Exploring Kyoto, a 3 Days Itinerary

Kyoto or  京都市 (pronounced Kyoto-shi) is serves as Japan Capital city and the emperor residence. Kyoto has around 1000 Buddhist temple, like the famed golden pavilion, Kikaku-ji, the Higashi Hongan-ji, and the most famous Shinto shrines, Fushimi Inari.  Thanks to its valuable historical background this city was dropped from the list target cities for the atomic bomb.

Aside of its cultural and historical value, Kyoto also known as the artisan city. Here you can easily found the old shotengai 商店街 (market street), machiya 町屋/町家 (traditional townhouse), traditional japanese confectioners, and also the home to the famous Japanese highly skilled entertainers Geisha.

Get Around Kyoto
Anything related to Transport in Japan is EXPENSIVE! if you didnt plan it wisely it will cost you lot of money. I will explain why its expensive not in this anyway if you have JR pass and plan to stay few days in Kyoto better activate it later and bought the Kansai area pass.

There are several types of Pass that you can bought in Kansai Airport, such as;

  • Kyoto Unlimited Bus one day pass - 500¥ for adult and 250¥ for child. Only valid for all city bus inside Kyoto for oneday (from midnight to midnight). It can't be used outside Kyoto such as Arashiyama or Fushimi Inari. One single bus trip is 230¥ so 3 bus trips paid off the pass.  Click here for the bus route map. However traffic in Kyoto is quite busy so train is more recommended. 
  • Kyoto City Subway One day Pass - 600¥ for adult and 300¥ for child. Only valid for all city subway inside Kyoto for oneday (from midnight to midnight).
  • Kyoto Sightseeing One or Two day Pass - One day pass; 1200 for adult, 600 for child. Two day pass; 2000 for adult and 1000 for child. Cover all bus and subway for one or two consecutive days. Click here for the subway map (pdf).
  • Kansai Thru Pass Two or Three day Pass - One day pass; 4000 adult, 2000 child. Three day Pass; 5200 adult, 2600 children. Can be used on nonconsecutive day during validity period. Recommended if you are planning to visit two different city in one day such as from Osaka to Kyoto, Kyoto to Nara or Kobe. This pass also have several privileges to it make sure you plan your trip and check the website here.
  • Kansai One Pass - IC card like sold for  3000 with pre-load amount 2500 you need to re-charge it and you paid per trip. this one is similar to Korean T-money card except you need to pay when you transfer from one private company subway to another. Click here for the pass official website
  • ICOCA, Pitata, Other IC Card - this type of card is similar to Suica and Pasmo as well as Kansai One Pass. This type of card can be use if you want more convenience than buying a ticket every time you make a trip. This type of IC card can be use to every train and bus but it will not gave you any discount and unlimited travel benefit. You paid per trip and yes for money wise it's expensive. 

3 Days Kyoto Itinerary
Day 1 Arashiyama 嵐山 - Nishiki Market 錦市場 - Gion 祇園 

Arashiyama bamboo grove is the second most visited tourist place in Kyoto after Fushimi and for you the early riser this is the first place that you want to visit if you want to get a good picture spot otherwise your okay with strangers in ur frame. I arrived at 6.45 and yeah i got the nice picture spot for myself   woohoo.. 

Nishiki Market
My accomodation was located at Kawaramachi shopping district near teramachi and within walking distance to the market.

Nishiki Market is a narrow street lined with shop and restaurant. Here you can find Kyoto's specialties food.
The must tried foods when visiting Nishiki Market are soy donut from Konnamonjya (こんなもんじゃ)

Dashimaki Tamago at Miki Keiran (三木雞卵)
Charcoal grilled dango from Mochitsuki-Ya (錦 もちつき屋)
Unagi (味彩 のと与 )

 and Senbei.
I dont feel like eating sashimi and heavy meal that day because i'm planning to get Japanese beef BBQ at the night so only tried the soy donut which turned out to be the my fave! They are fluffy, soft, with the hint of soy milk and crispy at the same time. I recommend you to get the original one. My second best is Dashi tamago, fluffy, soft and savory at the same time.


street from the Gion station to the intersection of shijodori and hanami-koji turn into a beautiful street at the dawn. Every alley feels like Japan in the past. I love strolling at Gion  esp around dusk. Gion area known as Geisha center. If you are lucky enough you can get a glimpse or photo of them.

