Located in the Kansai region on the Japanese island of Honshu, Kyoto offers visitors countless shrines and temples to explore and is just over two hours away from the Olympics Games host city of Tokyo via bullet train.
Intrepid travellers keen to explore Kyoto can experience traditional Japanese hospitality and more during a stay at Kyoto Traveller’s Inn, which is located in the Okazaki area of the Higashiyama district of the city. Along with boasting an on-site restaurant and traditional onsen-style public bath known as a daiyokujo, the English-friendly hotel offers guests the choice to stay in a Western or traditional Japanese room with futon bedding and tatami flooring. Furthermore, the hotel is well-suited for those who want to see the sites of Kyoto, since many are located within walking distance.
Top Insider Tips for Travellers Heading To Kyoto
- Learn the regional lingo: ōkini! It’s always helpful to learn a few basic words before heading off on an international trip and although many will be familiar with the Japanese phrase of ‘arigatō’ for ‘thank you’, just a few may know that in the cities of Kyoto and Osaka only, the phrase ‘ōkini’ can be used. As part of the Kansai region’s local dialect, ōkini is an abbreviation of ‘ōki ni arigatō’ (meaning ‘thank you very much’) and is an easy way to quickly impress local residents with insider travel knowledge.
- Watch where you step. There are over 1,500 shrines and temples in Kyoto, including the epic 1,300-year-old Fushimi Inari Shrine consisting of 10,000 torii gates, and the five-story pagoda of Toji. Several of the temples and shrines have welcomed famous faces over the years. For example, the tranquil garden of the Zen Buddhist temple of Shodenji was a secret retreat for David Bowie. Before heading off for a day of shrine and temple sightseeing, travellers wearing open-toed shoes may choose to pack a pair of socks, since many buildings will ask that visitors remove their shoes before entering. Likewise, when entering a room with traditional tatami flooring, it is important to remove shoes and not step on the borders of the straw mats as this may cause the mat to lose its shape or become damaged.
- Don’t be scared to slurp – and ask for a fork if you need it. There are over 200 ramen shops in Kyoto and like many regional delicacies, every resident of Kyoto will have their own favourite noodle location so it’s worth asking around before settling on a restaurant. Once a bowl of ramen noodles has been ordered and toppings have been decided on, diners shouldn’t be scared to slurp their noodles, even though they may be wary of doing so in the UK in fear of seeming impolite. For those struggling to get to grips with chopsticks, it is also acceptable to ask for forks and knives when eating and the majority of restaurants will be able to provide these. Finally, when eating a bento box or traditional Japanese breakfast with various side dishes, travellers can relax in knowing that there is no particular order in which the items should be eaten.
- Navigate Kyoto’s public transport like a local.Public transport in Kyoto is easy to use and travellers are encouraged to purchase a travel card after first arriving to save money when moving around the city. Kyoto is served by multiple bus routes with most of the major sites easy to navigate and access via green and red buses. For those who want to travel on Kyoto’s subway system like a Japanese resident, the city’s inhabitants use the left side of the subway’s escalators as an express lane in a similar way to London’s underground. Alternatively, the flat and well-maintained roads and cycle paths of Kyoto means the city is particularly cycle-friendly.
Travellers taking to two wheels should make note that cycling while drunk is prohibited, as is cycling at night without using a bicycle light.