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Travel Guide Asia Japan Honshu Kansai Kyoto

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Introduction

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Kyoto, Japan's capital until it was moved to Tokyo in 1868, is considered by many to be Japan's most beautiful city. Only Rome lays claim to more designated Unesco World Heritage Sites than this city nestled amongst the mountains of Western Honshu. The magnificent array of temples and shrines include famous names like the Golden Pavilion, Kinkaju and the Ryoanji zen garden. Kyoto is a sightseers paradise and much can be taken in on foot, although don't expect it to be the first impression you get of the city on arrival. Urban sprawl and ultra modern buildings like the glass and steel main train station, show signs of a city embracing modern times despite it's deeply traditional roots. But once you do find yourself in areas like Old Kyoto wandering down alleys of traditional narrow, wooden houses you will learn to appreciate the great artistic heritage that defined Kyoto for over a thousand years.

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Neighbourhoods

  • Central - Site of Nijō Castle (a former residence of the Tokugawa shōguns) and the stately grounds of the Imperial Palace. The district's southern end is anchored by the massive glass-and-steel building of the city's main gateway, Kyoto Station.
  • Arashiyama (Western Kyoto) - Set against the beautiful tree-covered hills of Arashiyama, this district is rich in both historic and natural wonders.
  • Higashiyama (Eastern Kyoto) - Nestled between the Kamo River and the temple-studded mountains of Higashiyama, this area's many attractions include the famed geisha district of Gion and the historic sites strung alongside the well-known Philosopher's Path.
  • North - Graced with scores of centuries-old shrines and temples, including several World Heritage Sites. One of Kyoto's most famous attractions - the magnificent gilded pavilion of Kinkaku-ji - can be found here.
  • South - This district covers a large part of Japan's former capital, stretching from the Ōharano area in the west to Fushimi-ku, Daigo, and the southern tip of Higashiyama-ku in the east.

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Sights and Activities

Buddhist Temples

The temple architecture in Japan was imported, along with Buddhism, from China around the 6th century. Some famous temples in and around Kyoto are:

  • Kinkakuji (the Golden Pavillion) is a three story temple with the top two stories being covered in gold leaf.
  • Ginkakuji (the Silver Pavillion) is a temple surrounded by a large tranquil Japanese garden.
  • Kiyomoizu Dera.

Shinto Shrines

Shinto is the state religion in Japan. However, it is not like a religion in a traditional sense, there is no founder, canon or holy book. It is more of a state of mind and way of life. Some important shrines in Kyoto are:

  • Fushimi Inari Shrine is a shrine dedicated to the gods of sake and rice complete with a 4km path lined with vermillion painted torii gates.
  • Yasaka-jinja.

Ryoanji Zen Garden

Ryōan-ji Zen Garden is one of the finest examples of a Zen garden anywhere in the world. 15 stones are placed in the garden in 5 groups. Gravel surrounds these 15 stones and is carefully raked each day by the temple's monks. The only vegetation you'll find here is some moss around the stones. The garden is designed to be viewed while sitting on the veranda. The stones are arranged in such a way that it is not possible to see all 15 stones at once (apart from aerially). It is said that only those that are enlightened would be able to see all 15 stones at once.

There are several other gardens at the temple also, including a water garden and tea garden. The temple and its gardens are part of the Historic Monuments of Ancient Kyoto, which are on the UNESCO World Heritage list.

Other sights and activities

  • Arashiyama is a peaceful area in the mountains about 20 minutes outside of Kyoto, includes Monkey Park and a lovely bamboo forest.
  • Gion is the home of the Geisha.
  • Path of Philosophy is a 30 minute walk from Eiakn-do to Ginkakuji.
  • Kyoto Imperial Palace is the residence of past emperors for more than 1,100 years.

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Events and Festivals

Traditional Festivals

Japan has countless traditional festivals and holidays. Then when you add the local festivals that number just grows and grows. Here is a list of the few major national traditional festivals.

