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irenen Mar 31st, 2016 09:32 PM

How to spend a free day from Kyoto
My husband and I ( early 60's) will be visiting Japan ( 10-25 April) for the first time. We have a full free day in Kyoto before we join a group of others. I would like suggestions for how best to spend the day. Once we join our group, we will be spending 3 days in Kyoto. The following sights are included already, so I would like suggestions that do not include the following ( Zen Golden Pavilion, Pure Water Temple, Otowan Waterfall, Gion district, Heian Shrine, Maizuru). We are happy to take a trip outside the city provided it is doable in a full day.

Any suggestions will be gratefully appreciated.

kja Mar 31st, 2016 10:22 PM

There is more than enough to keep you busy in Kyoto. Here are your main options:

Or you might consider Nara:

If you visit Nara, consider stopping at Fushimi Inari shrine on your way back to Kyoto: It is on your way and open 24/7:


mjs Mar 31st, 2016 10:41 PM

Nara is a good choice. Himeji castle is another option. It's about 90 minutes by train.

irenen Mar 31st, 2016 11:33 PM

Thank you for these suggestions. Nara sounds like it might work, as we have another 3 days to spend inside Kyoto. Stopping at Fushimi Inari shrine also seems a great idea. Thank you.

Kathie Apr 1st, 2016 08:08 AM

I agree with others, spend that "extra" day in Kyoto or Nara. Our favorite place in/near Kyoto was Arashyama. Our photos might help you choose (though we didn't make it to Nara - next trip!)

BigRuss Apr 1st, 2016 08:27 AM

What does this mean:

<i>The following sights are included already, so I would like suggestions that do not include the following ( Zen Golden Pavilion, Pure Water Temple, Otowan Waterfall, Gion district, Heian Shrine, Maizuru).</i>

Are you going on a tour or did you pick that? If you're going on a tour, so it goes (why Maizuru when Nara and Himeji are nearby - if I'm hopping a train for a day trip from Kyoto, I'd take Himeji or Nara first, plus both are shorter trips than Maizuru).

If those are the places you've picked, then consider that you can potentially do the Heian Shrine, Kiyomizudera (the "Pure Water Temple" - using the native term is universal - and the Otowa Waterfall is in the temple complex) and the Gion district in 1 day or 1.5 days, which frees up at least another half day. And although Kinkaju - your "Zen Golden Pavilion" - is nice to see, it's out of the way and the bang/hype ratio leans more toward the hype (we actually won't revisit it when we go back to Kyoto).

The list you have doesn't include Nijo-jo, Sanjusangendo, Fushimi Inari, Arashiyama, Nara or Himeji, among others. Check the listings, other favorites are there to be found.

irenen Apr 1st, 2016 08:57 PM

Hi BigRuss,
Yes we are going on a tour and I have taken these place names from the brochure,so apologise if I have used the incorrect names for some of them. We will also be participating in other activities like a traditional tea ceremony, calligraphy lesson, geisha performance etc, so we will not be spending all our time visiting sites. Since we arrive a day early for our tour, I wanted to use our time wisely and not spend our free day visiting places which are included on the tour.

Thank you for your suggestions in the last paragraph. I will definitely research them over the next couple of days.

rachill_az Apr 5th, 2016 11:25 AM

I would suggest Fushimi Inari Shrine and Arashiyama. Arashiyama can be reached in 30 minutes by taxi and is a beautiful area with lots of temples and shrines.

Alternatively, you could do a day trip to Nara and stop at Fushimi Inari Shrine on your way there or way back.

BigRuss Apr 5th, 2016 03:29 PM

You don't need to taxi to Arashiyama - the JR Sagano line stops thisclose to the bamboo forest.

rachill_az Apr 5th, 2016 04:11 PM

We preferred taxis over train/buses in Kyoto. For us it was more convenient. But yes, you don't need a taxi to get to Arashiyama - any mode of transportation will do. It is easily reached.

CaliforniaLady Apr 5th, 2016 10:16 PM

Here's another vote for Nara. It's close enough to Kyoto so you won't be exhausted going there, and the cute deer hanging out there were the best part. If you are a good walker, you can do the circuit around the area, and it takes maybe three hours. We found it to be quite beautiful, and it was nice to get away from the city of Kyoto for the day.

kja Apr 5th, 2016 10:35 PM

Hmm... I thought Nara worthy of 2 full days (and 2 full nights). But as already noted, I think a day trip to Nara would be worth considering given your constraints. You would just need to decide what, exactly, to do while there. :-)

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