A big chunk of our time in Japan was spent in Kyoto. This area is known for its rich culture and history as well as natural beauty. You may be wondering what to see in beautiful Kyoto. We spent a lot of time visiting shrines, temples, and gardens and eating a lot of delicious food. If you add Japan to your travel dream list, I highly recommend spending some time in Kyoto. There’s a lot to see and do, so you’ll be sure to keep busy!
When we travel, Nick also enjoys visiting places where movies were filmed. When we went to Hong Kong, we visited a famous Jackie Chan movie location. We were able to visit several places where movies were filmed while in Japan, most of which were from the movie Lost in Translation. My most favorite place we visited, was the Heian Shrine and attached gardens. It was so absolutely beautiful in person — I’m sure our photographs only capture a portion of its beauty. If you like nature and want to enjoy a relaxing atmosphere, be sure to check this out. In the photograph to the right, I’m walking over stepping stones — the same ones that Scarlett Johansson walked over in the movie.
Looking back, the food in Kyoto was probably our favorite. We ate at several authentic restaurants. We had a really nice sushi dinner in the Gion district, which is one of the most traditional parts of Kyoto. If you want to see a lot of beautiful and traditional Japanese buildings, be sure to visit the Gion district. Here you will also see many geishas walking around as this is a popular area for for geishas to live and work. There are also many unique shops.
Not sure what to eat? Many people suggest eating Obanzai Ryori while in Kyoto. This is a type of cooking that features several small dishes eaten at once. This reminds me a bit of Korean food, as there are often many side dishes (called banchan) eaten during a meal. These dishes are presented in a beautiful manner — almost like artwork.
While we didn’t see everything in Kyoto, we had the chance to see a good bit! Here’s a list of some of the sights that we recommend visiting, if you ever get the chance to spend time in Kyoto.
- Nanzen-ji Temple – This temple is featured in Lost in Translation. It’s at the start of a cool walking path, discussed below.
- The Philosopher’s Path – This is a beautiful walking path that connects the Nanzen-ji Temple and the Ginkaku-ji Temple. If you visit during the cherry blossom season, you’ll be in for a real treat. This walk took us about 30 minutes, including stopping many times to take photographs.
- Ginkaku-ji Temple “The Silver Pavillon” We arrived here by walking the Philosophers Path. At our time of visit, it cost ¥ 500 (about $4 USD) per person.
- Fushimi Inari Shrine – If you’ve seen pictures of popular shrines in Japan, you’ve likely seen this one. It’s featured in the movie Memoirs of a Geisha. It’s really neat to see and there is no admission fee.
- The Heian Shrine and Gardens – This shrine and the attached gardens is featured in Lost in Translation. At our time of visit, it cost ¥ 500 (about $4 USD) per person to view the gardens.
- Gion District – As discussed above, this is a great traditional part of Kyoto. Here you can eat delicious food, shop, and take in the beautiful old buildings. You will also see a lot of geishas
These are some of many things to do and see in beautiful Kyoto. We had an amazing time and it’ll remain one of our favorite parts of our travels. Stay tune, for an upcoming photo post with our favorite photographs from our Kyoto travels.
Want to learn more about Kyoto? The Lonely Planet Kyoto Travel Guide makes it easier to plan your own Kyoto adventure.