  • Japanese New Year (January 1) - the most important holiday in Japan. Although there are lots of customs and traditions most of them are done in the private. This is mainly a family holiday and Japan can feel very empty as almost everyone goes home. Travelling in Japan in during this time is difficult because everything is shut down.
  • Seijin No Hi (2nd Monday of January) - the coming of age holiday for Japanese women which 20. Traditionally families will buy any young woman how turned 20 in the last year a kimono. On this day almost all Japanese women will ear a kimono.
  • Hin Festival (March 3) - Also known as doll festival the Hin Matsuri festival is meant for young women. In early february families with daughters put dolls in order to make the women happy and healthy later in life. On Girls Day, on March 3, the dolls are put away until next year.
  • Shichi Go San Festival (Novermber 5) - Boys who are 3 and 5, and girls 3 and 7 are taken to a shinto shrine in traditional Japanese dress. The children are brought there to pray for good luck, good health and wealth.

National Holidays

  • Golden Week - Is quite often referred to as the "Japanese Spring Break." It is a combination of many state holidays, including Showa Day, Greenery Day, Children's Day, and Constitution Memorial Day in order to give a full week off. It takes place during the first full week of May. Everyone gets this week off in Japan so it is very bad time to travel because everything is crowded, expensive and most hotels will be full. There is also a major festival in the southern city of Fukuoka this week, it is called Hakata Dontaku.

Kyoto Festivals

  • Gion Matsuri - The Gion Matsuri is one of the most famous festivals in Japan. It originated as purification ritual performed to appease the gods, in hopes that they would remove the plague from their land. In modern day practice, this event lasts for the entire month of July; streets are filled with decorative lanterns and lined with food vendors. The festival culminates with the procession of a grand parade marked by its extravagant floats, and sounds of traditional Japanese drums.
  • Aoi Matsuri - The popular Aoi Festival features beautiful parades of horse-drawn carriages covered in layers of colorful and fragrant hollyhocks. This procession is intended to be a reenactment of the Emperor's officials delivering gifts to popular Japanese shrines. Onlookers can expect to see about 500 performers dressed in splendid ancient costumes and wearing traditional make-up.
  • Daimonji Bonfire Festival - During this festival, bonfires are lit on Kyoto mountain-sides in the shape of Japanese characters. The lighting of these fires has spiritual significance to some, as the hope is that these symbols will help light the way home for visiting souls. Hours: 8:00pm
  • Manto Nagashi - This annual event takes place on Arashiyama Togetsukyo Bridge. It's a ceremony where people write their wishes on lanterns and place them on the river. Some also use this practice to send off their ancestors' spirits. Hours: 7:00pm
  • Nehan-e Buddah’s memorial - Kyoto is home to many famous Buddhist Temples, and there are many religious ceremonies held in March to commemorate the life and death of Buddah. Special memorial services and events are held at these popular temples: Shinnyo-do Temple, Sennyu-ji Temple, and the Tofuku-ji Temple.

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Weather

Kyoto has a subtropical humid climate with warm, wet summers and drier but mild winters. Summers last from June to September when average highs are mostly between 28 and 34 °C and nights are between 19 and 24 °C. Winters from December to February see highs of 9-11 °C and lows of 0-2 °C. Most of the annual rain falls between March and October, while winters are relatively dry and there is a chance of snow from December to March, with 3-5cm a month on average.

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Getting There

By Plane

As Kyoto doesn't have its own airport, Kansai International Airport (KIX) and Osaka Airport (ITM) are the gateways to Kyoto (and Osaka/Kansai for that matter). The latter only serves domestic destinations. There is an excellent road and railway network between the two cities.

