Dear visitor, if you know the answer to this question, please post it. Thank you!

Note that this thread has not been updated in a long time, and its content might not be up-to-date anymore.

Best of Kyoto (not on JG) 2019/2/17 22:56
Hi All,

In December/January 2019, I'll be visiting Japan for 3 weeks for the last time after 10 years of travel to Japan. My aim is to visit Kagoshima along with visiting some sites in Honshu for the last time, thus visiting each prefecture is reasonable detail.

As I've already been to Kyoto numerous times, I've pretty much tapped out the main temples and shrines of Kyoto apart from a smattering here and there. I'm hoping that some other people have some suggestions for the following which are not on Japan Guide

(1) Temples
(2) Shrines
(3) Gardens
(4) Traditional Residences or any other strange or quirky sites you are aware of

I'll be in Kyoto for around 5 nights and normally travel at a reasonably fast pace but am aware that travel and lines can slow down my progress significantly.

The only things still on my bucket list include: Kyoto Rail Musuem, Kyoto National Musuem, Kenniji
Temple, Kibune to Kurama & Takeo. Any comments on the quality of these sites is also appreciated.

My main interest is gardens along with temples to some degree. I've found asking this forum extremely helpful and people have already given me a wealth of ideas for Shiga Prefecture.
by mfedley  

Re: Best of Kyoto (not on JG) 2019/2/18 11:23

It is on this site but I think it doesn't get that many people, but I positively adored Yoshiminedera. We went in June and it was gorgeous.

Not on this site, I would highly recommend Nagaoka Tenmangu. I have not been in Winter but I enjoyed it a lot during Golden Week. It has a great example of Sangaku on display. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sangaku

I went to a few other shrines in Hyogo-ken trying to find more sangaku. I'm trying to remember which ones since it was '07. None of them were on this site. I'm pretty sure one was Oshiko shrine in Takasago. Nishinomiya also has some nice shrines.

Enjoy your last trip!
by rkold rate this post as useful

Re: Best of Kyoto (not on JG) 2019/2/19 01:17
I actually donft know Kyoto very well, but I think you could easily spend an entire day in Arashiyama. Either get a bicycle (available at least at Hankyu Arashiyama) or take more time walking and visit not only the main attractions in Arashiyama (which now seem to be overwhelmed by tourist) but just go a little bit father to some temples and shrines.


I think you like onsen. I can recommend a super sento in Arashiyama. I fear a bit that it might get overcrowded by foreign tourists (here speaking one of them) but when I went it wasnft and the rotenburo area is nicely decorated like a shrine: http://www.ndg.jp/tenzan/en/
Alternatively this one close to Arashiyama Hankyu which did get much less tourists: https://www.hotespa.net/spa/fufu/

Well, I just LOVE onsen. And yes, I know a super sento isnft a real onsen, but if I can finish a day in a rotenburo that is bliss to me. (Last rotenburo on my current stay planned for tomorrow on a hotel at Narita airport).

If you want to visit Kokedera in Arashiyama youfll need a prefixed appointment.

One of the main temples in Arashiyama has a very nice Buddhist restaurant: Tenryuji. We went there some (maybe 10 yrs?? ago ) and it was a great and relaxing experience. (The temple itself has a nice garden but is for sure on JG and probably now overrun by tourists. )
@rkold, maybe also something for you to try out, as I remember it as a strictly vegetarian affair.

If you want some bamboo Forrest w/o tourist either try the area behind Kokedera (have a look at my cycling map where I return) or at the foot of Yoshiminedera.

Also Nagaokakyo seemed nice enough for a visit and doesnft get busy with tourists: http://bicycletraveljapan.blogspot.com/2019/02/osaka-to-kyoto-and-up-t...

It was actually the capital of Japan at some point. Did you know? (I learnt last weekend)

Moving on from Arashiyama:
If you do the hike in Kurama you can finish in this onsen:
Quite nice in the forest (not like Kurokawa Onsen but still). I canft comment on the hike itself as I am strictly on a bicycle and dislike hiking quite profoundly.

Okay. Wow so this became a long post although I donft know a lot about Kyoto and practically nothing about Kyoto Prefecture and o didnft get into Shiga and Nara. Hope something useful for you in my post.

BTW, did you already spend sufficient time in inner Nara Prefecture? Imaicho, Asuka, Hasedera, Dorogawa onsen... maybe there is still enough to discover for yet another (and another) trip to Japan ;-)

Enjoy planning!
by LikeBike (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: Best of Kyoto (not on JG) 2019/2/19 06:50
Not to hijack but @Likebike thank you for the recommendation. It's hard sometimes because I am also trying to figure out food my child might consider eating as well.

We've not been yet, but the Sakurai area is where we are checking out this Summer.

I've done the hike between Kurama and Kibune (in case you've not @mfedley) I personally didn't find it very hard and it was quite fun.

This is the shrine I went to in Nagaoka and would highly recommend: http://nagaokakyo-kankou.jp/eng/highlights/

The big time to go is Golden Week because it has huge hedges of azalea, but I am sure it is even pretty in the Winter.
by rkold rate this post as useful

Re: Best of Kyoto (not on JG) 2019/2/19 19:57
BTW, did you consider to go and see Kabuki? Or if in season in Osaka Bunraku or even in Takarazuka Revue theatre?

