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November 12, 2020

Kyoto Japan Spring Travel Guide & Photo Diary

Kyoto Japan Spring travel guide by Annie Miller
  • See ALL. THE. TEMPLES.
  • Tenryuji Garden, Bamboo Forest World Cultural Heritage Site
  • Kichi Kichi Omurice – Rice omelet

Before we dive into three full days of frolicking around Kyoto, let’s lay out some general info:

Food: If you come to Kyoto and don’t make a reservation at Kichi Kichi Omurice, did you even come to Kyoto?

Time of year: We went in spring, accidentally during the cherry blossom season. BLESS.

Accommodation: Stay at Aoi Hotel if possible. You’ll splurge. We splurged. But it was so worth it and so needed at this point in our road trip. Even if you can’t splurge, Kyoto is the tits, and you’ll love it. Stay in this area if you can. It was very central, close to literally everything you need – including public transport.

You’re about to see how much time we spent outside of the hotel. But also…you better believe ya girl took a bath EVERY NIGHT with a view overlooking the city + temples on the hill.

Annie Miller in Kyoto, Japan
inside Annie Miller's hotel in Kyoto Japan
views inside the hotel in Kyoto

We stayed four full days in Kyoto and could have easily stayed four more. There is so much do and see here. Between the natural beauty, temples, and food, it’s impossible to get bored in this extremely livable city.

On day one of adventuring we went to Toji.

Visiting Toji in Kyoto, Japan by Annie Miller
Annie Miller exploring Toji in Kyoto, Japan
architecture in Toji
architecture in Toji by Annie Miller

From here we headed to the ever-iconic Fushimi Inari Taisha. Don’t be fooled by these photos. There were people here, but a fraction of would normally be seen at this location due to travel restrictions into Japan during the pandemic. We simply waited until the path cleared to get our shot. Again, this scenario is NOT normal. These paths are typically crawling with humans shoulder to shoulder. We simply lucked out on our timing.

Visiting Fushimi Inari Taisha in Kyoto by Annie Miller
Red arches in Fushimi Inari Taisha in Kyoto
Annie Miller at Fushimi Inari Taisha in Kyoto
Annie Miller exploring Fushimi Inari Taisha in Kyoto

We were low key drenched in sweat after climbing hundreds upon hundreds of stairs (somewhat unexpectedly…); but Kyoto had more to see!

From there we drove to Nijo Castle. And that closed out day one of galavanting.

Nijo Castle in Kyoto by Annie Miller
Exploring Nijo Castle by Annie Miller
Cherry blossoms outside Nijo Castle by Annie Miller
beautiful grounds of Nijo Castle in Kyoto
Cherry blossoms outside Kyoto by Annie Miller
amazing architecture outside nijo Castle in Kyoto

Day two of adventuring started off with one of the most popular streets for viewing the cherry blossoms. It looked like we arrived a few days after their full bloom. But it was beautiful nonetheless.

In this area, like almost anywhere in Kyoto, there are several temples and gardens to choose from. You’ll see several below that were within walking distance from one another.

Our whole day started at Drip and Drop Coffee Supply, and then worked out way from the cherry blossoms at Philosopher’s Path to the famous temple overlooking the city, Kiyomizu-dera. On the way there, we walked through several other temples, and an adorable old town that has clearly been repurposed for tourism.

This was a LONG DAY. In fact every day in Kyoto was longer than expected. The city is walkable, in sections. But even within each temple, castle or garden there is TONS of walking to do. So sightseeing just ends up taking forever. Which was fine with us. There is no shortage of beautiful views along the way.

The third day of adventuring required some driving. We could have stopped at even more locations but we were honestly pooped from two prior days of sightseeing and walking 30,000+ steps per day.

This day included the bamboo forest, world heritage sites, the rock garden, and the golden temple.

Annie Miller in the bamboo forest in Kyoto
walking path through the bamboo

That wraps up Kyoto! We would live anywhere in Japan; but Kyoto is truly the perfect mix of city, history, and natural beauty.

Though we weren’t ready to leave Kyoto, our road trip had us heading to Hiroshima. That meant pit stops for cheesecake, Kobe beef, and the Osaka Castle. Stay tuned.

Kyoto is 100% worth a visit, pin this post for later if you’ve ever wanted to visit Japan!

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I'm an adventurous introvert from Vancouver, Washington who lives on sleep + "me time." I'm a lover of lifting weights, dinosaurs, real talk and traveling with my husband. I am here to help you move better, lift more, bust the myths of the fitness industry, and inspire you to love the process.

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