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Kyoto for Just 2 Days - What Should I See and Do?

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Kyoto for Just 2 Days - What Should I See and Do?

Old Apr 6th, 2012, 11:17 AM
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Kyoto for Just 2 Days - What Should I See and Do?

Hello Everyone,

I will be travelling to Japan in October, and will be staying at a Ryokan 20 minutes outside of Kyoto. I will only be there for two nights before I move on. I have never been to Kyoto, but I read that it can be difficult to reach the historical and traditional sights because they are spread-out in the modern city, and many of the signs are in Japanese (which I don’t’ currently speak, but I am trying to learn the basics). I will be relying specifically on public transportation. I will also need to be back at the Ryocan for dinner. Could you please advise of specific areas in Kyoto that I could easily take public transportation to, spend a few hours visiting historical and traditional sights, and have some lunch? Also, what things should I concentrate on since I am only there for two days?

Thank you in advance for your suggestions!
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Old Apr 6th, 2012, 12:11 PM
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The historic sights in Kyoto are easy to get using public transport but as they are spread out to need to plan in advance exactly which sights you'd like to visit. You really need to read the list of sights in Kyoto and choose what appeals to you. I've been to Kyoto many times and have not been to all the sights. You can see/do it all in Kyoto and what you visit will depend on your specific interests.
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Old Apr 6th, 2012, 01:53 PM
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http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e2158.html

Have you seen the above site - the attractions are grouped by section of the city so you can try to figure out what you want to see and group it by area.

I agree with RJames - I have been to Kyoto only twice and have barely scratched the surface except for the most obvious places...

I have tried to follow your itinerary - it seems after your two nights outside of Kyoto you will go to another ryokan/onsen for 2 nights? imo, I would stay in a hotel in Kyoto rather than the out of town ryokan - although it is 20 minutes away by train, you still need to get to the station and make your connection - that will not leave you all that much time...just my opinion obviously - I don't know what is most important to you....
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Old Apr 6th, 2012, 02:15 PM
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Sorry typo in my first post, last sentence should read.....You can't see/do it all in Kyoto and what you visit will depend on your specific interests.

Mara has provided you with good advice and has posted the website that I just couldn't remember. It's got tons of helpful information and is very user friendly.

I do agree that staying out of town in Kyoto is less than ideal. I too suggest you stay in the city itself in a location with good transport connections. Two nights only gives you one full day in the city and that is not enough time to do Kyoto justice.
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Old Apr 6th, 2012, 03:47 PM
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VeeDubb - going along with our previous posts, you could stay in the Dormy Inn in Kyoto - it has a large bath and has been recommended by ht and others on this board - although not that particular location - and then you could get a nice kaiseki dinner in Kyoto - so the benefits of a ryokan, sort of, and being in the city as well. I can't find my link to a ryokan in Kyoto itself right now....
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Old Apr 7th, 2012, 07:18 AM
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I thought that the point of your plan to stay outside of Kyoto was to relax and spend time out of a city. For example, staying overnight in Ohara and exploring it by day. After dinner at your ryokan, what will you do in the evening out there?
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Old Apr 7th, 2012, 08:05 AM
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As your itinerary stands now you will have one day to explore Kyoto. After your first breakfast in the Biwa-ko ryokan you can leave to explore a section of Kyoto that interests you with instructions and detailed explanations left for you by Mara in her Japan-Guide link above. I would do the sites in the eastern portion of Kyoto personally. You don't have time to see it all so don't ruin your one day by trying. Leave time to be back at your ryokan at 17:00 for dinner(if included in your plan).

With just one day I would use taxis to get from place to place once in Kyoto to save you time which is what is precious to you in your situation. I once had a similar situation during cherry blossom season. We took a taxi from the JR Kyoto station to the Hirano Shrine. Then from there to Ginkakuji where we visited then walked the Philosopher's Path to the end at the Nazenji Temple. There we took a taxi to the Pontocho area for lunch. After lunch we took a walk on Sanjo dori for a while shopping then another taxi to Kiyomizudera for the sakura views. We walked down to Sanjusangendo where we toured then took a taxi back to the JR Kyoto station. We were back at the station by 16:30. IIRC the taxi fares amounted to around ¥4100 that day but to me was worth every ¥ in the time and frustration saved taking the public transport when in a hurry.

