With limited time left before traveling, it is time to start thinking about possible itinerary decisions. It is impossible to see everything, and each different option must be considered. Take a look at these two sample itineraries, one generic “24 hours in Kyoto” and one with some places I’d like to see.
Morning (8:00 AM – 12:00 PM)
- 8:00 AM: Start the day by visiting the Fushimi Inari Shrine. This popular destination is home to thousands of vermilion torii gates that wind their way up a mountain, offering stunning views of the city and surrounding countryside.
- 10:00 AM: After visiting Fushimi Inari, make your way to the Kinkaku-ji Temple, also known as the Golden Pavilion. This Zen temple, which is covered in gold leaf, is set in a beautiful garden and offers great views of the surrounding lake.
Afternoon (12:00 PM – 4:00 PM)
- 12:00 PM: Have lunch at a local restaurant.
- 1:00 PM: After lunch, visit the Nijo Castle. This historic castle was built in the 17th century and is a UNESCO World Heritage site.
- 3:00 PM: Visit the Gion district, known for its traditional architecture, tea houses, and geisha performances. You can walk along the streets and take in the atmosphere, or take a traditional tea ceremony experience in a local tea house.
Evening (4:00 PM – 8:00 PM)
- 4:00 PM: Visit the Arashiyama bamboo grove. This serene forest of tall bamboo is a peaceful place to stroll and take in the natural beauty of the area.
- 6:00 PM: Take the train back to the city center and have dinner at a local restaurant. Kyoto is known for its traditional Japanese cuisine, such as kaiseki (multi-course meals) and sushi.
Night (8:00 PM – 12:00 AM)
- 8:00 PM: Take a walk along the Philosopher’s Path, a peaceful path lined with cherry blossom trees and small shops.
- 9:00 PM: Take a night tour of the city, which offers the chance to see the city’s temples and shrines lit up at night.
- 11:00 PM: End the night by relaxing at a traditional onsen (hot spring) or ryokan (traditional inn)
And the one with a few more places that I hope to work into the first itinerary:
- 8:00 AM: Start the day by visiting Nintendo/Intelligent Systems, which is located in the western part of Kyoto. The company does not have public visiting option, so you may just take a look at their headquarter from outside.
- 10:00 AM: After visiting Nintendo/Intelligent Systems, make your way to Fushimi Inari, which is located just a short train ride away. This popular destination is home to thousands of vermilion torii gates that wind their way up a mountain, offering stunning views of the city and surrounding countryside.
- 12:00 PM: After exploring Fushimi Inari, take the bus to go to Mt. Hiei. The mountain is the location of Enryaku-ji, a temple complex that is one of the most significant religious sites in Japan.
- 2:00 PM: Have lunch somewhere at the Mt. Hiei area.
- 3:00 PM: After lunch, visit Hongwanji which is in the city center. The temple is one of the most important Buddhist temples in Kyoto, and is a UNESCO World Heritage site.
- 4:00 PM: From Hongwanji temple, walk to Chion-in temple which is about 15-20 minutes walk. Chion-in is the main temple of the Jodo sect of Pure Land Buddhism and also one of the largest temple complexes in Japan.
- 5:00 PM: End the day by strolling around the city center, maybe doing some shopping or trying out some local food.
It is never easy to decide exactly what to do, but having a better idea will make your visit go more smoothly.
Phrase of the day:
One Kyoto-specific Japanese phrase that you may find useful during your visit is “Kyō-no-machi” (京の間) which means “Kyoto-style” or “in the style of Kyoto.” This phrase can be used to describe traditional Kyoto-style goods, such as Kyoto-style sweets, Kyoto-style obi (sashes for kimonos), and Kyoto-style pottery. It can also be used to describe Kyoto-style art and craft, architecture, and traditional performing arts. Also “Yasaka-no-to” (八坂の塔) which is the name of pagoda in Yasaka Shrine, one of the most famous sightseeing spot in Kyoto.