A refreshing tour of Japanese Countryside near Kyoto.
Not everybody’s destination would be Tokyo for a holiday in Japan. There are several equally fantastic and technologically-advanced cities in Japan such as Osaka and Kyoto. Moreover, the Japanese countryside is simply captivating than its busy cities. They are filled with bright and sunny mountains, rice fields, sacred shrines and wonderful sightseeing places that can engage you for a full week.
Kyoto is the second largest city in Japan so much so that it was Japan’s capital before Tokyo displaced that merit.
In this blog post, I am going to show how to tour the countryside of Kyoto and how long do you really need to spend your most memorable and refreshing vacation in the villages near Kyoto, Japan.
Overview of Kyoto.
As we all know, Japan comprises of 4 big islands and Honshu is one of them where Kyoto city is located. However, surprisingly, Kyoto’s nearest airport is located far away; nearly 100 km is where the Kansai International Airport. Osaka is the city where you will actually land if you’re heading to Kyoto.
Being the former capital of Japan, Kyoto is a big city with numerous Buddhist shrines, typical Japanese gardens occupying a large area, skyscrapers, Shinto temples, exquisite bamboo forests and hotels with small rooms.
Where to stay in Kyoto?
You must be aware that most of the budget hotels in Japan are boutique hotels meaning the rooms will be just adequate to accommodate two persons. There will be almost no moving space in the room. Bathrooms also occupy just a tiny cubicle. However, the rooms won’t lack any amenities; you will be offered coffee and tea maker with all the kits and accessories (free of course), air-conditioning, free toiletries, use-and-throw bathroom slippers, and a mini-fridge.
So, with this in mind, you can book your hotel room in the following hotels in Kyoto;
- Hotel Alza Kyoto
- Villa Sanjomuromachi KYOTO
- Hana-Touro Hotel Gion
- Iori Machiya Stay
Generally, the Japanese hotels do not offer complimentary breakfast but you must allow room for some exceptions. Maybe the current trend of offering free breakfast in the rest of the world has been implemented in some Japanese hotels too.
After checking in, you will have ample time to go around the Kyoto city before departing to tour the Japanese countryside.
Some of the tourist landmarks to see in Kyoto:
- Nijo Castle
- Kinkakuji, Zen temple
- Kyoto Tower
- Ginkaku-ji, Zen temple
- Heisan temple, 11 century old
- Higashiyama mountains
- Arashiyama Bamboo Grove
I am sure you recognize this picture. You must have seen it in umpteen places.
It is the world famous bamboo grove that every tourist to Japan would want to see but does not as they do not tour beyond Tokyo. They simply ignore touring the captivating countryside of Japan. The Arashiyama bamboo forest is the star attraction in your tour of Japanese rural areas.
To visit the Arashiyama district, you need to travel for about 30 minutes only from your Kyoto boutique hotel. The whole area nestles at the foothills of Arashiyama Mountains.
It is a beautiful park nearby the Arashiyama bamboo grove but landscaped in the typical Japanese style.
- Tenryu-ji Temple
Tenryu-ji is more of a Zen temple complex that also acts as a tourist attraction for non-Buddhists.
Other places you can see on your first day of Japanese countryside in the vicinity of Arashiayama mountains are:
- Okochi-Sanso Villa
- Rakushisha Poet’s Hut
- Nison-in Temple
- Jojako-ji Temple
- Boating in Oi-Gawa riverTakayama village
It looks more like a small town than a quaint Japanese village. Ask your guide; no, you need not ask him, for, he will offer to take you to a couple of bars that serve the famed Japanese drink called the ‘sake’. Your trip to Japan’s rural side is not complete if you return without tasting the ‘sake’.
However, before you intoxicate yourself a bit, you will be taken to the Miyagawa morning market where you can see the local merchants set up stalls selling fruits, small plants, cookies and jams, clothes, handicrafts and so on.
Touring the Japanese countryside doesn’t mean visiting only areas of plantations. You will surely enjoy the experience of strolling the old towns attached to the villages. For example, walking along the Sannomachi Street in the old town of Takayama will tell you all about the Japanese rural life and local culture.
Instead of regions, the Japanese call them as Prefectures. Ishikawa is one such prefecture in Japan and its capital is Kanazawa. There are many places to see in Kanazawa, the chief being the beautiful Japanese garden called Kenroku-en.
Other places of sightseeing importance are art museums, handicraft stalls and the Kanazawa castle.
Nomura Samurai House-tea ceremony
I know you have been waiting impatiently to know where you can attend the most elaborate and traditional Japanese tea making which is conducted as a ritual ceremony of cultural importance. Your local guide understands your wish and you will be taken to the Nomura Samurai House located at 920-0865, Ishikawa Prefecture
What a lovely looking place surrounded by densely forested Alps Mountains! No wonder it is a big tourist attraction among the Japanese countryside tourists. City mongers-please excuse; even your cars are prohibited from entering this naturally beautiful place to avoid polluting. The lovely Azusagawa River flows through Kamikochi. Will it freeze during the winter because the snow will cover the surrounding mountains?
I think this tour of Japanese countryside near Kyoto will consume three to four days depending on your urgency to return to the madness of city life.