First impressions of Kyoto

Today, I will pick up where I left off on my blog about my trip to Kyoto (I know, 7 years later!). After taking the Shinkansen from Tokyo to Kyoto and tasting the delicious train lunch boxes (bentos) for the first time, I arrived at Kyoto train station. In my notebook, I had written down that I needed to buy the Kansai thru pass (5000 yen) at the Kyoto station bus info center, located at the Kyoto station Karasuma exit. Afterwards, we could finally head towards our hotel.  

kyoto train station sign

Travel tip: 
Buy a small notebook that fits in the front pocket of your bag or jacket. I found it very useful in my travels to carry around a small notebook and a pen tuck in the ring binder. I could quickly write down notes, look something important up, and it is easy to take out even when I am holding a lot of luggage. Examples of my scribbles: bus/train/hotel shuttle bus/airplane schedules, names of transfer stations, drawings of how to walk somewhere (now we have google maps, but it is still nice to have a easy to read - everything becomes harder to understand when you are exhausted and jet lagged - map with left and right arrows), the names of the hotels in English and in local language, and travel times (when to get to the station to catch the train and how long the train ride is), check-in and-out times, and opening hours of sights and stores.

Directions to Kyoto Kokusai hotel from Kyoto station

At Kyoto station, take the metro on the Karasuma line (green) and reach Karasuma Oike station after three stops (Kyoto (K11) -> Karasuma Oike (K08)), transfer to the metro on the Tozai line (brown), and get out at the Nijojo-mae station after one stop (Karasuma Oike (T13) -> Nijojo-mae (T14)). Get out at exit 2 and from there, it is only a short walk to the hotel. You only need to walk straight ahead, no difficult turns or streets that you need to cross.   

Update: Kyoto Kokusai hotel seems to have closed down. Other hotels in the area are ANA Crowne Plaza Hotel Kyoto (4 star), Hotel Chatelet Inn Kyoto (3 star), and Kyoto Horikawa Inn (2 star).

first city view kyoto mountains

It was late afternoon already, but we were right on time for the check-in at Kyoto Kokusai hotel. I choose this hotel, since it is located quite centrally, and we could visit Nijo castle, which is opposite to the hotel, immediately. One sight could be taken of the list, right upon arrival in Kyoto. At least, that was the plan.

I really underestimated how exhausted you can get from carrying luggage and the long train ride from Tokyo to Kyoto. I thought I was just going to take a short nap after check-in, but I slept for several hours. It started to get dark and Nijo castle was going to close soon, so we just walked around in the area and had dinner.

In my imagination, Kyoto was like an ancient city filled with old and historic buildings, but when I finally had the time to check out the view and take pictures, I was a bit disappointed to see very ordinary buildings. Of the first picture I took, I did like the shadows of the mountains in the back though. I also took some pictures of Nijo castle from the outside. I liked the contrast between the modern cars and sign posts and the ancient building. My first impressions of Kyoto wasn't that good yet, but I still had a lot of time left to explore the other areas of Kyoto.    

nijo castle Kyoto outside view cars taxi

Popular Posts