Toji Temple is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of Kyoto’s most recognized landmarks. About a fifteen minute walk from Kyoto Station, Toji Temple is also near Kyoto Aquarium and the large Umekoji Park, famous for fall colors and the Kyoto Railway Museum where visitors can marvel at the history of trains, from steam locomotives to the shinkansen.
Toji Temple is home to a five story pagoda, the tallest in Japan. Founded in the 700s but rebuilt in the Edo period due to fires, the buildings still stand in their original location and feel like a step back in time. Don’t miss the Kondo, the main hall, to see Buddhist statues and pray for health, and the picturesque pagoda. While the latter cannot be entered, it’s still a sight to behold. At 55 meters high, it’s the tallest wooden structure in Japan. There is also a flea market held on the temple grounds on the 21st of every month, a great place to find authentic and affordable souvenirs.
Whether you’re out and about exploring Toji Temple, Kyoto Aquarium or just relaxing in Umekoji Park, check out these restaurants if you’re feeling peckish.
Located next to Kyoto Aquarium, Miyako Yasai Kamo is a healthy, all-you-can-eat buffet. Miyako Yasai Kamo serves all-you-can-eat fresh, organic vegetables at their Hakate Bar, similar to a salad bar. All of the vegetables are grown and harvested in Kyoto and visitors can try unique Japanese vegetables like purple sweet potatoes, bright carrots and rocket lettuce. The Hakate Bar is available throughout the day; for breakfast pair the vegetables with toast or udon for an extra ¥500 to start off the day on a healthy foot and in the evening, the beef and pork shabu shabu option is perfect for warming up.
Open for brunch 10am-11am (last order 10:50am), lunch 11am-3:30pm (last order 3pm), dinner 5pm-10pm (last order 9:30pm)
Izakaya Bamboo is a homey Japanese pub near Kyoto Station. The menu is vast – it includes beef, pizza, salad, but the seafood is the most recommended. The fresh sashimi assortments are a must-try and grilled prawn and sausage pair well with beer. The izakaya is small and cozy and each meal tastes authentic and homemade. Sample a variety of dishes without worrying over the menu with their course plans, which include a sampling of their best dishes with an all-you-can-drink nomihoudai.
Open 5pm to 11pm. Course plans start from ¥2,800.
Osaka, known for its rowdy drinking culture and delicious fried foods, is separated from Kyoto by just a 30 minute train ride. While Kyoto is known for its elegant kaiseki cuisine and matcha desserts, it’s still easy to grab a bite of fried Osaka deliciousness in the traditional city. Arata, about a ten minute walk from Kyoto Station, serves okonomiyaki, a savory pancake filled with ingredients of your choice. You’ll watch the chefs hard at work, pan frying yakisoba noodles and layering the okonomiyaki ingredients. You can’t go wrong with a traditional okonomiyaki, filled with cabbage, seafood, pork and topped with a savory sauce, mayonnaise and green onion.
Open 5pm to 11pm. Closed on Sunday.