‘Templed out’ is a term that many travellers are familiar with. As much as temples are beautiful, there are only so many that you can visit during a trip. Kyoto- the old capital of Japan- and is just oozing with culture…and temples. However, it is a city that offers a lot more than just temples and the following is what you can do if you are all templed out.
Fushimi Inari Shrine
Fushimi Inari-taisha is by far the coolest shrine that I have ever seen. Everything is very expensive in Japan but this shrine is free to visit- making it the perfect way to spend a morning in Kyoto.
The shrine is a dedication to rice and sake- how very Japanese. The shrine is 4km in length with a path covered by beautiful orange torii gates leading up the mountain. It is said that the shrine take about 2 hours to walk-however, as there are many small shrines to visit along the way I would recommend giving yourself more time to explore.
Another reason to give yourself more time is because of all of the delicious food stalls near the entrance of the shrine. After you finish your hike you can reward yourself by eating some tasty Japanese treats. There was so much delicious looking food here it was hard to pick what to eat!
Gion is a district in Kyoto that you can just wander around in endlessly. There are tons of small restaurants and shops in this area- all quite traditional. This is also the area where you can see Geishas walking around. Unfortunately, most of the Geishas you see are actually tourists dressed up for the day- but they are beautiful never-the-less.
I recommend taking a walk around here at night because the streets become extra beautiful with the Japanese lanterns hanging off of the buildings down quaint little side streets.
This is every foodie’s dream! Literally just a street crammed with all different types of Japanese food. Since this is a market there is nowhere to actually sit down and eat but instead small things to buy that you can munch on as you continue exploring. This is an area where you can be very adventurous since you can buy small portions of different things to try.
You can walk to this market from Gion. Be warned it does close around 5 p.m. so go early.
The Golden Temple
Okay I know I said no temples but they are hard to avoid in this city so if you should visit at least one- and this is the one to do. The name doesn’t lie- it’s a golden temple. If you go on a sunny day you can see a clear reflection of the temple on the pond which is very beautiful.
Since people are attracted to shiny things this temple attracts a lot of attention. Even though it is beautiful, be warned that it can get very crowded and full of selfie sticks. You only need about 30 minutes to check it out and then you can go and enjoy some delicious matcha soft serve outside.
I regret to tell you that I never actually made it to the bamboo forest because of my bad sense of direction- and due to the fact that we got to distracted by many other things in the Arashiyama district. The bamboo forest is highly recommended though and it’s worth checking out since a lot of other things are within walking distance- such as the Tenryu-Ji Temple.
Another let down for us was when we got to the Togetsukyō Bridge. We literally came to this area just to see this bridge that we were told was picturesque. We were surprised when we saw it. It was the most average bridge that you could imagine.
I later googled this bridge to see if there was something that we were missing. It turns out that this bridge is very beautiful in the fall in spring when the trees are either golden orange or covered in cherry blossoms. We were there in the dead of winter- so everything around the bridge was barren. However, the walkway along the river is quite beautiful- especially at dusk.
You wouldn’t go to Italy without drinking wine right? Even if you don’t like the stuff visiting the sake museum is a cool way to learn about this traditional drink (surprise, surprise it’s made out of rice). The museum is small and in Fushimi- Kyoto’s sake district- an area is full of sake breweries.
After you learn about the history and making of sake you can then enjoy (or pretend to enjoy) a small tasting of different sakes. You also get a free small bottle of sake to take with you. The entrance for the museum is 300 Yen- which, is the price you would pay for a small bottle of sake anyway. Kanpai!
Tip: You can buy a day bus pass for 500 Yen. This bus pass is good for the day that you buy it (not 24 hours- literally just for the day that you buy it).
Considering that one bus ride is 230 Yen (and you have to pay again if you transfer) it is totally worth it.