Kyoto, once the capital of Japan, is a city on the island of Honshu. It's famous for its numerous classical Buddhist temples, as well as gardens, imperial palaces, Shinto shrines and traditional wooden houses. It’s also known for formal traditions such as kaiseki dining, consisting of multiple courses of precise dishes, and geisha, female entertainers often found in the Gion district.
Nearly 1.5 million people live here and it was founded in 794. Yes, that's right, only about 1,000 years before Australia!
We stayed at the Kyoto Yura Hotel, part of the M Gallery and did am 8 hour walking tour one day with Robert that took us to a few magnificent shrines including the Fushimi Inari Shrine, through traditional Japanese housing in the back streets of Kyoto and many other spots.
Japan’s greatest ancient city, Kyoto is the most popular tourist destination in Japan. The city is located in the heart of western Japan along side of Osaka Prefecture. With over 4,000 historical monuments such as temples and shrines and the charming streetscape of the old city, Kyoto attracts millions of visitors from in/outside of Japan in all year around.
At night it's safe enough to walk around Kyoto and explore the restaurants along the Kamogawa River. Kamogawa, translates to ‘duck river,’ and runs throughout Kyoto Prefecture.
The walkway caters to locals going about their daily lives but heaps of tourists also enjoy this spot to enjoy the river and fresh air. During the warmer months, restaurants open their balconies looking out onto the river. This is called “Noryo Yuka” where people enjoy outdoor dining to enjoy the cool breeze of the evening with their food.
One thing we noticed about couples sitting along the riverbank is they always sit a certain distance apart. It is very interesting to look at as it comes from the Japanese culture of respecting other people’s space. It's quite refreshing to see how Japanese treat each other with so much respect.
We found some terrific places to eat there, like Hanamichi, the Teppan Yaki restaurant run by husband and wife team who open at around 8.30pm each night (!) for a few hours.
Check out our meal being made.
You'll find it in the Gion area at: 560 Komatsucho Yamatojidori Shijo Kudaru 4-chome, Higashiyama, Kyoto (just plug it into Google Maps and you'll get there). However, there are so many restaurants to choose from, some overlooking the river as you walk through the streets.
We also did an 8 hour walking tour around Kyoto with Rob who took us into shrines, temples and the backstreets of Kyoto.
We were taken into some pretty sacred places, where the sticks behind the tombstones tell you about the achievements of that person during their life.
Kyoto is lush and green, steeped in tradition and culture and even though we did around 25,000 steps that day, it was worth it to see this beautiful part of Japan.
One night after dinner at Hanamichi Restaurant in Gion, we walked to Yasaka Shrine, also known as Gion Shrine, which is one of the most famous shrines in Kyoto. Founded over 1350 years ago, the shrine is located between the popular Gion District and Higashiyama District. All of this was within walking distance of Kyoto Yura Hotel where we were staying.
Kyoto itself is a gorgeous place to walk around during the day or night with lots to explore and do and we always felt safe walking around.
When you get to Japan, there is no excuse for not making Kyoto a part of your visit. We really enjoyed our few days there.