By Train

Most visitors arrive at JR Kyoto Station by Shinkansen (bullet train) from Tokyo. Nozomi trains take approximately 2.15 hrs. to Kyoto and cost ¥13520 one-way. Travel agencies in Tokyo and Kyoto sell nozomi tickets with ¥700-1,000 discount. If you buy a ticket in an agency, it is "open date" - you can board any train as long as it is not full. All you have to do is show up at the train station, register your agency ticket and then you will be reserved a seat. The trains are equipped with vending machines and attendants selling snacks. Hikari trains, which run less frequently and make a few more stops, cover the trip in around 2.45 hours, but only the Hikari and the Kodama trains can be used by Japan Rail Pass holders at no charge.

By Car

Kyoto is easily reached by car via the Meishin Expressway between Nagoya and Osaka, but you'll definitely want to park your car on the outskirts of the city and use public transport to get around. Most attractions are in places built well before the existence of automobiles, and the availability of parking varies between extremely limited and non-existent. Furthermore, what little parking is available might be outrageously expensive.

By Bus

As Kyoto is a major city, there are many day and overnight buses which run between Kyoto and other locations throughout Japan, which can be a cheaper alternative than shinkansen fares. As the cultural center of Japan, Kyoto's bus connections are almost as numerous as Tokyo's. There are bus operators with night buses from Yamagata, Sendai, Koriyama, Fukushima, Tochigi, Utsunomiya, Saitama (Omiya), Yokohama, Niigata, Karuizawa, Toyama, Hamamatsu, Shizuoka, Numazu, Mishima, Matsue, Izumo, Tokuyama, Yamaguchi, Imabari, Matsuyama, Kochi, Fukuoka (Hakata), Takeo, Sasebo (Huis Ten Bosch). Same-day highway buses depart from Tsu, Yokkaichi, Nagoya, Toyokawa, Toyohashi, Takayama, Okayama, Kurashiki, Tsuyama, Fukuyama, Onomichi, and Hiroshima.

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Getting Around

By Public Transport

There are two subway lines which only serve a rather small part of the city. The north-south running Karasuma Line runs under Kyoto Station, and the west-east running Tozai Line links up with it near the city center. Both are useful for travel in the city center but not really suitable for temple-hopping. The Tozai Line does connect with the Keihan Line, however, which runs parallel to the Kamo-gawa, and is convenient for reaching Gion and southern Kyoto; it also gets you within a short walk of many of the sights in eastern Kyoto. A one-day pass for the subway costs ¥ 600.

Kyoto is criss-crossed by several train lines, all of which are clearly sign-posted in English. Although the lines are run independently and prices vary slightly between them, transfers can be purchased at most of the ticket machines. The Keihan train line can be useful for traveling in eastern Kyoto, while the two Keifuku tram lines are an attractive way of traveling in the northwest. Across the street from the northern terminus of the Keihan Line is the Eidan Eizan line, which runs to Mount Hiei and Kurama. The Hankyu Line starts at Shijo-Kawaramachi downtown, and connects to the Karasuma Line one stop later at Karasuma. It's useful for reaching Arashiyama and the Katsura Rikyu; it runs all the way to Osaka and Kobe. JR lines run from Kyoto station to the northwest (JR Sagano line), to the southwest (JR Kyoto line) and to the southeast (JR Nara line). There are local and express trains so check if they stop at your station before you get on.

The bus network is the only practical way of reaching some attractions, particularly those in north-western Kyoto. Fortunately the system is geared toward tourists, with destinations electronically displayed/announced in English as well as Japanese. Unlike other Japanese cities, a tourist probably is advised to use the buses here.

Confusingly however, there are two different bus companies in Kyoto, which occasionally even have overlapping line numbers. Green-and-white Kyoto City Buses (市バス shi-basu) travel within the city, and are the most useful for visitors; unless otherwise noted, all buses listed in this guide are city buses. Red-and-white Kyoto Buses travel to the suburbs and are generally much less useful.

Many buses depart from Kyoto Station, but there are well-served bus stations closer to the city center at Sanjō-Kawabata just outside the Sanjō Keihan subway line, and in the northern part of the city at the Kitaōji subway station. Most city buses have a fixed fare of ¥230, but you can also purchase a one day pass (¥500 for adults and ¥250 for children under 12) with which you can ride an unlimited number of times within a one day period. The day passes can be bought from the bus drivers or from the bus information center just outside Kyoto Station. This is especially useful if you plan on visiting many different points of interest within Kyoto. You can also buy a combined unlimited subway and bus pass for ¥1200.

