Four nights in Kyoto is never enough. Maggie and I realized this as we tried valiantly to view every temple, shrine, bamboo grove, monkey, etc. we could. Still, even with a rushed schedule, I was reminded that Kyoto is one of my favorite cities in Asia.
I had been to Kyoto twice before, though not in the last 12 years, so it was refreshing to see the city with new eyes again. Maggie and I stayed in a washitsu-style room, which means we slept on foldable futons on top of tatami mats. I'm glad we got the opportunity to do so, and it was more comfortable than I remember it being.
After a couple of false starts (going to the wrong location and getting on the wrong train), our first full day was spent mostly at the Fushimi Inari Shrine, which is the orange-gated shrine in photos 5-8 below. The hikes around were peaceful and the higher up we went, the fewer people were around. It was a pleasant way to dive into Kyoto. That night, we also visited the lit-up Kodaiji Temple and tried Kobe steak (unbelievable).
On the next day, we took a train trip to the nearby town of Nara to do more temple rambling and hang out with deer. If you don't know much about the deer of Nara, there's about a billion of them all around the Nara Park area and you can (and Maggie did) feed them biscuits and whatever else. Nara is definitely a worthwhile trip just to see the deer, but roaming the grounds of Todai-ji Temple (which houses a massive bronze Buddha statue), really made the day complete.
On our last full day in Kyoto, we stopped by the gold-leafed Kinkaku-ji Temple, visited the Ryoan-ji Garden, and bummed around the neighborhood of Arashimaya. We capped the day off with a hike up to Arashimaya's Monkey Park, where we saw a ton of Japanese monkeys. It was mating season too, so the male monkeys were more aggressive than usual, and putting it nicely, the female monkeys looked worse for the wear. It was still a pretty remarkable experience and the views of Kyoto from the hill/mountain were impressive.
Now we're off to places more remote. The photos are below! Thank you for reading.