Things To Do In Kyoto | Day 1 of 2

Kyoto Diaries

Things to do in Kyoto

Before going to India, we explored quite a few places during the Golden Week, the first being Kyoto. Today I will share all the lovely captures and things to do in Kyoto from our day 1 of the short 2-day trip.

Kyoto is an ancient city and the capital of the Kyoto Prefecture. It was earlier the imperial capital of Japan. If you are like me who loves ancient structures and history you will love this city; even if you are not fond of history much, this city will definitely find a way to please you with its charm, which is ancient and metropolitan at the same time. The city is full of shrines, temples, art galleries, museums, nature and more options that will suit everyone’s liking. It gets a heavy footfall of tourists because of all these highlights.

If you are not well prepared and try to look for a place to stay in Kyoto during Golden Week you will never find anything—not even hostels—it is that crazy flooded with tourists. It is not very close from Tokyo but at a suitable distance of ~460 km and you have various means to access this city: you can rent a car if you hold a valid driver’s license, take an overnight bus which is very comfortable or board the super fast Shinkansen.

Kyoto has thousands of attractions; if you are on a tight schedule I suggest you take time and plan what all you want to cover in your trip otherwise Kyoto can be a bit overwhelming with all it has to offer. We were definitely on a very tight schedule of 1.5 days so it was crazy but all the rigorous planning and jotting down of all the tiny details helped us save a lot of time and we could enjoy more. We covered quite a few places; it was definitely not enough but good for the first time and I’d love to go there again sometime. We used the city bus service for most of the commuting, it was very convenient and there were day passes available to select from.

There are so many things to do in Kyoto that if you are not well planned you might loose out on so many things. We covered quite a few places in our 2-day trip: Kinkaku-ji - Golden Pavilion; Togetsu-kyo bridge - Moon Crossing Bridge; Tenryu-ji Temple; Arashiyama Bamboo Forest; Romance train ride in Sagano; Fushimi-Inari Taisha; Gion district (Geisha capital); and Kiyomizu-dera.

We took the 7:03 am Shinkansen from Tokyo station and reached Kyoto station at 9:47 am. Our hotel check-in was at 3:00 pm so we carried our bag (1 pc) with us but you can always keep your luggage in your hotel’s cloak/locker room.

Planning for your travel to Japan? Look for some great deals here.

Kinkaku-ji - The Golden Pavilion

The first spot that we hit after reaching Kyoto was Kinkaku-ji aka the Golden Pavilion. It is a World Heritage Site with gorgeous views of the temple set in the middle of a pond surrounded by lush greens. It is so mesmerizing and positive at the same time.

Kinkaku-ji_1   Kinkaku-ji_2   One of the pictures in the premises of The Golden Pavilion.   The auspicious incense.   POSING :D   The famous matcha (powdered green tea) soft cream with gold flakes: it was super yummy! :p

Access: Bus no. 101/100 Admission Fee: ¥400 for adults (including high school students); ¥300 for children

Fancy being a part of a traditional Japanese Tea Ceremony in Kyoto? Check your options here.


Next stop of our trip was Arashiyama. It is also one of the most visited, World Heritage Site in Kyoto. Unlike Kinkaku-ji, Arashiyama is a cluster of famous spots like Togetsukyo bridge also the moon crossing bridge, Tenryu-ji temple, Bamboo grove/forest, romance train ride in Sagano, etc. We were very excited to reach Arashiyama, it is such a lovely place; you can sit near the river, walk around the local market, stroll on the bridge, and click pictures everywhere 😀

The rickshaw ride

Togetsukyo Bridge

This is also called the moon crossing bridge. It looks perfect during the night with the reflection of the bridge in the river, we loved sitting next to the river just chit-chatting 🙂

Togetsukyo Bridge   Chit-chatting by the river! :D

Sagano Romance Train

Our train ride in Sagano Romance Train was splendid. It is a sightseeing train that runs along the Hozugawa river between Arashiyama and Kameoka. The train in itself is an old world vintage train with one open car and four closed cars. We obviously took the open car as we wanted to breathe in the lovely breeze. It takes about 22-25 minutes for a one-way ride.

Sagano Romance Train   Our open air car   Views of the Hozugawa river from the Sagano Romance train   Fellow tourists as seen from the Sagano Romance train

Hours: 09:00 to 16:00 Fare for train ride: ¥620 one way

Tenryu-ji Temple

Another World Heritage Site with a perfect view of pond and gardens from the verandah. We loved the tranquility at this place.

  View of the gardens and the pond   Tenryu-ji_1

Fee (only the gardens): ¥500 for adults and high school students; ¥300 for elementary and middle school students; free for preschool kids

Bamboo Forest

This is the most serene walk that I’ve had in my entire life, believe me, you guys. Walking on a path with bamboo trees on both of your sides is pure bliss - only con is the plethora of tourists alongside - we wanted that long walk to continue for so long! TIP: Carry a mosquito repellant 😀 I realized this after a few bites and scratches.

