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Kyoto

Ooaj Travel Guide, tourism, hotel reservation, residence, plane, cheap pension for you holidays in kyoto

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The Golden Pavilion (Kinkaku)The Golden Pavilion (Kinkaku)
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The Golden Pavilion (Kinkaku)

Nestled among mountains in Western Honshu, Ky?to (京都) has a reputation worldwide as Japan's most beautiful city, boasting more World Heritage Sites per square inch than any other city. However, visitors will be surprised how much work they will have to do to see its beautiful side. Most visitors' first impressions will be of the urban sprawl of central Kyoto, around the ultra-modern glass-and-steel train station.

Nonetheless, the persistent tourist will soon discover Kyoto's hidden beauty in the temples and parks which ring the city center, and find that the city has even more than meets the eye.

kyoto Travel Guide :

Kyoto

Understand

Kyoto was the capital of Japan and the residence of the Emperor from 794 until the Meiji Restoration of 1868, when the capital was moved to Tokyo. During its millennium at the center of Japanese power, culture, tradition, and religion, it accumulated an unparalleled collection of palaces, temples and shrines, built for emperors, shoguns, geishas and monks. Almost alone among Japanese cities, Kyoto escaped the Allied bombings of World War II, although it could be argued that the concrete redevelopment that turned 95% of Kyoto into an ordinary Japanese city did just as thorough a job.

Kyoto

Get in

Kyoto

By plane

Not arriving at Kansai or Itami?

  • A small number of air flights operate daily from Tokyo's Narita Airport to Itami, for the benefit of international passengers. Otherwise, Kyoto is no less than four hours away by taking the Narita Express limited express train to Tokyo station, then changing to the Tokaido Shinkansen.
  • If you happen to arrive at Nagoya's Chubu Centrair International Airport, Kyoto can be reached in no less than 80 minutes by taking the Meitetsu Airport Line to Nagoya, then changing to the Tokaido Shinkansen.

Kyoto does not have its own airport. The nearest international gateway is Kansai International Airport in Osaka. JR West's Haruka limited express train runs to Kyoto twice per hour (1 1/4 hours, ¥3690, no charge with Japan Rail Pass). Cheaper limousine buses run once or twice an hour to the south entrance of Kyoto Station (1 3/4 hours; ¥2300).

Most domestic flights land at Osaka's Itami Airport. Airport limousine buses run three times per hour to the south entrance of Kyoto Station (1 hour, ¥1280).

Kyoto

By train

Most visitors arrive at JR Kyoto station by Shinkansen (bullet train) from Tokyo. Nozomi trains make the trip in approximately 2 1/4 hours and costs ¥13720. Hikari trains, which run less frequently and make a few more stops, cover the trip in around 2 3/4 hours, but only the Hikari and the Kodama trains can be used by Japan Rail Pass holders at no charge.

For travel in the Kansai region, a cheaper and nearly as fast alternative is the JR shinkaisoku rapid service, which connects to Osaka, Kobe and Himeji at the price of a local train. Slightly cheaper yet are the private Hankyu or Keihan lines to Osaka, or the Kintetsu line to Nara.

Kyoto

By bus

The cheapest way of traveling from Tokyo or other distant points to Kyoto is by night bus. Buses from Tokyo typically cost ¥8000 each way, with a discount if a round-trip is purchased. The Japan Rail Pass is accepted on most overnight buses that are operated by JR.

Kyoto

Get around

The sheer size of the city of Kyoto, and the distribution of tourist attractions around the periphery of the city, make the city's public transport system invaluable.

The Kansai Thru Pass (Surutto Kansai) stored-value card can be used on all means of transportation in Kyoto (and the rest of the Kansai region), with the notable exception of JR trains. You can purchase the cards in denominations starting at ¥1000 at any train or subway station.

Kyoto

By train

The Keihan train line can be useful for traveling in eastern Kyoto, while the two Keifuku tram lines are an attractive way of traveling in the northwest.

Kyoto

By subway

Kyoto's subway network has two subway lines, the north-south Karasuma Line and the west-east Tozai Line. Both are useful for travel in the city center but not really suitable for temple-hopping.