Orrrrrr if you want to relax you can explore Biwa-ko after your breakfast, walking the lake shore and adjacent small town area then head to Ohara to walk leisurely taking in the temple and sights of the quintessential small town of Japan probably having a simple lunch in a small noodle shop or izakaya and a very relaxed day then making it back in time to your ryokan for a nice long hot soak in the hot tub before another fantastic dinner.......oh the choices one has to make. Some of us are very lucky people.

Aloha!
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Old Apr 8th, 2012, 07:19 AM
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I get the sense from the other post that VeeDub wants to stay at this particular ryokan at Lake Biwa.

I agree w/hawaii above that it looks like you only have one day for Kyoto. You'll want the first part of a day to be spent in the area around Lake Biwa and your ryokan, I think, as after all you are staying in a scenic area, you might as well enjoy it and the ryokan.

So if you only have one day for Kyoto, you need to research what is available and decide on what you can fit in in one day.

Personally I would spend half of the day in Higashiyama, an area rich w/history and well preserved. It is a very walkable area w/great temples, shrines, shopping streets, tea houses, and restaurants. See Kiyomizudera, it was one of 21 finalists as one of the new 7 Wonders of the World. Do a walking tour through Higashiyama and decide what temples to go into (I particularly love Shoren-in). Walk through the Gion area.

Then choose one other area or particular site you are interested in. Areas like Fushimi (with the Tori gates), Arashiyama/Sagano (requires time, further away by electric tram ride), or more convenient to Hiagashiyama (just a short walk) there is the Path of Philosophy (including Nanzenji), or Nijo Castle, or perhaps you will choose to see Kinkaku-ji the golden temple (there is a good restaurant on site there, very authentic Zen Buddhist cusisine, called Shigetsu). Or perhaps you wil want to book a tea ceremony or other afternoon class.

At any rate, choose one other site or area or activity you want to go to, and do that with the other part of your one day.

Don't worry so much about taking taxis in Kyoto. They are NOT really expensive like the taxis in Tokyo. You will need to utilize taxis since you have such a limited time; buses are good but they get very full on many routes and take a lot of time waiting for them, many stops, etc. Take a taxi from Kyoto station to Arashiyama and then possibly a taxi to your second area, depending on where it is.

End your day close to Kyoto station, walk though the shops at Teramachi-dori after it crosses Oike st. and where it becomes a covered arcade as it runs down to the food shopping area, NIshiki Market (although be aware that Nishiki closes early evening) and Shijo st. Then catch the train (actually I think it is two trains, you need to switch) back to your ryokan for dinner.
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Old Apr 8th, 2012, 07:27 AM
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Higashiyama info:

http://www.jnto.go.jp/eng/location/r...gashiyama.html

http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e3959.html

The two websites above are the ones I find very valuable, JNTO and japan-guide. I like the forum at japan-guide also. It is a good compliment to fodors Asia board. There are some people on that japan-guide forum who live in or near Kyoto who can give really good help w/directions and details. In particular a poster named "Uji."
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Old Apr 9th, 2012, 04:05 AM
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Thanks again for the very helpful suggestions!

I actually switched from the Lake Biwa ryokan to a nice hotel very close to JR Kyoto station. I will already be staying at a similar ryokan during another portion of my trip, so I switched to a nice hotel in central Kyoto to give me the best access to Kyoto and public transportation. Also, I won’t be obligated to come back to the ryokan for dinner, so I can have more flexibility and dinner in Kyoto. I will have two solid days in Kyoto.

So far, I am interested in visiting:
Eastern Kyoto: Higashiyama and the Geisha District in Gion
Northern Kyoto: Ohara and the Kinkakuji (Golden Pavilion)

What do you think about spending one day exploring Eastern Kyoto and the other in Northern Kyoto?

Thanks again for your suggestions!
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Old Apr 9th, 2012, 06:03 AM
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Sounds good. You can access my trip report which includes Ohara by searching for "emd" (not emd3). Look at the member profile for emd and the first post is my trip report from 3/05, my 1st trip to japan. Scroll down to the last day of the report in Japan, that is the day I went to Ohara alone.

