Two weeks in Kyoto
February 20, 2019 8:03 AM   Subscribe

I'm lucky to be visiting a friend who's living in Kyoto for two weeks in early March, and will be staying with him.

I'm going to see a few of the temples, and I'm planning to rent a bike to ride around the city. I'm also hoping to get out to see the Arashiyama bamboo grove and say hi to the snow monkeys, and my friend and I will be going to the hot springs, visiting either Nara or Himeji castle, and getting sake.

I'm also interested in local pottery, kintsugi, jewellery, and potentially getting an ear pierced as a souvenir of the trip. Would love to bring back some beautiful affordable pottery as gifts (don't thing I can swing the lacquerware but will happily ogle some). I'd like to check out a couple of workshops and museums - I know there's a textile museum showing how kimono are made, and a manga museum.

If you live in Kyoto or have visited, what would you absolutely recommend seeing?
posted by elsmith to Travel & Transportation around Kyoto, Japan (6 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
I would recommend grabbing a train to the other side of the North Western mountains, out to Kameoka. It's between 15 and 30 minutes from central Kyoto. Once you're there, follow the signs out to grab a boat downriver:

You buy a ticket when you arrive, and then get a two hour oar and river powered journey through tree lined canyons. It's wonderful, unexpected and relaxing. And if you get lucky with the budding trees...?

The trip ends back in Kyoto, in Arashiyama, which is a classic spot for some sightseeing as well.
posted by sarcas at 8:32 AM on February 20, 2019 [2 favorites]

posted by TravellingCari at 9:58 AM on February 20, 2019

Nara is a good day trip, if you like antiquities. Very interesting town. Enrakuji is also a really interesting temple to visit. It's on top of historic Mount Hiei in the northeast of the city. Best way to get up is from Sakamoto, taking the Keihan Ishiyama Sakamoto line.

Try to spend some time walking around Karasuma and Kawaramachi, especially on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon. There are lots of interesting shops catering to locals and university students. Kitayama is also a great neighborhood with shops and cafes. Check out the botanical gardens there.

I go to Amanohashidate pretty regularly -- there's a hot spring hotel there with "barrier free" access to one of its baths. We take my MIL, who is in a wheelchair, there. The seafood is really great on the Kyotango coastline. Lots of oyster cultivation. Amanohashidate is best enjoyed on a warm, sunny day, though. In early March there will still likely be snow and it will be cold and windy.

A great website with tons of info about Kyoto is Deep Kyoto. Disclaimer: I know the two gentlemen who run it. Great guys with lots of insights about Kyoto.
posted by JamesBay at 10:30 AM on February 20, 2019

The Kyoto Craft Center sells all sorts of local-made crafts/souvenirs and also has workshops where you can make your own (eg woodblock printing, damascene, etc.).
posted by mogget at 8:29 PM on February 20, 2019 [1 favorite]

A Core Kyoto episode about Kyo-yaki, Kyoto pottery. I remember some small pottery shops in the way from the Tofukuji train station (1 stop from Kyoto station) to the temple (which has some nice zen gardens. I went for the autumn leaves but it should also be pretty in spring).

You could also go to a flea market too, just in case.

Himeji castle will look wonderful if you catch early sakura, but it might be packed with visitors (still, it's wonderful! and if you happen to meet a volunteer guide, they're awesome and you should not miss the opportunity). Another day trip you can take is Miyajima.

Re: sake, check out the Fushimi sake district.
posted by sukeban at 12:57 AM on February 21, 2019 [1 favorite]

Best answer: We did a drop-in pottery experience along the philosopher’s path- very reasonably priced and excellent and the guy ships stuff back once he has it fired & glazed for you.

Also since you have 2 weeks I have to suggest making the trip to Naoshima. It is a nothing short of incredible art experience, especially the ChiChu Museum and the art housenproject on the main island, but I would have given my left arm to be able to stay for 3 nights and take in some of the other islands (If you go PLEASE memail me). Try to get your friend to join you and stay at the yurts. It’s a journey on the Bullard train and a bus and a ferry (really only ~4 hours from Kyoto) but so unbelievably worth it, and this is a great time of year to go for the light and vegetation.
posted by wowenthusiast at 1:33 AM on February 21, 2019

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