Historic Monuments of Ancient Kyoto (Kyoto, Uji and Otsu Cities)

The Historic Monuments of Ancient Kyoto (Kyoto, Uji and Otsu Cities) are a Cultural World Heritage Site (#688) located in Kyoto and Shiga prefectures of Japan. The historic monuments consists of 17 components parts spread over the three cities Kyoto, Uji and Otsu. Kyoto gives easy access to several other World Heritage Sites, but can also be combined with visits to Osaka, Kobe and other Japanese national treasures.
 
WHEN TO GO
Kyoto can be enjoyed year round, but gets extremely busy with all accommodation booked in the start of April when the cherry blossom are blooming. If you intend to visit in this period, be prepared to book your accommodation up to six months in advance. Kyoto is also busy and very beautiful in its autumn colors, which can be enjoyed from late November through December, as the period is longer it is a lot less crowded as compared to the cherry blossom season.
 
HOW TO GET THERE
The by far easiest, fastest and most convenient way to get from Tokyo to Kyoto is by the Shinkansen.
 
HOW LONG TO STAY
Kyoto is huge, and the distances between the temples, shrines and parks are big. If you only wish to see the major sites you can enjoy Kyoto in two days, but to get the most out of it, I tend to stay three nights, four full days, which also allows time for side trips out of Kyoto. Staying in Kyoto gives easy access as day trips to other World Heritage Sites, such as Nara, Horyu-ji, Himeji castle, and Koya-san. Furthermore it is the half way point between Tokyo and the World Heritage sites in Hiroshima and Miyajima.
 
DAY ONE
09.00AM - Shinkansen from Tokyo to Kyoto
11.30AM - Arrive in Kyoto
11.45AM - Store lugguage at accommodation
12.45PM - Silver pavilion (Ginkakuji)
13.15PM - Philosopher's path
14.15PM - Maruyama park and lunch
15.00PM - Higashiyama district
16.00PM - Kiyomizudera temple
19.00PM - Dinner in Gion
22.00PM - Onsen
 
DAY TWO
07.00AM - Breakfast
09.00AM - Sagano Scenic Railway (Romantic train)
10.15AM - Hozugawa River boat cruise
12.15PM - Lunch
13.00PM - Tenryuji temple and Arashiyama Bamboo forest
14.30PM - Ninnaji temple
15.20PM - Ryoanji temple
16.20PM - Golden Pavilion (Kinkakuji)
19.00PM - Dinner
 
DAY THREE
08.00AM - Breakfast
10.00AM - Train from Kyoto to Kobe
12.00PM - Kobe beef lunch
13.00PM - Explore Kobe
15.00PM - Train to Osaka
16.30PM - Osaka Castle
20.00PM - Dinner in Osaka or at accommodation
 
DAY FOUR
08.00AM - Breakfast
10.00AM - Fushimi Inari Shrine (Torii gate shrine)
14.00PM - Shinkansen from Kyoto to Tokyo
16.30PM - Arrive in Tokyo
 
HOW MUCH ARE THE COSTS
The costs going to Kyoto greatly depends on if you have a JR pass or not, and what type of accommodation you choose to stay in.
 
JPY 27,500 - Shinkansen return ticket from Tokyo to Kyoto
JPY 38,500 - 2 nights at traditional Japanese ryokan, including breakfast and one dinner
JPY 6,800 - 1 night at standard hotel
JPY 3,500 - Entrance fees to temple and shrines
JPY 4,700 - Romantic train and Hozugawa boat cruise
JPY 7,500 - Kobe beef lunch
JPY 2,500 - Train and bus tickets
 
I total about JPY 90,000, which can be greatly reduced if you have a JR pass, decide to stay all three nights in a standard hotel and skip the Kobe beef lunch, which ill reduce the price to about JPY 30,000.
 
WHERE TO STAY
1. Standard Hotel
The Hotel Aranvert is an inexpensive standard hotel in walking distance from Kyoto station and not too far from the night light area Gion. It have free access to a spacious onsen on the top floor, with windows in one corner providing views to the mountains surrounding Kyoto.
 
