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Kyoto Hidden Gems

A lot of people asked me a lot, “How was it living in Indonesia right? It must be hotter than Tokyo, right?” Well, for me Tokyo is way hotter and more humid, probably also due to the fact that I’m not exposed to the sun that much when I was in Indonesia. Don’t get me wrong, I love summer, I love the feeling of being able to wear short and short sleeves dresses, but sometimes I also miss the time when it was cold. So, please allow me to shares some of my adventure in Kyoto last winter.

A lot of my friend dropped by at Kyoto when they visit Japan. It’s full of good food, nice people, and exquisite places and temples. However, I feel that the amount of crowd is unbearable, especially those places which are famous for tourist. I think there are a lot of hidden gems in Kyoto, where you can seclude yourself and enjoy the view, far away from the crowd.

First Stop: Giouji (祇王寺)

Saihouji might be the most well-known “Moss Temple”, however Giouji is also not bad. It’s smaller than Saihouji, but it also has a nice, peaceful atmosphere. Giouji located around Arashiyama area, thus make it convenient if you want to check another bigger temples.

The admission ticket costs only 300, but you can also get a combined ticket to go to bigger temple such as Daikakuji.

When I went inside, I was in awe. The garden is quite small, but it was covered in green. They said it will be covered in red leaves during autumn. And the best part, noone there. It opens around 9AM or 10AM in the morning and we were the first visitor there.

Second stop: Adashino Nenbutsuji (化野念仏寺)

Not far from Giouji, there’s a Buddist temple located on a hilltop. This temple has a serene view of thousands carved stone. Some of the statues have funny facial expressions and it really depicts human in their daily life.

There are around 8000 statues in this place and it’s dedicated for memorial events.

To get there, you can take the Kyoto city bus number 28 or 91 to Saga Shakadomae. I’m not sure about public transport, but if you have car, I think it’s better to drive. There’s a car park nearby and it only takes 5 minutes walk to the temple.

Third stop: Adashino Nenbutsuji Bamboo Forest(化野念仏寺)

A lot of people visit Arashiyama for it’s bamboo forest. The one near Tenryuuji is definitely bigger. I visited there early in the morning before (around 8AM) and that’s why I could take some photos. However, normally it is always crowded. If you want to avoid the crowd, the bamboo forest in Adashino Nenbutsuji is for you.

It’s smaller, but I think it’s prettier than the famous one in Arashiyama.

I went up to the stairs and there’s a wide spacious area with some statues.  My friend explained that those statues are for 水子, or a baby who dies before they born.

Fourth stop: Yojiya Cafe

Me and my friends went to have lunch around Tenryuuji. The yuba (tofu skin) restaurant around there is famous and delicious, but the queue is a little bit long, especially during the lunch. Because the parking fee in touristy place is really expensive, we opt to have lunch in some random cafe, and after that we stopped at Yojiya cafe.

  • Yojiya is a famous blotch paper brand originated from Kyoto. Yes.. that’s the paper you use to wipe the excess oil on your face. Another idea for souvenirs, hehe.

Just like another coffee shop, Yojiya cafe serves coffee and light food and snack. Their famous drink is this green tea Capucinno.

Fifth stop: Genko-an Temple (源光庵)

Genko-an is another temple located in the north-west of Kyoto, it’s just 15 minutes bus ride from Kitaoji station. Get off at Takagamine Genkoan-mae bus stop and the temple is a 1 minute walk. This temple is a branch of Daitokuji temple. The atmosphere is very serene and this temple is famous for the two neighbouring windows inside the temple. The “window of enlightenment” (round window)

and the “window of confusion” which depicts human’s suffering.

Behind the window is a scenery of traditional Japanese garden. Because it was winter, it was a little bit depressing to see. The bushes are green and there were no leaves on the trees. Maybe, I want to visit here again in the autumn.

Sixth stop: Shogunzuka Seiryuden (将軍塚青龍殿)

This Buddist temple is located at the top of the mountain to protect Kyoto from bad fortune. The scenery is really beautiful. My main reason to visit here is because behind the main building, there was a temporary exhibition called Garasu no Chaya (ガラスの茶屋).

When I saw this place, I knew that this place is going to be the highlight of my trip today. The view from this place is just amazingly breath-taking, I feel that I can capture the whole Kyoto city from here.

Unless you are local Kyoto people, not many people know about this place. I think most tourist go to the crowded place like Kiyomizudera or Fushimi-inari Taisha, which makes it’s uncomfortable visiting many of most famous sites in Kyoto. And the number of people is doubled during Autumn or Sakura season.

To go here, however, is a bit hard. Only 7 buses per-day operates around this area. I’d suggest you to drive or take a taxi.

I’m not sure if the exhibition is still there. Last time I checked, they said it was only until spring 2017, so I’m not really sure if it’s still there by this time.


Last picture:


We tried the matcha parfait at Tea Lounge Koishi in Gion 🙂 This place is very famous for the Matcha parfait. Even the locals are lining for this shop.

How was it? I hope you enjoy all the places I show you this time. Honestly, if you visit Kyoto and you’re tired of the crowd and mainstream places, I’d recommend all the places I visited. They are all pretty and probably the major drawback is only transportation issue.

I’d post many other places in Kyoto on my next post. Stay tune and as usual, your comments are always loved!

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