Good afternoon beauties!
I know .. I have been a little behind with the blog lately – but don’t blame me- I was just awarded a position as professor of mathematics and physics in high school and being my first experience, it requires a lot of work and patience 0_0!
Going back to my trip to Japan .. I had left you with the story of our visit between Lake Ashi and Hakone (which you can read here). Today I want to tell you something about the beautiful Kyoto, which me and my beardy boy visited last summer, around mid-July.
The city of Kyoto has always been synonymous of Japan, the place to visit to better understand the culture of this country and for this reason I recommend at least 3 days to visit it!! For those who don’t know, Kyoto hosts 17 sites Patrimony of Humanity and UNESCO with over 2000 between Buddhist temples and Shinto shrines.
Before leaving, as always, I had a look around in blogs and books (I recommend the lonelyplanet -Japan) to learn what we should visit. I have to be honest, Kyoto was not quite up to my expectations! Do not get me wrong, it is a very charming city with an enviable cultural heritage, perhaps only comparable to our beloved capital (Rome), but with the high temperatures of mid-July, the terrible humidity, and the infinite number of temples (which is the only thing you can visit and I do not know about you but if I I went to Rome, I would certainly not do the tour of all churches!) .. maybe I expected a little more.
It must be said that Kyoto is the city where I saw two of the most fascinating places in the world, the bamboo forest of Arashiyama and the Fushimi Inari Taisha, who slipped immediately into my top ten and which I will talk about soon!
If you followed my advice, you have definitely bought the Japan Rail Pass (I talked about it here). With one of the many fast shinkansen trains you will reach the famous Kyoto station where you can admire the Kyoto Tower, a tower built in the 60’s that will allow you to observe the city from high and admire it in all its infinite contradictions between antiquity and modernity.
After having put the suitcases in the hotel, head to the famous Kiyomizu-dera complex (my favorite among the many Kyoto!), house of a number of Japanese Buddhist temples including the famous Kiyomizudera Otowasan that stands, in all its beauty, on one of the many hills that surround the city.
After visiting this magnificent complex head to the geisha district of Kyoto, Gion. Gion was born in the Middle Ages as a housing area for pilgrims on their way to the nearby shrine of Yasaka. Today it has become an entertainment district.
Although in recent years the figure of the geisha in Japan has become increasingly rare, the Gion district still has this peculiarity. It is not uncommon to find the geishas around the neighborhood, which often are attacked by the tourists cameras. Be warned though, not all people dressed up like geisha are real ones!
To end the day I recommend a stroll downtown between the various local shops that follow each other in a crescendo until you reach the nightlife distric, along the river!
Here you can stop for dinner. There are many restaurants, super beautiful, built on stilts along the river bed. Kyoto reminded me a little bit our beautiful Turin with these beautiful mountains in the distance, that behave as a frame to the city!
The second day I recommend you to wake up early and head directly to the famous bamboo forest of Arashiyama!
Arashiyama is truly one of a kind and with the morning light peeping through the reeds, you feel part of a spectacular fairy tale!
As you can imagine, the crowd of tourists always takes aim at this area of town, so I recommend you to get there soon, at least before 10am, to avoid the hustle and bustle of the rush hours!
The bamboo forest is perhaps one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever seen in my life, you cannot miss it !!!
For lunch I recommend the Nishiki fish market, where you will find planty of my loved sushi and where lovers of tradition can taste ramen, the famous Japanese soup!
In the afternoon head to the Fushimi Inari Taisha, the most important Shinto shrine in Kyoto. A tunnel, built with thousands of orange torii gates, takes you from the temple in the forest, to the summit of Mount Inari. To reach the top of the mountain (230 m), the entire route takes about two hours. Photos can be done anywhere! For its peculiarity and the infinity of torii, this place is truly magical and unique!
In the morning I recommend a little excursion out of the city to see the beautiful city of Nara, reachable by train from Kyoto (with more or less 40 min travel). Interesting sites are all visitable on foot, starting from the train station you will reach the 3 stories pagoda, followed by 5 stories pagoda and the deer park. In Nara, you’ll be surprised by the number of wild deer left completely free to walk, play (and to relieve themselves !!) in every corner of the city. This sacred animal is the symbol of the city. With 150 JPY you can buy food for the deer and do a thousand pictures with them!
In the afternoon, I recommend heading back to Kyoto for a last visit at the imperial palace, surrounded by its beautiful Japanese gardens, and the famous golden altar, which reflects in the water creating a very real and charming atmosphere!
Kyoto has many other attractions, these are just the principal and in my opinion the most interesting! I leave the judgment to you and I am always happy to hear what you think!
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