2. Japanese Ryokan
The Kikokuso ryokan served by an eldery Japanese couple owning the ryokan through several generations is a super experience and makes justice in Kyoto. A stay at Kikokuso is truely unique and will give you a great feeling of traditional Japan.
 
kikokuso ryokan living room kikokuso ryokan garden kikokuso ryokan sleeping room
Kikokuso traditionally Japanese ryokan
 
WHAT TO DO / WHERE TO GO
1. Silver pavilion (Ginkakuji)
The Ginkakuji temple features besides the zen temple, an amazing dry sand garden with a sand cone named "Moon Viewing Platform", a pond and a great view from the accessable hill.
 
ginkakuji temple pond garden ginkakuji temple stone garden ginkakuji hill view
Ginkakuji Temple (Silver pavilion)
 
2. Cozy walk at the Philosopher's Path
Take a nice stroll along the beautiful cozy Philosopher's Path. This path is very crowded during the Cherry blossom sblooming period in the start of April.
 
philosophers path cherry blossom opening philosophers path pre cherry blossom
Philosopher's Path
 
3. Lunch in Maruyama park and Higashiyama district
Proceed from the Philosopher's Path to the famous cherry blossom viewing spot, Maruyama park. After enjoying lunch in the park, continue to Higashiyama district, which features an early blooming cheery blossom tree, and the traditional Japanese rickshaws.
 
higashiyama cherry blossom higashiyama rickshaw ride
Higashiyama district
 
4. Kiyomizudera Temple
In the Higashiyama district you'll find the amazing Kiyomizudera temple.
 
kiyomizudera main gate sakura kiyomizudera drawing paiting at the temple kiyomizudera summer wooden terrace kiyomizudera sunset
Kiyomizudera Temple
 
5. Sagano Scenic Railway (Romantic train)
Take a ride on the Sagano Scenic Railway, which for 30 minutes will take you through the impressive nature along the Hozugawa river.
 
sagano scenic railway summer view sagano romantic train hozugawa
Sagano Scenic Railway (Romantic train)
 
6. Hozugawa River Boat Cruise
After the Sagano Scenic Railway, take the Hozugawa River Cruise back to Arashiyama.
 
hozugawa cruise boat hozugawa cruise bridge worker hozugawa cruise sagano romantic train
Hozugawa boat cruise
 
7. Tenryuji temple and Arashiyama Bamboo Groove
The Tenryuji temple have a beautiful landscape garden and the pond is filled with great koi fish. Adjacent to the Tenryuji temple, enjoy a cozy slow walk in the Arashiyama Bamboo Groove. Around the Bamboo groove is another good opportunity to try the Japanese rickshaws.
 
tenryuji temple garden arashiyama bamboo groove drawing of arashiyama bamboo groove in the bamboo groove
Tenryuji temple and Arashiyama Bamboo groov
 
8. Ninnaji Temple, Ryoanji Temple, and the Golden Pavilion (Kinkakuji)
The Ninnaji temple, the Ryoanji temple, and the Kinkakuji temple (Golden pavilion) are located within 20-30 minutes walking distance of each ohter and are three very different sites. Kinkakuji temple is probably the most famous and best-known temples in Kyoto and Japan, it is truely amazing and one of the most beautiful constructions in the world.
 
ninnaji temple five storied padoga ryoanji temple zen garden ryoanji temple pond
kinkakuji summer lake kinkakuji sunset diamond kinkakuji sunset lake
The Ninnaji temple, the Ryoanji temple, and the Kinkakuji temple (Golden pavilion)
 
9. Enjoy night life in Gion
Gion is the night life area of Kyoto and with some luck, you might be able to see a Maiko or Geisha (learn about how they can be differentiated from their apperance here).
 
geikos gion kyoto geisha gion kyoto
Maiko and Geisha in Gion
 
 
10. Fushimi Inari Shrine, the Torii gate experience
Fushimi Inari Shrine is voted as the best travel destination in Kyoto by travellers, and with it's tousands of Torii gates, this is understandable.
 
fushimi inari shrine torii gates fushimi inari shrine map
Fushimi Inari Shrine and its Torii gates
  
11. Explore the Osaka castle
Osaka castle is really beautiful and have a great view from the accessable top floor.
 
osaka castle osaka castle view osaka castle cherry blossom surrounding
Osaka castle
 
WHAT TO EAT
1. Kobe beef
Being in Kyoto, so close to Kobe, you simply have to try the world-famous Kobe beef, for instance at Restaurant Wakkoqu. I suggest that you ask your accomodation to please give them a call and reserve a table at least 2 days in advance as their lunch menu is extremely popular.
 
wakkoqu restaurant chief wakkoqu restaurant kobe beef
Kobe beef
 
2. Eat in the Pontocho street
The famous narrow Pontocho street have restaurants side-by-side and here you can find all kind of traditional Japanese dishes.
 
pontocho street gion kyoto pontocho dining sushi
Pontocho street

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