Please keep in mind that there geisha that you see here in the geisha districts are usually on their way to the appointment and they cannot stop for a picture or pose for you. More importantly geisha is just like most people they don't appreciate mobbed by strangers. Please respect them, and don't go crazy shooting and running after them.

I finish my 1st day by eating at the nearby Japanese BBQ restaurant which afford 1 person BBQ grill and i do appreciate it. Almost all of the BBQ place in Korea wont allow you if you are alone and even if they do you need to pay double.

Gion also known for its sweets and dessert, and this cafe annexed to the sweet store "Gion-Koishi" that established 70 years ago is the must visited place in Kyoto. They have special brown sugar syrup or kokutomitsu as their signature product. I ordered their parfait and love it! the best one that i ever had during my stay in Japan. Not overly sweet with hint of matcha, cake and ice cream! tasty!

DAY 2 - Kiyomizu dera 清水寺 - Sannen-zaka 産寧坂 - Ninen-zaka二寧坂- Yasaka Shrine八阪神社 

I love traditional clothing and i never tried kimono before so for the second day i decided to rent a yukata and walk in it. 


Kiyomizu-dera or The Pure Water Temple is one of the most celebrated temples after founded in 780 near the Otowa Waterfall. 

Its well known for its wooden stage that juts out from its mainhall.  This mainhall stage is the best spot for spring and autumn but sadly this mainhall is still renovation when i went there.

Behind the temple is where the Jishu shrine located, a deity of love and matchmaking dedicated shrine. The legend said if you successfully walk 18m from one stone to another you will find your love. 
 At the base of the temple you will find the otowa waterfall. water are divided to three streams. Each stream said to bring you logevity, success, and love fortune.

Ninen-zaka and Sannen-zaka 
Sannenzaka and Ninenzaka are a pair of preserved traditional pedestrian only lanes leads to Kiyomizu-dera.
There is no better place for soak in Kyoto athmosphere than here. But actually this place has scary legend behind it. The Ninen-zaka means slope of two years while Sannen-zaka means slope of three years. The old legend said that anyone falls along ninen-zaka will be died within two years while sannen one will die in three. So guys please be careful when you walk here. 

Here you'll find various artisan handycraft store, teahouse, and restaurants. I went to some hello-kitty and ghibli store by accidentaly here. 

near ninenzaka and yasaka pagoda you can find Yasaka Koshin Temple, the temple with thousand of kukurizaru the colorful ball.This kukurizaru representing the good faith monkey in Koshin belief. This is just a small temple but a good place for photoshot esp with those colorfull balls.

Yasaka Shrine
Because of it's location, near to Gion and Higashiyama this shrine became one of the most popular shrines in Kyoto.

If you come at Juli Yasaka Shrine will celebrated Gion Matsuri the most famous festival in the country that involves procession of massive floats and attendants.

DAY 3 - Fushimi Inari Taisha - Nara
Fushimi Inari Taisha
Fushimi Inari Taisha is one of the Shinto Temple located at the southern Kyoto that famous for its thousand torii gates which straddle network of trails leads to the forest of sacred Inari Mountain.

Fushimi Inari Taisha is one of the most important shrine dedicated for Inari the Shinto God of Rice. Fox or kitsune  across all the shrine symbolize the messenger of Inari.

It takes me more than 1 hour to the top of inari mountain. If you just want to take picture with the torii actually you dont need to hike because the senbon torii (thousand torii gates) can be found at the main ground  before the hiking trail.

It used to be the first Japan permanent  Capital city back then in the 8th century.

Nara is home for thousands of free roaming deers.

Deers are considered as the messenger of God in Shinto. Nara's deer are tame until they smell the deer crackers and became agressive.

There is anything that i missed in this itinerary? Have you been to Kyoto? Whats ur most memorable place when you visit Kyoto? Do you want some tips for Geisha spotting in Gion too?
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