Kyoto – The Ancient Capital (Part 3)

In November 2019, I took my parents to Japan for their first time – and my seventh – over two weeks. This series is to be read as a diary, and serves as a place to showcase the pictures taken and preserve the memories made.

If you’re reading this during the COVID-19 pandemic of 2020, it must be surreal to be on a travel post. I get you. But perhaps there is no better time than now – especially as we have more of it – to have a good think about all the places to see, things to do and food to eat when this all blows over. After all, one of the best bits about travel is the planning and anticipation of it. We could all use a bit of an escape from this unreality.

Kyoto Imperial Palace
The oike-niwa (pond garden) in the Kyoto Imperial Palace is breathtakingly beautiful.

Date of trip: 14/Nov/2019 – 28/Nov/2019

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All experiences – food, accommodation and activities in this post were independently paid for.

Series Contents

Day 1 – Hiroshima (introduction)Day 2 – Okayama/Kurashiki
Day 3 – OsakaDay 4 – Mount Koya
Day 5 – KyotoDay 6 – Kyoto
Day 7 – ArashiyamaDay 8 – Kyoto
Day 9 – Uji & NaraDay 10 – Hakone
Day 11 – HakoneDay 12-14 – Tokyo

Japan Day 8 – Kyoto

Kyoto Imperial Palace
Inside the Kyoto Imperial Palace

Remember in Day 5, when I totally noped the suggestion of peppering you with pictures of some of Kyoto’s most over-touristed attractions?

Kyoto - Kinkakuji Temple
Resplendent. An attraction that always lives up to the hype, even on a third visit.

Never trust the promises of a random person on the internet.

  • Kyoto - Kinkakuji Temple
  • Kyoto - Kinkakuji Temple

But it’s so pweeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeety. Yes, Kyoto’s Golden Pavilion brought out the excitable six-year-old girl I never knew I had in me. But anyone would yield at least a squee at the 20kg of gold leaf enrobing Rokuon-ji (the formal name of the temple) and its picture-perfect foreground lake garden. That’s $1,750,000AUD worth of gold (25 April 2020 spot price – lol) right there; I think it’s safe to say that they’ve recouped the initial investment many times over.

Kinkakuji Temple
Expectations vs reality. Sigh.

The temple’s boundless beauty is only equalled by its endless crowds, and I would not be surprised if it is the most beleaguered attraction in the entire country. My weak Googling didn’t land me the Kinkakuji’s annual visitor count but based on my experience this visit, I’d say, oh, roughly everyone in Japan and China.

Kyoto - matcha soft serve
Koicha (strong matcha) soft serve, with extra matcha powder dusted on top. This is a 600JPY ($9AUD) softie but worth every one of its six hundred yen.

Still worth it. And don’t forget to grab a matcha soft serve on the way out – it really completes the experience. Or maybe I just really like matcha (oh mate, wait for Day 9!)

  • Kyoto Imperial Palace
  • Kyoto Imperial Palace
  • Kyoto Imperial Palace
  • Kyoto Imperial Palace
  • Kyoto Imperial Palace
Kyoto Miyoshi Ramen
Hakata Miyoshi Ramen

After a short stroll through Kyoto’s Imperial Palace (which I actually don’t rate as one of the must-sees of the city), we took inhaled lunch at Miyoshi, a ramen-ya specialising in the Hakata-style. That’s Fukuoka, not Kyoto – and thus I’ve committed the sacrilege of not eating the local specialties. As I’d be the first person to preach this, my Japan licence is formally revoked. But eh, bite me. Kyoto’s known for kaiseki, which deserves a fuller experience for which only dinner provides the time.

  • Kyoto Miyoshi Ramen
  • Kyoto Miyoshi Ramen
  • Kyoto Miyoshi Ramen
  • Kyoto Miyoshi Ramen

Quick, tasty, and cheap were the requirements: ramen it was, and as usual when it comes to my favourite noodle dish, there were no rugrats. Miyoshi’s known for delivering quality at a price that’s cheap even by ramen-ya standards. Its default bowl doesn’t even break $10AUD (well, at the time of visit anyway), yet was one of the best Hakata-style bowls I’ve had. Okay, the soup was a teeny-weeny bit sweet (or maybe my tastebuds that day was unable to separate it from the umami of the rich pork bone broth), but nevertheless was a super crushable bowl. Do your research – it’ll pay off – even in Japan!

Kyoto Gion Uemori
Kappo Restaurant Gion Uemori

Dinner was at Gion Uemori, a kappo restaurant where we finally get our Kyoto cuisine schtick on. Kappo is a tricky one to define: it does not have the formality nor structure of kaiseki, but is several cuts above the insouciance of izakaya. In any case, we opted for something a little bit different – tofu. Like most things that you have too much of, it can definitely get samey, but I don’t think you should leave Japan without experiencing tofu cuisine at least once.

  • Kyoto Gion Uemori
  • Kyoto Gion Uemori
  • Kyoto Gion Uemori
  • Kyoto Gion Uemori
  • Kyoto Gion Uemori
  • Kyoto Gion Uemori
  • Kyoto Gion Uemori

Oh, while we’re on the post that’s all about Kyoto’s over-touristed attractions, I was also going to talk about Fushimi Inari:

  • Fushimi Inari
  • Fushimi Inari

Eh, guess not.

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