Our first day in Japan was spent in Kyoto. Kyoto is one of the best-preserved prefectures in the country, and it is home to many temples and shrines. Unlike Tokyo, which is full of bustling lights and tall buildings; in Kyoto, you can experience the authentic and traditional Japanese culture. During our trip, the place got extra wonderful because of the red, yellow, and green hues from the trees, and all the leaves scattered on the streets. So lovely! This is my first time experiencing the autumn season, and I already declare that it is my favourite!
Anyway, from Osaka, we travelled to Kyoto via the Haruka express train. The travel takes around an hour. Our itinerary for that day starts in Arashiyama, which is in the western part of the prefecture. We got off at the Saga Arashiyama station.
From the station, we had to walk for 15 minutes to reach the vicinity of the bamboo forest.
Amidst the tall bamboos in the area lies a small shrine called the Nonomiya Shrine. It is said that people, especially women, pray here for success in love, and also for the safe delivery for expectant mothers.
After a brief visit to the shrine, we finally went to the bamboo groves. The place was majestic, it’s like you are in a different world. By the way, once you have reached the area, walk down deeper into the forest as the bamboo groves are more spectacular at the end.
Our last stop in the Arashiyama area is the Tenryu-ji Temple. It is a Buddhist temple, and it is a UNESCO World Heritage site. Entrance fee to enter the compound is 500 yen. The place is really big and the landscapes are astounding.
It was already lunch time when we travelled to the central part of Kyoto. This was one of the many parts of the trip that I was most excited about — it is because we are going to dress up in kimonos! A kimono is a traditional Japanese garment worn by men and women. Nowadays, the Japanese wear kimonos during special occasions like weddings, tea ceremonies, and other formal events.
I booked a reservation online in a kimono rental shop called Kyoto Kimono Rental Shop Yumeyakata. There are lots of kimono rental shops in Kyoto, but I think this is one of the best, not only for their kimono offerings but also because of their location. It is in the central part of Kyoto, so from their shop, the temples and shrines are very accessible. And to make it more accessible, the nearest subway station is just 2 minutes away by foot. Anyway, it is better to book ahead to reserve your slot and skip the queue because the place is usually packed as it is popular among tourists and locals alike, and also because it is cheaper — there is a discount when you reserve online. The process of wearing the kimono takes around an hour; the staff will do everything for you, including the hair styling.
Kyoto Kimono Rental Shop Yumeyakata
〒600-8104 128, Manjujicho, Shimogyo-ku, Kyoto-shi, Kyoto, Japan
Nearest station: Gojo Station (subway, Karasuma Line; 1 stop away from Kyoto Station)
The kimono looks damn pretty, but I tell you, this is literally, as we say in Tagalog, a ‘tiis ganda‘ moment (translation: to suffer for the sake of beauty). You cannot slouch while wearing this both when standing and sitting, and your steps will be limited because of the tight skirt. I think my posture will get fixed if I wear it every day! Haha!
We travelled to Fushimini Inari Shrine via the subway donning the kimono. If you are concerned about people staring at you because you are wearing something ‘different’, don’t be. Wearing kimono is pretty common in Japan, especially in Kyoto. And people are actually fascinated when they see couples or group of girls wearing it.
Fushimi Inari Shrine is located in the southern-east part of Kyoto. It is famous for its thousands of torii gates which trail up into the forest of Mt. Inari. The shrine was awarded first prize by TripAdvisor as the most famous Japanese attraction for the year 2016, and it has been holding the title for already three years in a row. No surprise here, the place is truly magnificent.
The whole shrine is humungous, we didn’t dare to go up further because we were already exhausted, and we still have two temples left in our itinerary to visit.
On our way down, we met this kawaii Japanese boy also wearing a kimono. I asked permission from his parents to take a picture with him. Haha.
Also, we passed by a small street of food stalls and souvenir shops. We bought some souvenirs, and we bought takoyaki. It’s so good!
After Fushimi Inari, we hurriedly travelled back to Kyoto Station to go to the bus terminal to board a bus going to Kinkaku-ji Temple. Unfortunately, we got stuck in a very bad traffic so we were not able to visit it as the temple closes at 5pm. And also we missed going to Kiyozumi-dera Temple, which was supposed to be our last stop for the day. It was actually a mistake on our part that we packed so many places in one day. We’ll just visit them next time!
Around past 7pm, we went back to Yumeyakata to surrender back our kimonos. It actually felt weird and liberating in a sense to go back in our normal clothes after spending a few hours in it. Haha.
To cap off our day, we went to a mall near Kyoto Station to eat our dinner. We had a bowl of ramen; it was good, though the taste is really not different to the ramens I have tried in the past outside Japan. 😛
Have you been to Kyoto? What wonderful places have you already visited there? 🙂
By the way, I’ll progressively blog our entire trip to Japan, so watch out for for the next ones!