Kyoto – The Ancient Capital (Part 1)

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 Tower
While landmarks such as Kinkakuji Temple, Fushimi Inari or Arashiyama are the city’s typical postcards, my first sight as a starry-eyed first-timer to the city, stepping out of the station was Kyoto Tower. It is forever my ‘ah, Kyoto’ moment.

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

This post may contain affiliate links. Purchases made by clicking on an affiliate link may earn a small commission for me, but never at extra cost for you. Please visit the Affiliate Marketing Policy for more information.

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 5 – Kyoto

The Thousand Kyoto Hotel
The Thousand Kyoto
Clean lines, bright lights. The Thousand Kyoto’s open and airy atrium.

What more can I add to the ocean of words that have already been said on Kyoto? With more UNESCO World Heritage Sites than any other city in Japan, the city of Peace and Tranquility can at times feel like an open-air museum with a who’s who of recognisable landmarks – with the tourist crowds to match (oh GOD, the crowds!)

So be prepared to be peppered with pictures of Kinkakuji Temple, Arashiyama, Fushimi Inari, the Imperial Palace…

…yeah nah. Not today. Later yes, but not today. Also, you have Google for that.

The Thousand Kyoto
Ain’t a Japanese hotel without some curated nature

We actually spent the first half of Day 5 Kōyasan, which – assuming you’ve come from the post – was very much necessary. We only left after spending the morning hours observing the Goma Fire Ritual and visiting Okunoin in the morning, and so by the time we took the cable car down and the two trains required to get to our hotel, it was mid-afternoon and we were chuffed. What I’m saying with way too many words is that Day 5 was a rest day. Besides, with five nights planned for Kyoto, we could afford to take it slow.

The Thousand Kyoto
Now that’s an entrance!

On the plus side, this well-needed break gave us more time to enjoy our hotel – The Thousand Kyoto – which surely must have been named to give the finger to the Kyoto Century Hotel literally right next door (I kid, they’re actually both part of the Keihan Hotel Group). The Thousand opened up only a year ago at the time of writing, so not only was it sparkling new, it’s also right next to Kyoto station – the main reason for our selection. Convenient.

The Thousand Kyoto
A billowing curtain feature – I guess there’s always a bed sheet being put down somewhere in the hotel, and this is forever a reminder LOL.
  • The Thousand Kyoto
  • The Thousand Kyoto
  • The Thousand Kyoto
  • The Thousand Kyoto

While it’s marketed as a four-star hotel, it definitively felt like a fiver to me, and it wasn’t just the welcome snacks and constant supply of excellent Japanese sencha (green tea). Despite Japan’s perchance for doing understated luxury, the hotel includes frivolous touches such as the ‘floating bedsheet’ (as I like to call it) at the entrance and – in what I hope will be a dying trend – copious levels of single-use toiletries. This part of the blog sounds like a sponsored post – I honestly wish it was so I could have saved a pretty penny on this segment of the trip LOL! Rooms are around $400 a night, twin-share but with Japan, expect this to easily be 50% higher during peak times.

Kyoto Nishiki Market
Cremia: my favourite ‘mass market’ soft serve. Made with 12.5% fat milk & 25% Hokkaido cream, it’s a luscious, high-satisfaction soft serve.

Great food though, as always. Got my first cremia of the trip, for one. Long-time followers know that this is my favourite soft serve of all time, an opinion I’m sure many will disagree with because it’s bloody ice cream.

Kyoto Engine Ramen
Kyoto Engine Ramen.
  • Kyoto Engine Ramen
  • Kyoto Engine Ramen
  • Kyoto Engine Ramen

There’s also a superbly crushable ‘I can’t believe there’s no meat!’ vegan ramen from Kyoto Engine, which was so good it made my top ten dishes of 2019.

Kyoto Nishiki Market
It’s a good day for foot traffic when you can see the ground at Nishiki Market. Hah.
  • Kyoto Nishiki Market
  • Kyoto Nishiki Market
  • Kyoto Nishiki Market
  • Kyoto Nishiki Market
  • Kyoto Nishiki Market

And while we were exhausted, it didn’t stop us from taking a quick gander through Nishiki Market – Kyoto’s most famous. Tourist Tings, as it were.

This post may contain affiliate links. Purchases made by clicking on an affiliate link may earn a small commission for me, but never at extra cost for you. Please visit the Affiliate Marketing Policy for more information.

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

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