Kyoto, Japan’s old capital is famous for it’s traditional buildings, geisha, wooden houses and gardens is now one of the most instagrammed spots in the World. It’s truly a beautiful place, hence why Charlotte in the film ‘Lost in Translation’ went there for some R&R.
If you’re looking for a taste of old Japan, figuratively and physically, Kyoto is the best place to go. Just wrap up in your rented Kimono before starting your trip around eateries, temples and other fantastic scenery, while observing the local traditions. You won’t stop taking pictures – trust us.
Here’s a few of our favourite places and we suggest you include them on your trip. We’ve included pictures from our current trip and a few from Instagram. We’ve credited and linked the artist too if you fancy seeing their feed.
One of the most popular places to get dressed in Kimono in Kyoto. It’s slightly hilly and free to wander around the Pagodas, temples and streets. Grab yourself a traditional matcha tea and lose yourself in the streets while taking your favourite snaps.
Arashiyama Bamboo Forest
We loved this place apart from being one of the busiest places we visited but would return in a flash. It’s so green, cool and if we had visited on a quiet day we would have taken a rickshaw through the woodland. Look for monkeys in the trees, visit the temple and take a walk along the riverside bridge. This whole area is beautiful and you could spend a few hours here, but arrive early for a chance to beat the crowds.
Fushimi Inari Shrine
Stupidly, I think we visited this place on one of the busiest days of the year, but it’s the infamous Shinto temple and shrine in Japan. You know those pictures of red torii gates you see, this is the place. It was difficult to take the shots we wanted but you could visit either super early or late to get those empty wandering pictures you crave.
A Buddist temple on Kyoto’s eastern side that’s also part of a UNESCO World Heritage site. The main hall has a huge veranda that gives you breathtaking views of the city.
Similar to Higasiyama but within the city, Gion is full of side streets, paths, restaurants, bridges and entertainment houses that show a side of Japan from yesteryear. If you’re lucky enough, you’ll catch Geisha wandering the streets, but please don’t pester them for too many photos, they will take pictures with you but they’re normally on their way to work so respect them if they say no.
A peaceful Buddist temple on the ‘road of philosophy’. Completely natural in it’s look, completely different to Fushimi, it provides a relaxing and reflectfive place to visit.
One of the most well known temples in Japan and features in the film ‘Lost in Translation’ very briefly when Charlotte spots a wedding couple. The Nanzen-ji area is a historical site and the gardens are a place of beauty, a zen paradise with rolling green hills. If we were to visit Kyoto again, we’d book a walking tour here to get the most of the area.
There’s a theme here right? Yes Kyoto is full of temples and shrines and each one is uinque and beautiful. The main reason to visit Heian Shrine though is it’s beautiful gardens, ponds and stepping stone path ways. Remember Charlotte stepping across the pond and tying her fortune to a tree, here’s where it is! The gardens close earlier than the temple and the closing time changes throughout the year, so check the website before visiting. You pay a little to go into the gardens but it is well worth it, we missed out by 5 minutes and we’re keen to go back to have a look. Image having your wandering pictures in beautiful greenery backed with a gorgeous red and white shrine.
Known as the Mossy Temple, this green haven is open all year and has a very small entry fee but it’s beautiful. Sprouting trees give you a green canopy and a mossy green carpet that covers the ground and statues alike.
A lesser known tourist site that offers beautiful gardens with a mix of villas, both traditional and western. If you visit in spring, the gardens fill with bluebells, giving a carpet of blue. It’s also not too far from Nanzen-ji Temple.