I HOPE YOU ENJOY MY HOMETOWN : TOKYO
It would be more convenient to present sights by area, so I will put them by the places so that you are easy to move. I made a schedule of a DAY to show you an example . It is easier to move around if you go around in this order.
KYOTO is one of my favorite place to go to.
When I was in Japan , I used to go to KYOTO 2,3 times a year. Ever since I was born , KYOTO is my family's favorite place to go to. Kyoto has many many places to go to but since you are traveling, your time is limited. So I carefully selected my "BEST of KYOTO". I hope you enjoy it .
BEST OF KYOTO
EKIBEN ON SHINKANSEN
Before we get into the explanation of Kyoto, let's start with the EKIBEN (Train station box meal) eaten on the Shinkansen (bullet train). It takes 2 hours from Tokyo to Kyoto by Shinkansen. Ekiben eaten on the Shinkansen is very special and we, Japanese have great passion for EKIBEN. For many Japanese people, one of the pleasures of traveling on the Shinkansen is to buy and eat their special EKIBEN during the train ride. Food and drinks are available on the Shinkansen, but the variety is limited and not very tasty, so it is recommended that you buy delicious ekiben and drinks in advance at Tokyo Station. You can get EKIBEN anywhere in TOKYO station but I strongly recommend EKIBENYA MATSURI GRANSTA TOKYO located just beyond the central Marunouchi entrance. Vegan labeled meal boxes are also available here.
I think UNESCO World Heritage Site of KIYOMIZU TEMPLE is the best temple in Kyoto. The SANNENZAKA shopping street which is 5-10minutes walk from the temple is steep, but it’s definitely worth walking. It’s the perfect place to buy gifts for your family and friends. It has a very vibrant atmosphere with both sides of the street lined with shops selling sweets, handicrafts, interesting foods . In the middle of the Sannenzaka shopping street there is "Maiko-Henshin Studio Shiki". This is the place where you can enjoy amazing GEISYA experience and photoshoot. There is also a shop called "BUNNOSUKE CHAYA HONTEN" near KIYOMIZU TEMPLE, and they have nice Japanese traditional desserts .
SWEETS IN KYOTO
When walking around Kyoto, there are so many different kinds of sweets to choose ,and it is hard to decide which one to try. Kyoto is famous for its matcha (powdered green tea), but you can also try warabimochi (rice cakes) and dango (sweet dumplings).
"WARABI MOCHI WITH SOFT ICE CREAM
FUSHIMI INARI SHRINE
FUSHIMI INARI SHRINE is one of my favorite shrine in Kyoto . FUSHIMI INARI is well worth the hike. The shrine gates are directly across from the train station and you can spend hours hiking beneath the orange torii. The hike to the top of Inari mountain can take a few hours, but even if you don't make it to the top there's plenty to see along the way. Be sure to wear sneakers and you also need insect repellant when you hike. Recommended food in the neighborhood are DOIKATSUMAN , where you can try Japanese traditional eel dish, and KANOKO , where you can try Japanese traditional SOBA and TEMPRA
HANAMIKOJI STREET （GION）
HANAMIKOJI Street is the main street that runs through the center of Gion, about 1km from Sanjo-dori street in the north to Yasui Kitamon-dori street in the south. Here, you can find rows of traditional tea houses that represents Gion’s traditional atmosphere.When the sun goes down, the shops and street lights are lit, creating a fascinating atmosphere that is unique to Kyoto. (HANAMIKOJI STREET is so beautiful at night time. )Many long-established prestigious and traditional tea houses can be found here which are where Geishas and Maikos entertain customers.Hanamikoji Street is definitely one of the spots recommended for your Kyoto walk. If you are lucky, you might be able to spot a real Geisha in this area. very close to Hanamichi street, there is my favorite Japanese cafe "KAGIZEN ". They have the best "KUZUKIRI" in KYOTO (you can choose syrup : I strongly recommend "KUROMITSU" ). They also sell traditional sweets at the entrance, and I recommend buying "OCHOMA" (picture down below). It is a traditional Japanese confection using Wasanbon, the finest sugar in Japan, and it maches so good with japanese tea or even with MATCHA. They sell the best "OCHOMA (RAKUGAN)" in Kyoto.
Near "KAGIZEN", there is "TOYODAAIZANDOU" which is my favorite "OKOU " (Traditional Japanese solid fragrance) shop.
If you are looking for a good place to eat MATCYA(green tea) dessert in GION, "GION KOMORI" is the best . This place is about 3minutes from HANAMIKOJI street on foot.
