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Japan Travel Guide Itinerary: Kyoto

Japan Travel Diary: Kyoto
Japan Travel Guide Itinerary: Kyoto

The train journey from Takayama with a change in Nagoya lasts almost four hours, but as always in Japan, they are very comfortable routes and the wait between one train and another just to have a drink and change the platform.

Once in Kyoto, we are in the center of an incredible station with very high ceilings and open spaces. Through its corridors, there are entrances to large shopping centers and hotels, as well as an endless store of souvenirs and food. There is also a large passenger office with employees who speak different languages ​​and provide plans and all the necessary information.



Upon leaving the station on the north side we find the Kyoto Tower that stands out from the roof of the Kyoto Tower hotel. We doubt whether to walk to the hotel or take a bus, but since we carry nothing more than two mini suitcases with wheels we decided to walk and stretch our legs. It also makes a fantastic day, quite the opposite of Takayama.
Japan Travel Guide Itinerary: Kyoto

On the way to our hotel, the Citadines Karasuma in Gojo Dori, we pass in front of the huge Higashi Hongan-Ji temple that is surrounded by a mini-pit with water lilies. It didn't take us long to get to our hotel, just like in Tokyo it's Citadines hip. Then they give us the key and the suitcase that we send from the capital. We went up to leave everything to discover the city.

Plane in hand we go to the subway to reach Nijö-jö, the Kyoto castle that has little to do with others in the country. We make the usual mistake when arriving in a new city: not being clear about the real distances. And look that we have a plane, and that says the scale ... but it doesn't matter. We must be confused to learn, and learning costs us a great walk from the Nijö metro station to the entrance to the castle. It also starts to get very gray, so we have to get wet.
Once paid the entrance, we cross the great wall that surrounds the enclosure and we approach the great Karamon gate that gives access to the Ninomaru palace, which can be accessed, but always barefoot. It has only one floor and the most striking of the building, in addition to the long corridors, are the magnificent paintings that decorate the panels that separate the rooms and the so-called “nightingale” floors that Ieyasu ordered to be placed to protect against any possible traitor, as they sound as if they were birds as soon as you put one foot on ... and proved that it is impossible to pass without making them sound.

Inside you can not photograph, so he wants to see it will have to go ...

Once outside the palace grounds, we have to explore the gardens, but we barely have time to take some photos of a beautiful pond when water starts to fall as if there is no tomorrow. We protect ourselves under the roof gable, and it's time to wait a while before the rain stops. Finally, we get out and go through all the paths that run through the huge and beautiful gardens. The pity is that everything was very gray, probably with the sun is even more beautiful.

Daylight is already beginning to run out, and it's time to think about dinner. In case we had not walked enough, and to end up getting hungry, we walked to the Ponto-chö area, Kyoto nightlife area. The truth is that we arrived without many forces and ended up having a succulent pizza dinner in a restaurant that has tables next to a canal, we could not have chosen a better way to end the day.
Japan Travel Guide Itinerary: Kyoto


...New sunny day in Kyoto. And we have an appointment: the visit to the Imperial Palace at ten in the morning. But we think we have time to see something else before, so very early we leave the hotel and take the subway next to the hotel to Kuramaguchi station. From there we have to walk in search of a World Heritage sanctuary, the Shimogamo-jinja, located at the fork of two rivers, the Kamo and the Takano. The truth is that it tells us a bit to guide us, but thanks to the lovely Japanese that we are finding along the way we managed to get there. Nobody speaks a word of English, let alone Spanish, but before our surely mispronounced Konnichiwa and Arigatö all smile and help as they can.

We enter the enclosure (free) on one side, and we find a clearing surrounded by towering trees, where the different buildings of the complex are located, as well as several torii of different sizes. There are many colored lanterns, which together with the red of the buildings glow under the sun of justice that is already at that time in the morning.
Japan Travel Guide Itinerary: Kyoto



...We leave the sanctuary and crossing the tree-lined path we arrive at the point where the rivers fork ... and we realize that the time of the visit to the Imperial Palace is approaching and that we are at some distance. We accelerate the passage, we reach the fence of the gardens and it seems that it will never end, no matter how much we walk we always see meters and meters of gardens in front of us. Between the rush and the race, we arrive exhausted and sweaty at the Agency of the Imperial House (through which and from Spain we reserve day and time for the visit), from they send us to the entrance of the Palace (we must continue walking) to Access with the group at ten in the morning. We arrive on time and we are not the last. They send us to a room with seats, drinks machines, and bathrooms, where they put a DVD on the history of the palace. Later and with the English-speaking guide, we access the Palace grounds and discover the different buildings. It is an interesting visit that gives you the chance to visit the place where every new emperor is still crowned today.
Japan Travel Guide Itinerary: Kyoto


Taking advantage of the sun shining we go by bus (the stop was next to the fence of the imperial gardens) towards the Golden Pavilion, one of the best-known places in Kyoto. The buses are medium in size and as we saw in other places, you pay when you leave with the exact amount deposited in a machine (if you do not have that fair money, the same machine allows you to change previously). We descend a short distance from the entrance to Kinkaku-Ji. It was originally a retirement home for a sogún, but his son turned it into a temple. After paying the entrance, you access the enclosure where everyone poses for a photo in front of the lake where the Golden Pavilion is reflected. The route is marked by a path that climbs a small hillside from which you can see another view of the place. The truth is that it was a success to take advantage of a sunny day, the image of the Pavilion on the lake is one of the most beautiful things I remember in Kyoto.
Japan Travel Guide Itinerary: Kyoto

Although the next place we want to know is somewhat remote, the subway in that area does not exist, and buses do not communicate as we need, and although we have a good map with all the options we think we can walk. Fortunately this time the goal is not too far and it is also downhill, so before we think we arrive at the Daitoku-Ji, a set of Zen temples surrounded by gardens and winding trails, it is a very relaxed place with almost no visitors. In total there are 24 temples and sub-temples, but only some are open to visitors. We do not enter any of them, we just access to where it was allowed without paying. In the end, we didn't have time or budget to visit each and every one of the payment temples. You have to trust instinct and think that the ones you choose are the best, at least for you.
Japan Travel Guide Itinerary: Kyoto

One of the oldest shrines in Japan and also a World Heritage Site awaits us. This is the Kamigamo-jinja, and to get there we do it on a bus that leaves us in the parking lot of the sanctuary. To enter the enclosure you have to go through a perfectly maintained lawn esplanade and pass under the door of any sanctuary, the torii. Once on the premises, there are more than 40 buildings, exact reproductions of the originals. The place is dedicated to Raijín, the god of thunder and I was struck by the two mini conical mountains of white sand in front that they say are sculpted for the descent of the gods…. things of faith.


Japan Travel Guide Itinerary: Kyoto



As it is good to visit temples and palaces, we get back on the bus to get to Gion, the most famous neighborhood in Kyoto and which is located on the eastern bank of the Kamo river. Although it is an area full of nightclubs, restaurants and souvenir shops, there are still areas full of charm, such as the hanamachi (geisha neighborhoods), whose streets overlook the doors of the okiya (maikos houses during their learning).

We stroll through its streets until we find Shimbashi, one of the most beautiful in Kyoto. Traditional houses, bridges and almond trees create almost a postcard place.

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