3 Days in Kyoto- Fushimi Inari, Rock Gardens, Golden Temple, and Gion District

Are you planning to visit Kyoto? The city located on the island of Honshu was the former imperial capital for over 1,000 years and now has a population of nearly 1.5 million. There are several places to visit in the city, but if you have 3 Days Kyoto- Fushimi Inari, Rock Gardens, Golden Temple, and Gion District should be included on your itinerary.

1. Fushimi Inari
The Fushimi Inari Shrine is an important shrine that’s located in southern Kyoto. The shrine has become famous for its bright red torii gates that number in the thousands. The gates are located in the series of trails located behind the shrine’s main buildings. These trails extend into the wooded forest located in Mount Inari. The sacred region stands 223 meters high and is part of the shrine’s grounds.

Inari is the Shinto god of rice in Japan, and the Fushimi Inari is the most significant one that numbers in the thousands. It’s believed that foxes are the messengers of Inari, so there are several fox statues located on the grounds of the shrine. The Fushimi Inari Shrine was built before the capital relocated to Kyoto during 1794.

2. Rock Gardens
The rock garden is the most famous one in Japan and is located at Ryoanji Temple. Each day hundreds of people visit the garden. The site was originally the villa of the nobles during the Heian Period. Then it was converted in 1450 into a Zen temple. It’s within the Myoshinji school of a Zen Buddhism sect. Its head temple is just one kilometer south.

The history of the rock garden is somewhat unclear. It is uncertain when the garden when constructed and there are several theories about the designer. The garden includes a rectangular plot made of pebbles and is surrounded by earthen walls that are low. There are 15 rocks organized in small groups on areas of moss.

3. Golden Temple
This Zen temple is located in northern Kyoto. Gold leaves completely cover the top 2 floors of the temple. The temple was previously the retirement villa of a shogun. The temple became a Zen temple based on the shogun’s will following his death during 1408. The Golden Temple also inspired to “Silver Pavilion” located on the other side of Kyoto. The shogun’s grandson built the Silver Pavilion a couple of decades later.

4. Gion District
This is Kyoto’s best-known geisha district. There are many restaurants, shops and ochaya (teahouses). The district includes many traditional wooden merchant houses. The houses have a thin façade just 5-6 meters wide as a result of old property tax laws. However, the houses extend to a maximum 20 meters.

Hanami-koji is the most popular area located in Gion. It’s a good place to dine, but the prices are quite high. You can also find several buildings in the side alleys that now operate as restaurants. They serve Kyoto-style haute cuisine as well as other varieties of local/international dishes. There are also several teahouses within the restaurants that include some of the most expensive dining establishments in Kyoto.