What is there to do In Kyoto?
TIP: Not all temples are free to so be sure to bring some change along. Prices start from about ¥150-¥500
• Teramachi Shinkyogoku Shopping Arcade - Main shopping district
• Arashiyama Bamboo Grove • Iwatayama Monkey Park- For more information scroll down to things to do with kids in Kyoto. • Sake Cube- Have a tasting of traditional Japanese wine and liquor. Japan is famous for their magnificent rice wine called Sake.
• Sanjusangen-do - Buddhist temple with an army of thousands armed statues.
• Nara- Its not in Kyoto but its famous for its palace grounds with deer you can feed. Its about an half an hour train ride away.
What language is spoken in Japan?
Japanese is the main language in Japan. Some, but not all speak English here. Japanese use characters instead of letters but all main street names, stores, and public transportation have English lettering under the Japanese characters.
(Fushuimi Inari-tasiha Shrine)
Japanese Yen ¥
(Arashiyama Bamboo Grove is a 10 minute walk to Iwatayama monkey park)
Where to stay in Kyoto?
• Downtown Kyoto, Southern/Northern Higashiyama, and Kyoto station areas are desirable to stay in.
• Central Kyoto is a great location but you have to travel to see the main sight seeing districts and to restaurants and nightlife downtown.
• Arashiyama and Kibune is good for a night or two if you want to be close to nature.
Where I stayed?
Stay Inn Kyoto Gojo
6000-8378 Kyoto, Kyoto, Shimogyo-ku Kamichoufukujichp 229-1, Japan
Stay Inn Kyoto Gojo are newly modern hotel apartments. I never felt so comfortable at a hotel like this one! The front desk staff welcomes you warmly as if you are their family staying at their house. At the Stay Inn you’ll have a spacious room with two beds, a balcony, and a kitchen! No need to bring pots, pans, or dishes. It's all included for free. A washer and dryer is in your own room for your convenience. Having more space in this hotel finally allowed our daughter to run freely in the room, play with her toys, and stretch her little legs. This made us really feel at home! Best of all, the rooms come with portable wifi for our whole stay! It was such a wonderful surprise to have! We were finally able to get cellular service outside our hotel to find places to eat, sightseeing spots, and navigation!
A restaurant is not on site, but there are many restaurants close by to choose from, all within walking distance. Toiletries offered are toothbrushes, sponges, Q-tips ,shower caps, hair bands, brushes, shower gel, shampoo, conditioner - all free amenities. If you're renting a car, you won’t have to worry about parking since it's free here.
Bike rentals are available if you want to enjoy exploring the city on your own.
Stay Inn is a convenient location for catching a bus or train when getting around town.
Shijo-Omiya Station is 700 meters from the property and provides access to popular tourist attractions such as Kiyomizu-dera Temple and the Yasaka Shrine. Just 10 minutes away you’ll find Tambaguchi Station. Convenience stores and grocery stores are also within walking distance.
Staff at the Stay Inn spoke English so there was no language barrier. We were given Kyoto city maps, and the staff assisted us with as much information as they could for us to get us around the city. After our stay, they allowed my daughter to pick out especially hand made origami to take home. We were also given a lucky coin for our safe travels back home and were told how grateful they were for our stay.
We never before felt so appreciated or welcomed staying in a hotel. By far we had the best experience in Kyoto because we were comfortable at Stay Inn Kyoto Gojo. We highly recommend staying there for families, or if you just want that home feel since you're a long way from home! It was truly an honor to stay at Stay Inn Kyoto Gojo and if we’re ever back in town, we will return our stay here!
(Luck coin From Stay Inn Kyoto Gojo)
(Arashiyama Bamboo Grove Train crossing)
How to get to your destination from the airport?
Kansai International Airport(KIX)- Closest airport by Kyoto. 75 minutes away by the express train. R Haruka Airport express reserved seat is ¥3370($30USD) or ¥2850($26USD) non reserved seat. Monday through Friday the trains run from 6:30 am to 10:16pm. On weekends the train runs 6:40am to 8:30pm.