Arashiyama Bamboo Forest_1   Almost impossible to find it with lesser people. XD   Bambo Forest_1

Access: Bus no. 205 from Kinkakuji Michi to Nishinokyo Emmachi and from there bus no. 93 for Arashiyama Tenryu Teramae.

Fushimi-Inari Taisha

By now you know Kyoto has a large number of shrines and temple. Fushimi-Inari shrine is yet another gorgeous one. It is a Shinto shrine dedicated to Inari: the God of rice, sake, and prosperity. Fushimi-Inari is known for its remarkable 10,000 small torii gates (shrine gates).

It takes around 2 hours to reach atop Mt. Inari, which we couldn't as we took some wrong turn halfway and ended from where we started, i.e. the main gate of the shrine. 🙁 And then we just didn't go back up! But if you go up the hill you get to experience gorgeous views of the city and if you can make it around sunset it’s icing on the cake! Foxes are believed to be the messengers of Inari; hence, you will find many fox votives across the trail at many stops. The sight of the torii gates is just so gorgeous with bright orange color.

The main gate of Fushimi-Inari   The torii in front of the main gate. This time I am standing with my back at the main gate that I showed in the previous picture.   The fox with the key   Pretty torii votives   And the trail begins   Fox votives while on the trail   This breath-taking view!

Access: Inari Station (JP Nara Line), 5-min walk from Fushimi-Inari station (Keihan Main Line). Admission Fees: Free

Consequently, that was majorly our day 1 in Kyoto, I hope you liked Things To Do in Kyoto | Day 1. Don't forget to check out the second part, i.e. Things To Do in Kyoto | Day 2 featuring Gion (Geisha capital) and Kiyomizu-dera.

I hope you have a lovely week ahead. Thanks for stopping by and reading!

  • I think I missed about half of these things when I went to Kyoto! Going back this year though so I will definitely try to hit the ones I missed. Beautiful photos!

    • Thanks Eimear! I completely understand what you mean, Kyoto has so much to offer that things are bound to be missed. 🙂 xx

  • Pankhuri

    Wow look who came back after such a long time 😉 … Pictures are just uh-mazinggg

    • Haha, thank you so much dear, yeah I know so long time! 😀 xx

  • Kyoto Sure seems like a great place !! I soo want to try the matcha, it looks super yummy!

    You look great girl! Love the chic and simple outfit

    New Post – Style..A Pastiche!

    • Thank you so much, Chaicy! I hope you get to try matcha soon, it’s so good… 🙂 xx

  • Maii Valeroso

    Hi! Great photos, it’s the first time I heard about the Sagano Romance train. We’ll take it for sure. Thank you!!

    BTW, is Kinkaku-ji—Arashiyama—Fushimi-Inari Taisha doable in a day tour? If so, can you suggest the order of the the 3 places?

    • Hey Maii, thanks for stopping by! 🙂 We made it doable for us as we had just 1.5 days. We started pretty early (~9:30 am) with Kinkaku-ji (I), Togetsukyo bridge (II), Arashiyama (III), Sagano Romance Train (IV), Fushimi Inari Taisha (V) and we were done by 7:30 pm. Ofcourse, if you have time then I’d suggest doing these places with ease but otherwise it worked for us.

      I hope you have a great time when you visit Kyoto. 🙂

      xx Aditi

  • Wow, what a fantastic itinerary! I’ve always wanted to visit Japan, and specifically the countryside and nature there. What great photos!

  • Claire Lee

    Oh how fun!! I would love to visit Kyoto someday. My friend recently went there and she loved it. I have visited Japan several times but not here, so I can’t wait!

  • Rose Sahetapy

    Wow! What a trip you have! Japan has always been my favorite travel destination, particularly Kyoto as one of the cities in Japan I’d love to visit. Thank you so much for sharing your experience with quite complete information on places to visit. Bookmark this post!

  • Wow! No wonder the Golden Pavillion is a World Heritage site it is absolutely incredible. I am also a fan of walks too so a bamboo walk sounds like the kind of serene and tranquil calm that I need in my life! x

  • Catvills

    I have always dreamed of visiting Japan. The country has a very rich culture and is a gold mine in stunning architecture. To see all the natural beauty of Japan is a dream come true for me. Thank you for sharing your photos. Domo arigatogozaimashita.

    • Thats so true! Do itashimashite! 🙂

  • Becca Talbot

    Japan is one place I’ve yet to visit – but I hope to go there one day. Kyoto looks amazing! x

  • Lovely photos you have there! We went there in mid May and managed to cover everything except Kinkaku-ji but since we were traveling as a family, it took us 3 days.

    • I’d say that was a great achievement. In our case, it was just the two of us hence we were able to do in 2 days. 🙂

  • Kyoto is one of my favorite areas in Japan. We had a wonderful time there and the energy was so soothing; unlike Tokyo that has a super high energy level that matches NY.

  • Sreekar Harinatha

    Thats very helpful for my upcoming japan trip. Thanks a lot!