Downtown Kyoto: Gion, by Day and Night

We made it to Kyoto from Kawaguchiko on the bullet train, which is incredibly spacious and comfortable. Our itinerary for Kyoto included visiting as many as three temples each morning. In the evenings, we would spend it in the Gion area of Kyoto, which was beautiful both during the day and at night. 

One day, we walked what is called Philosopher's Walk which is a stone path along a small canal. Lining the path were cherry blossom trees that were orange in the fall, and there were small bridges to cross from side to side. It was a pretty walk and along the way there are small temples to visit.

For dinner one day we went to a place called Omen in Gion for udon noodles. We were hungry early after a long day of walking through temples so even though Omen didn't open for another half hour, we decided to wait outside. By the time the restaurant opened, there was a line down the block and we were the first ones in. We had seen Omen recommended online, but we did not realize how popular it would be. It was quite delicious!

After dinner each night we would walk through the endless alleys with restaurants and small bars tucked along the way. For dinner another night, we waited in line for a gyoza restaurant called Chao Chao. We aren't really the wait-in-line type of people, but Kyoto seemed to be more touristy than Tokyo or Kawaguchiko, so there were a lot of people in line for restaurants, temples, hikes, etc.

The wait for Chao Chao was so worth it. It was the most delicious gyoza I've ever had. The classic pork gyoza and the scallion gyoza were my two favorites. It's hard to describe what made these gyoza better than any others that I've had, but the char was absolutely perfect and the flavor was great. The crisp Asahi beer on tap helped make it a great, simple meal. 

Our Airbnb came with two bikes which made it extremely easy to get around the city! Kyoto isn't as large as Tokyo of course, so the train system is more limited. Instead of relying on buses and cabs, the bikes made it so convenient to go from temple to temple.

With some research, we found a restaurant that was known for it's grilled eel over rice. While it seems simple enough, it was one of the best meals I had in Kyoto! It had just the right amount of grill flavor, and was perfectly tender.

We explored Nishiki Market, and everything online suggests getting the tamago-yaki, which is a small octopus stuffed with a cooked quail egg. So we had to try it! While I liked the egg inside of the octopus head, the legs were cold, which made for a strange contrast.

Some evenings, we watched the sun set down by the river, drinking Sapporo before heading to dinner. Kyoto is really beautiful because in the distance, you can see mountains peaking over the buildings. One thing that Japan taught me is how beautiful mountains are.


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