Kyoto 1 Day Itinerary – Exploring Higashiyama District
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We started our Kyoto trip by visiting the Nishiki market before heading to Kyoto’s best-preserved district- Higashiyama district.
We are all ready to explore Kyoto but as we leave our hotel, it started raining. For those that have visited Kyoto would know that most of the attractions are outdoors. Our planned itinerary is to explore the Higashiyama district. Nevertheless, we made some changes to our plan (wet weather) by exploring around Niseki market, had lunch before heading off to Kiyomizu-Dera Temple, Ninen-Zaka slope, Sanneizaka, Tatami Starbucks and Yasaka Shrine which are all in the Higashiyama district. Thereafter, we had our dinner at Gyukatsu Kyoto Katsugyu where we really enjoyed the Gyukatsu set.
We actually found this shrine very interesting as it is in the middle of a bustling shopping center of the Nishiki market.
It is a small Shinto shrine in the busy Nishiko Market and this shrine is known for its lanterns, bronze cow & spring water.
Kani Doraku Kyoto Honten
For crab lovers, this is definitely a place not to miss. Apparently, this is a popular restaurant known for its huge range of delicious crab dishes. There are several branches around Japan.
Kani Doraku can be easily identified by its iconic giant, moving crab billboards. We were recommended by our cousin that this is a MUST TRY and reservation is required. We literally dashed to the entrance and asked if seats are available even though it is only 1030am in the morning. We were given a tag to come back at 11am for our lunch.
As this is a very popular place, we decided to just have this place checked instead of coming back another day. In the lobby, there are many huge displays of crabs. We are also required to take off our shoes in the lobby before the waitress brings up to the next level where our table is.
As we are browsing through the menu, Jia Ying quickly feeds Baby Riley so that we can enjoy our meal when the food is here. We are just spoilt for choice. There are just so many different crab dishes to choose from, which we can be selected individually, or picking from the set menus. It took us some time to flip all the pages before we finally decided what we want.
As we want to try all sorts of crabs, we ordered 庵寿 (Anju) 9,500 yen (tax-included 10,450 yen).
This is definitely crab indulgence as every dish comprises of different crabs. There are just no words to best describe as the photo will represent the delicious crab meal that we had! It is just so good and we all agree that we can go back to Singapore happily with our stomachs satisfied!
Street to Kiyomizu-Dera Temple
As the rain starts to stop, we took a cab to Kiyomizu-Dera Temple. It is actually walkable but it would be about an hour walk upslope.
As we have a baby and my mum, we skipped all the walking. The ride is about 600 Yen which we felt that it is worth the money as we don’t have to walk all the way up.
Note: Walking is still required as the driver dropped us along the road and we need to walk into the street which leads up to Kiyomizu-Dera temple.
Along the route to Kiyomizu-Dera Temple, there are many shops and restaurants selling local specialties, souvenirs, handmade crafts and street food.
Tips: There are many snacks and samples to try as we enter different shops! Free tasting is just so fun and shiok! Take your time to try in all the shops along the street before deciding on a souvenir to buy back for your loved ones. It will be tempting to buy immediately, but we recommend you to buy later after visiting the Kiyomizu-Dera Temple as you will need to walk back the same path back down.
After all the slopes, steps and free calories, we finally reached the front gate of Kiyomizu-Dera Temple.
For families with kids, do take note that there are many steps. Therefore, I would strongly recommend bringing a carrier.
Kiyomizu-Dera Temple is the most visited temple in Kyoto and a UNESCO world heritage site. Another UNESCO site checked ✅
At the top of the stairs, we reached the three-storey pagoda in Kiyomizu temple. This pagoda is dedicated to Koyasu Kannon, she is a goddess who grants safe delivery of children. For expecting mothers, some will visit this pagoda to pray for smooth delivery.
From Kiyomizu-Dera Temple, we get to see the panoramic view of Kyoto’s cityscape and the surrounding hillsides. I personally love this awesome view as it is just so breathtaking and definitely worth it after all those steps!
Ninen-zaka Slope and Sanneizaka
Next, we took a stroll to the iconic street of Kyoto-Ninen-zaka Slope and Sanneizaka. The historical stone-paved streets are filled with Japanese architecture and traditional buildings, shops, cafes and inns. It is definitely a great place to take lots of beautiful photos.
As we went there in the afternoon, the street is filled with many tourists. We were pretty lucky as the weather is cooling after the rain which really allowed us to enjoy our stroll while appreciating the old streets.
Note: For those that would love to take Instagramable photos, do visit this place early in the morning to avoid the crowds.
Kyoto Ninenzaka Yasaka Chaya Starbucks
As many might be wondering what is so special about the Starbucks here. I think this is pretty worth a visit to either take a rest and a drink before continuing with the stroll to other attractions.
This is one iconic Starbucks as it is the world’s first Tatami Starbucks in Japan. It is opened in the old traditional Japanese building where we can just enjoy a cup of drink while looking at people walking along the street. This Starbucks is pretty busy, which is kind of expected.
As Starbucks is very popular, the whole place is quite crowded, it took us some time before we found a seat. Even though we didn’t get a seat at the tatami mat, we did have a short rest for our legs.
The entrance of the Yasaka Shrine is a beautiful red gate called Nishiromon Gate. Yasaka Shrine is known for the avoidance of bad luck and is also one of the most visited and famous shrines in Kyoto.
This is the side entrance of the Yasaka Shrine as we walked down from the Kiyomizu-Dera Temple.
There is a nice stage in the middle of the shrine with many lanterns hanging at the top. In case you are curious just like me, each lantern has a different name of individual or company who has donated to the shrine.
After walking for about 3 hours, an estimated 2.4km, we have almost finished walking through the historic streetscape of Kyoto and the popular attractions in Higashiyama district. Though it is pretty crowded, the whole historical town is just so mesmerizing and enjoyable.
Now, with all the walking, it’s time to look for a nice dinner place. This restaurant is situated at Pontocho Alley along with many other restaurants and walking along this street at night time is so magical as it is like time-traveling back to the ancient Japanese era with occasional Geisha sightings.
Gyukatsu Kyoto Katsugyu
This is one of the highly recommended restaurants to visit. Do bookmark in your map so that you can visit if you are around the vicinity.
Just by looking at the photo of the Gyukatsu makes me drool. It makes me think about the tenderness and how delicious this dish was. It is crispy outside and full of moisture inside.
There are also different sauces if you want the beef to be tastier. The rice and cabbage are free-flow as well.
I would definitely come back again if I have the chance as it is value for money and so delicious. The Wagyu set cost 2480 yen while the tenderloin set cost 1980yen. There is English menu available and the service staff are very friendly and patient.
Time to Rest!
After dinner, we walked back to our hotel for our onsen! Woohoo… what a great way to end our day by relaxing in the onsen!
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