Kyoto

By bus

The bus network is the only practical way of reaching many attractions. Most city buses have a fixed fare of ¥220, but you can also purchase a one day pass (¥500) with which you can ride an unlimited number of times within a one day period. This is especially useful if you plan on visiting many different points of interest within Kyoto.

Unlike most Japanese buses, Kyoto's buses have announcements and electronic signs in English. The municipal transport company publishes a very useful leaflet called Bus Navi. It contains a route map for the bus lines to most sights and fare information. You can pick it up at the information centre in front of the main station.

Kyoto

By bicycle

Particularly in spring and fall, getting around by bicycle is also a good option. The city's grid layout (copied from Xian), arranged between mountains on three sides, makes navigation easy. You can also rent bicycles in many places in Japan for a reasonable price.

Kyoto

See

Kyoto offers an incredible number of attractions for tourists, and visitors will probably need to plan an itinerary in advance in order to visit as many as possible.

Kyoto

North-western Kyoto

The Zen Garden at Ryoan-jiThe Zen Garden at Ryoan-ji
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The Zen Garden at Ryoan-ji

Visiting the vast temple complexes of north-western Kyoto can take the better part of a day. A suggested itinerary is to take the subway (Karasuma line) to Kitaoji station, and walk west along Kitaoji-dori. Daitokuji, Kinkakuji, Ryoanji and Ninnaji Temples are all on Kitaoji-dori, and about 15-30 minutes' walk apart. En route, you will see the giant "dai" (大) symbol burned on the hill overlooking the city. Hirano Shrine is a short walk south along Nishioji-dori from Kinkakuji. If you still have time left at the end of the day, take the pleasant electric railway (Keifuku Kitano line) from Omuro to Katabiranotsuji, then take the JR Sagano line from nearby Uzumasa station back to central Kyoto.

  • Daitokuji Temple (???). A small and understated temple complex, boasting several small, secluded subtemples. Daitokuji is the quietest of the temples in north-western Kyoto, and if you visit it at the start of the day, you could virtually have it to yourself. Eight of the twenty-four subtemples open to the public (most days 9am-5pm), and each charges an admission fee (around ¥400). The highlight of the subtemples is Daisen-in, located on the northern side of the temple complex, which has a beautiful Zen garden without the crowds of Ryoanji Temple. Koto-in is particularly noted for its maple trees, which are beautiful in autumn. Nearest bus stop: Daitokuji-mae.
  • Kinkaku-ji Temple (???). The Temple of the Golden Pavilion, formally known as Rokuonji (???) is the most popular tourist attraction in Kyoto, and the crowds that constantly surround it reflect this. The pavilion was originally built as a retirement villa for Shogun Ashikaga Yoshimitsu in the late 12th century, and converted into a temple by his son. However, the pavilion was burnt down in 1950, by a young monk who had become obsessed with it. The pavilion was rebuilt in the Fifties to look even more garish than before - extending the gold leaf covering it to the lower floor. Visitors follow a path through the moss garden surrounding the pavilion, before emerging into a square crowded with gift shops. Open daily 9am-5pm, admission ¥500. Nearest bus stop: Kinkakuji-michi or Kinkakuji-mae.
  • Hirano Shrine (????). A small shrine, which is an especially popular destination during the cherry blossom season, setting up amusement and food stalls. A small park of cherry trees next to the shrine is hung with lanterns and drawings by local schoolchildren. Sufficiently far off the tourist trail to be worth a look. Admission is free. Nearest bus stop: Waratenjin-mae.
  • Ry?an-ji Temple (???). Famous for its Zen garden, which is considered to be one of the most notable examples of the "dry-landscape" style. Some say it is the quintessence of Zen art, and perhaps the single greatest masterpiece of Japanese culture. Surrounded by low walls, an austere arrangement of fifteen rocks sits on a bed of white gravel. That's it: no trees, no hills, no ponds, and no trickling water. Nothing you could describe as romantic, distracting or pretty. So what is it all about? Well, it certainly focuses the mind. Unlike Stonehenge, the Pyramids, Angkor Wat, Salisbury Cathedral, or the temples of Luxor, Ryoan-ji can hardly inspire you with technical achievement, religious imperative or sheer scale. But its minimalism inspires something else ? contemplation, introspection, and deliberation on the transience of our own humanity. No one knows who laid out this simple garden, or precisely when, but it is today as it was yesterday, and tomorrow it will be as it is today. Behind the simple temple that overlooks the rock garden is a stone washbasin called Tsukubai said to have been contributed by Tokugawa Mitsukuni in the 17th century. It bears a simple but profound four-character inscription: "I learn only to be contented". The rest of the grounds are worth a look too - particularly the large pond. Open daily 8am-5pm (Mar-Nov), 8.30am-4.30pm (Dec-Feb). Admission ¥500. Nearest bus stop: Ry?anji-mae.
  • Ninnaji Temple (???). Another large temple complex which is often overlooked by tourists. Admission to the grounds is free, allowing visitors to view the 17th century five-storey pagoda, and the plantation of dwarf cherry trees (which are always the last to bloom in Kyoto, in early-mid April). However, visitors shouldn't miss the temple itself, which demands an admission fee of ¥500, and features some beautifully painted screen walls, and a beautiful walled garden. In the hills behind the temple, there is a delightful miniature version of the renowned 88-temple walk in Shikoku, which takes an hour or two (rather than a month or two). This can provide a delightful end to a day of looking at tourist attractions. Open daily 9am-4.30pm. Nearest bus stop: Omuro Ninnaji.
Kyoto

