Kyoto Walks : From Chion-In Temple to Yasaka Shrine to Kiyomizu-dera Temple to Fushimi Inari Taisha

The last part of my travel in Japan that was left unpublished during the first tour with my family was all about Kyoto Prefecture. After a day tour in Universal Studios in Osaka, the next day was focused in Kyoto, our second to the last day in Japan. The exploration time that we spent in Kyoto was very limited to a day since the next day, we have to go back to Tokyo. When the adventure was limited to one day, this caused me a bit of sadness because there are lots of places to see and enjoy in Kyoto and we were running out of time again, I wished that we can stay longer but we can’t.

From Kyoto Station, we reserved our JR bullet train ticket for the next day travel to Tokyo as we planned to leave the city early in the morning. Next, we went to the tourist information center inside the station. Information center is one of the places that I really enjoyed and spent some time because it helped me and gave me ideas where to go, it is like a starting point before going anywhere in the city. As usual, I picked a lot of brochures again. I approached one of the personnel at the center and inquired some thoughts where to go in Kyoto for the day. She picked-up a map and showed us some interesting places to see and how to go there. Then, she introduced a day pass since our JR Pass cannot be used in local bus within the old city. After few more minutes of discussion with the volunteer in the visitor center, we started our adventure in Kyoto by following the recommended places that we must visit as starter.

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Kyoto Sightseeing Day Pass

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Kyoto Station

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Kyoto Tower from Kyoto Ekimae Bus Stop

We bought a sightseeing 1 day pass and went outside of the station. We walked towards Kyoto Bus Stop and we looked at each bus stop until we found that goes to Gion. The bus terminal which just beside the train station is strategic and convenient for passengers specifically for visitors that wanted to explore the city on their own. Like my family whom traveling in a budget. The queue to the bus was a bit long which means one thing, there were many tourist coming to Kyoto to see this historical and traditional city of Japan. We waited a bit in the queue until it’s our turn to get on the bus. The bus was full pack of people and there were even standing at the center aisle of the bus. Inside the bus, there were some locals and foreigners wearing kimono, the traditional Japanese clothing, and to be honest I liked seeing people wearing traditional clothes, because it’s just fitting to the place like Kyoto, as the city still has an ambiance of slow life-like an old Japanese time.

We got off at Gion bus stop. And we walked towards Shinbashi Dori. When we were near Shinbashi Dori, we crossed the road to reach Chion-in-michi, the road that led us to reach the first temple we visited in Kyoto – Chion-In Temple.

Chion-In Temple – 17th Century Temple Headquarters of Jodo Shu Buddhism

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When we reached the temple gate along the Higashi Oji Dori, I just observed that there were lots of tourist came in bus, as they arrived at the front gate of the temple called Sanmon while my family and I walked to reach the gate. When we were near in Sanmon there were many visitors astray in the ground. We started our walk in the temple ground from Sanmon. We explored the surrounding areas that are free to public as there are locations in the temple that requires payment to be able to access the area like garden, but we decided to take a look at the surroundings that are already available.

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After passing Sanmon, which is the main gate of the temple, we took another stairs to reach buildings. Unfortunately, during the visit, the main hall named Mieido is under renovation, which prevented us to see it as it is fully covered by nice and neat metal building. I admired Japanese on how they renovate a temple. For me, it only means one thing, they really take good care of what they considered national treasures of their country. We approached buildings near Mieido, one is called Kyozo where it has a nice garden beside it. We also walked towards a building called Amida-do.

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Sanmon

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Mieido – Under Renovation

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Kyozo Garden

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Amida-do

We took another stairs but its longer and has more steps than the previous one. It looks tiring just thinking how many steps it has to reach the top. But, even that was the case, three of us in the family took challenge except for my mother whom just rested in Mieido area. When we reached the end of the stairs, we saw Seishido Temple at the left. Then, we walked at the right side and explore Isshin-in Temple and beside a cemetery can be found.

Coming from Isshin-In Temple, we descended the stairs until we returned to Mieido area. We walked towards Kyozo Temple and approached Tahoto Pagoda too. When we reached Shuedo, we went inside the building out of curiosity. But because it’s not allowed to take photos inside the temple. We just silently observed people came inside it where most of them rendered their prayers.

