Saturday, February 7, 2015

Japan Trip: Kyoto

Playing: She Lied to the FBI-Alkaline Trio
Reading: The Tale of Layla and Majnun by Nizami
It's been forever since I posted anything about my trip to Japan, so I apologize in advance for posting this so late. I still want to cover what I did in the countryside and in Tokyo yet I'm just covering Kyoto today. Tina and I started off our time in Kyoto around the Arashiyama Bamboo Forest and the surrounding area. We particularly liked how tranquil the forest was and it was pleasant to walk around Arashiyama itself. (May we recommend Gyatei, which offers a wide range of traditional Japanese food, for lunch?)
While walking around the forest, we stumbled upon the Nonomiya Shrine, which was surprisingly nice. It had all sorts of colorful paper cranes decorating the area and seemed like a popular stop among tourists and locals alike. From what we could tell, there seemed to be a sort of beauty pageant that took place there or a Geisha dress up sort of deal? We couldn't tell from the scarce advertisements.
What made Kyoto so beautiful is its tranquil nature scenes and all of the picture perfect locations. The Togetsu Bridge, which crosses the Katsura River, offers especially peaceful views and if you walk along the banks of the Katsura River, you can easily find a place where you could rent boats to go about the river. If you're interested in an arduous hike, you can climb up the mountain right by the Togetsu Bridge to visit a monkey park.
Kyoto is known for being the home to a lot of Japan's cultural and artistic heritage. Consequently, Tina and I went out of our way to visit every shrine we walked past, which led us to visiting Yasaka Jinja. Yasaka Jinja itself was very beautiful and I highly recommend visiting it. It sprawls over a large chunk of land and has every aspect of a shrine you could want from beautiful paper lanterns to amazing pieces of architecture. At the time we were there (mid-July) there was even a street festival being set up on one of the side streets next to it.
The main reason we found ourselves at Yasaka Jinja was because Tina and I really wanted to go to the Gion Distrit, which is known for having quite a few Geishas walking around. While we were there, we did see a Geisha. However, she was not stopping for photos and walked briskly by. I loved the older style of the buildings in this district and all of the side streets. It was rather quaint. While you're there, I recommend stopping by Saryo TSUJIRI for matcha parfaits and wandering along the Kamo River.
One of our favorite shrines that we visited was the Fushimi-Inari Shrine, which is famous for its long rows of torii gates. We liked how this shrine was decorated and how it offered multiple paths to hike along and how all the paths lead us to another shrine. We also visited Kiyomizu-dera and Kinkaku-ji, which I both highly recommend if you have the time to visit them. However, I wanted to share a few shrines that are lesser known but still worth visiting in this post. We usually walked around the areas surrounding a lot of the shrines and I feel like those alleyways and rambling streets were one of the best things about Kyoto. They hid a plethora of cute cafes and shops to stop by.

PS While you're in Kyoto, you should also take advantage of the nama yatsuhashi selection. Nama yatsuhashi is a mochi based crepe-like dessert often stuffed with red bean of fruit preserves and Kyoto is famous for it!


  1. Replies
    1. Yes, Kyoto is a wonderful city! So peaceful and beautiful

  2. Wow, this place looks wonderful! I would love to go for a walk in these woods!

    1. Kyoto is a lovely city to wander around. It feels like everywhere you go, there is something amazing hidden around the corner.

  3. Yaaay Japanese posts of your trips :D
    Kyoto is really beautiful as I already know
    from the novel Memoirs of a Geisha :P Bummer
    that you did not got a photo of the geisha that
    walked by!
    Anyway this Gyaatei place sure has a yummy
    looking menu! Xx

    1. I've never read the Memoirs of a Geisha before although I've been meaning to. Gyaatei has a lot of vegetarian options so I think you would enjoy it!


I love hearing what you have to say! Please leave a comment! ♥