By Bike

Particularly in spring and fall, but at any time of year, getting around by bicycle is an excellent option. Cycling forms a major form of personal transport year-round for locals. The city's grid layout makes navigation easy. The city is essentially flat, excepting a few places in the lower parts of the surrounding hills where you may have to climb a bit or park you bike to visit on foot. You can rent bicycles in many places in Japan for a reasonable price. During the peak tourist seasons, when roads are busy and buses tend to be crammed beyond capacity, bicycles are probably the best way to navigate Kyoto.

Kyoto's wide, straight roads make for heavy traffic in many parts of the city, but it is possible to find back alleys that are quieter and offer better chances to happen upon all sorts of sightseeing/cultural gems. Riding on major roads is OK, especially if you are confident and used to riding with traffic on the road, rather than on the sidewalk and especially again if you are used to riding/driving on the LEFT-HAND side of the road.

Be aware that it is forbidden to park your bike where it is not explicitly authorized, in which case it could get towed and you would have to pay a fine to get it back. So you will have to find a legal bike park near the place you want to visit and pay for it. It will not be the preferred transportation mean if you have planned to go to a district and visit it by foot along a non-circular route (like the Philosopher's Path in Higashiyama).

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Eat

Kyoto and the nearby city of Uji are well known for matcha (抹茶 maccha) or green tea, but visitors don't just come to drink the tea; there are a wide variety of matcha-flavored treats. Matcha ice cream is particularly popular, and most places selling ice cream will have it as an option. It also shows up in a variety of snacks and gifts.

Yatsuhashi (八ツ橋) is delicious Kyoto snack, made from rice flour and sugar. There are two types of yatsuhashi: baked and raw. The hard yatsuhashi was originally made using cinnamon, and tastes like a crunchy biscuit. Today, while the biscuits remain the same, you can also buy hard yatsuhashi dipped in macha and strawberry-flavored glazes.

Raw yatsuhashi, also known as hijiri was also made with cinnamon, but the cinnamon is mixed with bean paste and then folded into the hijiri to make a triangle shape. Today, you can buy a wide variety of flavors, including macha, chocolate and banana, and black poppyseed. Many of the flavors are seasonal, such as the sakura (cherry blossom) yatsuhashi available in the spring and mango, peach, blueberry, and strawberry, available from May to October.

Although yatsuhashi can be purchased at most souvenir shops, the best place to purchase raw yatsuhashi is the famous Honkenishio Yatsuhashi. While other stores may carry yatsuhashi, this is the place to find all of the seasonal flavors, as well as free samples. Most of these shops are located in Higashiyama. The most convenient for tourists is probably the one on Kiyomizu-zaka, just below the entrance to Kiyomizu-dera.

While many tourists find raw yatsuhashi to be a delicious (and highly affordable) souvenir, be aware that it only lasts for one week after purchase. Baked yatsuhashi on the other hand, will last for about three months. Consider this when deciding what gifts to take home with you.

Other Kyoto specialities include hamo (a white fish served with ume as sushi), tofu (try places around Nanzenji temple), suppon (an expensive turtle dish), vegetarian dishes (thanks to the abundance of temples), and kaiseki-ryori (multi-course chef's choice that can be extremely good and expensive).
If you have a lot of money, Kyoto is also an excellent place to experience kaiseki (懐石), which is a meal of many small courses and a quintessential type of Japanese fine dining; in Kyoto this will typically entail a private room with traditional Japanese architecture.

