What to do in Kyoto Japan? I have dreamed about traveling around Japan since i was a little girl. I once stayed in a Bed and Breakfast in London with my parents circa 1984 and the owner happened to be from Kyoto. She totally fascinated me and instead of exploring London with my parents I stayed in our B & B and explored Japan with my new friend. I learnt about geisha’s and chopsticks, Hello Kitty and Sushi, Samurai and more. I have been fascinated ever since, its rich culture, curious traditions and beautiful landscapes.
It took me 26 years to make it to Kyoto but I’m proud to say I finally did. I had visited Tokyo on business numerous times and had never got further than a whole load of meetings a few massage’s and some sushi so this was a major event and I intended to see it ALL.
Kyoto was not what I expected. I had a fairly romantic vision of  mini bridges through Zen gardens, numerous pagodas and women scuttling around in Japanese platform sandals.
Kyoto is a big modern city and sandwiched amongst the urban living is old Kyoto which is magical.
The city has an excellent underground and bus system which I used all the time however I’m a massive fan of city bike tours and rentals and was very pleased that Kyoto has its very own brilliant system. I would recommend sticking to one specific area if you are going to use it, Kyoto is much bigger than I thought.

My essential list of what to do in Kyoto Japan.


Stay in a Pod Hotel

Ok here is my reasoning. I was totally fascinated by pod hotels when I first heard about them but the fear of sleeping that close to a stranger aka weirdo was just too much. I stumbled across 9 hour hotel and my mind was made up this was the place. 9 Hours hotel is spotless, super futuristic and all instructions are illustrated. Genius. Kyoto being a very civilized and mellow city the clientel was also extremely quiet friendly and polite. A mix of a few single female travelers and Japanese business men and women on an overnight trip. If you have ever wanted to check it out. This is the place.

Kinkaku Ji Golden Temple Pavillion


Its like stepping back into shogun times. Beautiful zen gardens full of bonsai and carp. This was my Kyoto dream. I won’t spoil it just go.

Cycle the streets

Kyoto is full of intriguing old building, crazy 60’s concrete experiments, curiosity shops and amazing sushi restaurants. More about that later. Jump on your bike and explore. Here is a taste of what i discovered including my next tip The Kyoto Kaleidoscope Museum. Yes you read that right.

The Kyoto Kaleidoscope Museum

Dont knock it till you’ve tried it. My thoughts ” this will take about 10 minutes right?” wrong. The place is tiny but gazing down those incredible mirrored corridors can take hours. I loved this place, totally unique and full of the most incredibly designed Kaleidoscope i have ever seen. you can’t take pictures inside the museum so my scant description will have to do.

“Try” to be a geisha for the day



I chose WAK Japan for this particular experience for 2 reasons. WAK is involved in grass routs tourism employing local housewives who have spent their whole lives studying and perfecting these ancient traditions and as demand for them in the day-to-day Japanese life is falling they play an important part in maintaining these arts and teaching them to the next generating. 2 I liked the fact you had so many choices of programs; Ikebana flower arrangement, As usual i had little time (an afternoon) and i wanted to do as much as possible. I chose the green tea ceremony followed by Sake tasting. I got my kimono on and tried valiantly to be graceful and meticulous for an afternoon. In my eyes it was impressive. In the eyes of the Geisha who’s trained for 40 years and still says she isn’t perfect it must have been like an elephant dancing swan lake. Totally humbling experience.
I gather there are a number of Sake Museums around the Kyoto area. I visited a beautiful small wooden one as part of the WAK tour and i have no clue what it was called. Next question. Yes we tasted lots of Sake it was amazing and i can now impress my friends with my totally made up knowledge of Sake flavors and brewing methods. I did learn why they hang those giant dried grass balls outside bars and restaurant’s though. Knowledge is power! Check it out.

Kyoto Botanical Gardens


Botanical gardens might not be your first thought on a city sight-seeing list but in this case make an exception. The Japanese traditions associated with gardening are lengthy and ingrained in so many aspects of the culture from bonsai to zen gardens. The Kyoto botanical gardens are sprawling and
fascinating. If nothing else you can go when you can no longer bear to see another temple!

The Kyoto restaurant experience

There are so many places to eat in Kyoto and every one of them was great. However my visit to Tsuneyadensuke Tsutae Restaurant was exceptional. This place is tiny hidden down a side street with only a chef facing bar and 3 other booths. I obviously couldn’t read anything on the menu so between myself the waitress and chef we decided I should try whatever they recommended. It was superb!

What to do in Kyoto Japan

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This