Photo Diary: Exploring Kyoto, Japan

I

f you want to have a feel of Japan in its golden days, then Kyoto is the perfect place to be. It boasts well-preserved temples, beautiful gardens, quiet shrines, traditional houses and charming history. Known as Japan’s most beautiful, this “City of Ten Thousand Shrines” is a must when visiting the land of the rising sun.

Besides the many attractions, Kyoto is also a place of stillness and tranquility. While Tokyo prides on skyscrapers and modernism, Kyoto, on the other hand, is all about its deep anchor in custom and tradition. Thankfully, unlike any other popular destinations, Kyoto maintains its calm and laid-back vibe despite the multitudes of tourists that visit the city.

kyoto japan

If you’re visiting on shoulder season, I recommend Kyoto as a based than Osaka because there’s much more to see and do in this region. If you’re visiting on peak season, be prepared to pay skyrocket accommodation prices.

kyoto japan

Here’s a photo diary of our time in Kyoto.

Arashiyama Bamboo Grove

kyoto japan

kyoto japan

The Bamboo Grove remain as one of the most valued attractions in Kyoto. The long line of the tall canes is neatly aligned, forming a canopy where visitors can walk in through. While it’s beautiful at any time, the grove is particularly extraordinary on days where the light carefully peeps through the tiny voids as the stalks sway in harmony with the blow of the wind.

When we arrived at the grove, the place is already packed with visitors. It was crowded, loud, and was a bit smaller than I had expected. It’s still beautiful but the atmosphere was different. I recommend going early or late in the day.

Okochi Sanso Garden

kyoto japan

All the way at the back of the Bamboo Grove, we discovered this villa that houses different gardens and is perfect for a quiet stroll. Okochi Sanso has different spots with gorgeous views and the setting invites for a total zen experience. It was a pleasant surprise since most of the attractions we’ve been to are either small and/or crowded.

There’s a small admission fee of 1000 yen which includes complimentary matcha green tea, sweet biscuit and a postcard.

Arashiyama Area

kyoto japan

kyoto japankyoto japan

Arashiyama, which means Storm Mountain, is one of the important sightseeing areas in Kyoto. Both the Bamboo Grove and Okochi Sanso Garden are located here and in addition with these two, the rest of the locale is filled with temples, shrines, picturesque streets and beautiful residences.

We leisurely wandered around the area while munching yummy yakitori and matcha ice cream.

Philosopher’s Path

kyoto japan

kyoto japan

If you’re coming during sakura season, then Philosopher’s Path is one of the best viewing spots in Kyoto. It follows a canal about two kilometers long, lined with hundreds of cherry blossom trees. The route has acquired its name from one of Japan’s famous philosophers, Nishida Kitaro, who was said to practice meditation while walking this stretch.

I’d say it’s true. Despite the many people, walking under the blooming sakura trees is soothing as much as it’s stunning.

Yasaka Shrine / Maruyama Park

kyoto japan

kyoto japan

Our last stop is Yasaka Shrine, simple yet impressive and beautifully adorned with hundreds of lanterns. Its location is seamlessly unified into the rest of Maruyama Park.

Maruyama Park is the center of hanami in Kyoto. Here, there’s always a street food market where you can grab some snacks and enjoy outdoor dining under the cherry trees.


We only had a day to explore Kyoto and if anything, it left us wanting to see more. One day maybe doable, but not ideal especially on high season. The crowd definitely affected how our day went since queues were longer and traffic was slower.

Our first stop at Arashiyama Bamboo Grove was met with an intense crowd as tour buses keep coming! Later on, we figured that it may not be the best time to visit other popular sites like Fushimi Inari Shrine and Gion. We decided to forego a few destinations in our Kyoto itinerary to spend more time in places that we’re able to actually go.

What do you think? Is Kyoto on your bucket list?

Total
2
Shares
  • Melai! Ang ganda talaga ❤ All your Japan photos are dreamy!

    xo, Lou | Caffeine Rush

  • mysimplesojourn

    Beautiful photo blog. I always feel nostalgic when I see pics of cherry Blossom. I wish to visit it some day, hopefully soon :-)

    • Sakura flowers means a lot to Japanese because it reminds them of many memories in their lifetime. Nostalgic is a perfect way to describe it. :)

  • I’m seeing more and more posts about Japan and realising I really need to visit! Your photos are beautiful, especially with the cherry blossoms, it looks like such a romantic destination! Bookmarking this post for when I eventually make a visit!

    • Thanks Abbi! The cherry blossoms deserves all the hype in Japan! I hope you get to visit soon. <3

  • Alex

    What a beautiful gallery! I like it a lot :) Especially all these photos with blossom trees :) Super nice :) Japan is one of the most interesting country to me :) Have fun there!

    • It sure is! Japan is full of character and each city has a different vibe. :)

  • Beautiful city! It s hard to decide if to visit in the high season and see the blossoms or off season and perhaps have a bit more space with less tourists ;-)

    • I understand your dilemma. But seeing the sakuras even just once is everything! :)

    • I understand your dilemma. I don’t like a lot of crowd either. But seeing the sakuras even just once is everything!

  • This must really be the best time to visit Kyoto. I already love the city from your pictures – they are beautiful!

    • Spring and Autumn are the best seasons to travel in Japan! The colors are just beautiful! :)

    • Spring and Autumn are the best seasons to visit Japan. The colors are beautiful! :)

  • Chitownchica

    How absolutely stunning! I love finding gardens to explore when I travel and I could spend an entire trip in the gardens you shared here!

    • Me too! It’s so nice to let time pass by just sitting under the cherry trees. Some Japanese locals even sleep. :)

  • I absolutely ADORED our time in Kyoto and totally agree with you that it’s better to base yourself in Kyoto rather than Osaka! We missed the full sakura blooms when we were there but it looks like you guys got to catch them in all their glory <3

    • It’s the start of the full bloom when we got there and I loved it! I want to go back on shoulder season to explore other places and shrines. Next time around, we’ll be sure to stay in Kyoto. :)

  • Inge Turelinckx

    This is a great list of activities. Kyoto looks awesome and I would want to spend many days in this town. Japan is very high on our list!

    • Thanks Inge! We could have spent few more days in this town, too.

  • Cath Nesus

    Love your post. I have been seeing some many photos of the Sakura blossoms, so it was great to get a bit more info about where to go and what to see. I have been to Kyoto but unfortunately not at the right time of year. Will have to do a return trip!

    • I think Kyoto is beautiful all year round. The cherry blossoms are nice but it can really be crowded. :)

  • Laura

    I love photo diaries! This looks absolutely beautiful and I will add it to reasons to go to Japan!