Visiting Kyoto can be overwhelming with so many temples, shrines, restaurants, bars. You can be utterly lost of what to do, as there are so many different recommendations. So I thought I would share with you my day in Kyoto that I had recently, which was just PERFECT.
GET THERE - I took a train from Osaka which takes just over an hour, and got off at Kyoto-Kawaramachi station, so that I can start my day at my favourite soba joint.
LUNCH - Matsumoto is a 7 seat counter only soba / sake bar which is just BEYOND! Here, you can enjoy the real, just-made soba coupled with the best sake in Japan. It's so typically Japanese - small, quaint and quiet - you will absolutely love it.
MARKET VISIT - After fulfilling our stomach needs, we headed over to Nishiki market. Here you can explore local food products at decent price. It's an experience in itself. I like to come here to buy few of the essentials I need back in Switzerland.
STROLL/SHOP/CAFE - Then I took cab to Sannenzaka. If you haven't visited Kiyomizu-dera, highly suggest you to take a cab there and visit it first, and then walk down Sannenzaka. Since we've been to Kiyomizudera many times, we opted it and started our stroll from the top of unspoiled alley of Kyoto. The alley is packed with shops, cafes etc all of which are in traditional Japanese building. Sannenzaka automatically becomes Ninenzaka and on this alley, I always stop by the bamboo shops (Kanda or Kameyama) to buy new chopsticks and other kitchen goods. On Ninenzaka, there is a famous Starbucks which is in a traditional Japanese house, which is absolutely gorgeous. Just at the end of Ninenzaka, we stopped by Showen to buy souvenirs made of Japanese handmade textile.
TEMPLE - We then walked over to Kodaiji-temple, which is my favourite temple as it has the most beautiful Japanese garden. During the cherry blossom season, you can full enjoy the blossom here into the evening which is just beautiful!
STROLL/SHOP - From there, we walked down towards Gion. By then, the sun is slowly setting and if you are lucky, you may get a glimpse of Geishas and Maikos walking around. Passing Hanami Koji, we got to the Shijo-dori to stop by my favourite souvenir shop Izawaya - where they sell bags, shoes towels, little Japanese things made at a very high quality. If you are looking to buy Japanese sandals, stop by Itochu, one of the most premium geta shops since 1895. And if you love Japanese umbrellas like I do (I have the sun umbrella) , stopping at Tsujikura is a must-do :)
BAR - To end the busy day, we walked through the cobblestone streets following the Shirakawa river alongside rows of townhouses to enjoy the Japanese atmosphere. I recommend strolling in these streets more than tourists-packed Hanami-koji if you want to get sulked into the Japanese serenity. And then we finally sat down in Bar Ixley - the Owner Hiroaki Oda is one of the most respected mixologists in Kyoto. There is no menu: Oda makes his original cocktails from his collection of over 650 bottles of liqueur and 320 kinds of herbs and botanicals, some of which are sourced from his garden on Mount Hiei, and others he procures on frequent shopping trips to Europe. If you like your apero, this place is a must go!
So I hope this was helpful and helps you plan your perfect day without over-exhausting yourself with temples and shrines.