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Drink

Kyoto's night scene is dominated by bars catering for local needs, most of which are located in Central Kyoto around Kiyamachi, between Shijo and Sanjo. This area offers a wide variety of drinking options for all types of people. You'll also have no trouble finding the host and hostess bars, courtesy of the staff pacing around out front trying to entice visitors. There are plenty of options beyond this street in other regions, but with such a large concentration of bars along in the same area, its easy to locate a place where you feel most at home to relax for the night.

If you're looking for nightclubs, Kyoto has a few options, but it is not a city known for its thriving dance clubs. Those hoping to experience that part of Japanese nightlife should consider taking a train to Osaka where many of the clubs are hip and wild enough to rival any Tokyo club.

Some of Kyoto's most famous sake comes from Gekkeikan Brewery in the Fushimi area of Southern Kyoto. A 400-year-old brewery that still produces great sake, Gekkeikan also offers tours of its facilities.

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Sleep

Kyoto has a wide range of accommodation, much of it geared towards foreign visitors. During peak seasons, such as the cherry blossoms in April or during Golden Week when accommodation is difficult to get, consider staying in Osaka. A thirty-minute train ride from Kyoto Station to Osaka Station will cost you ¥540 one way. Since Kyoto is a major tourist destination, demand is high and prices follow suit.

Most of the lodging in the city is clustered near the central city, especially around Kyoto Station and the downtown area near Karasuma-Oike. The outer areas have a scattering of their own, tending towards inexpensive but often much further from train or subway stations.

For those who would like to experience traditional Japanese accommodation, Kyoto is home to some of Japan's most luxurious ryokan, though prices are generally very expensive and would make economy class flight tickets look cheap.

