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Exploring Japan on the Kyoto Rail Tour

May 26th, 2010 by

Are you short on time to spend in Japan? Do you want to find a way to see as much of the country as possible, without breaking the bank or spending more time than you really have? If so, you may want to consider the Kyoto Rail Tour by Bullet Train.

Where is Kyoto?

DSCF1109 Japan - Kyoto - The highest pagoda of Japan, the Toji temple

The Kyoto prefecture is a city located on the Japanese island of Honshu. With a population of 1.5 million people, and a major part of the Osaka-Kobe-Kyoto metropolitan district, Kyoto was at one point the capital of Japan. Today it serves as the capital of the Kyoto Prefecture.

DSCF1182 Japan - Kyoto - View over one of Kyoto's rivers. Tea terraces on the left

Kyoto has a rich history, filled with wars, fires, and events of historic significance. Several original temples, shrines, and ancient structures still exist in the today’s version of the city, all waiting to be explored.

The Kyoto Rail Tour


The Kyoto Rail Tour by Bullet Train is one of the most spectacular opportunities most tourists have when it comes to visiting and touring the city of Kyoto. Visitors staying in hotels in Tokyo, whether on business or for a short vacation, often have only a day or so to do any type of exploration outside of the city. The Kyoto Rail Tour will get you out of Tokyo, ensuring you see a few of the area’s other incredible sites while in route to Kyoto.

DSCF5187 Japan - Mount Fuji area - Mount Fuji seen from the eastern site

The Kyoto Rail Tour is a one-day adventure, starting early in the day in Tokyo. Once your train leaves the station, you’ll find yourself traveling through the gorgeous Japanese countryside. If the weather is nice, you’ll be able to see Mt. Fuji from your train.

New Miyako Hotel, Kioto Japon, Diciembe 2006

Once you arrive in the city of Kyoto, you’ll have the opportunity to enjoy a delicious lunch at the New Miyako Hotel – a meal that is included in your trip fare. Afterwards, you’ll be escorted by your professional guide as you begin sightseeing the city of Kyoto.

Things to See in Kyoto

DSCF0959 Japan - Kyoto - View from the Shimogamo shrine to Kyoto's busiest street

As you explore the city of Kyoto, you’ll be taken to several points of interest. The main tourist attractions you’ll get to visit include the Heian Shinto shrine, the Buddhist Sanjusangendo Hall, and the Kiyomizu Buddhist temple.

dsc01137 on the way to Chionin Temple from Heian Shrine

The Heian Shrine was built in 1895 in celebration of the 1,100th anniversary of the city of Kyoto, formerly known as Heiankyo. The traditional torii gate, found at the entrance to the shrine, is considered one of the largest in Japan. The main building within the shrine was designed to look like the Kyoto Imperial Palace, but on a smaller scale. Within the shrine’s grounds you’ll find a number of palace buildings and gorgeous gardens to explore. If you visit in late October, you may even be able to participate in the Jidai Matsuri festival when it arrives at the gates of the shrine.

Kyoto - Sanjusangendo Temple - 1001 carved images of Kannon

Sanjusandgendo is one of the most popular temples in Kyoto. Founded in 1164, the original temple was victim of a fire in 1249, and was not rebuilt until 1266. What sits in Kyoto today is what remains of the rebuilt building. Sanjusandgendo is considered the longest wooden building standing in Japan and, inside, you’ll find a collection of more than 1,001 Kannon – the Buddhist goddess of mercy. Sanjusan, when translated, means “33,” and represents the number of spaces between the pillars in the building. The number was chosen because it was believed that Kannon could shift herself into 33 different shapes as she worked through her missions.

dsc00786 Night view of Kiyomizu Temple

The temple known as Kiyomizu-dera, or Otawa-san Kiyomizua-dera, is located in the eastern section of Kyoto. This temple is not related to, and should not be confused with, the Kiyomizu-dera temple in western Japan. This particular temple is one of the oldest in the area, dating back to 798, with some of the surrounding buildings dating back to a 1633 restoration project. If you carefully explore the entire complex, you’ll find that not one nail was used in its construction.

Day 7 - Kiyomizu Temple (Kyoto) 5

At the end of the day, you’ll board your train again and head back to Tokyo. The Kyoto Rail Tour lasts about 12 ½ hours and is the perfect way to spend a day in Japan. Pack some comfortable walking shoes, throw a few snacks in your bag, and make sure you have extra batteries for your camera. You’ll want to remember every moment of your trip!

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