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Stairs

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Isshin-in

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Kyozo

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Tahoto Pagoda

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Shuedo

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Cemetery

After we left Shuedo Temple, we decided to end our tour in Chion-in Temple to see other places within Gion District. While walking along Higashi Oji Dori, we looked for restaurants. Not far from the exit of the Chion-in Temple, we found a local diners where we had our lunch. The experience we had been quite interesting, even the restaurant was just few walk away from tourist spot, their customers were most likely foreigners and not just locals. But surprisingly, a language that is a common barrier between the customer and local diners had found a solution to address it. We never requested our order through talking to a person but we put our orders via machine (like vending machine) where it shows the available menus and corresponding combos in English/Japanese language. I was really amazed with their strategy to solve the communication issues.

We took our time for lunch and when we were full, we left the restaurant to continue our family’s journey around the area. In just few minutes walk from local diner, we reached another temple called Yasaka Shrine.

Yasaka Shrine – 1350 Year Old Shrine

I had visited this Shrine, twice. First, was during my family visit in Kyoto in September 2015 and second, was during my solo trip in the city last May 2017 as part of Night Tour in Gion.

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Main Entrance Gate (Ro-mon)

We generally knew that Japan has their own religious belief that originates in their own land and Yasaka Shrine convey this as well. Yasaka Jinja or Yasaka Shrine is a Shinto Shrine. The gate of the shrine cannot be ignored since it has a lively red-orange color which seems to be pretty common to see in most of their shrines or temples. We passed the gate and saw many visitors and tourist a like that came around the shrine. And some people visited the place wears kimono as the place is just perfect for classic photo souvenir.

We explored the area and observed as much as we can. Yasaka Shrine is more than 1300+ years old as it was built in year 656. And a lot of people visited this shrine for Gion Matsuri Festival which celebrated every year for more than a thousand years. The following buildings we saw insinde Yasaka Shrine were : Main Hall or Main Sanctuary, Main Dance Stage, Noh Stage, South Gate (Minami-romon) and Utsukushii Gozen-sha.

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Main Hall or Main Sanctuary

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Main Hall with People doing their prayer

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Main Hall at Night

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Main Dance Stage

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South Gate (Minami-romon) and Mai Dance Stage

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Mai Dance Stage with illuminated lantern

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Noh Stage and South Gate (Minami-romon)

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South Gate (Minami-romon)

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Shinto Shrine and Noh Stage

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Utsukushii Gozen-sha

Kiyomizu-dera Temple – Historic Temple with Picturesque Views

The last but not the least temple that the whole family visited in Gion District was Kiyomizu-dera Temple. From Yasaka Shrine, we walked along Higashi Oji Dori, until we reached where we noticed lots of people come and go which is in Matsubara Dori. Following my GPS in the phone, we noticed that we were near in a temple. Though we were unaware what kind of temple we will see, but we were very curious as to why there were so many people come to the temple.

Comparing the number we had seen in Chion-In Temple and Yasaka Shrine, we were overwhelmed because from the time we walked in Matsubara Dori (one of the walking paths to Kiyomizu-dera Temple) until we reached the first gate of Kiyomizu-dera Temple called Nio mon, if we will not be careful, we will bumped to lots of people along the way. Everywhere I directed my eyes, there were lots of people, as if there some kind of celebration or rally. I was not sure if there were special events at that time but I thought there was none, it’s just that too many people visiting the temple or it is just that the temple too popular.

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At Matsubara Dori

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Nio mon

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Sai mon (West Gate) at the front and Three Story Pagoda at the back

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Nio mon, Sai mon and 3 Story Pagoda

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Bell Tower

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Three Story Pagoda

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Zuigu-do hall

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Hon do (Main Hall)

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Lovely Scenery and Koyasu Pagoda from Hon-do (Main Hall)

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Kyoto City from Hon do (Main Hall)

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At Hon do (Main Hall)

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Around the Hon do (Main Hall)

We followed the walking trails from Hondo to other temple buildings until we reached Koyasu Pagoda where we had a chance to see the pagoda upclose. And from the same area, we followed the walking trail to descend until we returned to the same Niomon. Along the walking trail, we had a chance to see temple buildings like Hondo (Main Hall) from the ground, which gave us a chance to see the wooden pillars that support it. Then, we saw a pond where we found a turtles on it.