Western Kyoto

A walk through the bamboo forest, Arashiyama, Western KyotoA walk through the bamboo forest, Arashiyama, Western Kyoto
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A walk through the bamboo forest, Arashiyama, Western Kyoto

The Arashiyama (??) area to the west of the city is dismissed in most Western guidebooks in a brief paragraph suggesting "other attractions". However, the area is rightfully very popular with Japanese tourists, and is well worth a visit. To get here, take the JR Sagano line from Kyoto station to Saga Arashiyama.

  • The walk through a forest of bamboo to Nonomiya Shrine and Okochi Sanso (a traditional house, previously occupied by a Japanese silent screen legend), is a real highlight of a visit to Kyoto. No admission fee for the shrine, ¥1000 for Okochi Sanso (price includes a cup of matcha (traditional Japanese tea, in the tea garden).
  • Feeding the macaque monkeys atop the mountain in Iwatayama Monkey Park, to the south of the river, is worth the entrance fee (and the demanding climb!). ¥500 admission fee to enter the park.
  • Just outside Saga Arashiyama station is the 19th Century Hall - a museum covering the unlikely combination of steam locomotives and pianos. Probably best to look at it from the outside, and listen to the amusing tinny music it blasts out.
Kyoto

Central Kyoto

  • Nij? Castle (???). Certainly one of the highlights of Kyoto. The series of ornately-decorated reception rooms within the Ninomaru complex is particularly impressive, and known for its "nightingale floors" - wooden flooring which makes bird-like squeaking sounds when stepped on. From the donjon of the inner castle, you can get good views over the castle layout, and the rest of the city. Open daily, 8.45am-5pm, with last admission at 4pm. Admission ¥600. Nearest bus stop: Nijojo-mae. Nearest subway station: Nijojo-mae.
  • The Imperial Park is a large, peaceful area in the centre of Kyoto, centred around the Imperial Palace. The Palace itself is only open to visitors on pre-booked guided tours - English tours take place at 10am and 2pm Monday-Friday, and bookings must be made at the Imperial Household Agency, located to the west of the palace complex. The park is home to 50,000 trees, including cherry, plum and peach tree orchards.
  • The Museum of Kyoto is particularly worthwhile if you have a burning interest in ancient pottery, otherwise not really worth a visit. Open daily 10am-8.30pm. Admission ¥500. Located on Takakura-dori. Nearest bus stop: Shijo Karasuma. Nearest subway station: Karasuma Oike.
  • Nishi Honganji Temple
  • Toji Temple, an oasis of calm near central Kyoto, its pagoda is the tallest wooden structure in Japan.
  • Kyoto Tower, just north of Kyoto Station, 1 (http://www.kyoto-tower.co.jp/). A sightseeing tower that provides good views of Kyoto's urban sprawl. Open from 9 AM to 9 PM, adults ¥600.
Kyoto