PropertyAddressTypePopularity
A-yado Gion3F Sakura bldg., 244-2, Nakano-cho, 2 chome ShinmHostel85
Amenity Hotel Kyoto Kiyomizu4-171 Kiyomizu Higashiyama-kuHotel-
Backpackers Hostel K's House Kyoto418 Nayachou Shichijo-agaru, Dotemachi-dori, Shimogyo-kuHostel91
bAKpAK Gion Hostel2-244 Miyagawa Suji Higashiyama-kuHostel85
Kyoto Bakpak Hostel1-234 Miyagawasuji Higashiyama-kuHostel-
Chita Guest Inn343 Takatsuki-choHostel89
Daiya Ryokan292, Nishi Tamamizu-cho, Higashihairu,Higashino ToHostel-
Eco and Tec Kyoto40 Sanjyoboucho AwadaguchiHotel-
Gion ShinmonsoShinmon Mae, Hanamikoji, Higashiyama Ku,Hostel-
Gojo Guest House3-396-2 Gojobashihigashi Higashiyama-KuHostel90
Gojo Guesthouse - Annex11-26 Komatsu-cho 4 Higashiyama-kuHostel89
Guest House Bola-Bola25-17 Horigauchi-cho Uzumasa Ukyoku Kyoto cityHostel88
Guest House Kyoto Costa del Sol134 Ebisu, Shinmachi, Gojo-sagaru Shimogyo-kuHostel78
Guest House Yahata544 Yahata-cho, Gojo-agaru Nishinotoin, Shimogyo-ku, Kyoto-shiHostel86
Guesthouse Bon63-2 Kamimonzen-cho Murasakino Kita-ku Kyoto JapanHostel88
Hanakiya Inn583-101 Higashi Rokucho-me Higashiyama-ku, 605-0856Hostel88
HannariHigurashidori Shimodachiurisagaru Kushigecho, KamiHostel-
Ryokan HirashinTakoyakushi-dori Takakura-Nishi Nakagyo-kuGuesthouse-
Hotel Alpha KyotoSanjo-Agaru, Kawaramachi Nakagyo-KuHotel-
Hotel Sanoya Kyoto Station539, Higashishiokoji-cho Higashinotoindori-NanajoHostel83
Hotel Sugicho172, Moriyama-cho, Tomikoji-oike-agaru Nakagyo-kuHostel81
IchiEnSou4-2 Komatsu-Chou SijoSagaru 4 Choume YamatoOojiDouHostel90
Ikoi-no-Ie Kyoto885 Ushitora-cho, Shimogyo-ku, Kyoto cityHostel85
Ishicho ShogikuenKawaramachi Dori Takeya Higashi Iru, Nakagyo-kuHostel-
J-Hoppers Kyoto Guest House51-2, Nakagoryo-cho Higashikujo, Minami-kuHostel88
Hostel Kyotokko (ex Kyoto Cheapest Inn)783 Sabamatsu-cho, Marutamachi-dori Matsuyacyo Nis Kamigyo-kuHostel78
Kyoto Guest House The Earthship33-15 Naka-Adaticho Yoshida Sakyo-kuGuesthouse85
Kyoto Nissho Besso RyokanToninokoji nishi 13 Nakagyo-ku SanjoHostel-
Kyoto Travelers Inn91, ENSHOJI-CHO, OKAZAKI SAKYO-KUHostel-
Kyoto UTANO Youth Hostel29 Nakayamacho Uzumasa Ukyo-kuHostel87
Nagomi-Ryokan Yuu94 Kamiwakamiya-cho, Wakamiya-dori Rokujo Nishi-ir Shimogyo-kuHostel84
O-yado Sato93 Kamiwakamiya-cho Shimogyo-kuHostel85
Orange InnKita-Kinuta 8, NIshi-Nanajyo, Shimogyo-ku,Hostel-
Oyado IshichoKawaramachi Dori Takeya Higashi Iru, Nakagyo-kuHostel-
RokuRoku28-1 Nishiteranomae-cho Shishigatani SakyHostel85
Ryokan NihonkanHigashi Shiokoji-cho, Shichijo-sagaru, Karasuma-doHostel79
Ryokan SankiShimabara Nishi-Shinyashiki-Shimono-choHostel86
Ryokan WajimayaHigashi-iru,Karasuma,Kamijuzuyamachi, Shimogyo-KuHostel82
Ryokan Wakamiya701,Ebisuno-cho, Nishinotoinhigashiiru NanajodoriHostel-
Ryokan Yachiyo34 Fukuchi Cho Nanzenji SakyoHostel-
Sparkling Dolphins Inn KyotoKamigoreicho 56,Higashi Kujyo Minami-kuHostel77
Station Ryokan Seiki24-25 Kitakarasuma-cho Higashikujo, Minami-kuHostel82
Tomato Kyoto Station135, Shimizu, Siokoji-Horikawa-Nishi ShimogyoHostel85
Tomiya Ryokan, Kyoto Station545 Higashishiokoji-cho, Higashinotoin-nishiiru SHostel71
Uno House108 Marutamachi-Sagaru, Shinkarasuma-doriHostel-
Uoiwa RyokanNanajo agaru 143, Horikawa-dori Shimogyo-kuHostel85
Watazen Ryokan413, Izutuyatyo Nakagyoku,Yanaginobanba,Rokkaku,SagaruHostel-
