My 36 Hours in Kyoto


The journey from Tokyo to Kyoto might just be a quick nap on the Shinkasen Nozomi, but it could not be a more different side of Japan. While the final leg of my journey was made alone, Kyoto was still a wonderful city. Kyoto felt like driving up to Petaluma: everything’s a bit slower, everyone’s a bit calmer (and a bit older!).

My 36 Hours in Kyoto

Places I Went

Fushimi Inari

Fushimi Inari

Very beautiful, though walking all the way to the top was probably unnecessary.

Arashiyama

Arashiyama

Kiyomizu-dera

Kiyomizo-dera

Really, really enjoyed this temple. The Monkey Park was delightful (though phew, way up at the very top of the mountain). The temple and bamboo gardens themselves quite beautiful as well.

Gion

Gion

Didn’t stay too long. Caught a glance of a geisah walking down the street.

Walk along the Kamo river

This was actually my favorite part of Kyoto. Maybe I was biased by the fact that this one involved just sitting (a bit of a relief after walking/biking in the sun all day!) and listening to the river rush past. But Kyoto was at its best at night, with its little alleys full of a quiet contentedness that even the smallest towns in America never have.

Places I Ate

Sugari Ramen

Sugari Ramen

Good ramen spot. Not as good as Fu-unji in Tokyo, but really, what is? That being said, I did love their meat. They individually blow-torch it, which gives it a slightly charred, yakitori-like taste.

Hamburg Labo

Hamburg Labo

This may be the best burger I’ve ever had (nostaglia may tilt it towards Louie’s Lunch in New Haven). I ordered the beef with foie grae and fig, coupled with the requisite Japanese beer. God. damn. Incredibly moist, flavorful meat. And why waste stomache space on a bun when you can eat Japanese rice instead?

Transportation

If you go to Kyoto and you don’t mind a bit of outdoor exercise, rent a bike. As much as Tokyo’s public transit is kilometers ahead of SF, Kyoto’s was much less extensive. The buses are servicable, but a bicycle will get you there in the same amount of time (albeit sweatier). Plus, you get the pleasure of biking down Kyoto’s honeycomb of cute alleyways, which seem a slice out of the early 20th century and waft with the smells of home cooking.

Funnily, in a strange flashback to SF, the hardest part about bicycling is parking. Kyotans (Kyotes? Kyotonese?) are strict about this—do not park in no-parking zones. Near tourist zones