Eastern Kyoto

Picturesque street near Kiyomizu TemplePicturesque street near Kiyomizu Temple
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Picturesque street near Kiyomizu Temple

Some of the most picturesque parts of Kyoto, and the older areas of the city, are located in the eastern region of the city, across the Kamo River. Visiting the main tourist attractions of eastern Kyoto will fill a full day - a suggested itinerary is to work north from Kiyomizu Temple to Ginkakuji Temple, passing through Gion, and visiting Yasaka Shrine and Nanzenji Temple before following the Philosopher's Walk to Ginkakuji.

  • Kiyomizu Temple (??? Kiyomizudera). This temple complex, with a spectacular location overlooking the city is a deservedly popular attraction in the city, approached by either of two tourist-filled souvenir-shop-lined streets, Kiyomizu-zaka or Chawan-zaka. Admission ¥300. Open daily, 6am-6pm. Nearest bus stop: Kiyomizu-michi or Gojo-zaka. Highlights of the temple complex include;
    • The main hall's wooden veranda, supported by hundreds of pillars and offering incredible views over the city,
    • Jishu-jinja, the love-themed shrine selling countless charms to help you snag the one you love, and featuring two "love stones" positioned around 18m apart which the lovelorn must walk between with eyes closed to confirm their loved one's affection, and
    • Otowa-no-taki the temple's waterfall, which gives it its name (Kiyomizu literally means 'pure water'). Visitors stand beneath the waterfall, and collect water to drink by holding out little tin cups.
    • mountain hike If you're up for a mountain walk, steer to the right-hand pathway instead of taking the left toward the Jishu-jinja. The path leads through a gate and winds up onto the mountain. You can walk up for a good hour and not reach the end of the path. Has lovely forest and great scenery, and makes for a nice short excursion out of the city traffic.
  • Gion district (??). The flagstone-paved streets and traditional buildings of the Gion district, located to the north-west of Kiyomizu Temple, are where you're most likely to see geisha in Kyoto, scurrying between buildings. The area just to the north of Shijo-dori, to the west of Yasaka Shrine, is particularly photogenic - particularly around Shinbashi-dori and Hanami-koji. Sannen-zaka ("three-year-slope") and Ninen-zaka ("two-year-slope"), two stepped streets leading off from Kiyomizu-zaka, are also very picturesque - but watch your step, slipping over on these streets brings three or two years' bad luck respectively. At the northern end of Ninen-zaka is Ryozen Kannon, a memorial to the unknown Japanese soldiers who died in World War II, with a 24-meter-tall statue of Kannon. Admission is ¥200, including a lit incense stick to place in front of the shrine.
  • Yasaka Shrine at the eastern end of Shijo-dori, at the edge of Gion, is the shrine responsible for Kyoto's main festival - the Gion Matsuri, which takes place in July. The shrine is small, in comparison with many in Kyoto, but it boasts an impressive display of lanterns. Admission is free. Nearest bus stop: Gion.
  • Maruyama Park is the main center for cherry blossom viewing in Kyoto, and can get extremely crowded at that time of year. The park's star attraction is a weeping cherry tree (shidarezakura). Main entrance to the park is through Yasaka Shrine. Admission is free.
  • Nanzenji Temple, with its distinctive two-storey entrance gate (sanmon) and aqueduct, is another popular temple in Kyoto, but its larger size means that it doesn't seem as crowded as many of the others. Nearest bus stop: Nanzenji, Eikando-michi. Nearest subway station: Keage. Open daily, 8.30am-5pm. Walking around the temple complex and along the aqueduct is free, but there are three regions of Nanzenji that you can pay to enter;
    • Sanmon - the two-storey main gate to Nanzenji Temple charges ¥500 for admission, and offers pleasant views over the surrounding area of the city.
    • Nanzen-in Zen Temple - a small, but relaxing temple and moss garden behind the aqueduct, dating back to the 13th century, charges ¥300 for admission, and is probably only worth it if you have a particular interest in Zen buddhism.
    • Hojo - the abbot's quarters, is a more interesting building, with a small raked gravel garden and some impressive paintings on the sliding doors of the buildings. Admission is ¥500.
  • The Philosopher's Walk is the name given to a 2km-long path through north-eastern Kyoto, along which a philosophy professor, Kitaro Nishida, used to frequently walk. It is a surprisingly pleasant and relaxing walk even today, though you will undoubtedly share it with more tourists than Kitaro did. The walk runs south from Ginkakuji Temple beside a river to Nyakuoji Shrine, many guidebooks suggest that the walk continues further south from there to Nanzenji Temple, but this southerly section of the walk is less insistently signposted. The route passes several temples en route, notably Honen-in, a beautiful secluded temple with a thatched gate.
  • Ginkakuji Temple (???, the Silver Pavilion). At the northern end of the Philosopher's Walk, approached along a street lined with shops selling tacky souvenirs. Much like its golden counterpart, the Silver Pavilion is often choked with tourists, shuffling past a scrupulously-maintained dry landscape Zen garden and the surrounding moss garden, before viewing the Pavilion across a pond. Be sure not to miss the display of Very Important Mosses! Admission ¥500. Nearest bus stop: Ginkakuji-michi.
  • Also worth a visit is Sanjusangendo temple, founded in 1164 and famous for its 1001 beautiful wooden and gold-leaf covered statues of Kannon, goddess of mercy, housed in thirty-three bays (sanjusan = thirty-three, gendo = bays) in the main hall.
Kyoto

