Kyoto, you magical thing. My favourite city in Japan so far.
Gion area : We stayed in this area and it was fantastic. Lots of alleyways with eateries and nice shops, very close to the Geisha district too. We did a walking tour around here and learnt about Geisha culture, Japanese religion and history. We went to an evening Geisha performance, it was interesting seeing the traditional singing and dancing but the girls had a sad look about them… I found it a bit uncomfortable!
Day trip to Kibune & Kurama: 30 mins out of the city by train, there’s a hike over the mountain path from Kurama to Kibune. We passed at least 10 shrines on the way, it was beautiful. When we arrived in Kibune, there were small restaurants lining the river with dining on the platforms over the water. Unfortunately a bit out of our price range but nice to watch!
Temples, temples, temples: Kyoto is famous for its amazing temples, shrines and gardens including the Golden and Silver Pavillions and Fushimi-Inari-Taisha Shrine – our absolute highlight, the orange tori gates went on for miles.
Bamboo Forest: This was a beautiful forest West of the city. We arrived at 9am thinking we would cleverly beat the tourists (nothing in Japan seems to get going until at least 11.30) but unfortunately it was packed – making photos a bit tough! We paid a little bit more to visit a nearby garden, the old home of a Japanese film star. It was stunning with lovely views of the city from the quiet tea house.
Nijo-jo Castle: This was an amazing samurai castle in the middle of the city. Beautifully painted rooms and ceilings, but no photos inside unfortunately! As usual, another lovely curated garden surrounded the castle.