There’s a lovely thing that happens when you travel alone; you are completely undistracted. You notice the strides of the locals walking beside you, your nose discovers new smells and leads you to wonderful places to fill your belly; you’re completely foreign in a place that many call home and that feeling while sometimes being scary, is exciting.
The streets of Kyoto were as clean and as zen as the shrines I visited. I was only there two nights and if you decide to visit the former Japanese capital city, I would recommend staying at least three nights.
You must stay at a ryokan when visiting Kyoto. A ryokan is a type of traditional Japanese inn. They typically feature tatami-matted rooms (think seagrass carpeting), communal baths, and other public areas where visitors may wear a yukata (a Japanese robe not be confused with a kimono). Shoes are removed when walking within the inn and are replaced with what look like mittens for feet. Bedding is a futon spread out on the floor and while it may seem uncomfortable to sleep on the floor, I had some of the best sleep in my life while in Kyoto. Be advised, ryokans can be a little pricey but include meal packages and overall are a good value.
- 66-2 Shokuyacho, Shimojuzuyamachi Agaru, Akezudori, Shimogyo-ku | Higashihonganji, Kyoto 600-8158, Kyoto Prefecture (Kyoto Station)
- $125/night in low season with shared bathroom; breakfast and dinner included
Things to Do
You could spend your days circling the peaceful steps of the endless amounts of shrines and temples in Kyoto and that certainly wouldn’t be a bad way to spend your trip. There is a calming energy within Kyoto’s oxygen that just puts you at ease even when you feel a minor earthquake; I experienced a mini 4.0. Some of my favorites places were:
I enjoyed the majority of my meals at Ohanabo, but I did spend some time in Nishiki Market where I was able to sample some typical Kyoto street eats. One must eat is the dashimaki (omelet) made with kelp stock. You can find it at Miki Keiran. I also made my way to the Kyoto location of my favorite Japanese Ramen spot in New York City, Ippudo, which was right off the market trail.