Kansai International Airport Limousine Bus- 90 minute away and runs between Kyoto and KIK.
Taxi- Mk taxi SKY gate shuttle limousine van service travels to and from the airport for ¥2,400($22USD).
Tokyo Haneda(HND)- Closest airport to Tokyo. 30 minutes away. Trains and air shuttles are available.Trains do not run 24/7. Taxi cost about ¥7,000($62USD) - ¥10,000($89USD) depending on your destination in Tokyo.
Narita(NRT)- 1 hour away from Tokyo. Air bus shuttles are available. Taxi are about ¥16,000($142USD) to ¥20,000($177USD) depending on your destination in Tokyo.
Once in Tokyo from Haneda or Narita, take the train to Tokyo Station and then switch to Skinkansen(bullet train) tto Kyoto. The travel time if your already in Tokyo will take 2 hours but from the airport it will take about 3-4. The total cost of the trip will cost ¥13,490($122USD) to ¥15,860($143USD). Try buying bullet train tickets in advance online sometimes you'll find a discountes price.
Below is a table that shows you an express train and the air shuttle available for destinations.
(Arashiyama Bamboo Grove Train crossing)
How to Get around Kyoto?
• Bus- Tickets are at a flat rate and you’ll be able to pay for a ticket on the bus when you get off at your stop. Buses in Kyoto are expensive but they were highly convenient when traveling around the city when the subway is not close by. This was our main transportation for our stay in Kyoto. An adult ticket one way is ¥220($2USD) and a Child ticket ¥110($1USD) Kids under 6 are free. An all day unlimited bus pass is ¥500($5USD) for and adult and ¥250($2USD) for a child.
• Train - The cheapest and most main effective way to get around the city. Once you're at the metro station you will be able to purchase a preloaded card to use to get in the subway station. The machines enable you to select the language of your choosing with self-explanatory instructions on how to purchase the card and fare.
Surrutoo Kansai Miyako Card- This card can be used on the city bus and subway line, the Hankyu Line, the Keihan Line as well as other participating private companies.
The cost is ¥1,000($10USD), ¥2,000($18USD), ¥3,000($28USD), or ¥5,000($45USD)depending on the destination you are traveling to.
Traffica Kyoto Card- This card is valid on buses and subways.
¥1,000 ($10USD)or ¥3,000($28USD).
• Trolley Train- This is one way to avoid the crowded subways and to get convenient transportation if you're closer to the trolly than the train. This is one transportation your kids will love if you decide to ride the trolley!
The Keifuku train has two lines: The Arashiyama line and the Kitano line. The main Arashiyama line runs between Shijo-Omiya Station and Arashiyama Station. The Kitano line starts from Kitano-Hakubaicho Station to joins the main line in the middle at Katabiranotsuji Station.
Round trip for an adult is ¥500($5USD) and ¥250($3USD) for kids. You’ll be able to purchase the tickets before getting on or off the trolley.
• Bicycle - Rentals are all throughout the city. Bikes are the most common transportation for the Japanese to get around. If you're traveling with kids, there are bike rentals with a child seat on the back and/or front if needed. It's a great way to explore the city on your own without having to walk everywhere.
• Japan Uber or taxis are reasponably priced in Kyoto.
(Toji Temple) When to travel to Japan?
• Japan has four seasons. Going to Japan in late spring(March to May) or late autumn (September to November) is an excellent time to go.
• Cherry blossoms bloom late March to early April.
(Shishin Samurai Cafe)
Where to eat in Kyoto?
