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Craig Mar 30th, 2013 12:36 PM

4 Days in Kyoto
My "3 Days in Tokyo" thread yielded great advice and now I am looking for help with Kyoto. Given that we will set aside a full day for a trip to Nara, how would we best organize the other 3 days? Below are sights that might interest us but we really don't want to spend all of our time visiting temples. It would help to prioritize and leave enough time for shopping. Please suggest itineraries, with timing.

Ginkakuji Temple and "Path of Philosophy"
Gion District for shopping
Kyoto Handicraft Center
Kiyomizu-Dera (temple)
Sansjusangen-Do (temple)
Daigo-Ji (temple)
Fushimi-Inari Taisha (temple)
Niju-Jo (Castle)
Ryoanji Temple
Kinkakuji (temple)
Adashino Nembutsyji (temple)
Koinzan Sai Hoji (temple)
Enryaku-Ji (temple)
Imperial Gardens

We will be staying at the Hyatt Regency, by the way...

rhkkmk Mar 30th, 2013 12:54 PM


KimJapan Mar 30th, 2013 01:48 PM

Sanjusangendou is right next door to the Hyatt so unless you arrive too late you could go there the day you arrive. Allow an hour.

Kiyomizudera can be the start of a Great walk. Taxi up to the highest point they are allowed. Go through Kiyomizudera. Allow at least an hour. Walk down to Gion via the narrow and stepped streets of sannenzakka and ninenzakka. Along the way、assuming you reserved well in advance stop for lunch at Kikunoi Honten (and please don't order the kikunoi Obento as it just doesn't yield the sake experience in either food or service than if you order a proper kaiseki lunch. I've had both. The Obento was fine but not one thing made me or my coolleague say "wow that was good". Service was drop and go. No explanation. Same to everyone in the large shared room. Order kaiseki you get your own room and far more interesting dishes served by informative and pretty friendly staff. Food is hot - the Obento room temperature with the exception of the rice. All in the kaiseki is worth the cost and Obento not really. Reserve cfar in advance. The reason we had Obento the first time was because we reserved two weeks ahead and that's all they had left.

After lunch you could wander gion and shop a bit. It's city except in the back streets so follow the narrow roads to the sides.

Hyatt for cocktails in the very cool bar.

Another day taxi to nijono and look. Allow 90 minutes. Then taxi to Arashiyama. Ride the torookko train up then riverboat down. By all means engage a jinrikisha. They have English speakers I've reserved for others. Great entertainment and information. At least an hour but two hours would show you most everything. Eat tofu and tuba lunch. Taxi to Hyatt is about ¥2500. Back to the bar.

If you are looking for unique, high quality, not crazy priced goods skip the craft center. It is filled with several floors of nostly junky stuff and caters to tours who take advantage of the cheap lunch offer. Instead head to small galleries and studios. You'll find the good unique and fairly priced stuff outside places like the craft center. Go have a look but buy carefully.

Stop at Fushimi Inari to or from Nara. There are also sake breweries in Fushimi. Naramachi in Nara is home to lots of small craft and art shops and cafes.

Enjoy. Leave unplanned time to wander. Don't underestimate the size of Kyoto.

Kathie Mar 30th, 2013 01:52 PM

Nice suggestions, Kim. I'm going to let Craig post the first round of questions here, I'll be back with more specific questions.

Smeagol Mar 30th, 2013 02:33 PM

Hanging on the coat tails of this one too! ;)

DonTopaz Mar 30th, 2013 02:48 PM

For shopping, also consider Teramachi-dori, a covered, pedestrian-only street that starts near the Kawaramachi subway station and runs south for several blocks. Lots of interesting shops and places to have a meal or a snack -- an especially nice shop (sorry, don't know the name) sells beautiful stationery woodprint scrolls, artist equipment, etc. Teramachi-dori intersects the pedestrian-only Nishiki market, a place with a dizzying array of food stalls selling one mystery meat (or sea creature) after another. To or from the Hyatt, you could take a bus to the train station then a subway to Kawaramachi, but a taxi is a lot more convenient and not outrageously expensive (I'll guess around 1500Y).

In Gion, please be sure to take a small detour to the streets next to the Shinbashi bridge. This is absolutely one of the very most pleasant city streets I've seen -- just a delightful place. There are almost always some maiko (apprentice geishas) hanging around, and they're happy to pose for pictures.

There's an outfit that offers cycling tours of the city with English-speaking guides ( -- both half-day and full-day tours are available). I took one of these on my last trip and enjoyed it a lot. The guide was terrific, the cycling was very easy and completely adapted to my needs, and it was a way to see parts of the city that I'd never have found on my own. A potential downside to the cycling tours is that reservations & payment are necessary in advance, and it will not be postponed if it rains.

Agree strongly w/Kim & others that the Touzan bar at the Hyatt should not be missed.

KimJapan Mar 30th, 2013 07:17 PM

Using computer rather than iphone this time ^ fewer typos I hope! Example tofu and tuba lunch - that ought to be filling! I meant tofu and yuba!

For amazing paper, I think the shop Don refers to is Kyukyodo . I also really like the small shops like Uragu and Rokkaku. Uragu is a bit of a challenge to get to but in a very nice area for walking around Rokkaku is easier to find.
Suzuki Shofudo does workshops

Craig Mar 31st, 2013 09:00 AM

I am happy to say that I just booked the Hyatt Regency in Kyoto and 4 of our 5 nights will be "free". We took advantage of the Hyatt Visa promotion and earned 2 nights each...

