On our one day journey of Kyoto, we left the cruise ship port as soon as the clear was authorized, 8am to be precise we headed from Kobe to Kyoto. For us the choice of destination was obvious as Kyoto is the traditional and cultural heart of Japan, we knew we were bound to make the most of our day there. If you are a cruise passenger with a short time ashore this blog post will provide you with good tips for your one day must do activities during one day in Kyoto.
Getting to Kyoto from Kobe is very easy. At Kobe cruise terminal, use the elevator to reach the skytrain “Port Terminal Station”. The metro Portliner takes you to Sannomiya’s Kobe main train station in about 10 minutes, there is only one stop in between.
Once you’ve arrive at Sannomiya, it can be a little overwhelming because of a large amount of trains and different lines. However it is very interesting to try the Shinkansen line which is the fast bullet train for the experience. This efficient journey gets you to Kyoto in only 30 minutes, a direct journey and costs 2860 yen one way (about 26 US$). Nevertheless, we chose to use JR Tokaido Line that costs 1100 yen for a one way trip (about 10 US$). This option enables you to save about 16 US$ for an additional 20 minutes. You can easily purchase tickets at the vendor’s machine. Japan’s reputation of a very organized country is not a legend: so don’t panic, trains are always sharp on time and run at every 2 minutes intervals.
Rent a kimono
Once in a lifetime experience in Japan consists of renting the legendary traditional outfit, the Kimono.
Kimono Rental shop
Finding a Kimono store in Kyoto is easy as pie, these rental facilities are found accessible all over the city. Kimono’s are worn by many locals but also by tourists wanting to get photographed in the traditional outfits.
We recommend budgeting around 4000-5000 yen per person to hire a kimono, you will find it advertised at a much lower price but that’s probably excluding the accessories. Usually you will be offered to keep the kimono for the entire day, we had it for more or less 4 to 5 hours. At an additional cost, you can also get your hair and make-up done. The whole package includes professional photos with accessories. We highly recommend the entire experience.
Set aside at least an hour and thirty minutes for choosing your attire and be prepared to be assisted in the dressing process. Generally women’s kimonos come in a wide variety of choices ranging from hundreds of different colours and patterns. Were as the men’s selection is limited to solid colours and less design. Putting on a kimono is no simple task and for sure not done alone. A staff member will dress you. The kimono, which consists of around 10 layers wrapped around you, can be quite heavy and warm. As well, sandals are part of the uniform. Special socks are worn with the sandals which is quiet the experience given that the socks are designed to fit similarly to a hand glove (free gift). You will also choose from a handbag for ladies or pouch for men in order to carry your personal belongings.
Your way to Fushimi Inari-Taisha Shrine
How to get there
As we found a kimono shop right across the Kyoto main train station, we had to take the metro to get to the temple. No worries, Fushimi Inari-Taisha Shrine is situated 3 train stations away from the Kyoto downtown. The Nara Line will take you to Inari station. There after voilà! 2 minute’s walk and you have reached the sanctuary.
Fushimi Inari-Taisha Shrine
At your arrival, a great treasure awaits you. A complex of plenty orange shrines will greet you as if they could embrace you. The thousands of vermilion torii gates allow visitors to walk along the network of trails following one path. The temple of the goddess Inari is built on a hill at 233 meters high, which extend into a forest as you pace through. The bravest can use the 4 kilometers walkway to reach the top, on this occasion we didn’t because we were slightly restricted within the traditional outfit. Learning that it is quite difficult walking in socks and sandals. Nonetheless, the essential is elsewhere. As a matter of fact, for all travel lovers, a one of a kind photograph wearing the kimono at the temple should be on your bucket list. This unique experience will fill your mind with spectacular memorie’s of the orange colour shrines.
As you walk your way out of the temple, a lot of food stands are set along the sanctuary. You deserve a tasty treat as a reward. The large choice of local specialties offers you the opportunity to shop as if you were at the outdoors market. For instance, we indulged in traditional Japanese cuisine and tasted many finger foods along the way making it the perfect lunch after our little hike around the Shrine. One day in Kyoto might, as well, allow you to taste the exquisite matcha green tea ice cream.
Lastly, the best time of the year to visit Japan is April. For one good and simple reason: the majestic show performed by the cherry blossom trees. We found them, during our walk at Heian Shrine. White and pink cherry blossom trees form a path way to lead you to the Temple. The impressive architecture was built in order to reproduce the original imperial palace from the Heian period. A massive shrine stands out couple of miles away from the main entrance. As we didn’t spend enough time in the old Japanese capital, we couldn’t check out all the best places to admire cherry blossom. Therefore, here is a useful external source that will help you prepare your visit to Kyoto : https://www.japan-guide.com/e/e3951.html
One day in Kyoto well spent admiring the Japanese richness in lifestyle, culture and self discipline. This will leave you feeling self energized and excited to see more of the country and its temples. Must see place such as Fushimi Inari was quite the adventure and gave us a good insight about what Japan has to offer.