5. Kyoto: Guided Walking Tour with Nijo Castle & Yasaka Shrine
Joining this small-group walking tour with a knowledgeable local guide will make your day in Kyoto a memorable one. The first stop is Nijo Castle, where you will hear about its history. Explore the main gate, inside the main building, and finally the massive garden and observatory.
After Nijo Castle, take a short subway ride to Karasuma Oike station. From there, walk to a nearby local supermarket. See local fresh fruits, and visit a deli and bakery. If you did not eat breakfast, it is possible to take a short break here.
Continue to Nishiki Market, located in Kyoto's downtown area. You will see a variety of foods such as seafood, deep-fried foods, Japanese pickles, Karaage, Takoyaki, Japanese spice, ice cream, green tea, egg roll, and more. Feel free to stop, taste, and buy food as you go. You will also have a chance to purchase Japanese knives, teacups, and plates.
After exploring the Nishiki Market, walk through Shin Kyogoku street, Sanjo street, and Kiyamachi street, to end up on the famous Ponto street. You will see a variety of shops, cafes, and restaurants. Feel free to make a stop and enjoy a coffee break or lunch.
You will then head into the Gion neighborhood. See the Minamiza Kabuki theatre and walk the traditional Hanamikoji street. Your guide will also take you to some of the backstreets in Gion where many ochaya teahouses can be found. You will not meet any maiko or geisha in the daytime, but you may do so if you come back in the evening.
Finally, end up at the Yasaka Shrine, located at the eastern end of the Gion district. Visit the main stage and learn what it was set up for, and touch the underground water, which is said to enhance the beauty of body and mind.