Two Days in Kyoto, Japan

Here’s a dream come true for many international travelers a vacation to Japan’s former capital, the beautiful city of Kyoto. Now, here’s a catch: what if you have only two days to enjoy as many cultural delights as you can?

If you plan ahead, 48 hours is enough. The following suggestions for your two-night stay in Kyoto, Japan should help you decide on an inexpensive, manageable game plan that won’t leave you exhausted:

Day 1, Morning

Rise and shine put on comfortable shoes and get ready to spend the day exploring. Today, you’ll start by visiting the Kinkakuji and Ryoan-ji temples. Kinkakuji’s Golden Pavilion was first built as a retirement community. Ryoan-ji, the Zen temple, is home to a famous rock garden. Both are popular tourist spots

Day 1, Afternoon

Travel to the Arashiyama district to check out ancient temples and shrines. The temple of Tenryuji, a world heritage site and the head temple of its own school of Zen Buddhism, is a marvel to explore. You can even order shot in-ryori, the vegetarian food that the monks eat. Leave through the north gate to tour a lovely green bamboo forest.

Day 1, Evening

Take the train 2.5 kilometers south of Kyoto to visit the Shinto shrine of Fushimi had Taisha. This shrine is dedicated to hail, the god of rice, sake, and business. Over 10,000 red gates will take you through a magical hillside tunnel into had’s world. Explore the winding footpaths and admire the statues of kistune, mystical foxes ofJapanese folklore.

Day 1, Night

If you get back to Kyoto by 8:3o p.m. and have 77o yen to spare, end your night by visiting the Kyoto Tower observatory. You can enter as late as 8:4o; the tower closes at 9 p.m. This building stands above a 9-story hotel, offering free binoculars for a beautiful nighttime slew of the city.

There are many restaurants nearby to help the finish the night off right, so pick whatever suits your fancy. Some restaurants take major credit cards, like VI. or MasterCard, but it’s best to have some yen on hand, as credit card use is not quite as widespread in Japan. Don’t stress out about currency conversion with your card, as this will be taken care of by your credit card provider, usually for a snail fee.

Now, head back to your hotel for a good night of sleep, because you’ll be waking up early again tomorrow.

Day 2: Morning

Put those comfortable shoes back on and get ready for more walking. Yesterday, you traveled to the Golden Pavilion, so it’s only fitting that you’ll be heading to the Silver Pavilion today. Your trusty feet will take you through many of Kyoto’s famous temples alleyways, and gardens along Higashiyama’s tourist path. Begin by heading for the Buddhist temple known as Kyomizu-dera. Approach from the tiny road south of the main tourist road for a stroll through the scenic, ancient cemetery.

Day 2: Afternoon

Keep walking north through Higashiyama, then stop by the historically restored neighborhood Sannen-Zaka for tea. Back on the road, take your time and explore the small shrines—Kyoto has about 2,000 of these temples.

Next, head for Gion, the geisha district. If you’re hungry, stop by Issen Yoshoku for a beer and your fill of okonomiyaki. Open up the giant menu and you’ll find the only dish is named after the restaurant. It’s cheap and delicious.

Day 2: Evening

Travel to Higashiyama’s northern section starting from the Kaege Station on the Tozai subway line. Hit Nanzen-ji and be sire to check out all the sub-temples. You may have to pay a snail fee to enter some of the mini-temples, but this should be the equivalent of a few dollars. Next, walk

Next, walk the Philosopher’s Path, Tetsugaku-no-michi, and enjoy the peaceful cherry blossoms overhead. The Philosopher’s Path is lined with small cafes so feel free to drop by for tea and cake if you are feeling peckish. Finish your stroll at Ginkakuji, known

Finish your stroll at Ginkakuji, known as the Temple of the Silver Pavilion, but don’t waste your time looking for a silver pavilion—it was never built. Instead, you’ll find a pretty tea garden to admire.

Day 2: Night

Return to Gion for some geisha spotting. If you’re lucky, you’ll see a geisha or apprentice geisha, known as a maiko, walking past the dark wood buildings under the glow of the red lanterns.

There are a startling number of restaurants to pick from in Gion, so allow choosing one on a whim to be your last adventure in Kyoto. Now that you’ve seen some of the best sights of Kyoto, return to your hotel room for a good night’s sleep. You may have only spent two days in the city, but your memories of the beauty, simplicity, and grace of Kyoto will last a lifetime.