When I laid eyes on this city I fell in love. Love at first sight, some don’t believe in it, yet I personally do. Kyoto is so beautiful that it was such a pity I could only admire her just for one day. I’m certainly not complaining, oh hell no! I felt like the luckiest girl in the world walking through the most dazzling looking streets and glorious shrines. However, going back and exploring Kyoto for some more days is definitely on top of my bucket list now.
We came from Okayama where we were visiting relatives for a couple of days. And that all the way by car. It took 12 hours from Tokyo to Okayama. What an experience! Although I slept a lot of the time haha. Now, because we would pass through Kyoto on the way back again we decided to stay there in a hotel for one night. Arriving somewhere in the morning, we brought our luggage to our rooms and got ready to explore the city as much as we could.
In the neighborhood of Fushimi-ku I visited the Fushimi Inari-taisha, an amazing sanctuary located not far away from the station. It is a shrine dedicated to the god Inari. Even so, this shrine is seen as the “headquarter” of all Inari shrines and one of the oldest, most famous in Japan. But it might be even more famous for its thousands of torri, those traditional Japanese gates you can find in front and throughout shrines. I think those gates look truly mystical. Each and every one of those torri are donated by people, families and businesses.
The vibrant red gates lead you all the way up to the top. You have to be in pretty good shape to climb up all those stairs, especially in summer. Bring some good pair of shoes and a bottle of water, because you are going to need it. On the way up there are several little cafes to take a rest and stock up on your water.
Maybe you might have noticed seeing some foxes in some of the pictures. In Japanese they are called kitsune and are beholden as messengers, decorating the shrine in numerous ways. I haven’t seen a real fox in Japan the times I have been there. A friend of mine was fortunate enough to encounter several of them somewhere up some mountains. I think they are so adorable!
The view was splendid. My country, the Netherlands, is so flat.. No mountains, only long stretches of grass fields with cows and sheep. Pastures where you pass by with the car along the highway while holding your breath because of the smelly fertilizer they use on the lands. It might be interesting for foreigners visiting the Netherlands, but I prefer mountains with rice fields, palm trees and more of that tropical stuff.
I left the Funishimi Inari-tashia with such a satisfying feeling. I always saw this charming shrine in videos, travel guides and on the internet. Finally I was able to see it up and close in real life :). We continued travelling towards our next destination.
A place straight out of a fairy tale, surrounded by a lot of trees that change colors with every season. I encountered the color green, nothing else but the tree’s color of summer. In contrary to the shrine I visited before, Kiyomizu-dera is a temple. I didn’t know at first that there is a difference between a temple and a shrine. The Shinto religion is practiced at a shrine and Buddhism is practiced at a temple.
The Kiyomizu-dera is an old wooden temple that was created in the 8th century by a priest. The name of the temple comes from a clear water source nearby the temple. Kiyomizu-dera translates into clean water temple.
For the most stunning view over the city of Kyoto we walked up a couple of stairs surrounded by some impressive structures. It was very busy at the main hall of the temple, a large balcony sustained by huge wooden pillars. Just underneath the main hall of the Kiyomizy-dera there is a waterfall. It is believed that drinking the water from the waterfall brings luck.
I really am in love with the first picture of the main hall of the temple. I can’t believe I set foot there. If you are ever in Kyoto, I like to recommend you to visit this temple. I would love to come back in spring or autumn when the colors of nature are more vibrant. Take a look on google by typing in Kiyomizu-dera and you will find the most fantastic pictures made in these seasons. And btw, can you spot me on the other two pictures? I walked all the way back just to get a shot like this, haha.
After admiring the marvelous creations we headed down the hill. Not far from the Kiyomizu-dera was our next destination. A lovely shopping street in one of the best preserved historic neighborhoods in Kyoto. A place where you can find Kyoto’s traditional roots.
Between Kiyomizu-dera and another shrine called Yasaka there are elegant and narrow streets filled with cafes, shops and restaurants. I also saw small boutiques selling jewelry, pottery, sweets and other souvenir like goods. The jewelry shops have wide varieties of hair pins, especially for girls who want to finish up their look when wearing a kimono. These streets take you back into history and show you how it was like in the days when pilgrims and merchants roamed around.
Later on I found this gallery of which I assume is owned by a Dutch company. Pretty interesting!
Along the way I found some girls dressed up as Oiran (花魁), which are woman of pleasure. Now they are not real Oiran, but girls who experienced dressing up like one. I’m curious if they get to learn about the life as an Oiran?
Lucky me, I visited two shrines and one temple in only one day! Last but not least I got to see one the most famous shrines in Kyoto. Yasaka Shrine is right between the districts of Higashiyama and Gion. In july the Gion Matsuri takes place at this shrine. A festival which attracts a lot of people from all over Japan. They say it is possibly the most famous festival in Japan and celebrated throughout the whole month. Next to attracting a lot of people during the festival, the shrine also attracts numerous of people in April during the cherry blossom season.
When looking around for a nice place to have dinner we passed the Kamo river. The surrounding looks very beautiful and I think a lot of residents and tourists take a stroll here. I saw it by night. It looked very magical with all the lights and couples walking hand in hand.
If you want to see the things I saw in Kyoto in motion, check out my video down below and let me know what you think. If you liked the video be sure to subscribe to my channel!
A day in Kyoto
Thanks for reading and I hope you enjoyed the pictures!