If you havenft ever seen Bunraku it is a great experience (as Kabuki as well).
by LikeBike (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: Best of Kyoto (not on JG) 2019/2/20 02:36
January 2019? You're a bit too late.
There are over a thousand traditional gardens in Japan, and around half are in Kyoto - but some are not much larger than a postal stamp. I enjoy seeing some as well, and you might consider going to Shofuen at Matsuo Taisha, Jonangu, Shosei-en, Rengeji, Reiun-in, Chishakuin, Shinnyodo, Myorenji, Myokenji, Honen-in, Taizoin, Keishunin, Entokuin, Murin-an, Sanbo-in, Rinshoji, Nanzen-in at Nanzenji, Shozenji....and too many more. You may have seen some already, and Dec/Jan is not the best time to see the gardens, usually.
If you want to see some larger places, you might consider Sorakuen in Kobe, Daisen Park in Sakai City, Isuien & Yoshikien in Nara Park, Momijidani Teien at Wakayama Castle, and Eihoji in Tajimi-shi, Gifu. Not to mention a whole other list of places on my bucket list, that neither of us can probably see all of.
by Ken (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: Best of Kyoto (not on JG) 2019/2/20 17:21
Thanks for the info everyone.

I've seen the Buraku, Miyako Odori along with some Noh (shortened) somewhere in Kyushu but have not seen Kabuki yet (I think). As such, I've done most of the main performances in Japan.

I've also visited Arashiyama quite extensively twice - with the last time being one of my highlights in Japan. The monkey forest is also quite fun being in a cage with the monkeys on the outside


Yoshiminodera has not been visited due to it's distance - it seems to be half a day trip. I'm possibly going to try and find some things to see around Nagaoka Tenmangu for a day - but am also considering visiting Wakayama City again for a day as I did not see everything in the city when I visited last time


I'm also happy to hear about the Kibuke to Kurama hike. I did not do it last time in Kyoto as I don't like slightly tough hikes in the middle of summer. Winter is the great time for it. I've also visited Tenryuji which I quite enjoyed (it reminds me of a temple in Kamakura which was probably inspired by this temple).

Nagaokakyo looks interesting - it seems as though I need to a bit of research on this place to see what I have visited or if I have visited here. I've also visited many of the places you have mentioned in Nara - Asuka and Sakurai are really nice - along with some of the temples in Southern Nara City as well....

With many of Ken's posts, I'll need a good hour or so to go through on his list what I have visited and what is new (this is not a bad thing, trust me!)

I'm trying to do one last push of temples in Japan then I'm done.
by mfedley rate this post as useful

Re: Best of Kyoto (not on JG) 2019/2/20 22:39
Hi Mfedley,

I went in the Summer to Yoshiminedera, so I am unsure what the grounds are like in Winter, but I felt it was really worth the trip. If I could read Japanese, I would time better for the bus from the Hankyu Station which would cut down on time. I spent a good 30-40 minutes waiting for the bus. I didn't wait as long coming back because we looked at the posted bus schedule at the bus stop. I admit, if I go back, I might just pay for a cab. The drive is quite scenic. I think because it is a challenge to reach Yoshiminedera is not heavily touristed by foreigners. It is like a 1/2 day, but at least during hydrangea season it is so worth it.

I did the hike during Golden Week in '08? I hadn't taken up running yet and found it very doable.

I've been to Wakayama Castle. I went on my very first trip 20 years ago. I honestly don't remember it well outside the two Japanese guys who were super chatty with me. I also learned getting from Hashimoto back to Kyoto via JR is a very slow process and I should have just taken Nankai from Hashimoto to Namba and then taken JR from Osaka. It would have been so much faster. I've been to the city of Wakayama a lot, but usually just to get dinner before heading to Kainan.

Have you been to Oshinko Shrine in Takasago or to any of the shrines and temples in Nishinomiya? Nishinomiya is quite easy to get to. Takasago was a longer trip, but Oshinko was very different with its huge floating rock.

I'll have to read what you wrote on Sakurai since that is our hopeful next plan. We're hoping to make it to Takadani for their hydrangeas: http://www.takidani.net/index.html

I've also recently found out about the hydrangea forest up near Ichinoseki. Speaking of hydrangeas, have you been to Mimurotoji in Uji? I know everyone who visits Uji goes to Byoudoin and Koshoji, Ujigami and Uji shrine are a close enough walk that they're often visited as well. Mimurotoji is a further distance away though so I imagine it doesn't see as many foreign tourists. Again, I went during peak hydrangea season, but in the Winter it probably looks quite interesting with all its forested grounds.

Good luck!
by rkold rate this post as useful

Re: Best of Kyoto (not on JG) 2019/2/20 23:50
I went to Yoshiminedera in winter (mid February) and you can see from my pictures but it wasnft lush. I guess thatfs winter.
There are also no busses up in the winter. So you get to walk up the hill through small villages. Potentially there could be a hiking path through a bamboo forest though. I donft know, as I was on my bicycle.

There are more temples at the foot of that hill.

by LikeBike (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: Best of Kyoto (not on JG) 2019/2/21 01:58
Sorry for the homework.
Here's a link which might make it easier for you.
Or maybe will just frustrate you more. ;-)
by Ken (guest) rate this post as useful

reply to this thread