to a meter size. Reservations are necessary at least 48 hours in advance. Tel. +81(0)75-778-5489

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