Kathie Mar 31st, 2013 09:14 AM

Good for you, Craig!

Smeagol Mar 31st, 2013 09:27 AM

Happy for you, gutted for me. ;)
We are staying at the HR in Kyoto too. ( sounds like quite a few of us are staying there) where are you staying in Tokyo?

Craig Mar 31st, 2013 09:35 AM

Nicky, in Tokyo we are staying at Citadines, Shinjuku. Bob found it. It is conveniently located and the rates are fantastic.

hawaiiantraveler Mar 31st, 2013 10:30 AM

Nothing better than a free(almost)stay at the Hyatt Kyoto.

Your list is impressive and shows someone has done their homework. You would need 3 trips of 4 days each to see this list. I hesitate to add to the excellent answers you've already received but I will try.

When we stayed there the Hyatt offers a one-way free taxi ride to and from JR Kyoto station. Just walk to the taxi stand on the shinkansen side exit(not the main northern entrance)and tell them you are going to the Hyatt Kyoto. The cost is only IIRC ¥710 for the first two kilometers and the Hyatt is within that area or sometimes one click away(depending on traffic and route taken)anyway if you happen to take the wrong exit.

The infamous Touzan Bar has a Happy Hour(50% off)from 5:00pm till 7:00pm and should be taken advantage of as you will find out when you see the prices at the other hotel bar/restaurant venues.

The boat ride back from Torroko Kameoka is very scenic but for guys with girth like me and a knee problem, sitting on the floor of a crowded boat for two hours was a little uncomfortable but shouldn't be a problem for you two. Make sure you take advantage of the "facilities" before rushing off the bus and onto a is two hours on the water after all,lol.

I love Kim's reco of Sanjusangendo the day you arrive. I really like this venue for some reason. We have been twice now with my only complaint being the no cameras allowed inside alla the Sistine Chapel rule. Linda and I have started our day at Sanjusangendo, then walked up the hill to Kiyomizudera. Walking on the street to the right up the hill then following the other street that parallels down hill towards the Gion area stopping at the bottom of the hill and a favorite kani restaurant about a block before the Shijo Dori intersection. No English signage but you can't miss the large crab signs on the front of the building. From there you can explore the Gion and shopping streets Don mentions. A long walking day but one you two will enjoy.

Fushimi-Inari is doable to or from Nara but you will not be able to hike to the top if done this way. We only hiked for about an hour up-hill before turning back but it would have taken a few more hours to do the whole trail to the top and back. We felt we saw enough doing this way but wouldn't have minded making it to the top. Don't miss the sampling the inari sushi sold by many of the small resident restaurants in Inari. Just rice and a vinegar tofu covering but one of my favorites.

If you wanted a day plan for a few more of your choices one day could look a little like this:

Taxi to Kinkakuji and take in the Golden Pavilion followed by a 20 minute walk(or taxi) down to Royanji. Then taxi over to Ginkakuji and visit the exquisite garden then walk out the front gate and down the Philosopher's Path picking up a snack from the yatai vendors as you leave. Hail a taxi at Nanzenji at the end of the path and take it into the Shoji Dori area for more shopping(kyoto handicrafts or whatever) and some food or back to the Hyatt for a breather.
What are your dates in Kyoto again?
Looking at your recent threads reminds me that I've got to get our Japan plans started ;)


hawaiiantraveler Mar 31st, 2013 10:32 AM

Bob didn't find the Citadines in Shinjuku......I did. It's going to be a feat if he can find it the first day he arrives in Tokyo :))


Craig Mar 31st, 2013 10:53 AM

Peter, sounds like we better start planning now for two more trips in addition to this one...

Thanks for finding the Citadines. We arrive in Tokyo 2 days before Bob and Karen, so it may be a feat for us to find it also...;-)

I think our dates in Kyoto overlap. We are there 11/1 to 11/6. Hopefully we can all hook up for drinks and/or dinner in the evenings. Are you staying at the Hyatt or at the same place as Bob and Karen?

Smeagol Mar 31st, 2013 11:32 AM

Wishing we overlaped with you guys too, shame we don't but we do with the lovely Filmwill and David so all is not lost. :)

Am still feeling overwhelmed with all the sites to see in Japan, so many thanks to Craig and the respondents as that has definitely helped........
Now back of the fact u have secured free nights at the HR, as a UK cirizen who doesn't qualify for one of those cards..... Gutted.. :(

Craig Mar 31st, 2013 11:49 AM

I guess relocating is out of the question, Nicky? :-)

Smeagol Mar 31st, 2013 11:52 AM

Well considering how much it's going to cost me to stay at the Park Hyatt Tokyo, it may just be worth it!!! Now, East or west coast??

Craig Mar 31st, 2013 12:10 PM

We have the annual Fodor's GTG in Boston on the east coast, would that help you decide?

shelleyk Mar 31st, 2013 12:11 PM

We too are staying at the Citadines Shinjuko in Tokyo, and it does look centrally located and a good value. We thought the same about the Citiadines in Kyoto and are booked there, but we also have the 4 free nights from the Hyatt card available which I thought we would use in Hawaii. Is there any downside to staying at the Kyoto Citiadines that I am missing? BTW, thanks for finding the Citadines, HT.

Craig Mar 31st, 2013 12:23 PM

shelley, not sure which Hyatt you are looking at in Hawaii, but the one on Kauai is awesome and probably more expensive than the one in Kyoto. Thus, use your freebies there. From the TA reviews, I can't see any reason why you wouldn't be happy with Citadines in Kyoto.

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