Southern Kyoto

The torii at Fushimi-Inari-taishaThe torii at Fushimi-Inari-taisha
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The torii at Fushimi-Inari-taisha

Fushimi Inari Shrine (?????? Fushimi-Inari-taisha). Another of Kyoto's often-overlooked jewels, about twenty-minutes to the south of Kyoto. Dedicated to Inari, the Shinto god of cereals, Fushimi-Inari-taisha is the head shrine (taisha) for 40,000 Inari shrines across Japan. Stretching 230 meters up the hill behind it are hundreds of bright red torii (gates). A visitor could easily spend several hours walking up the hillside, taking in the beautiful views of the city of Kyoto and walking through the torii, which appear luminescent in the late afternoon sun. Countless stone foxes, also referred to as Inari, are also dotted along the path.

Approaching the shrine, local delicacies are sold at the roadside, including barbecued sparrow and inari-sushi (sweetened sushi rice wrapped in fried tofu), which is said to be the favourite food of the fox.

Admission is free. Be warned, the shrine is located close to Fushimi Inari and Inari stations, but is nowhere near Fushimi station! The easiest way to get here is to take the JR Nara line from Kyoto station to Inari station, which exits immediately opposite the entrance to the shrine.

Kyoto

Do

A highly-recommended walking tour is the "Walk in Kyoto, Talk in English" tour (16/over ¥2000; 13-15 ¥1000; under 13 free; no reservations, cash only). The tour is given by Hajime Hirooka, better known to the tourists as Johnny Hillwalker. During the five-hour English-speaking tour, Hillwalker shows tourists a large Buddhist temple, a few Shinto shrines, and workshops in the back alleys of the city. The tour operates rain or shine on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays between March and November, excluding public holidays. Departure time is 10:15 AM sharp outside the main entrance of Kyoto station. See Johnnie's Kyoto Walking (http://web.kyoto-inet.or.jp/people/h-s-love/) for more information.

Kyoto

Buy

Currently, Kyoto is enjoying even more popularity than usual with Japanese tourists due to the success of Japanese TV broadcaster NHK's series 'Shinsengumi!' (新選組!), a historic drama following a group of samurai who kept peace in the city in the 1860s. Consequently, among the most popular souvenirs from the city at the moment are the distinctive blue and white happi (shirts) worn by this group.

