Less than an hour in a local train (45′, 560 Yen) and the scenery around me changed completely: I arrived in Kyoto, Japans old capital. I had been in Kyoto six years ago and was looking forward to relaxing a bit and taking some pictures of the city.
Kyoto has something magical and definitely a must see if you’re interested in visiting Japan. The clash between new and old you find in the Gijon area, where little wooden houses are located in small streets behind international luxury brands, is one of the most unique things I experienced. I stayed 2 days in Gijon, walking around in a Yukata (summer kimono), drinking green tea and wandering around beautiful temples. The evenings were filled with amazing Japanese food and long nights in bars with amazing people I met in the hostel.
Must-sees: there are over a thousand temples in Kyoto! My top 5 spots are:
– Gijon area: the old town of Kyoto, where the few geishas which still exist today might be spotted (Nishiki market – where to try a vast variety of food & shop for souvenirs)
– Bamboo Grove (don’t miss the Tai Chazuke at the Hanana Restaurant)– Nijo-jo (Kyoto castle)
– Fushimi Inari Shrine (go during sunset for great light and less people/heat & make sure you grab a inari sushi on the way up!)
– Golden temple
– Piece Hostel: If you’re looking for a nice and new hostel near the JR station, this is the place to be. Comfortable beds, big rooms and good drinks. A bit too big for my taste, but very well organised.
– Ichi En Sou: One of the best hostels I’ve stayed at. Friendly owner, clean & nice rooms located in the middle of the Gijon area. The hostel is built like a typical old-style Japanese house out of wood and has rooms with tatami mats.
Kyoto is a wonderful place and definitely a must. If you haven’t seen Memoirs of a Geisha yet, make sure you do before going to Kyoto. You’ll see some of the famous spots and the Gijon area in the movie and it gives you a good understanding of what geishas actually are.