Yamashiroya Ryokan517,shiokoji-cho,nanajousagaru,toudouindori shimogHostel-
Guest House RAKUZA2-255,Miyagawa-suji Higashiyama-kuHostel-
Nine Hours Kyoto Teramachi588 Teianmaeno-cho,Shijyo,Teramachi-dori Shimogyo-kuHostel-
TANAKA-ya5-352-8 Miyagawa-suji HigashiyamaHostel86
Guest House Kyoto401-1 Teppo-cho, Shimogyo-ku,Hostel86
Peace House Sakura (Sakura House)188-1 Kadowaki-cho, Higashiiru Gojo-agaru, Ymatooji-doori, Higashiyama-ku,Guesthouse76
Kyoto Hostel Kanouya493-3Aizenjicho SenbonHisgashi Kamichojamachi-st Kamigyo-ku Kamigyo-kuHostel-
Kyoto Backpackers House25-17,Hinooka Ishizukachou, Yamshina-kuHostel-
Kyoto City Hostel664 Jofukoji Kyotoshi KamigyokuHostel-
Kyoto Globetrotters HostelKyoto shi Kamigyoku 664 Jofukuji DoriHostel-
Guest Inn Kyoto174-5 hanayacho kushige nishiiru yakuenchoHostel-
Guest House NAGOMI108-6 Wakamiyayokocho Kamigyou-kuHOSTEL86
Urban Hotel Kyoto4-59 Nishiura-cho Fukakusa Fushimi-kuHotel-
Kyoto Namba Terrace Guest House334 Kamidachiuri Senbon Area Daikoku-cho -Kyoto-ShiGuesthouse-
Renjishi14 Shimokashiwano-cho, Murasakino Kita-kuHOSTEL85
Kyoto Hana Hostel229 Akezu-no-mon Dori, Kogawa-cho Shimogyo-kuHOSTEL91
Kyoto Guesthouse Roujiya22-58, Ikenouchi-cho, Nishinokyo, Nakagyo-kuHostel85
Ryokan Yamato2-537-1 Shoumenkudaru-yamatooji, Yamatoojidori HigHOSTEL-
First Cabin Kyoto Karasuma4F, Takanoha-Square, 331, Kamiyanagi-cho, Bukkoji-dori Higashi-iru, Shimogyo-kuHOSTEL-
Guesthouse Kingyoya243 Kankicho 3Chome Omiya-Teranouchi (Agaru-NishiiHOSTEL-
Hostel Mundo596 Tenbin-Tyo Kamigyo-kuHOSTEL87
Khaosan Kyoto Guest House568 Nakanocho, Bukkoji-agaru Teramachi-dori, Shimogyo WardHOSTEL89
Jiyujin524,Izumi-cho,gojo-sagaru, higashidouindori,shimogyou-kuHOSTEL90
Guesthouse VENTEN347-1,Inokuma KamigyokuHostel-
Kyoto Bed and Breakfast HostelKamidachiuri dori Jofukuji Sagaru 663Guesthouse-
Guest House Yamato539-26 6Chome 5Jyo Higashiyama-KuHOSTEL86
Capsule Ryokan Kyoto204 Tshuchihashicho Shimogyo-Ku, KyotoHostel87
Small World Guesthouse in Kyoto25-10 Shimotorida-Tyou Murasakino Kita-kuHOSTEL83
Guest House Kinta462,Matubarananseigomon-machi, Shinnmiyagawamachi-dori,Higashiyama-kuHOSTEL86
Hotel Honnoji522 Shimohonnioji Teramaemachi, Oike-kudaru Teramachidori, Nakagyo-kuHOSTEL-
Hostel HARUYA542-4 Furukawa-cho, Sanjo-dori, Shirakawabashi-nisHOSTEL-
Guest House AtagoyaSaga kurumamichi-cho 4-27 Ukyo-kuGUESTHOUSE86
Kiraku Inn Kyoto251, Umemoto-cho, Sinmonzen-dori, Higashiyama-kuHOSTEL-
Kyoto Jalan-do346 Isetacho Gokomachi Rokkaku sagaru Nakagyo-kuHOSTEL-
Guesthouse Waraku-anSannou-cho19-2, Shougoin Sakyou-kuHOSTEL-
Pan and Circus616 Azuchi-cho,Gojo-agaru,Kawaramachi-dori,ShimogyHOSTEL84
Jam Hostel Kyoto GionTokiwacho170 Higashiyama KyotoHOSTEL-
Oyama Guesthouse31-7,Miyanogocho, Kamikatsura NishikyokuHOSTEL-
Kyoto Tsumugi Inn28 Maeda-cho, Chudoji, Shimogyo-ku, Kyoto CityGUESTHOUSE-
OKI's Inn542-2 Furukawa-cho Higashiyama-ku Kyoto-shiHOSTEL-
Guest House Itoya KyotoArimachi 202, Kamigyo-ku,HOSTEL-
Hostel HARUYA Aqua1-12 Waki-choHOSTEL86
Guest house Hennka KyotoSouzancho 1-12 Imagumano HigashiyamaGuesthouse-
Hostel Mundo Chiquito485 Aburanokoji Takeyachosagaru Hashimotocho NakagyokuHOSTEL88
Piece Hostel Kyoto21-2 Higashikujo HigashisannochoHOSTEL92
Santiago Guesthouse Kyoto6-503 Gojohashi Higashi, Higashiyama-kuHOSTEL82

