During our trip to Kyoto we rented an Airbnb, staying in a traditional Japanese house near Toji Station. This was a great location and amazing to stay in a beautiful Japanese home.
We arrived Friday night after a long coach journey, and had only 2 full days to make the most of this city, which I must admit, is not long enough to see everything. Pressure!
In Kyoto, there is a lot of tourism. So much so, that it can get to the point were there are just too many tourists at sites. Still, we found that by being smart with our itinerary, there are ways to avoid a lot of the stress of the crowded temples and shrines. It was also coming to the end of sakura season, so the main bulk of tourists had fizzled out. Nevertheless, for some places, the overcrowding is just inevitable and you have to suck it up and go with the flow (of the crowd).
The weather forecast was not looking promising for Saturday morning, so we changed our plans up a bit to take into account the rainy weather.
Our first stop was to the nearby Toji Temple. Now, this is not one of the ‘top sites’ as such, but with it being a short walk away it would have been a shame not to see it. In all honesty though, this was one of my favourite places that I visited in Kyoto. Maybe because it was quite empty, maybe because it was just so beautiful, I don’t know, but I loved it! The 5-storey pagoda is really something, and has been even earthquake-proof for a few centuries! It was really interesting reading about how they managed that.
The rain still beating down, we made our way to Tofukuji Temple. We caught the bus right outside Toji which took us straight there – handy! It was a short walk to the Temple. This one is interesting as it has two very different gardens which you have to pay to enter. We decided we may as well do both while we were there. These gardens are actually made to be appreciated in rainy weather, and there are plenty of walkways to keep dry if necessary.
The first garden, you can walk around and explore away from the sheltered areas and really get into nature. It was so tranquil and the colours around were mesmerising.
The second was a ‘zen garden’ which was also beautiful in its own way but with a lot more structure and perfectionism to it.
It wasn’t long after until the sun reappeared and it became sunny and humid again, just in time for our next stop, Fushimi-Inari Shrine, which I will talk about in next week’s post…