Kyoto is a spectacular city, especially between October and November. During these months, the temperature is pleasantly mild and the weather is good. It is also the time of the year when the leaves are changing colors. Those coming during the foliage season are advised to make their hotel reservations in advance because they will not be alone in wanting to enjoy the beautiful scenery. As Kyoto is home to over 1.5 million people, it goes without saying that there is a lot to see and do within the city limits. Here are some of our favorite destinations.
Fushimi Inari Shrine
Honoring the Shinto God of Rice, this religious temple has an astonishing number of orange-painted gates. This site is extensive, and climbing to the mountaintop takes about an hour or two. Most visitors state that there is no real need to go all the way to the peak, but those who enjoy hiking may want to give it a try anyhow. There are a lot of stairs at this location, so if one is not physically fit they may want to skip this venue. Travelers headed to the shrine should disembark at the Keihan line’s Inari station and can then walk the short distance to the site. Entry is free.
Haru Cooking Class
This class teaches participants how to cook delicious Japanese food. The knowledgeable and friendly instructor holds these lessons in his own home. Not only are traditional cooking concepts explained, but the basics are also expounded upon so that participants can prepare the same meals once they return home. There are demonstrations provided as well as hands-on activities. Some of the featured menu items are Kobe beef, miso soup, spinach salad, and Japanese omelets, but this may vary. Those taking the class get to eat the products of their labor once they are finished. The entire activity lasts four to five hours, and class sizes are kept small.
Private English Tour
We have previously given you details of a self guided walking tour of Kyoto, but you may prefer a private guided tour. These private tours are an excellent way to see the highlights of Kyoto as well as some of the less-visited sites without the bother of having to find one’s own way around. The tidy, spacious car provided for tour goers is a stark contrast to the city’s crowded public transportation system. The guide is a certified taxi driver, so one can feel comfortable knowing that they are in good hands.
As the name implies, the tour guide speaks fluent English, and the gentleman is also an officially licensed tour guide. He is incredibly well informed about the history of the town and the cultural significance of many different places. Thus, this tour is widely considered to be a good value for the money spent. Taking any other tour will require you to learn the difficult Japanese Language. A beautiful, but hard to understand language.
For delicious snacks and trinket shopping, this easily located market is the place to go in Kyoto. Many vendors hand out free samples, and the area is impeccably clean. Treats found at this market range from the standard ice cream and smoothies to more exotic offerings such as octopus on a stick.
There are also a number of flower vendors, candy stores, and ceramic sellers which can be found here. Even if one is not interested in buying anything, this is an interesting place to take a stroll. The market is open from 10 a.m. to about 3 p.m. on a regular basis.
This upscale steakhouse received a 2014 Trip Advisor Certificate of Excellence. This is no doubt the result of its delicious cuisine, friendly staff, and relaxing atmosphere. Although the exterior is very nondescript, most visitors claim the steak here is the best that they have ever eaten in their life. Several different tasting menus are available, and the desserts are also quite tasty. Due to the limited amount of seating in the restaurant, it is a good idea to book a table in advance. For what one gets, the price is quite reasonable.
This tranquil mountain retreat is far enough away from downtown Kyoto to be quite peaceful. However, guests can easily make their way into town if the mood strikes them. Although you may not want to leave the retreat as HOSHINOYA is more of an experience for the body, mind, and soul and not just a room to sleep in.
The authentic and spacious suites at this location have a few Western touches but are mostly decorated in the traditional Japanese style. Heated flooring and luxurious bathing facilities are available in all the rooms. Many of the suites also offer scenic views of the nearby river. Guests can take a class on aromatherapy and incense or spend time learning how to arrange flowers in the traditional Japanese style. There is also a class on the proper way to wear a kimono.
When you stay at HOSHINOYA you are in for an experience of a lifetime.
Which activity or place sounds like the most fun? Did we miss anything in the Best of Kyoto list we should have mentioned? Tell us about it in the comment section below.