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Kyoto Shrines and Temples reservations + a BB

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New York City, New...
posts: 1
reviews: 4
Kyoto Shrines and Temples reservations + a BB

Hi trip advisor community.

My husband and I are going to Kyoto in mod October. I have heard that one needs reservation to some of the shrines and temples. Does anyone know which ones? If so, how long in advance should I make the reservation?

Also, if you know about a great ryokan hotel in Kyoto that is nice and clean and not that pricey, would be much appreciated.

Thanks in advance!

Tokyo, Japan
posts: 14,569
reviews: 90
1. Re: Kyoto Shrines and Temples reservations + a BB

>>I have heard that one needs reservation to some of the shrines and temples<<

I think you mean for the moss gardens at Kokedera, which is nice, but not a must-do for first timers to Japan.


Other places requiring prior reservation are the Imperial villas (which are all nice, but not a must-do):

Shugakuin Villa: http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e3936.html

Katsura Villa: http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e3914.html

”Not that pricey" is a vague concept. Ryokan (hotel, inn) ranges from a shelter for day laborers to five star accommodation.

For an experience, how about Hatanaka?


posts: 1,665
reviews: 28
2. Re: Kyoto Shrines and Temples reservations + a BB

Perhaps pick up a good guide book, this should give you an overview of what to expect in Kyoto.

As Yobeekool notes, the range of accommodation is diverse, but do consider a good ryokan as 'an experience' not just a bed for the night when looking at your options. (The charges should include breakfast & dinner.)

Note that many cheaper tourist ryokan that cater to foreign visitors may simply include a basic Japanese style room without meals or just a light breakfast to cater to western tourists (eg. toast).

Whilst good ryokan will include personal service (akin to having a butler & maid attending to you for the duration), the room will display fine artwork such as calligraphy and flower arrangement, usually a view to an exquisite garden, both meals will be multi-course banquet style - prepared by a master chef & something which you are unlikely to forget. The food will often be served on specially chosen dishes which will be artworks themselves. Nothing will be too much trouble for the staff - arranging tours, bookings, outings, and they will look after you as if you were royalty.

Staying in a good ryokan is a 'must not miss' experience & worth saving up for on your trip to Kyoto.

You also have the option of a range of western style hotels with the usual service.

Tokyo, Japan
posts: 14,569
reviews: 90
3. Re: Kyoto Shrines and Temples reservations + a BB

A cheaper-by-price ryokan experience might be enjoyed at a popular onsen resort. Kyoto is the former capital of Japan, as well as being a top tourist destination in Japan, so a real great accommodation (four-five star ryokan) can cost extra money for upkeeping and employing real master chefs, whose culinary techniques we might have difficulty appreciating.

I might want some buffet style all-you can eat with more volume than real quality. Kaiseki in Kyoto typically uses expensive and rare food items grown and caught near Kyoto- but we might not appreciate the taste fully. If I want just a voluminous Japanese full course dinner with sashimi, tempura, beef pot, soup, etc, ie the normal goodies we'd expect in Japan, I'd rather go to a ryokan in an onsen resort, not Kyoto.

Edited: 12:06 am, August 12, 2012
San Antonio, Texas
posts: 95
reviews: 76
4. Re: Kyoto Shrines and Temples reservations + a BB

My sixth and final visit to Kyoto, I splurged on a two-night stay at Shiraume, which for me was the quintessential Japanese experience: historic teahouse in Gion, impeccable service, amazing kaiseki ryori dinner, relaxing and invigorating hinoki mineral baths, and lavish Japanese breakfast spreads. My room had a view of a private Japanese garden on the Shirakawa canal, seasonal calligraphy and each day a seasonal sweet and green tea was set out in the afternoons. http://komaki.shutterfly.com/pictures/2087

As Elly M and Yobeekool mentioned, kaiseki ryori is like food theater: everything is arranged to please the eye, from the selected dishes to the arrangement. You can expect to pay around $100 for a kaiseki ryori meal in Kyoto; mine was included in the room rate at the ryokan. The rate for breakfast and room was around $250 a night at the time I reserved ($350 including kaiseki ryori dinner); keep in mind that for most ryokans, the rate is based on several people in the room, so if you're a solo traveler, you end up paying more.

I also opted to visit Kokedera (Saihoji Temple), having made my reservations several months in advance. It is certainly pricey (a 3000-yen donation), but a very memorable experience. It was overcast on the day I visited, but I still got some great photos of the moss gardens:


Edited: 7:14 pm, August 18, 2012
Adelaide, South...
posts: 5
reviews: 1
5. Re: Kyoto Shrines and Temples reservations + a BB

The breakfast looked good :) what was dinner like for $100?

When we stayed in ryokans in Takayama and Shima onsen last May the dinner was superb and cost 3500yen with similar special service.

Cheers G

Tokyo, Japan
posts: 14,569
reviews: 90
6. Re: Kyoto Shrines and Temples reservations + a BB

The food quality in top ryokans in Kyoto differs from a full course in a popular onsen resort or a BB. Many people who are not used to Japanese cuisine and service might not recognize the difference (or only recognize it slightly), but it's there, definitely, and so reflected in the price.

An infant might not understand the difference between a premier beef steak at a proper grill restaurant and McDonald's plain hamburger. Beef is just beef, and ryokan meal is just ryokan meal to some (nothing wrong as long as you are satisfied with cost / performance, and you are paying for it).

For people who can comfortably splurge more than 250USD for one night per person for an experience, the high class ryokans of Kyoto are recommended. For people who feel reluctant to do so, I'd rather recommend a mid-class ryokan of a popular onsen resort starting from around 100USD per person.

Edited: 11:46 pm, August 18, 2012
Adelaide, South...
posts: 5
reviews: 1
7. Re: Kyoto Shrines and Temples reservations + a BB

Thanks Yoobeekool- we certainly, being first time travellers to your lovely country,were easily impressed with the fabulous meals we were served up in a number of restaurants and ryokans.

Now I have googled kaiseki ryori I can see they may have been a slight difference in the ryokans but when we dined at Kikunoi in Gion the service and food was sensational and seemed to follow the same format.

Cheers and btw we hope to get back soon :)

San Antonio, Texas
posts: 95
reviews: 76
8. Re: Kyoto Shrines and Temples reservations + a BB

In many traditional ryokans, dinner is mandatory, but Tomoko only asked that I reserve dinner one of my two nights. It was certainly an experience (see photos here:


but as Yobeekool mentioned, it's more about the aesthetics than the flavor.

I had asked for a vegetarian dinner, so I had fresh wild greens and mountain vegetables (ferns, etc.) in various preparations, local seaweed, etc. The owner Tomoko brought each course and explained the origins of the various ingredients and the preparation methods (which as a foodie, I jotted down for later!). I would say it's worth doing once to say you've done it, but I don't know that I would seek out a repeat experience only because of the cost involved (to be honest, I'm just as happy with a $1 cup of Greek yogurt!).

Edited: 9:40 am, August 19, 2012
9. Re: Kyoto Shrines and Temples reservations + a BB

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