Kyoto

Kyoto wasn’t quite what I had expected it to be.

Mt Fuji, JapanAdmittedly, part of it had to do with the fact that, right after new year, everything is closed in Japan for a few days. We were just unlucky.

The other part had to do with the fact that I had unrealistic expectations, and the reality didn’t quite live up to them. As the former capital of Japan, I’d grown up hearing about all the ancient temples and shrines there, and how it was so steeped in ancient culture and architecture. That’s definitely still true, there are temples and shrines absolutely everywhere.

Gion, Kyoto, JapanThat’s not, however, quite what you see when you come out of the station, and on the whole Kyoto isn’t the most beautiful city I’ve been to. The unfortunate timing of our trip also meant that all the restaurants that were recommended to us – all fifteen – were closed. So we probably didn’t experience the best food that Kyoto had to offer, either.

Looking back on our trip, we did have a lovely time there, despite our initial frustrations. For one thing, it’s a fantastic city to cycle in. You’re allowed to cycle on the pavements, which are large enough for several bikes, and the drivers there really respect cyclists, so you feel safe on the road, too. It was really fun going from temple to temple, and exploring the city on two wheels (thanks, AirBnB rental!)

We also saw some stunning sights – I’ve listed some of my favourites below.

Gion

Gion, Kyoto, JapanGion, Kyoto, JapanWe headed toward Gion to see the famous Yasaka Shrine, and check out the nightlife. Gion is the famous geisha district, so you’ll find a lot of tourists there, but there’s lots to see and do – you can get some great coffee around there, too.

Gion, Kyoto, JapanKinkakuji 

Kinkaku-Ji, Kyoto, JapanKinkakuji temple was one of the most beautiful buildings I’ve seen in the entire world – it just looked like something out of a painting. It was stunning. I was in total awe, and the surrounding gardens were also idyllic.

Kinkaku-Ji, Kyoto, JapanKinkaku-Ji, Kyoto, JapanKinkaku-Ji, Kyoto, JapanA top tip for tourists – if you don’t want sleep deprived, hungry and grumpy half-Japanese ladies to scream and chase after you in near hysterics, it’s best to avoid dumping several unwanted receipts from your bag in front of something as beautiful as this. Some people are just unbelievable. Unfortunately the tourists in question sheepishly ran away, meaning I had to carry around other people’s trash for a while. I also shot daggers at the people in question, so I hope I ruined their tour by being totally insane. However, I still have no remorse about my behaviour that day. NO REGRETS.

Kinkaku-Ji, Kyoto, JapanLuckily, matcha tea and a traditional Japanese sweet was the perfect way to blow off all that pent up, trash-related anger – it was really peaceful and tranquil in the shade.

Kinkaku-Ji, Kyoto, JapanFushimi Inari Taisha

Fushimi Inari Taisha shrine is famous for its thousands of torii gates – thousands and thousands of bright orange structures, which line the mountain trails.

Fushimi Inari Taisha Shrine, Kyoto, JapanFushimi Inari Taisha Shrine, Kyoto, JapanIt’s very impressive, and it has a great atmosphere – unsurprisingly, it’s a lot nicer the further up you go, as the other tourists drop off earlier once they’ve taken their selfies.

Fushimi Inari Taisha Shrine, Kyoto, JapanJust walk a little further up to get a better view (and you can take yours up there, too).

Fushimi Inari Taisha Shrine, Kyoto, JapanKyotoThere are also some great street food vendors just outside, too – I recommend the chicken skewers and the fish-shaped cakes with custard cream filling in particular. Absolutely delicious!

While our trip didn’t quite live up to my expectations, I did think there were some stunning sights to see in Kyoto.

Have you ever been to Kyoto? What did you think? Be sure to comment below, or let me know on  TwitterFacebook or Instagram!

  • Oh wow, Kyoto looks stunning! It’s a shame mosts restaurants were closed
    during your trip. I would defenitely love to visit it one day! x

    • Thanks Justina! I think I do need to have another visit as everyone else has been raving about the food there! xx

  • Such a shame you went when you did – I had the most amazing time in Kyoto ten days ago, and some of the best food we had in Japan. Don’t let it put you off for future visits! Will be blogging all the restaurants we made it to in the next couple of weeks.
    Rosie xx

    • Hey Rosie! It was such a shame – especially because I had so many recommendations and they all fell through! I can’t wait to catch up on all your Japan posts! xxxx

  • What a shame all the restaurants you wanted to visit were closed, maybe a good excuse to make another trip? ha! The temples look absolutely beautiful. I’ve always wanted to visit Japan! xo

    http://rachelnicole.co.uk/

    • Thanks Rachel! Definitely – Japan is definitely worth visiting, its so stunning! xx

  • The temples do look totally gorgeous but such a pain that everything was shut when you went! Hopefully you can make it back and explore all the food! x

    Jasmin Charlotte

  • Phenomenal Globe Travel Blog

    I am going to Japan in April and this is very helpful. Sorry to hear so much was closed during your trip. I might have the same issue, being there during Golden Week….

    • Thank you so much, Lotte! Fingers crossed that some things are open for you, it would be such a shame to miss out!

      • Phenomenal Globe Travel Blog

        I hope so too! Thanks:-)

  • This is a shame – we stayed with friends who lived in Kyoto so lucked in with local recommendations.

    • Thanks Emma! I seem to be the only one who was unlucky – everyone else has been raving about the food! xx