No visit to Japan is complete without a visit to the beautiful Kyoto. As we explored and ate our way through Kyoto, I was delighted to see some many landmarks in real life. Kyoto is a Japanese dream filled with the temples and shrines we are accustomed to seeing on films and in magazines. As we took in the sights, I was also very aware of how peaceful and relaxing Kyoto was in comparison to other stops on our Asian adventure.
Where We Went and What We Saw
To help you plan your trip to Kyoto, I am sharing about all the amazing places we visited that should make everyone’s must-see list.
Kinkaku-Ji – Also known as The Golden Pavilion, this temple is quite possibly the most widely recognized image of Kyoto. The golden temple sits on a pond that reflects its image. This temple is also unique because it was rebuilt in 1955 after it was burned a few years earlier.
Arashiyama Bamboo Grove – Located about 30 minutes from Kyoto is Arashiyama, which is home to the most amazing bamboo forest in the world. Visitors can walk the path through the bamboo forest where the bamboo stalks soar high up into the sky. It is beautiful and awe-inspiring.
Kiyomizu-dera – One of the most tranquil spots in Kyoto has been around for over 1200 years and also offers the most amazing view. The Kiyomizu-dera Temple, which is a temple to Kannon (a deity of mercy and compassion), sits halfway up Mt. Otowa allowing guests the opportunity to pay their respects and see the stunning view.
Maruyama Park – This park in Kyoto is a prime spot for cherry blossom viewing and sits next to the Yasaka Shrine. Not only does the park offer pretty views, but there are also restaurants nearby.
Nara Park – One of the most unforgettable parts of our visit to Kyoto was visiting Japan’s popular deer park that has been around since 1880. At this park, the deer come right up to you and eat out of your hand! It was incredible.
Fushimi Inari Taisha – A visit to this 1300-year-old head shrine is one I will never forget. It sits at the base of a mountain, and you can walk the trails to visit the smaller shrines.
What We Ate
The only thing that could make our peaceful and tranquil visit to Kyoto better was delicious food. And Kyoto did not let us down! We ate so well. We were relaxed mentally, and our bellies were full – a perfect combination.
Nikunotakumi Miyoshi – This restaurant offers traditional Japanese meat dishes, such as Shabu-Shabu and steak. Known for offering only the best (such as Kobe beef, Omi beef, and the rare Matsuzaka beef), our meal was delicious and worth every penny.
Sushi Matsumoto – One of the premiere sushi spots in Kyoto, this 1 star Michelin restaurant uses the freshest seafood from local fish markets.
Omen Kodai-Ji Branch – As the restaurant name suggests, this restaurant serves hearty bowls of omen (udon) noodles. The popularity of this Japanese noodle dish often means waiting in lines to get a seat.
Gion Nishikawa – Serving only the freshest and best fish and vegetables, it was easy to see why this restaurant holds 2 Michelin star rating. Their food is even designed with ingredients to make guests feel relaxed!
Gion Uokeya U – This restaurant is known for their dish called Uoke, unagi eel rice bowl that is served in a wooden bucket. We are glad we made it a point to try this unique dish while in Gion.
Japanese Matcha Desserts – Of course, we had our share of matcha desserts while we were there. Matcha desserts are made from green tea, so they are easy to find all around Japan. For example, we visited Saryo Suisen to try one of their famous green tea sweets.