When choosing travel destinations, I have always thought of many exciting places to visit but Japan. It was not until this year that a friend told me about her beautiful experience when she travelled to Japan that also opted to consider visiting. Like many other destinations, you cannot visit exhaustively visit the entire nation of Japan in a single visit so I had to focus on one of the popular destinations that is Kyoto. This is because there are plenty of things that you can enjoy from sightseeing to shopping and just having a good time to relax.
One of the discoveries that I made is that Kyoto is dotted with numerous temples all of which have a peculiar and element of attraction. This city is best experienced by bus tours that cost as little as $80 that offer value for your money. You can also enjoy an enchanting night scenery for just $21. The city is rich in numerous small shops where I picked several souvenirs for members of my family. Even then, the best place to purchase Japanese produce and goods is Nishiki market. Upon my arrival at the Kansai International Airport, I took the JR Haruka Super Express train to Kyoto. The 75-minute train ride costs about $29 and is very effective because you do not get to lose on much time especially after hour of being airborne.
Among the important things that you need to know about getting around Kyoto is that most of the attractions are within a walking distance that means an opportunity to explore more and of course save money. However, if you do not have a lot of time during your travel to Japan and would like to see as many attractions as you can then you will do well to consider opting for public or private transport like I did especially if you want to visit the outskirts of the city. Kyoto has numerous hotels where you can seek accommodation depending on your budget as well as preferences.
For my accommodation, I booked a room at Salon Haraguchi Tenseian that is a hotel of its kind as it gives you the opportunity to live like a Kyoto local. This is especially because the hotel has invested in traditional Japanese décor as well as the special ambience of the real old Japan. Moreover, the hotel offers great hospitality and warmth not to mention the comfort.
With the numerous attractions that Kyoto has to offer, I only managed to visit a few during my three days to travel to Japan. If you are planning to visit Kyoto, I would recommend that you go to Shugakuin Imperial Villa that is a perfect summer retreat that has a great depiction of Japanese landscape design that is complete with various trees, gardens, stream and lake to offer a serene atmosphere. To access this attraction, you must be prepared to take a short walk and also change trains. To get the best of this Imperial Villa you need to get to the three upper levels.
The second amazing attraction that is I visited is Mt. Kurama. The journey to this place is lovely and taking the train is the best option. When you get off the train, you can enjoy a snack or a meal at one of the little restaurants before getting to the mountain that is marked with shrine temples. A walk through the forest trails is also relaxing even though you may also have to do some climbing. Your visit to Kyoto cannot be complete without going to Sannenzaka Ninenzaka; the pretty good old style street that is characterized by stores where you can get souvenirs. In fact, this street is famous for its traditional shops most of which specialize in ceramics and food that are fairly priced.
Golden Pavilion (Kinkaku-ji) is one of the must see attractions is Kyoto that you cannot miss during your travel to Japan. This attraction is a temple that was set up in 1397 and was the residence of Shogun Ashikaga Yoshimitsu. This building is covered in gold leaf that has consequently earned it the name golden pavilion. If you want to get the best of this place then you need to consider visiting in the afternoon because the pavilion will definitely be shining due to the presence of the sun. This site is a real embodiment of Medieval Japan and it offers a great opportunity for photography.
Another attraction that you must not miss during your travel to Japan is Akiyomizu Temple that is also the most visited. This temple was built in honor of the goddess of mercy is located on the hillside that offers stunning views of the city as well as the valley. The cultures as well as the people at this temple make it an unforgettable attraction. To crown it all, you are also guaranteed of breathtaking views of the city. If you would like to take some time off and enjoy oneness with nature then you need to visit the Eikan-do shrine that is known for its beautiful gardens especially during autumn when leaves of different colors juxtapose and compete with each other.
If you are interested in religious art, I highly recommend that you visit Sanjusangendo that was once connected to Rengeoin. It was built in 1164 by an emperor that retired to religious life even though it was once destroyed by fire. Equally worth visiting is Hosenin that is a beautiful peaceful and quiet place. Interestingly, the challenge lies in getting here because is it on the outskirts of the city and you will need to take a 40-minute bus ride. The temperatures are bound to change thus you will do well to bring along a sweater or jacket.
I also recommend the Fushimi Inari Shrine whose main attraction is the Rori gates forming tunnels at the mountain. This offers a great hiking opportunity even though there are too many visitors. A visit to this magical site can be combined with a visit to Sanjusangendo and Tofukuji. Although it is out of the way, you will also do well to consider visiting Shimogamo Jinja that is a large tree filled shrine whose significance to the Japanese cannot be wished away owing to its history.
Japan’s world heritage site of Nijo Castle that was also the home of Tokugawa Levasu is another place that you need not miss when on travel in Japan. This castle was set up as a residential building as opposed to defense. Nonetheless the building was also installed with creaky floorboards that were intended to warn anyone coming closer. Here, you can also get to learn about the Shogun that lived here at the time. The castle also boasts of lovely grounds as well as the magnificent architecture. I also took some time at the Monkey Park Iwatanyama that is particularly great for children even though you must be prepared to trek a little. You can also be sure that feeding the monkeys with sliced bananas offers a great feeling. The Kyoto Aquarium is also a place you will enjoy visiting as it is not only big but it also has various species that are common to Japan. Since there are no beaches in Kyoto, I concluded my travel to Japan by spending sometime at Funaoka Onsen that is authentic and ideal especially if you are short of time. Spending an hour in water after enjoying some cycling was quite refreshing and I am sure that you too will love it. By the time I came to the end of my time in Japan, I had had the best of times and captured all the good memories that left me yearning for more. Japan is truly an unexplored tourist gem that you need to consider next time you are planning on going on a holiday.