Japan country-wide travel: 7 Things to know about Kyoto
You’ve saved up for months. You’ve taken time off. You’ve booked your hotel, your plane, your ride. You’ve just about got everything packed. But you may have forgotten a few things. What are they, you may ask? Just how much do you know about where you’re going? You’re going to Kyoto, one of the oldest and most culturally rich cities in all of Japan. How well do you know your travel destination? To prepare you for your trip, here are seven important things to know about Kyoto.
7 Things to know about Kyoto
1. Buses. Lots of buses
A one-day bus pass is ultimately the cheapest way to get around Kyoto. You can buy the one-day Kyoto bus pass for just 600 yen and you can use it the whole day and travel around the city for an affordable price. Honestly, with so much to see, you could technically spend a whole day just on a bus. There are plenty of tourist centers willing to help hook you up with a pass and you can plan your vacation sight-seeing while relaxing on the ride. The tourist centers can also give you advice on recommended Kyoto hotels in case you were still looking for lodging, so keep that in mind.
2. Kyoto is very old
Kyoto dates back all the way to the 8th century, and was, at one point, the capital of the country. In the center is Heian-kyo, which served not only as the capital of Japan for over a millennium, but also as the inspiration for the layout and zoning plans that eventually spread to the rest of the country. Even while Tokyo is now the capital, Kyoto stands tall as the master of Japanese culture, baring regal status as the epicenter of all that made Japan what it is today.
3. Kyoto’s weather is wild
Because of its odd location in a basin with mountains on almost every side, its weather can swing a little extreme. Days during the spring and fall can be sunny and gorgeous but can take a steep drop as soon as darkness sets in, so dress warmly if you go out. And bring clothing appropriate to the climate; summers are burning and winters are freezing, with plenty of snow throughout.
4. Kyoto people can be a bit high brow
It’s not really a stretch to say that people in Kyoto might be welcoming but will expect a very high standard when it comes to behavior, especially from outsiders. Unlike Kyoto’s neighboring city Osaka where people are more liberal and fun, residents of Kyoto are often more reserved and regard politeness in a higher standard. Be on your best behavior and show respect.
5. Set aside a few days
There’s no way you’ll be able to fully explore Kyoto in just one day; there’s far, far too much to see. Between the thousands of cultural assets, such as the Kinkakuji temple and the Kiyomizudera temple, which is a national treasure, and the famous bamboo groves in Arashiyama, believe us, your plate will be plenty full from the moment you set foot in the place.
6. Save your money
Many attractions in Kyoto are free. Read our lips; FREE. There are plenty of shrines, temples, and gardens you can visit without paying any money. The famous Arashiyama bamboo grove is one of them and such a breathtaking place to be absolutely free admission is a real blessing on the frugal and discerning tourists. Because lets’ face it; you just never seem to have enough money when you visit a place like this, do you?
7. Bring comfortable shoes
Kyoto is huge and the expansive selection of things to do means that you’d probably be well advised to bring a step counter as well. You could easily top off the day walking eight to ten miles at least. Part of the fun of exploring Kyoto is in walking around and seeing what all is out there. Unless you’re a resident, there’s no way you could discover everything on a single trip, so make the most of it. Your feet are going to hate you, but your heart will be thanking you for weeks to come. Besides, you could always reward your feet by capping off your evening in a warm, relaxing hot spring later on.
This is only a small list of the enormous city and it’s fascinating customs and history. A city this steeped in culture is going to have something for everyone, be it restaurants, temples, shrines, parks and even flea markets. Even the most discerning tourist will find something there that captures their attention. So make the most of your time, explore everything you can, use up all your energy and fill your heart with memories to last a lifetime.