Escape To: Kyoto, Japan

More than just cherry blossoms.

by SHFamily | Mon, January 22, 2018

More than just cherry blossoms, Rachel Gouk explores the city of a thousand temples.


You can fly to Japan with Peach, Japan’s budget airline, which offers round trip flights as low as 20,250 Japanese Yen (JPY), or about ¥1,200. There is a two-hour direct flight from Shanghai to Osaka. After you land, take the JR Kyoto Line from Osaka to Kyoto; the 30-minute ride is roughly JPY 590 (¥35) one-way or JPY 2,870 (¥170) for the express train. Number one on the list after you arrive has to be Fushimi Inari. It’s the most famous sight in Kyoto – marked by a walkway of bright orange torii, the traditional Japanese gate for Shinto shrines. If there’s one temple to see, it’s Kinkaku-Ji, the Golden Pavillion. The three-story building is housed in a beautifully landscaped garden, which makes for an absolutely serene walk during low season.

Day trip

Take a day trip to Arashiyama, the famed bamboo forest. The area is home to more than 20 temples and shrines, and you can visit them at your own pace. If you’re ambitious, walk through the quaint village to Adashino Nenbutsu-ji at the top of the hill. The temple has approximately 8,000 Buddhist statues that used to mark graves all over the mountain.


The easiest way to get around the city is the JPY 506 (¥30) one-day bus pass. It’ll help, but you’ll be spending most of your time on foot, so make sure you pack comfy shoes for the whole family. Most of the temples and sights are on the outskirts of town, so take the bus out and then zig-zag back into the city center for Nijo Castle. Walk the halls of this UNESCO World Heritage Site, and absorb the history that lies within. After, enjoy strolling through one of the most beautiful gardens in the whole of Japan. Stroll along the Kamo River before delving into the shopping arcades Teramachi and Shinkyogoku. Pass through Ponto-Cho, the city’s restaurant street, a cobble-stoned alley alongside the river. japantrave-


Have your pick of street food from the Nishiki Market. Here, you’ll find everything from fried seafood, a plethora of nukazuke (pickled vegetables), fresh sashimi from fishmongers, and okonomiyaki (egg pancake). Cheap eats are good, but book some premium restaurants ahead of time. We had the best experience at Michelin two-star kaiseki restaurant Gion Sasaki.


If it’s an escape you seek, look no further than the luxurious Ritz-Carlton Kyoto, located right on the Kamo River. A night in this world-class hotel is life-changing. However, try staying in a ryokan instead. These traditional Japanese lodgings feature tatami-matted rooms, communal baths, and are mostly located near scenic spots. We recommend Mosaic Machiya, near Kinkaku-Ji.


Looking for more travel inspiration? Why not see what you could do on an escape to Hong Kong.