Kyoto, Japan is one of those undeniably idyllic cities in the world. Swarming with tourists, maybe, but utter perfection nevertheless. I may also base this on the fact that the cherry blossoms were in bloom which only enchanted me more. Sakura petals were softly fluttering in the wind before they free fall into the canals below – I mean, COME ON!
After we checked into our not-so-impressive AirBnb, we decided that we would spend as little time there as possible and headed out straight away. We took the rail and walked over to the Pontocho area. The narrow alleyways of Pontocho was a great way to spend hours getting blissfully lost.
Just one block to the west, was Kiya-Machi Dori, a street along canals that were illuminated by LED restaurant signs luring hungry tourists inside to have a taste of their culinary offerings. Tourists (including myself) crowded each of the bridges that arch over the canal to get the perfect IG shot of the cherry blossoms.
We capped off the night at a second floor bar called L’EscaMoteur Bar (138-9 Saitocho, Shimogyō-ku, Kyōto-shi, Kyōto-fu, Japan). Many reviews dub it as “gimmicky” and that may be true, but we still thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. The cocktails were both unique and delectable. Fair warning though, it’s a TINY space so it was pretty crowded – they had to turn away many guests while we we there so having a Plan B in place before your visit may be a good idea.
At the break of dawn, we headed out to do even more touristy things. First stop, Fushimi Inari-taisha.
We planned to arrive early in hopes to take photos of the empty gates. While we did arrive relatively early, everyone had the same plan as we did. Thankfully, most people were respectful of each other as we each tried to capture the perfect shot.
Our next stop – the bamboo forest. Before we actually arrived, we found ourselves a little turned around – which ended up giving me some pretty cool pictures. Nevertheless, we made it! Of course it was filled with people who also wanted to take a leisurely IG inspired stroll in the forest but that didn’t take away from it’s beauty.
As we were heading back we noticed people lining up to get into some garden so we figured we would follow the crowds to see what it was all about. We paid a 500 yen entry fee and were immediately immersed in a winding pathway of blooms.
The next morning, we woke up early so we could check out the Nishiki Fish Market. While the market wasn’t as extensive as the one in Tokyo (at least it didn’t seem like it), we enjoyed how easy it was to find ready to eat seafood skewers at every turn.
After we stuffed our faces, we headed to the Golden Pavilion (Kinkaku-ji). Let me tell you, that place is NUTS. From the lines to get into the garden, to the lines to take photos of the pavilion, to the lines to walk through the garden was exhausting and infuriating at some points. Despite my complaints about the crowds, the Golden Pavilion did not disappoint. It’s a sight to be seen.
During our stay in Kyoto, we met up with my cousin’s friends from NorCal. Fun and friendly, we were able to enjoy some delicious food, refreshing drinks, and great casual conversation at Maruyama Park. Most known as the go-to spot for cherry blossom viewing parties, the park remained busy despite the rain.
That concludes the cliff notes version of our trip to Kyoto, Japan. But before I conclude this blog, I’m going to include a few more photos of the cherry blossoms (because why not?) and the vlog in case you want to see what I wrote about in vlog form 🙂
Thanks for stopping by and stay tuned for our Osaka adventures!