So here is the deal, looking back at the 2 weeks I spent in Japan, Kyoto is probably the one place which conveys best what I had in mind when thinking of traditions and culture. If you want to see beautiful temples, shrines, gorgeous parks, lots of history and stories about ancient events and choose from a broad selection of different, delicious dishes and drinks PLEASE go to Kyoto. The high culture and wealth of the long-time capital city Kyoto is present in everything from architecture to the peoples lifestyle. I like Tokyo and I’ll certainly go back there again in the future but it is Kyoto which is the must-see city when you are in Japan for the first time not Tokyo. At least in my opinion.

Rice fields

Rice fields on the way to Kyoto

Of course I took the train from Hakone Yumoto to Kyoto to make full use of my Japan Railpass. And as you can see below on the track record it is quite visible when I changed from the local train to the Shinkansen bullet train in Odawara resulting in rapidly increasing top speed from around 50 km/h to 280 km/h.


Tracking the Shinkansen to Kyoto

The central station in Kyoto is a bit off from the main areas you want to stay. Generally most temples and shrines are located around the city border where the city is embedded in vast bamboo forests. The old geisha district Gion is located in the east and the nightlife and shopping area around Sanjo and Kawaramachi is located just a bit North of it. Having walked around in most of Kyoto by foot (unfortunately I did not track how many kilometres I made but all the blisters were proof of the accomplishments) and I would recommend to stay around Kawaramachi. You basically get everywhere from there both by foot and public transport. Although there is a subway the bus transport is way more convenient and better structured for reaching the tourist sights.

I choose to stay at Khaosan Kyoto Theater hostel which is located in Kawaramachi close to the Nishiki Food Market and perfect to get to the nightlife and shopping districts of Kyoto. Once again I was really lucky with my choice of hostel and I can fully recommend you to stay at Khaosan Kyoto Theater. The roof terrace with a view all over Kyoto is worth the stay alone.

Talking about Nishiki Food Market here are some impressions which either make you hungry or make your appetite go away depending on how much you like experiencing food and flavours your are not familiar with.

Nishiki Food Market

Nishiki Food Market

Nishiki Food Market Nishiki Food Market Nishiki Food Market Nishiki Food Market Nishiki Food Market Nishiki Food Market Nishiki Food Market Nishiki Food Market