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Top 5 things to do in Kyoto, Japan

12:00 PM claire 0 Comments

If you're a huge fan of Memoirs of a Geisha, this will be a thrilling, exciting experience for you in Kyoto! I wanted to visit all the shrines that were filmed in the movie, run around Gion like little Chiyo did, and of course, become a geisha.

I absolutely fell in love with the rich heritage and culture of Kyoto. Could a city be so modern yet so historical and grounded in its history? Yes, in Kyoto.

Here's my short list of things to do in Kyoto.

1. Visit Shrines

Credits to Nicholas at dnkstudios.net

I checked out the MUST-SEE shrines, Kinkakuji (above), a shrine made out of gold, Ginkakuji, a shrine that.. is not made of silver and Fushimi Inari. You'd think that Ginkakuji would be made of silver right? Haha, me too. Instead, it has a sand garden with a massive sand cone named "Moon Viewing Platform" and a place to check out the view of Kyoto's eastern mountains.

credit: google

Fushimi Inari, absolutely gorgeous. To walk around the entire place, it'll take about 2hours and a LOT of climbing. But we were tired so we completed half or three quarters of the trail. Truly gorgeous and many of the torii's (gates) have been there since the inception of the shrine! Advisable to bring water and comfortable shoes. It's a loooooooong climb.


View is worth the climb :)

Don't forget that what goes up has to come down hahaha, save some stamina for the climb back!



2. Walk along Gion




A peaceful and historical area, just get lost and enjoy the scenery already! Don't forget to bring your camera.

Also, be sure to check out tiny alleyways, that's where you get to explore all the hidden finds! It's really safe in Japan so don't worry :)

3. Become a Maiko/Geisha/Samurai


It's a once in a lifetime experience! Prepare to shock yourself (and perhaps your friends and family) when you look at yourself in the mirror once the face make-up is done! I know I did. Will post up my pictures in my detailed post :) You're in Kyoto, famous for geishas, and to immerse yourself in the culture, you have to become one!

 PSST! I got mine done here! Say you read about a promotion in a magazine and they'll give you a different price list ;)
Not sure if this is the website but you can try renting a costume and making reservations at this website. 


 Managed to snap a picture of a maiko returning to her okiya! I didn't want to be like a stalker paparazzi so no front views were captured. I'm a sneak paparazzi haha.

We learnt how to distinguish okiyas from other shophouses and got to see many maikos/geishas entering and exiting the place! Will share the secret in another entry so you'll be able to see them as well! They're really beautiful to look at and it's such a cool tradition that's maintained until today :)

4. EAT
A great thing about Japan is that any random shop or restaurant will have pretty decent food. So here are two street snacks that I'd like to recommend.

First up, Inari!! What is Inari?? It's the name of the sushi that's basically fried tofu skin and rice. I don't know how they do it, but it's delicious. Slightly sweet too! The tofu skin forms when boiling soy milk, so it's healthy as well.


Inari is the sushi on the right dish. nomnomnom

With my japanese friend, Junko, who recommended me this stall that has really famous Inari!! Will share where in another post. You can choose the seasoning in your rice - ginger, sesame or curry. I could eat this for breakfast everyday.

We also noticed that Green tea is everywhere in Kyoto! We spotted a reaally long queue for this green tea cafe along the main street of Gion, here's how the shop looks like for TAKEAWAY, and there's a staircase leading up to the cafe. Super long queue no matter what time we walk past it!


So of course, I had to try their ice cream. Didn't want to queue to sit at the cafe (might take an hour!!) And it was delicious!


We couldn't decide between the matcha green tea or the other type of tea so we bought both. It was rich and tasty, and PERFECT. Worth our 400 yen (About 6 SGD) or something around that price. Worth it! Stuff yourself silly with green tea :)


5. Shop

Of course there's the obvious shopping district, with big departmental stores like Takashimaya and OIOI, but if you like finding hidden places like me, look for the arcade which is only a short walk away from the main area!


There, you'll find more AFFORDABLE shopping and if you take short detours on the left and right, you'll find some hidden shops (food, clothes, etc) We found a ninja-themed restaurant too!



I will post detailed entries of my time in Kyoto! Here's a summary so it's easier to look at :) Hope you have as much fun in Kyoto as I did!
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