Are you a party animal? Or excited to have a luxury dinner in Kyoto?
I would guess some of you are, but I also know a lot of you are not.
In my experience, Kyoto is the city for early birds, it also means they go to sleep early.
If you want to visit temples in the evening, they are often closed, if they do not have a special evening showing.
Let me show you my experience in Kyoto, quite modest way. Generally, I was too tired after walking around for the whole day, and often needed to have a nap in evening!
Go to the shrines in the evening, not the Buddhist temples.
Temples are often open really early, and they also close early (17:00). But the shrines often have the gates open till really late or even 24 hours. However, I would not recommend walking up the mountain side at night, but big shrines are often open, or even lit up.
Heian Jingu (平安神宮) in Okazaki, After 17:00, Oct.
It was interesting that someone was wearing the costume of 1000 years ago, and probably playing ancient music organs at the gate. Unfortunately, I was too tired to wait for his performance.
It was Friday evening. I guess they may have a small festival on the weekend.
Some served alcohol, the others served food.
Quick note about Heian Jingu.
Kyoto was a Japanese capital since 794 to 1868. In 1895, to celebrate the settlement of 1100 years, they built a small scale original palace, as the pavilion, and now it is shrine. It is a very new shrine. The gods are the Emperor Kanmu (桓武天皇), who settled the capital in Kyoto, and the Emperor Komei (孝明天皇), who is the last emperor that lived in this city.
Yasaka Jinja (八坂神社）in Gion, Oct
Before I went to dinner, I stopped by Yasaka Jinja, it was 18:30 in October, so it was already dark.
There are many people inside. I would not recommend going to a darker corner of the shrine, but under the lights, you will be safe.
After my dinner, I took the picture below of Yasaka Jinja.
It was after 20:00 (in Japan, this means it is night in any season), still there are many people here as it is located in front of the main street, Shijyo Dori(Forth Ave).
Note for Yasaka Jinja.
Unlike Heian Jingu, it is one of the oldest shrines in Kyoto.
It is famous for Gion Matsuri, the biggest festival in Kyoto during July.
Night exhibition in temples (seasonal)
Generally, temples tend to close the gate at 17:00.
In Autumn and Spring, the temples are often open till late at night. This is a seasonal special exhibition.
While I was in Kyoto, it seems only Kodai-ji (高台寺) was open. Which is also close to the Gion area. It was 17:30, and was already dark.
Visitors were welcomed by beautiful projection map, and they lit up the garden.
It is really up to the temples when they stay open for their seasonal exhibition. It usually happens during a period of 4 weeks in late Oct to late Nov, which is the season of beautiful red leaves (it was too early for the red leaves when I was there). They also do this in the Spring, the season of cherry-blossom bloom.
Please check each of the temples HPs before you attend!
I enjoyed a nice blowfish cuisine in Kyoto, sponsored by Kkday. (I had written about it in my Japanese blog).
It was at Genpin, in Gion, which is quite close to Yasaka Jinja. On that day, I went to 3 places in the evening; Kodai-ji, Yasaka Jinja, and Genpin, respectively.
Genpin is a chain, but also a luxury restaurant. The Gion branch is a small building, and I needed to walk up to the third floor (in Japan, we count the first floor as what is on street level), and it seems there are no elevators. If you have problems walking, I recommend asking them when you book. They also have some seating on the first floor.
The night I went, there was staff on the third floor who was from Mainland China, and there were many Chinese speakers at the restaurant. I did not hear English, but it seems they are familiar with guests from abroad.
While walking up/down to/from the top floor, I saw the first floor and the second floor, which looked fully occupied. This was not on a weekend. I definitely recommend making a reservation ahead of time.
Please do not miss Collagen drinks (these drinks are not included in the price of the KKday package. If you want to drink, you have to pay). I bought Mango Collagen drink. You can see it in the picture below.
The mass in the front is ice cubes. The mass in the back is Collagen jelly. I had previously drank some “Collagen drinks” in other stores and they generally added collagen powders in the drinks. It was really exciting.
I also must admit that this collagen smelled like something. It is possible that the collagen is made from blowfish, which are famous for collagen. The texture on my mouth was really interesting and fun.
Also, you can see the Maiko performance and night tour. This bus tour is run by Kyoto Kanko Bus, and I had bought a different tour from Kkday.