• Nishiki Market- Great place for a rainy day which has over 100 covered food stalls with a variety of culinary delights that Kyotos famous for. This is a traditional market where you’ll be able to try foods from green tea ice cream to fried fish on a stick. • Ganko Sushi- Popular restaurant sushi and traditional Japanese dishes. Kid friendly and kid's menus are available. • Ippudo Ramen- Ramen noodle spot. Be a hit for the kids but beware this spot does get pretty cramped. • Okonomiyaki Katsu- A little hole in the wall but has the best okonomiyaki and noodles. • Yanagiya Monten- Sea food and sit on the floor style restaurant. • Ramen Sen No Kaze- Traditional Japanese food and kid friendly. • Kichi Kichi Omurice- Master chefs that specialize in making Omurice! Highly recommended place to eat. It is a bit hard to find but it's sure worth trying to find this famous traditional Japanese spot. Just make sure to make a reservation (6weeks is best). This way you’ll be able to avoid the crowd or wait trying to get in. • Shishin Samurai Cafe- One of my favorite sit on the floor style restaurants. If you're a history freak like me this is the perfect spot for dining and samurai history. Be sure to make your reservation well in advance or you might not get a spot!
(Teriyaki chicken at Shishin Samurai Cafe)
Things you should know when traveling to Japan?
• Japan has many rules.
• Your not aloud to eat/drinking while walking. Even if u buy a bag of chips, you’ll have to eat those chips where you brought them or when you react you destination. The Japanese are very anal about this and they’ll tell you their selfs not to walk and eat. You’ll notice that there are no trash cans outside to throw away outside food.
• You cannot walk and smoke. Special designated smoking areas are accessible for you to smoke in/out doors.
• They drive on the right side and expect you to walk on the right side as well. If the walking sign is red, you have to stop even if theres no cars going by. Its definitely a shock being a New York since we never wait for the green light to cross!
• Japanese mothers don't usually breastfeed in public. You’ll be able to find special breastfeeding and diaper changing rooms in department store like Takashimaya and Daimaru.
• Many places only accept cash so keep it handy if you can. I was surprised when McDonalds did not take my card. Traditional stores in Japan will also require you to have cash when purchasing.
• Public free wifi are located on the streets and public transportation. I wouldn’t rely on the free public wifi because its slows and takes a while to connect on to the wifi. In most cases my phone didn’t even connect but my sister managed to get on a few times!
• The Japanese are super friendly! Not once but many occasions we would ask someone for directions and they would take time out their day just to walk us in the direction we should be going to.
• When trying to locate things on a GPS in your language such as English, you might type in the Japanese street in English but won't be able to locate the address because the streets are in Japanese characters so make sure you google the character in Japanese.
• If you Have visible and large tattoos, various hotel spas and hot springs will not aloud you to enter. Japanese accept you how you are, but this is just they way things are in Japan.The Japanese are very modest and conservative but, I never once felt judged walking around with both my tattoo sleeves in a short sleeve shirt.
• The Japanese are crazy about green tea! Most desserts are all flavored in green tea which are all delicious !
Is Kyoto kid friendly? Things to do with kids?
• Japan is super kid friendly ! The Japanese love the young ones! Unlike Tokyo, Kyoto is a bit less populated so you have more freedom to have your kids walk around more freely then the crowded city.
• Beware of restaurants where you eat with kids. Japan has smoking sections in many restaurants and the smoking sections are not always closed off. • Kyoto City Zoo • Kyoto Aquarium • Kyoto Botanical Gardens
• Iwatayama Monkey Park - It's a 15-20 minute walk up the mountains to get to Iwatayama monkey park. Just don’t forget your harness if you're bringing an infant! I made that mistake of not knowing and we had to hike up the mountain just to get to the park and ended up carrying my 23 pound daughter.These Japanese Macques do run around wild and you're able to feed these guys bananas and peanuts at the top! You’ll also get to enjoy the beauty of Kyoto so it's well worth the hike!
• Osaka- Its not in Kyoto but its 11 mintues away by Shinkansen(The bullet train). In Osaka there are many child friendly attractions. One of the largest aquariums in the world that has a whale shark located at Osaka Aquarium.
(Iwatayama monkey Park) Kyoto is the prefect location when you need a combination of a city and a nature feel. Don't sit and contemplate on which kind of vacation you want to take, when you can have both!