Kyoto — Day 3 of a 5-Day Trip in Japan’s Kansai Region
The weather continued to be great on Day 3 — the sun was out and skies were clear. We headed to Kyoto, about an hour train from Osaka. Kyoto is famous for its numerous shrines, temples, gardens, and traditional architecture.
Our first destination was Fushimi Inari Taisha in Kyoto. It took us just over an hour to arrive at our destination. Fushimi Inari Taisha is a Shinto Shrine, famous for its torii gates. It is better to visit Fushimi Inari Taisha early, it gets busier the later you go. We were a bit late to start our day, so the trailhead was packed with visitors. We were mostly shuffling along with the crowd. As we ventured further, the number of visitors started to decrease.
Our next objective was Maruyama Park. We grabbed a snack from the stalls — a corn dog and a beef skewer.
We strolled through the park, stopping by Yasaka Shrine and Otani Sobyo. Yasaka Shrine was busy due to it being at the entrance to Maruyama Park. Otani Sobyo, however, is hidden away from the crowds, making it quiet and spiritual.
We walked to Kodai-ji, a Buddhist Temple, and paid the admission fee. It has beautiful gardens — including a rock garden and a bamboo garden.
We continued to Ninen-zaka and Sanen-zaka, a neighbourhood known for its traditional architecture and teahouses. Many women were wearing lovely kimonos. There are tons of stores selling Japanese treats in this area (good as souvenirs) and many of them give out free samples.
We carried on on our early afternoon walk to Kiyomizu-dera, a Buddhist Temple and UNESCO World Heritage site. Unfortunately, the temple itself was under repair so we could not get a good view of the temple. We did not pay the admission to go any further into the temple. We did, however, take a picture of the pagoda.
Our next stop was the Kyoto Imperial Palace. We stopped at the Sukiya across from the palace for a late lunch. Sukiya is a Japanese fast food chain popular for its gyudon. The meal came with a bowl of miso soup and salad.
After lunch, we headed to the Kyoto Imperial Palace. Unfortunately, it was closed! I had misread the hours online (it closes at different times depending on time of year). Instead, we enjoyed a stroll around the area outside the palace.
We ventured into the neighbourhood and visited a nearby Uniqlo. After spending some time at Uniqlo, we took the bus back to the Gion area for dinner.
Gion runs along the Kamogawa River. We actually passed this area during the day while heading to Maruyama Park.
We visited 2 popular areas in Gion — Shimbashi-Dori and Hanami-koji Street. We selected Kyoto Gion Ramen Muraji in Shimbashi-Dori for dinner. Two distinguishing landmarks indicating the Shimbashi-Dori are the Gion Shin Bridge and Gion Tatsumi Bridge.
Kyoto Gion Ramen Muraji is known for its chicken-base ramen. I ordered their shio ramen, which was fantastic. It is a bit hidden and yet, a pretty popular spot. There are a few bars seats and two family style tables that could seat about 8 people each. We waited about 5 minutes to be seated. It looked like we just beat the dinner rush, as the wait was at least 30 minutes when we left.
Hanami-koji Street is interesting because of its traditional wooden stores and homes. You can often see geisha making their way to work for the evening on Hanami-koji street. Note: Please do not bother the geisha as they are trying to get to work. Unfortunately, my poor photography skills meant I did not get any really good evening photos of the area. After wandering the Kyoto streets a bit more, we headed back to Osaka.
Complete Day 3 Itinerary
Travel times may vary and do not include walking distances to and from train stations. Check Google Maps for most accurate travel details.
Note: If your schedule permits, I would do Day 2 and Day 5 back-to-back. That way you can get the 2-Day Osaka Amazing Pass and save more. We were flying out of Osaka, so decided to split the two days up. I suggest switching ‘Day 5’ to ‘Day 3’, and shifting the Kyoto activities a day down.
8:00am: Head to Fushimi Inari Taisha in Kyoto (Estimated travel time from Dotonbori is an hour and 20 minutes — 3 minute train from Nagahoribashi Station to Kitahama Station, transfer for another hour and 13 minutes from Kitahama Station to Fushimi-Inari Station). Grab breakfast at the convenience store.
10:00am: Head to Maruyama Park (9 minute train from Fushimi-Inari Station to Gion-Shijo Station). Visit the Yasaka Shrine (2 minute walk from Maruyama Park Entrance) and Otani Sobyo (5 minute walk from Yasaka Shrine).
11:00am: Visit Kodai-ji (3 minute walk from Otani Sobyo).
12:00pm: Walk through Ninen-zaka and Sannen-zaka (2 minute walk from Kodai-ji). Browse the stores and grab lunch.
2:00pm: Visit Kiyomizu-dera (11 minute walk from Ninen-zaka). You can also visit Otowa Waterfall located at the base of the main hall.
3:00pm: Head to Kyoto Imperial Palace (21 minute bus from Gojozaka Stop to Saibansho Mae Stop).
5:00pm: Head back to Gion (1 minute train from Marutamachi Station to Karasuma Oike Station, transfer for a 4 minute train from Karasuma Oike Station to Sanjo Keihan Station). Walk through Hanami-koji. Enjoy dinner here or people-watch to see if you can spot a geisha.
6:00pm: Walk through Gion Shimbashi (1 minute walk). If you did not eat in Hanami-koji, a good dinner option in Gion Shimbashi is Kyoto Gion Ramen Muraji.
7:00pm: Grab a drink in Pontocho Alley (or bar hop). Alternatively, you can head back to Osaka for an evening drink.
16-Day Japan Itinerary
Click “Download” below for an excel version of my 16-Day Japan Itinerary. Feel free to use the excel file as a planning template for your own trip in Japan!