Much of Kyoto’s history is a result of city being the first imperial capital of Japan stretching over a 1000 years before the capital city was eventually moved to Edo, what is now modern day Tokyo.
Kyoto is home to some of the most beautiful temples, rightly earning its place as one of the most noteworthy and must-see cities in Japan. Contrary to its size, like much of Japan, Kyoto is actually relatively easy to navigate around and is even accessible by bike from Hirakata!
Temples & Shrines
Kinkaku-ji – 金閣寺
Formerly known as Rokuon-ji, or by its English name, The Golden Pavilion, Kinkaku-ji is one of the most visited and easily recognizable Zen Buddhist temples in all of Japan. It was originally founded in 1397, rebuilt 1955 following an arson attack in 1950, and has been officially designated a National Special Historic Site, including a UNESCO World Heritage Site designation in 1994.
Kiyomizu-Dera - 清水寺
One of my favourite temples in all of Japan, this temple is definitely one you don’t want to miss. With the changing seasons of Japan, there is always something new to discover here. A huge temple built onto a mountainside, interlaced with trees, ponds and a pagoda, it can become quite busy. However, I find the crowds significantly die down in the evening hours. If you only plan on visiting once, the I would highly suggest visiting Kiyomizu-dera during the Fall. This is definitely a Fall temple, that’s when the colours really pop!
Fushimi Inari – 伏見稲荷
Probably one of the most iconic images of Japan, widely used in many movies including Memoirs of a Geisha. Fushimi Inari is the head shrine of Inari, the God of foxes, rice, tea, and sake. The actual shrine sits at the base of Inari mountain with trails spanning 4 km’s to the top providing access to several other smaller shrines. The trail takes approximately 1-1/2 to 2 hours walking depending on your pace. Each torii gate was donated either privately or by a business. Access to Fushimi Inari from Hirakata is very simple. It has its own station merely a few stops away from the Makino station and has signs guiding you the rest of the way once you arrive. Be sure to wear some comfortable shoes as you will be walking a lot. One recommendation I have, plan your trip so you’re there during sunset. Watch the sun as it sets over Kyoto, then as you make your way down the mountain in the dusk, stop by the little mountain cabin to enjoy a tea as the remaining light sifts through the trees and fades into darkness.
Places To Go
Maruyama Park (Koen)
Where To Stay
For a full list of places to stay in Kyoto, I recommend checking out a full list of places here.