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Fushimi Inari Taisha – One of the Most Iconic Sights in Kyoto and in Japan

The four of us came back to our accommodation in Kyoto coming from a visit of Kiyomizu-dera Temple. But my parents wanted to rest for the day. My youngest sister and I decided to visit another place before we concluded the day. The last place that we visited was the famous Fushimi Inari Taisha, a Shinto Shrine. But before we pushed our plan, we checked if the shrine still open as it’s almost evening when we thought that we wanted to go there. And we were lucky as it is always open.

Since the shrine is near in train station, we took JR Nara Line train and got off at Inari Station. It’s almost dark when we arrived at the shrine, but to our surprise, there were still lots of people like us exploring the ground at that time. And because it’s famous, we tried to find what we were looking for – the famous “Senbon Torii” or “Thousand Torii” gateways. We followed the walking path where we found Torii Taisha Fushimi Inari, Romon, Worship Hall, Hall of Shinto Music and Dance, Senbon Torii, Okumiya and Tamayama Inarisha.

At first we followed the Senbon Torii tracks as we were excited when we saw the vermilion red color of thousand torii gateways but because it’s getting dark at that time, even I wanted to reached the end or peak of the walking trail, I decided not to push it  anymore as first we don’t have headlamp and I was not aware how long it will take to reach the end. Therefore, we decided to return and end the walks in Senbon Torii.

Here were the few things we had a chance to see while exploring Fushimi Inari Taisha.

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Torii Taisha Fushimi Inari with Romon

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Romon

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Worship Hall

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Hall of Shinto Music and Dance

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Senbon Torii

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Okumiya

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Captured along Torii Gates

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Tamayama Inarisha

We finished the day exploring the colorful and amazing temples and shrines that can be found in Kyoto. Indeed a day is not enough to see Kyoto but the first travel we had, was very limited as other time we had was also spent in other places. Until next visit again in this old capital of Japan – Kyoto.

Notes :
1. Plan to visit Chion-In Temple? Check here. How about Yasaka Shrine? Here’s their official site. Explore Kiyomizu-dera Temple ? Go here. And Fushimi Inari Taisha? Visit here.

2. Directions to Chion-In Temple :
Location : 400 Rinkachō, Higashiyama-ku, Kyōto-shi, Kyōto-fu 605-8686, Japan
Transportation :
a. Take Raku Bus #100 from Kyoto Station that goes to Higashiyama Area, then get           off at Gion Bus Stop or
b. Take bus #12, 46, 201, 202, 203 or 206
c. Visit the official access link to reach the temple here.
Official Website : Chion-In Temple

3. Directions to Yasaka Shrine :
Location : 625 Gionmachi Kitagawa, Higashiyama-ku, Kyōto-shi, Kyōto-fu 605-0073, Japan
Transportation :
a. Take Raku Bus #100 from Kyoto Station that goes to Higashiyama Area, then get          off at Gion Bus Stop or
b. Take bus #12, 46, 201, 202, 203 or 206
c. Visit the official access link to reach the shrine here.
Official Website : Yasaka Shrine

4. Directions to Kiyomizu-dera Temple
Location : Seikanji Kiyomizukamiyamacho, Higashiyama Ward, Kyoto, Kyoto Prefecture 605-0000, Japan
Transportation :
a. Take Raku Bus #100 from Kyoto Station that goes to Higashiyama Area, then get          off at Kiyomizu-michi Bus Stop or Gojozaka Bust Stop
b. Take bus #202, 206 or 207
c. Visit the official access link to reach the temple here.
Official Website : Kiyomizu-dera Temple

5. Directions to Fushimi Inari Taisha
Location : 68 Fukakusa Yabunouchichō, Fushimi-ku, Kyōto-shi, Kyōto-fu 612-0882, Japan
Transportation :
a. Take JR Nara Line towards Nara and get off at Inari Station
b. Visit the official access link to reach the shrine here.
Official Website : Fushimi Inari Taisha

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