Japan: Temple Hopping in Kyoto

Where to go, what to do, and my overall impressions of Kyoto, Japan. For more travel pictures and tips on Japan, check out this post about my amazing day spent wandering the streets and sampling the mouthwatering eats in Osaka. If you didn't know, Japan was actually my first ever solo trip (besides moving to Korea, but that's different) and really if you're considering a solo trip and you're a bit nervous, I cannot suggest Japan highly enough. The cities are clean and easy to navigate, the people are insanely friendly, and even when I was wandering around Osaka lost in the middle of the night, I felt totally safe. 

Getting from Osaka to Kyoto is actually very easy - the train system in Japan is comprehensive, simple to navigate and relatively cheap.  All I did was Google Maps my way from my hostel in Osaka to my hostel in Kyoto, and I was on my way. Easy peasy!

In Kyoto, I stayed in an amazing, new-built hostel called  Khaosan Theater. The rooms are capsule style, meaning that everyone has their own enclosed bed area with a personal locker, privacy curtain, bed lamp, and electrical socket. It was so dark and cozy in my capsule that it was a serious struggle to get out of bed everyday. 

Once I finally did make it out of bed,  my first stop was Fushimi Inari-Taisha - one of Kyoto's most iconic sites, and incidentally might have also been my favorite site of the trip. I have wanted to see this place since the first time I saw a picture, and much to my delight it did not disappoint. 

Next, I headed to Kiyomizudera. Though this one was undoubtedly still cool, it was not my favorite. Many of the buildings were under restoration and therefore could not be seen, and there were literally hundreds of Japanese high school children milling about. The best part of this temple for me was that it is situated atop a high, and has a stunning view of the city below.

Unfortunately, I didn't realize that most of the temples close around 4:00 pm, so I didn't get to see as many as I would have liked that first day.  But my sadness was short lived, as I found a great little hole-in-the-wall where I ate some super delicious Udon and Chicken Tempura. So good!

The next day I headed to Nijo Castle, the Golden Pavilion, and the Arayshima Bamboo Grove. I loved all of them but I would definitely say the Bamboo Grove won my heart. Despite the number of people walking through, it was very peaceful and totally unlike anything I've ever seen before.

Nijo Castle

Nijo Castle

Once I was done running around for the day, I decided to A. take a short nap and B. check out a place that came highly recommended by locals and other travels alike. This dish (pictured below) might have been the tastiest thing I ate in Japan. It is a type of Okonomiyaki, a savory Japanese-style pancake. The place I went to only makes this one item and was packed with locals, both of which are a good sign that the food is legit. I really should have gotten two ^^

Issen-Yosyuko - So delicious!

Overall, Japan was fantastic and I cannot wait to go back. It is, admittedly, one of the more expensive places to travel in Southeast Asia; however, it is worth the money and then some. Also, in terms of travelling alone, which I was, I think it is one of the better place you can go. I felt safe the whole time, the hostels I stayed in were very nice and welcoming, and as I said in my last post about Kyoto every Japanese person I talked to was extremely helpful, welcoming, and kind.

So if you're thinking about taking a solo trip to Japan... Stop thinking! Just do it! ;)

Enjoy the beautiful view!

Morgan