Next stop was Kyoto where I’m staying for 8 days. This was my first experience of the bullet train and I’m very impressed. What a way to travel- I thought the Eurostar was good but this beats it hands down. They even look fast!

We pulled into what I can only describe as the most interesting train station I’ve seen yet. The mirrored glass is a bit 80’s but it creates some amazing reflections and the incredible roof creates a very open station. It’s different but a grower.

Kyoto is a real surprise in that it’s quietly beautiful. It survived the war pretty much intact and in doing so became the historic capital of Japan. However it’s the mountains that encircle the city that give it real character.

I spent the rest of the day wandering around which I think is the best approach to exploring this city.

The river which divides the city appears so natural it looks like it belongs in the countryside. It just goes to show not everything needs to be over built.

I ended up in the Gion district which is the heart of the old city and very beautiful, where I saw some Giesha.

There’s an interesting mix of modern apartments mixed in with the very old which sit together well.

How to visit 

I travelled to Kyoto from Tokyo on the Shinkansen (bullet train) which couldn’t have been simpler – one tip is to book your ticket at the station rather than online as the staff will very kindly assign you a window seat.

You will arrive at Kyoto Station as illustrated on the map below. Like Tokyo, this is the map I used to navigate Kyoto, Nara, Osaka, Awaji and Himeji.

View Kyoto, Osaka, Nara, Awaji and Himeji in a larger map

Kyoto Station by Hara Hiroshi, 1997:
Higashishiokoji Kamadonocho, Shimogyo Ward, Kyoto, Kyoto Prefecture, Japan