5 Activities You Cannot Miss on Your 2-Day Stay in Kyoto

Kyoto is a city of surprising contrasts. Throughout my two-day stay in Kyoto, I experienced activities that were the highlights of my entire solo travel to Japan. From hiking a trail to trying my hands at samurai, visiting a scenic temple, relaxing at an onsen, and experiencing the infamous tea culture of Japan, Kyoto has gifted me a bag full of memories. 

With these not-so-touristy activities, I managed to experience the essence of Kyoto. If you have allotted two days for Kyoto, let’s explore these five must-do activities in detail that are worth your time. 

Plus, you can also easily club these activities with other major Kyoto attractions to curate a customised itinerary according to your schedule. So, without any further ado, let’s begin the Kyoto adventure!

1. Hike to Mt. Inari at Fushimi-Inari Taisha Shrine

Featured in Memoirs of Geisha, Fushimi Inari waits with 10,000 vermillion torii gates to welcome you. Although it remains crowded, you can have the place to yourself if you reach around 5:30 am. 

As you arrive, you’ll notice the Romon Gate at the entrance. Just behind it is the main hall where you can offer your respect. Once done, go for the hike.

Nothing beats an early morning hike on this 5 km route mountain trail up to the top of Mt. Inari. It will take you about 3 hours to complete the circuit. That said, it is not mandatory to do the summit. Just hike, explore, and soak in the solitude for a while.

Bonus Activity: Talking about Memoirs of Geisha, if you wish to step into the shoes of Geisha – get a Geisha Makeover in the nearby Gion district after hogging on some delicious breakfast from Nishiki market

2. Samurai Experience in Kyoto

If you are fascinated by samurai and how they swiftly handle their blades to cut through tatami mats in movies, you must visit Kyoto Samurai Experience/Waraku in Nakagyo Ward on your 2-day stay in Kyoto. 

On the whole, the entire activity lasts for 2 hours. First, you get to learn about the samurai culture and history of Kyoto. Then, all the fun begins! 

The senseis there will greet you wholeheartedly and help you get changed into traditional Hakama. Once dressed, feel free to move around the 200-year-old historic home and shortly after, you will witness two jaw-dropping demonstration sessions.

Now, it’s practice time! First, with fake swords and then with a really heavy katana blade to get to business. The activity concludes with a relaxing Zen meditation session. 

And, if you do not want to wait, I highly recommend reserving your slot. The place remains open on the weekdays from 10 am – 5 pm.

3. Explore the 8000 Buddhist Statues at Adashino Nenbutsu-ji Temple

There’s no way you’re skipping Arashiyama’s Sagano bamboo forest, am I right? So, when you are done traversing through the tall bamboo plants, do me a favour and visit Adashino Nenbutsu-ji Temple (thank me later)!

It is just 20-minute’ walk from the Arashiyama bamboo forest and boasts a similar bamboo grove in the backyard of the temple. Just minus the crowd! Plus, if you’re there during autumn, the foliage on the entrance stairs will steal your heart.

Apart from that, the 8000 statues are a sight to behold. I was stunned by the number of statues. These statues symbolise the death of the lone souls. 

Overall, the temple with the bamboo grove is worth the 500 yen entry fee (approximately $3.30). 

Bonus Activity: On your way back, take a tour of Tenryu-ji temple – one of the first Zen temples in Kyoto. 

4. Take a Dip at Hanaikada

Once you’re in the Arashiyama area, and feel like splurging – do not miss taking a relaxing dip in an onsen at Hanaikada. Whether you want a public or a private bath, this ryokan has you covered!

Now, what makes the onsen special is its STUNNING views! Katsura River, Togetsukyo Bridge, and Mount Atago are a treat for the eyes.  

Preferably, I would suggest you stay a night here to rewind completely and end your day with a typical full-course Kaiseki meal (included in the per-night cost) from the comfort of your room. 

Activity Tip: If you have tattoos, booking a private onsen is the only way, as tattoos are looked down upon in Japan. 

5. Partake in a Traditional Tea Ceremony at Uji, Kyoto  

Uji in the south-eastern corner of Kyoto is known for its high-quality matcha tea! With 800 years of tea cultivation under its belt, it is undoubtedly the best place to encounter the Japanese tea culture.

Take a short drive and head to Nakamura Tokichi Honten. Besides being one of the biggest tea manufacturers in Uji, they also provide traditional team ceremonies at an authentic Genroku-style tea house. 

Oh, don’t forget to get some tea back for your home!

Alternate Activity Tip: If Uji feels far, visit the Tea Ceremony Kyoto near Kinkaku-ji Temple to experience the same. 

Are 2 Days Enough for Kyoto? 

Well, yes and no. YES – if you want to cover the main attraction. And NO – if you wish to submerge in the Kyoto culture. Kyoto deserves a minimum of 4 days. 

There’s so much to see and do in Kyoto, from the touristy to non-touristy activities – time flies in Kyoto!  

Which Activity Piqued Your Interest?

So, which of these activities made you say – “I got to do this”? All 5 isn’t it? I recommend doing all of them even if it doesn’t interest you at first! 

If you need any help on how to reach Kyoto, where to stay in Kyoto, what and where to eat in Kyoto, etc., here feel free to refer to my ultimate solo travel guide to Kyotohttps://swagachi.me/ultimate-solo-travel-guide-kyoto-japan/!


An introverted blogger who is looking to make unforgettable solo travel memories with one short life.

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