After fully absorbing the cultural feel of Kyoto, it is time to get around & nearby attractions. And there are plenty of options, either as a day trip or even a few relaxing days.
Deer Town of Nara is a short distance away, easily accessible via train in 45 minutes. First stop is to Todai-ji Temple, a short 15-minute walk from the train station along busy street (with bumbling cute deers along the way too!). Main attraction is the Big Buddha in the main hall of the temple. Temple is simple and large, with a big garden populated by the very docile (but a little greedy) deers. Tourists love the interactions with the deer, feeding them crackers that can be bought from nearby shop. Take a stroll along the streets and drop by for bento lunch boxes before heading home.
Okayama houses one of the best garden landscapes of the Land of Rising Sun – Korakuen Garden (alongside Kanazawa’s Kenrokuen and Mito’s Kairakuen). The garden is a sight to behold, especially on a bright sunny day. A stroll along the park should never be hurried, and all the beautiful plants, lake and stones seems to be naturally pleasing to the eyes. With the blue sky, it is showcases man’s landscaping and the nature blending into one.
Don’t forget to visit Okayama’s Castle too, which is situated right opposite the Korakuen Garden, crossing over a bridge to cross the river. Okayama Castle is fairly new-looking, probably as it has been restored.
Himeji also houses another restored castle. Along the way to Himeji, there are interesting street to look for food.
Kinosaki-onsen perhaps require a stay overnight, especially considering the onsens available there are so comfortable. Nearly 4 hours by train, the vibe in Kinosaki-onsen is slightly different with a laid-back environment. If you stay in one ryokans, you can wear the yukata to get into the mood and visit all the hotsprings that you can visit. As most people are also in their yukata, you won’t feel out of place.
Actually Osaka is also very nearby to Kyoto, but will probably to be continued with a separate blog to highlight the food!