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Things to do in Kyoto During the Rugby World Cup 2019

By Ruben Cintron
03 September 2020
Things to do in Kyoto During the Rugby World Cup 2019

By Matthew Wears

Sure, the bright lights of Tokyo and Osaka are cool, but for those of you who are searching for that traditional side of Japan then there’s just one place you should go; Kyoto. It’s already one of Japan's most visited cities, but it’s gearing up to get even busier for the upcoming Japan Rugby World Cup 2019 that begins this September, a competition that looks like it will be placing Japan right on the world rugby map! I’m not really telling you a secret by saying there’s absolutely tons of amazing things to do in Kyoto, but even so it’s a city that has earned its place at the top of Japanese tourism through an array of stunning temples, tranquil shrines and of course the fact that’s it’s home of one of the country’s most famous images; the geisha. Coming to Japan for the Rugby World Cup 2019 just wouldn’t be complete without visiting Kyoto. Even though it’s not actually hosting any of the games, it’s still an absolute must-see destination, so if you’ve got your Rugby World Cup tickets to the neighbouring Osaka or Kobe, take the short journey over to Kyoto. When you get there, make sure you’ve read this Japan Rugby World Cup Guide to ensure that you’re ready to explore all of the best Kyoto Attractions and dive into Japan's historic past.

 


Tips for the city

Kyoto won’t be featuring any of the Rugby World Cup 2019 Fixtures, which is a bit of a shame, but I don’t think it should stop anyone from visiting here, even if it’s just for a day or so! It’s just a two-hour journey on the Shinkansen line from futuristic Tokyo, from Osaka it can be as short as half an hour if you get the fast train, and even Sapporo or Fukuoka aren’t far. You can see our full Osaka Rugby World Cup 2019 guide here, but if you’re planning on going to Kobe then you’ll be heading to the Kobe Misaki Stadium which is going to be seeing four enthralling games during the competition. For the weather, the cities in this part of the country all have a similar climate, with an average temperature of around eighteen degree celsius, but obviously getting colder the further into winter you go!

Getting around

In terms of getting around the city for your Kyoto Rugby World Cup trip, there’s a few things you’re going to want to know. Firstly, like most other Japanese cities, the best way of getting around is by either subway or train, there’s not many places they don’t stop near to. Because you’re going to be travelling so much on the train around this area of the country, I’d also really recommend getting a Japan Rail Pass, there’s a one, two, or three week option so just pick whichever one suits you and you’ll be saving money in no time. Getting a taxi is always an option as well, they’re always metered and can be handy for getting to harder to reach places such as Kinkaku-Ji Temple. That’s all you need to know, now let’s have a look at a handful of the awesome things to do in Kyoto when you get here!

Walk through the Fushima Inari Shrine

Kyoto attractions don’t come more iconic than this, it’s probably one of the most famous Japanese landmarks, you can’t even go on any Japan tourism site and not see at least one picture of the famous red torii gates. The actual shrine is well worth a look as well, but it’s the mountain trails behind the main building that’s the real attraction, where thousands of torii gates lead up to the summit of the sacred Mount Inari where you can some truly awesome views of Kyoto down below. It’s completely free to visit and it’s open all of the time, but I’d definitely recommend going at sunrise or early morning to be able to get some tourist-free snaps! It’s an incredible sight, so much so that it makes a visit to Kyoto during your Rugby World Cup 2019 trip a justifiable decision all on its own, I’m not exaggerating!

Explore Gion, the geisha district

Kyoto has more than one geisha district, but Gion is both the most famous and the most prestigious, offering a snapshot into a one of the countries most iconic and beautiful traditions. The narrow wooden streets are filled with ochaya (teahouses), restaurants and shops, as well as being home to the beautifully dressed geisha entertainers, who you can see walking the streets if you’re lucky! There’re so many places to discover, it can be helpful to take one of our Kyoto tours of the area to discover all of the hidden gems! Hanami-koji is the main street and probably the best place if you’re searching for where to eat in Kyoto for that traditional Japanese experience. It’s a place where you can find some of Kyoto’s best izakaya, such as Gion Manzara, an authentic little restaurant that’s seasonal set menu is perfect for an introduction into izakaya.

