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knycx_journeying Dec 20th, 2016 04:40 PM

Kyoto Temples and Imperial Palace - Travel Report
Kyoto is the former Imperial capital of Japan for over a thousand years. The city has an old name called Heian-kyo: which means tranquility and peace. So, the city peacefully remained as the center of culture, history, religion and tourism in Japan. Exploring the streets and alleys is a sweet and fulfilling experience, and it’s a good way to understand the Japanese culture for the first time~

For more pictures and info of the route @

For October it could be a little too soon to appreciate foliage in Kyoto, but the weather was cool and crispy enough for visitors to comfortably enjoy the sights. The ancient capital was established and designed based on the grid system, referencing the Chinese capital Chang’an at that time. Therefore, it’s pretty easy to navigate the city with a bike as I was tired of catching bus schedules from places to places, there was a time I explore some farther temples in the city with a bike!

Upon departure after picking up our bikes at the Nishiki Market, our mini-expedition began J. The Nishiki Market is a downtown market with an overwhelming choice of Wagashi (tradition Japanese confections), souvenirs and arts and crafts. We ride our bikes along the Kamo River and headed north to the Kamigyō-ku for the day!

*Heian Shrine and Nanzen-ji*

The National Museum of Modern Art is also nearby. It’s a tranquil neighborhood with alleys and roads that covered with trees. The Heian Shrine is an important cultural property of Japan as the main palace was painted in beautiful red and green and it has a spacious front court that leads to a couple of museums. Behind the main buildings, the Japanese garden is a nicely groomed garden with weeping cherry trees, ponds, and traditional pagodas. Next to the temple is Nanzen-ji that located amidst the forested Higashiyama Mountains. The greenery added a certain kind of mysterious and solemnity to the site.

*Kyoto Imperial Palace*

The highlight of my day was visiting the Kyoto Imperial Palace. It is built in 1855 and well-preserved with a rich tradition. The tour covers several structures on the site, including the Shisinden (den means “the hall”), the Seiryoden, the Kogosyo, the Ogakumojyo, and the Otsunegoten. All these reflect different architectural styles and beauty over time. The palace is not exactly opened to public and visitors are required to apply via the Imperial Household Agency website for a guided tour, and the time slot could be filled up pretty fast.

For info and links about the tour @


I didn’t have the chance to visit Kinkaku-ji the last couple of times just because it’s a bit farther than anything else in the city. Having said that, Kinkaku-ji (the Golden Pavilion) is one of the most visited attractions in Kyoto just because of its unique and memorable exterior and I believe most would recognize it immediately from the picture. It is not exactly a big site, but the reflection of the Golden structure in the mirror pond is enough to make it a breathtaking must-see.

*Kiyomizu Tera*

I have been to Kiyomizu Tera a couple of times because it’s simply too iconic. Besides, a stroll in the nearby zakas is such a cultural experience that is never boring. Apart from Rokkatei (My Kyoto Sakura-viewing Route), One of my favorite lunch places is the Saryouseihantei, a teahouse and pottery shop near Kiyomizu Tera with an open view overlooking the city. Walk along the streets toward the Yasaka-jinja and you might run into visitors traveling around the streets with a Kyoto Maiko or Geisha makeover experience!

*Tofukuji Temple*

Tofukuji is on the South side of Kyoto and to me, it’s the best foliage viewing place in Kyoto just because of the traditional wooden Tsutenkyo bridge that straddles across the sea of trees on the way in. The dark wood and black tiles added much solemn quality to the entire view.

*Fushimi Inari-taisha*

So, the final memorable and iconic picture of Kyoto – the long Torii path in the Fushimi Inari-taisha (Taisha means “shrine”) that basically goes on and on deep into the Fushimi Mountain. In Japanese culture, the fox is a common subject of Japanese folklore and it’s common for Japanese to worship foxes. Inari fox is a Japanese deity that brings fertility, prosperity, and fortune.

Kavey Dec 23rd, 2016 01:07 AM

Sounds like you were able to enjoy many highlights and had a great experience biking around instead of the bus! Thanks fo sharing!

knycx_journeying Dec 28th, 2016 04:26 PM

Thanks @ Kavey :)

misha2 Jun 24th, 2017 08:48 PM

Thanks for posting.

Mara Jun 25th, 2017 06:48 AM

fyi, the Kyoto Imperial Palace is now open to the public without a scheduled tour, see above.

I went a couple of months ago and the English brochure was quite detailed and covered everything the guided tour, which I took several years ago, did....

knycx_journeying Jun 26th, 2017 11:13 PM

Wow Thanks Mara - I think it's great that it's now open to everyone.
But @ the same time, it might become really noisy and crowded, as compared to a schedule private group?? :S @ knycx.journeying

wesley100 Jul 6th, 2017 04:29 PM

Wow - this info is great! Can I ask how long you would recommend to stay in Kyoto for the first time visitor? I like the bikes idea as well, such a great way of getting around.

knycx_journeying Jul 13th, 2017 12:19 AM

Thanks Wesley, for first timer, you may easily for 5 days but still want to come back - Because it has so many faces in different seasons! @ knycx.journeying :)
Have fun and share with us what do you think! ~ and feel free to visit for more ideas about Japan, or let me know if you need any help

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