ARASHIYAMA BAMBOO FOREST
ARASHIYAMA BAMBOO FOREWST is really different from other sites in Japan. The Arashiyama area is a popular tourist attraction which is about an hour away from central Kyoto. Compared to other areas in Kyoto City, the area is relatively isolated and a bit outside of the city. However, once you visit there, you will immediately understand this is exactly where everyone should go to experience the real Japan coexisting in harmony with nature. It is away from central Tokyo , but there are so many things to do in ARASHIYAMA. When you get to the ARASHIYAMA district, first thing you should check is the Togetsukyo Bridge, a long wooden bridge, creates a breathtaking view along with the Arashiyama Mountain in the background and is the landmark of the Arashiyama area. They have so many foods , shops and you even can try boat riding in a beautiful scinery. ARASHIYAMA BAMBOO FOREST is only 10minutes away from Togetsukyo bridge on foot. Near ARASHIYAMA BAMBOO FOREST there is "YOJIYA CAFE" , famous cafe for MATCHA (green tea )dessert.
I always go to Nishiki Market when I go to KYOTO. The place offers an array of both fresh and preserved foods, including duck specialties, Japanese sweets, and all manner of pickles. You can also find excellent cookware and elegant ceramic wares, condiments and paper goods. Nishiki Market has an astonishing 130 vendors packed into a narrow passageway that is approximately 400 meters long and 3.9 meters wide. It continues to thrive, attracting not only visitors, but Kyoto locals too. I especially recommend you go to ARITSUGU. This store is a long-established cookware store and famous chefs from all over the world always come here to buy their knives when they visit Japan. Depending on the product, they will engrave your name in kanji characters. Knives are expensive, so if you buy a spoon for tea leaves and have your name engraved on it, it will be a very nice souvenir. My tea leaves spoon is down below. In the center of the spoon "Anna 7 years old " is engraved in KANJI .
There is also a well-established store called ”Suuzando Hashimoto” where you can find more traditional Japanese stationery with a delicate aesthetic. They have really nice SHUJI products too. I always buy ”letter perfume” down below .
There is also well-established HASHI (chopsticks )store called ”Ichiharaheibei” where you can find most luxrous Japanese HASHI. Famous chefs from all over the world come here to buy their HASHI when they visit Japan. They are simple but some of them are very expensive
and it is said that once you use chopsticks here, it feels so comfortable in your hands that you cannot use any other chopsticks. Japanese haute cuisine is very delicate, so many famous cooks use chopsticks here for serving.
Suuzando Hashimoto Google map >
”Ichiharaheibei” Goggle map >
HIROBUN ( KIBUNE area)
You need to take trains and bus for an hour from KYOTO station to get to HIROBUN in KIBUNE area , but this actually is a very good place to experience NAGASHISOMEN (Only aveilable from May - Sep) in Japan. Because this restaurant is so popular, I’d recommend getting there around 10am to make sure you get a a number and time slot because once they are gone, its gone. For the NAGASHISOMEN they don't accept reservation , so you need to visit the store to take number tag. Here is English site for HIROBUN NAGASHISOMEN. No credit card , will be canceled to rain.
KINKAKUJI the Temple of the Golden Pavilion, is one the most iconic and well known sights and popular attractions in Japan. Kinkakuji was recognized by UNESCO as a World (Cultural) Heritage site in 1994.I recommend to visit either early morning or late afternoon to avoid the swarm of tourists. Outside the exit are souvenir shops, a small tea garden, where you can have "matcha tea" and "sweets".
Japanese Tea and MATCHA
Kyoto is famous for its tea, and I will introduce you to some of the most well-established stores in the city.
"IPPODO" is a family-run Japanese tea company founded in 1717, in the heart of Kyoto. For generations, IPPODO have upheld a tradition of aromatic, well-balanced teas by carefully selecting, blending, and crafting each of our 30+ blends. You can get traditional Japanese tea and and one of the finest MATCHA in JAPAN. At the store, you can also learn how to make delicious Japanese tea, enjoy Japanese sweets, and more!
SWEETS I BUY IN KYOTO FOR SOUVENIRS
There are many delicious, long-established Japanese confectionery stores in Kyoto, but they are scattered throughout the city, so it takes time to visit them one by one. But "SHINISENOAJI " is a great place that easily solves such problems.. This store is located near the Shinkansen terminal at Kyoto Station and offers a full line of sweets from famous long-established stores. They also have good EKIBEN from famous long-established stores in KYOTO. Since most Kyoto sweets are made from rice cakes, they do not last long, so I recommend you buy in small quantities.
invented in 1911, is a partially-baked sweet wrapped in mochi dough kneaded together with a number of ingredients including Tamba Daito's grain bean paste.
These have all been much beloved Japanese sweets for many years in Kyoto
This is NOT a sweet, it's called "SHICHIMI" and It is like a blackpepper but it taste different. when you Walk into any resturant, yakitori or udon
you’ll almost always find shichimi (“seven flavors”) on the table in Japan. It's a spice you use for japanese food.
"OTABE by TSUJIRI"
Soft mochi with anko in it.It is the most popular traditional sweets of Kyoto. Thin and soft rice cake sheet wraps azuki filling in it. Has 2 flavors of cinnamon and matcha.
Yuzu is a Japanese citrus fruit with a refreshing scent and acidity, comparable to lemon and lime.
This YUZU MOCHI of TSURUYA YOSHINOBU is my favorite.