I am not sure how to combine transportation to Kinkakuji and Ohara. The bus is best to get to Ohara, I think it starts at Kyoto Station and follows the river up north through town (I got on it close to Westin Miyako area). Hopefully Hawaiitraveler or someone else can give you some hel pn combining the transportation btwn those two points.

I said above that there is a Zen Buddhist restaurant Shigetsu on the grounds of Kinkakuji. That is not right. That restaurant is on the grounds of another temple. The Zen Buddhist rest. called Izusen that we went to was on the grounds of Diatokuji templs, not far from Kinkakujithat is covered in my 2nd trip report, which you'll see under "emd" also). Izusen also has a location close to Kyoto Station. While we did not particularly like the food, it was an experience.

What days of the month will you be in Kyoto? Want to be sure you don't miss a temple market day if you are there on those days. And what hotel are you staying at near Kyoto station? People on this board have stayed at most of the good hotels in that area, might have some tips for you.
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Old Jul 3rd, 2012, 07:02 AM
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If still planning, you could look into the "Three Sisters Inn," near the Heian Shrine in Kyoto. It is a traditional minshuku, with tatami rooms, futon, Japanese bath, Japanese menu, etc. Very pleasant and relaxing atmosphere, and friendly to Westerners. Others like this (e.g., the Dormy Inn, mentioned above) may also be available.

My recollection of Kyoto is that it was very easy getting around, using both buses and taxis. The names on street signs were written in both Japanese and Roman characters.

Sorry for the delayed comments. Hope it can be of use to you or to some future visitor to Kyoto.
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Old Jul 11th, 2012, 01:49 PM
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VeeDub and Dave: Three Sisters fan here. (The Annex) Perfect accomodations for us..very comfortable and right on the bus line a block away .We could walk the Philosopher's Path
to the Golden Pavilion amd easily pick up another bus to other sights.

We also found The Miho Museum fascinating, if just for the remote location. I don't think Three Sisters has a web page..we negotiated everything by fax and it worked fine. Kay Yamada, your hostess, is very helpful.

stu tower
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Old Jul 11th, 2012, 02:41 PM
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http://www4.ocn.ne.jp/~k3sisanx/
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Old Jul 11th, 2012, 02:43 PM
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Stu, thank you for the comment.
I see on your profile that you have unique knowledge of Japan.
My very best wishes and thanks!
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Old Jul 13th, 2012, 09:46 AM
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Dave..here are just a few selected shots which include Three Sisters Annex....

https://picasaweb.google.com/stuartt...ndOtherScenes#

If you had more time I would strongly suggest a trip out to the Miho Museum (I.M. Pei-designed). It's about an hour train-bus ride into a deeply forested area.

For a fun Kyoto walking tour, try Johnny Hillwalker..he's an ace!
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Old Jul 13th, 2012, 09:49 AM
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HT..somehow I knew you wold come through..thanks.
stu

I should have addressed post above to VeeDub, too.
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Old Jul 14th, 2012, 10:14 AM
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Stu: I see that you were there in the springtime, possibly for hanami? Beautiful!

VeeDub: In October the colors of the leaves, especially along the Philosopher's Walk, are amazing! Very close to the Nanzenji Temple there is a restaurant going back to the 1600's, specializing in tofu and tempura. I think the name is something like "Gyuu Dofu(?)." I recommend it highly, but you may need a guide to walk you through the menu.
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Old Jul 15th, 2012, 08:02 PM
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You will be too early for fall colors in Kyoto in October. Mid to late November would be the time for koyo in Kyoto.

Aloha!
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Old Jul 16th, 2012, 08:29 AM
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Thank you all for the continued suggestions; I really appreciate it!
Stu – great photos!

I decided to book a Japanese business hotel near JR Kyoto station, because I will be staying at a ryokan in another region, and I will only be in Kyoto one full day/two nights (the other two days I will be travelling at least half of the day, arriving to and leaving Kyoto).

I am considering visiting the following while in Kyoto. Is this too much for one full day?
Eastern Kyoto: Higashiyama and the Geisha District in Gion
Northern Kyoto: Ohara and the Kinkakuji (Golden Pavilion)

Thanks again!
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