Osaka-Kyoto Itinerary Days 5 & 6: Kinkakuji, Kyoto Imperial Palace, and Arashiyama Bamboo Forest

Before you arrive at Days 5 & 6 of Osaka-Kyoto Itinerary, you may want some other information:

Osaka, Kyoto, Nara, Kobe Itinerary: Pre-planning
Osaka-Kyoto Itinerary: Day 1 (Arrival) and Day 2, Day Trip to Kobe
Osaka-Kyoto Itinerary Days 3 & 4: Ohara Onsen Ryokan and Sanzen-in Temple


6am – Wake up early for your morning ablution at the onsen.  This will be your last chance, so soak as much as you want.

8am – Breakfast at ryokan. We had a saba mackerel breakfast although I prefer the previous day’s salmon.

10am – Take the shuttle down to the Ohara bus terminal and make your way to Kyoto city centre. You may either (1) take a direct bus or (2) take a bus to the subway, and transfer to the subway.

Kyoto Tower (Photo credit: Japan Guide. Sorry, I forgot to take photo. Kyoto Train and Bus Station is the silver structure at the left lower corner. If you take a bus at the terminal, you can just look across the street.)

12pm – At the Kyoto Station, take a look at the Kyoto Tower which has an observation deck. You may want to go up if you want but we didn’t. Have lunch around the Kyoto Station. There are affordable shops at the underground mall. 

After lunch, drop your bags off at your hotel.

Yukio Mishima’s The Temple of the Golden Pavilion is a great book to read on this trip.

2pm – Take a bus to Kinkakuji (last entry at 4pm, closes at 5pm), made famous by Yukio Mishima’s novel, The Temple of the Golden Pavilion, which is a mediation on beauty, inspired by the arson of the temple in 1950. The book is a must-read, a travelling companion for this trip.

Kinkaku-ji (golden pavilion), Kyoto – It is spectacular.

Kinkakuji is a magnificent temple in gold in the middle of the pond. It’s beautiful but nothing much to see here. It takes a short 30-minute tour.

Remember to eat a gold ice cream to complete your gold-star experience.

After the tour, remember to eat an ice cream covered in gold foil to remember the trip.

Watch out for Kinkaku soft ice cream shop. It’s near the main road where you take the bus, and along the lane you walk up to kinkaku-ji.

There is a kiosk just at the entrance of the temple – do NOT eat that one. The kiosk only sprinkles ice cream with gold specks. Instead, walk to the main road where you take the public bus. There is a small shop there that sells ice cream in entire gold foil. Go for that.

5pm – Return to your hotel. Take a nap, freshen up, and use the hotel facilities. We stayed at Hotel Vischio Kyoto which is just at Kyoto Station, super convenient.

7.30 pm – Have dinner. For dinner suggestions, look at our 10 Must-Eat Food in Kyoto.

Day 6

10am –  The free English tour at Kyoto Imperial Palace starts at 10 am (there is another at 2pm), which lasts for 50 minutes. It takes about 30 minutes to walk from the train station to the palace. Try to reach the train station at about 9.15 a.m.

The garden within Kyoto Imperial Palace where the Emperor roamed the grounds.

This palace used to be residence for the Japan’s Imperial Family until the mid 19th century. It is still used to house important artefacts and for ceremonial events.

It’s really worth going for the guided tour and you can a lot of information from the guide.

Set lunch at Shigetsu is not cheap but excellent.

12.30pm – Lunch. I suggest Shigetsu, a shojin ryuri restaurant, inside the UNESCO Tenryu-ji Temple 天龍寺 built in 1339. You get to eat super delicious food native to Kyoto and view the temple at the same time.

The garden within tenryuji.

2.30 pm – After lunch, take a stroll to the nearby and much instagrammed Arashiyama Bamboo Forest.

Arashiyama bamboo forest, Kyoto

Some say it’s best to go to the Bamboo Forest at 6am when there are few visitors so that you can get the best photos. Firstly, that’s crazy, you’re here for a holiday, not to take instagram photos. Secondly, if you go so early, the main street Arashiyama (opens at about noon) is still closed and you will miss out.

Rilakkuma is one of the many shops that line Arashimaya main street.

After taking photos for your instagram, visit the Arashiyama main street which is really festive. There are many interesting things to see, eat, and buy here. Take your time.

6pm – Go to the Gion district, the most famous geisha district in Kyoto and perhaps the whole of Japan. It is also the setting for the famous Memoirs of the Geisha. There are several things to do here:

Gion Corner: see geisha dance performances, Gagaku court music, Kyogen comical theatre, Bunraku traditional puppet theatre, etc.

Shirakawa: scenic street with traditional dining establishments. You may want to have your dinner here.

Shijo Dori: shopping street that runs parallel to Shirakawa

Hanamikoji: best street to spot a geisha

Kamo river: “Kamo” means duck in Japanese and yes, the ducks in the river look delicious. Restaurants flank the river, great for an al fresco dining experience in summer. 

Next day, we will visit the Kiyomizu to view many, many temples.

You may be interested in…
MUST EAT Kyoto: Yuba Ryori Higashiyama Yuuzu
5 Must Eat Food in Osaka and Where to Find Them
Where to eat Kobe Beef in Kobe Japan: Kobe Beef KISSHOKICHI 神戸牛吉祥吉
Teuchisoba Kanei 手打ち蕎麦 かね井, Kyoto: Worst Experience in Japan

Written by Dr. A. Nathanael Ho.

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