The "kitchen of Kyoto"

Nishiki Market is often referred to as the ‘kitchen of Kyoto’ and it’s pretty obvious to see why, you can buy absolutely anything remotely food related here, from fresh fish, seasonal vegetables and even cooking utensils! Whilst it might seem strange to visit a local produce market, it remains one of the main Kyoto attractions and it’s a real sight to see the madness of an authentic Japanese market. It’s not all just produce though, there’s also stalls that sell delicious Japanese street food such a dumplings and mochi, so you should definitely check it out if you’re searching for where to eat in Kyoto that offers something a bit different! Unfortunately, this isn’t one of the things to do in Kyoto at night because it closes at 6pm, instead it’s to be enjoyed most during its opening at 10am when crowds aren’t yet at their worst! 

Experience the beauty of Arashiyama 

One of the main three things to do in Kyoto along with Fushima Inari and Kinkaku-Ji, Arashiyama is a place of spectacular beauty where temples and parks are connected by miles of scenic walking trails for you to explore. The star of the show is of course the emerald coloured bamboo grove, a stunning walkway through Japan's most iconic plants which has become another world-famous spot, so make sure to go at sunrise if you can to avoid tourists! The other notable sight that you should definitely check out is Tenryu-Ji Temple, if not for the building itself but for the incredible garden that is one of the finest in entire city, a space of absolute tranquillity and calm. The Japan Rugby World Cup 2019 takes place at the peak of the autumn colours, which are simply stunning in the Arashiyama area, so all the more reason to visit!

Find the hidden Angel Library

Should your Kyoto Rugby World Cup trip be in need of something completely different to the norm, the Angel Library should be at the very top of the list of things to do in Kyoto. In the Gion district exists an ornate chocolate shop called Cacao Market, but whilst the shop is completely normal, underneath is lies a totally hidden café called the Angel Library, with an entrance that even requires a secret code to get in! If you ask at the chocolate shop about the café, they will hand you a piece of paper with instructions on how to locate the secret entrance, then it’s up to you to find it from there. If you make it, you’ll find the interior is small and cosy, the perfect place to spend an afternoon hiding away with a book, safe in the knowledge that you won’t be disturbed by anyone else of course!

Learn the ways of Sake at Gekkeikan Ōkura Museum

What sounds better than spending a day learning about sake and then tasting the delicious produce at the end? Nothing? Correct! The Gekkeikan Ōkura Sake Museum is where you can do just this, a place that although isn’t totally undiscovered, I still feel like it’s one of the most underrated things to do in Kyoto. Take a tour through the fermentation room and tool rooms, where you can see the centuries old process of turning rice into Japan's most popular spirit. Afterwards, make sure to head to the sake tasting area where you can pretend to be a sake connoisseur as you compare and contrast the different drinks, having the option to buy your favourites as well! If you need a stiff drink after the craziness of your Osaka Rugby World Cup trip, then this is definitely the place for you!

Discover Kinkaku-Ji Golden Temple

The last of the three most popular things to do in Kyoto, I might’ve just saved the best until the end! The Kinkaku-Ji Golden Temple is a simply stunning traditional building that is almost completely covered in, you guessed it, gold leaf, set in the pretty northern area of the city. This is probably the most visited of all the Kyoto attractions, so as I’ve said before try and see it early in the day before the tourists arrive, and believe me, there will be a lot! When you’re done taking it all in, head to the garden area where you can grab a refreshing cup of matcha tea and some traditional (and delicious) Japanese sweets. Unfortunately, the temple isn’t exactly near any train stations, so the only way of getting there is by either a public bus, going on a tour, or the easiest option which would be to hire a taxi, but that’s going to be pricey.