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Keep Connected

Internet

Manga cafes are dotted along the streets of almost every city in Japan. For a very reasonable price (about ¥100 per 15 minutes), you receive a private cubicle with a PC with internet access at blistering Japanese internet speeds. The chairs are incredibly comfortable (making them an excellent place to sleep for the cash-deprived), and you can even order snacks and drinks from the staff.

A number of business hotels have Internet access available if you have your own device, sometimes for free. It is also possible to find Wi-Fi "hot spots" around many large cities in Japan, especially near tech-related businesses and large corporate buildings with unsecured wireless networks. 3G Wireless Data and Pocket Wifi are other options.

Phone

See also: International Telephone Calls

Payphones (公衆電話 kōshū denwa) are easily found, particularly near train stations, although with the popularity of mobile phones, public pay phones are not quite as numerous as they once were. Gray and green pay phones accept ¥10 and ¥100 coins and prepaid cards. Be aware that not all places with public telephones have phones that accept coins, so it may be worthwhile to buy a phone card for emergency use. Some of the gray phones, as indicated on the display, can make international calls. Pre-paid cards can be purchased at convenience stores, train station kiosk stores and sometimes in vending machines next to the phone.

Modern Japanese mobile phones (携帯電話 keitai denwa or just keitai) tend to operate on unique cellular standards not always compatible with the rest of the world. 3G phones using the UMTS/WCDMA2100 standard and equipped with a 3G SIM card will most likely work. If your phone is up to spec, double-check with your carrier if they have a roaming agreement with either SoftBank or NTT DoCoMo. Coverage is generally excellent, unless you are heading to some remote mountainous areas. If you have no 3G phone but still have a 3G-compatible SIM card, you can rent a 3G phone in Japan and slot in your card, allowing you to keep your home phone number in Japan. For a longer trip, you can also purchase a phone, but doing this legally requires an Alien Registration Card (or an obliging Japanese friend willing to front for you).

The easier way is to get a prepaid phone. Prepaid phones are sold in most SoftBank and AU stores. If you already have a 3G phone, go with Softbank as it can sell SIMs as opposed to au whose prepaid service is phone-based like most CDMA carriers. Prepaid phones use a "card" with a pass key to "charge" a phone with minutes. These prepaid calling cards, unlike the phone itself, can be found in most convenience stores. A prepaid cell phone is available for as little as ¥5000 plus ¥3000 for a 60-90 day call time package, which will get drained at a rate of ¥100 per minute (¥10 per 6 seconds for AU's prepaid service). Both SoftBank and AU offer prepaid phones.

Post

The Japanese postal service is excellent! Domestic and international mail service is very quick and reliable. The prices for sending letters, postcards and parcels vary depending on where you send if from and to which country you send it too, and of course depends on weight as well, so check this calculation page of Japan Post for more details. Post offices generally are open from 9:00am to 5:00pm on weekdays, closing at weekends and also on national holidays, though a few open on Saturdays from 9:00am to 3:00pm. Central post offices are sometimes open until 7:00pm, open on Saturdays from 9:00am to 5:00pm and on Sundays and holidays from 9:00am to 12:30pm. There are post offices in every major city and minor town. Another thing to remember is that the post office is one of the few places in Japan that is guaranteed to have ATMs that take international cards.

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Quick Facts

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Coordinates
  • Latitude: 35.098129
  • Longitude: 135.718735

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This is version 40. Last edited at 8:53 on Dec 19, 16 by Utrecht. 16 articles link to this page.

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