There is a nice selection of reassuringly non-tacky traditional souvenir shops around Arashiyama station in Western Kyoto, selling fans and traditional sweets. More tacky stores can be found in Gion and the approach to Kiyomizu Temple, selling keyrings, cuddly toys, and garish ornaments. Other traditional souvenirs from Kyoto include parasols and carved wooden dolls.

A more unconventional but colorful (and relatively cheap) souvenir are the wooden votive tablets produced by temples, which bear an image relevant to the temple on the reverse. Visitors to the temples write their prayers on the tablets, and hang them up within the temple.

Manga and anime enthusiasts should visit Teramachi Street, a covered shopping street off the main Shijo-dori, which boasts a large manga store on two floors, as well as a two-storey branch of Gamers (a chain of anime stores), and a small two-storey anime and collectables store.

Many ATMs in Kyoto do not allow non-domestic cr cards to be used, but ATMs in post offices do, so if you find your card rejected or invalid in an ATM then try and get to a post office to use their ATMs instead. A rough guide is the mastercard symbol - if you see it then that machine will probably allow foreign cards to be used.

  • Gallery Gado 27 Miyashiki-cho Hirano, Kitaku (on Kinukake no Michi, near Kinkakuji). 075-464-1655. Open everyday, 10:00 AM to 6:00 PM. Gallery Gado sells modern woodblock prints (ukiyo-e) with traditional themes. The gallery also has catalogs of the work of artists who are maintaining this art form. All prints are authentic woodblock prints; postcard-sized prints are available for ¥800, medium-sized prints for ¥2000-3000, and large prints for a few ten thousand yen. 2 (http://www.gado.jp)
Kyoto

Splurge

In the shopping areas adjacent to Kiyomizudera (on the other side of the Kamo River), it is possible to purchase samurai swords and top of the line kimono. Do not be surprised if the prices for either item exceed ¥3,000,000.

Kyoto incense is also famous. It usually has a very delicate yet fragrant bouquet. Fortunately, incense is much more agreeable in price (¥400-2000).

Kyoto

Eat

  • Pontoch? (???) is a narrow lane running from Shijo-dori to Sanjo-dori, one block west of the Kamo River. One of Kyoto's most traditional nightlife districts, the restaurants here run the gamut for super-exclusive geisha houses to common yakitori bars. Many have pleasant open-air riverside terraces. Rule of thumb is, any establishment with a menu and prices outside is OK, but others are best skipped.
  • efish 798-1 Nishihashizume-cho 075-361-3069 (near the Idemetsu gas station, across the river from Keihan Gogo ???? station). 075-361-3069. Open every day, 11 AM to 11 PM (until 10 PM in the winter). This cafe, tucked away down a hidden side street, has a trendy ambiance and river views. For lunch, try the okra curry (¥850) or soup and bread set (¥650). 3 (http://www.shinproducts.com)
  • Siam (????A tiny but wonderful Thai curry restaurant off Marutamachi-dori and near Nishioji-dori. The food is delicious; not too oily nor too thick, and spice levels are indicated on the menu. For 1000 Yen (about 10 USD) you can get salad, curry, and dessert such as fresh-made coconut pudding. Best of all is enjoying wonderful ambience of a soft-lit room, decorated with lovely exotic paintings from Bali, listening to soothing music, while your wonderful meal is made right in front of you. Menu available in Japanese and English. If you're in the area, stop by. You won't be disappointed. (11:30-20:30)
Kyoto

Splurge

  • Mishima-tei: If you have a yearning for sukiyaki, and your pockets are deep, you must visit Mishima-tei at the junction of Teramachi-dori and Sanjo-dori. Here you will be bowed in and shown to your own private tatami room by your personal kimono-clad hostess. There, having helped you to order, she will prepare your sukiyaki feast on the hotplate set between you. Order the "premium beef", and the richly marbled meat will just melt in your mouth, and require almost no chewing whatsoever: it is delectable ? and it should be since two of you will spend around ¥25,000 in less than an hour on 360 grams of beef and a few vegetables! In the butchers shop attached to the restaurant this beef retails at ¥50,000 per kilogram, and you can have fun devising a fantasy barbecue for you and a half dozen close friends where you would grill thick-cut steaks of this meat, washed down with a couple of bottles of 1982 Lynch Bages, for the modest outlay of ¥175,000 ? a pleasant way to pass a Sunday lunchtime.
Kyoto

Drink

Kyoto

Sleep

Kyoto has a wide range of accommodation, much of it geared towards foreign visitors.

Kyoto

Budget

  • Ryokan Hiraiwa (????). Tel. 075-351-6748. 4 (http://www2.odn.ne.jp/hiraiwa/Index_e.htm). A self-proclaimed ryokan (really a minshuku) catering almost entirely to the foreign market, in an old Japanese house plastered with English signs, warnings and tips. All rooms Japanese style. But it's cheap (¥4200 for a single, ¥8400 for a double, breakfast not included) and reasonably friendly. Slightly inconveniently located halfway between the station and the center of town (it's bit of a hike to either), take bus #17 or #205* from Kyoto Station pier A2 to Kawaramachi-Shomen (the third stop).
  • Tour Club (10 min walk from Kyoto Station) 5 (http://www.kyotojp.com/). A friendly, clean hostel with both dorm and private rooms.
  • Tani House (near Daitokuji). A 70-year-old traditional wooden house, a little shabby but cheap, mixed guests, from ¥1700 a night and you can rent cheap bicycles.
  • K's House Kyoto, 418 Nayacho, Shichijo-agaru, Dotemachi-dori, Shimogyo-ku, (9 min walk from JR Kyoto Station, 4 min. walk from Keihan Line Shichijo Station) 075-342-2444 (fax 075-342-2440, email info@kshouse.jp), 6 (http://kshouse.jp/). Opened in November 2003, this foreigner-friendly hostel has received favorable reviews for reasonable prices, cleanliness and amenities like Internet access and kitchens. English-speaking staff. Dormitory room ¥2500, twin/double/triple room from ¥2900, single room from ¥3500 (prices per person).
  • Hirano's B&B Kyoto (3 minute walk from the Karasuma-Oike subway station) 7 (http://www.geocities.jp/hiranosguest_house/). A quiet and intimate B&B, near Nijo Castle. Guests experience being at home with a Japanese family.
  • J-Hoppers Kyoto Guesthouse (8 min walk from Kyoto Station) 8 (http://j-hoppers.com/). We provide cosy and reasonable accommodation to all travellers who enjoy "Japan-Hopping" !! Dorm beds 2500 yen, private room from 3000 yen
Kyoto

Midrange

  • Gimmond Hotel Takakura-Oike-dori, Nakagyo-ku (2 min. walk from Karasuma-Oike subway station), 075-221-4111 (fax 075-221-8250, email kyoto@gimmond.co.jp). 9 (http://www.gimmond.co.jp/kyoto/khome-e.htm) A foreigner-friendly hotel, neat and tidy and good location. Discount for internet booking.
Kyoto

Splurge

  • New Miyako Hotel (?????). 0120-333-001 10 (http://www.miyakohotels.ne.jp/newmiyako/english/index.html) The largest hotel in Kyoto with over 700 rooms, and the prices to match: starting at ¥10,000 for singles and ¥21,000 for doubles. But the location is unbeatable, it's just across the street and a few minutes' walk south of Kyoto station. If you get a room facing north, you'll be able to see the bullet trains coming into and out of the station, as well as the glass windows from the exterior of the Isetan department store that seem to reflect the sky if the weather conditions are just right. The new south wing opened in late September of 2005, with prices starting from ¥29,000 for doubles.
Kyoto

Get out

  • Mount Hiei — an ancient hilltop temple complex that traditionally guarded (and occasionally raided) Kyoto
  • Nara — less than an hour's journey by train on the JR Nara line from Kyoto station, this former capital has several temples and tame deer.
  • Osaka — about half an hour from Kyoto by JR rapid train, this bustling city offers more retail opportunities and a central castle.
  • Himeji — about an hour by Shinkansen west of Kyoto, Himeji boasts a spectacular traditional castle.
  • Miho Museum — an hour northwest of Kyoto deep in the hills of Shiga prefecture

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