Indulge in Kyoto A 3-Day Guide to Exquisite Cuisine, Luxurious Accommodations, and Fashionable Retail Therapy

Experience the Best of Kyoto in 3 Days—A Guide to delectable Dining, Cozy Accommodations, and Enthralling Shopping.


As the bullet train screeched to a halt, the automated voice on board made an announcement – both in Japanese and English – that we had exactly one minute to deboard. With lightning speed, we gathered our belongings, dashed out of the train station, and found ourselves in the enchanting city of Kyoto. It was like stepping into a dream that had been on my fashionista bucket list for a decade. And trust me, Kyoto didn’t disappoint.

Trying to sum up Kyoto’s character in just one paragraph is like trying to fit into a pair of jeans two sizes too small. It’s impossible! But let me give you a taste of what makes this city so special. As the former capital of Japan, Kyoto is a treasure trove of arts and culture. Its rich history of over 1,200 years has shaped the country’s traditions, from the elegant Japanese tea ceremony to the delicate art of flower arranging. And let’s not forget about the UNESCO World Heritage Sites that pepper the cityscape, leaving you in awe at every turn.

But here’s the twist – Kyoto isn’t just a blast from the past. It’s a futuristic wonderland too! Picture this: toilets in train stations that are so high-tech, they practically sparkle. They even play nature sound effects to enhance your bathroom experience. Now that’s a level of sophistication that puts the US to shame. Kyoto seamlessly blends ancient history with modernity, creating a harmonious symphony that’s as pleasing to the eye as a perfectly curated outfit.

Now, let’s dive deep into the world of Kyoto planning. I dived headfirst into research for our trip, like a fashionista shopping for the perfect pair of designer shoes. Armed with recommendations from trusted friends, I created the ultimate travel guide to experience Kyoto in all its fashionable glory. So, grab your stilettos and let’s walk through the must-do’s of this stylish city.

What to Know About Kyoto

If you’re itching for a journey that oozes history, culture, and natural beauty, then Kyoto is your ultimate fashion destination. But before you pack your sequined suitcase, here are a few things you need to know:

  1. Respect Local Customs: Kyoto is rooted in tradition, so embrace the bowing and take off your shoes before entering someone’s home or a temple. Think of it as a dance with etiquette – you’ll be twirling in politeness in no time.

  2. Dress Modestly: When exploring temples and shrines, channel your inner fashion icon by covering those shoulders and knees. It’s about showing respect for the sacred spaces you’re visiting while still looking effortlessly chic.

  3. Cash is King: In a city where craftsmanship reigns supreme, it’s no surprise that cash is preferred in many smaller shops and traditional establishments. So, flash those yen bills with style and be the queen (or king) of the shopping spree.

  4. Plan in Advance: Just like planning the perfect outfit, you’ll want to book your accommodation and restaurant reservations well in advance. Kyoto has incredible restaurants and hotels, but they tend to fill up faster than a fashionista’s closet during a sample sale. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

  5. Don’t Rush: Embrace the slow fashion movement and take your time to soak in the culture and tranquility of Kyoto. Rushing from one attraction to another is like mixing prints – it’s a fashion faux pas. Instead, wander around, discover hidden shops and cafés, and let the city’s style seep into your soul.

When to Visit Kyoto

Now, let’s talk about the best time to visit Kyoto – the red carpet of seasons. Here are the fashion-forward highlights:

  1. Spring (March to May): This is Kyoto’s iconic cherry blossom season. Think delicate pink petals floating in the air like a fashion show confetti. But be warned, this is a prime time for tourists, so secure your accommodation in advance. It’s like getting front-row seats to the most exclusive fashion show in town.

  2. Summer (June to August): Summers in Kyoto can be as hot as a runway model sizzling on a tropical beach. It’s the off-peak season for tourists, but don’t forget your parasol. And be prepared for the occasional rain shower, the unexpected accessory that adds drama to any fashionista’s life.

  3. Autumn (September to November): If you’re looking for the ultimate Instagram-worthy photoshoot, autumn in Kyoto is where it’s at. The foliage paints a breathtaking backdrop, with hues of red, orange, and gold that will leave you in awe. Say cheese and strike a pose, because you’ll look fabulous amongst nature’s runway.

  4. Winter (December to February): Kyoto’s winters are as mild as a cashmere sweater, without the frigid temperatures. The low crowds and lower prices add a touch of exclusivity to your exploration. Bonus points – you might stumble upon the city’s dazzling light displays during the holiday season. Talk about a fashion-forward winter wonderland.

How to Get to Kyoto

Now that we have our fashion itinerary set, let’s talk about how to get to Kyoto in style. Here’s the scoop:

To reach Kyoto, you have a few options. The closest airport is Kansai International Airport (KIX). It’s well-connected to major international destinations, and from there, a train ride will whisk you away to the fashion capital of Japan. Another option is Osaka International Airport (ITM), which is a bit closer to Kyoto but mostly serves domestic flights.

But here’s a glamorous travel plan worthy of the runway: We flew from Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) to Haneda International Airport in Tokyo (HND) on a direct flight. From there, we hopped on the bullet train, the Haruka Express from KIX, or the Limited Express from ITM, all of which conveniently transport you directly to Kyoto Station. Trust me, the train ride offers picturesque views of Japan’s stunning countryside, like a moving fashion editorial.

Where to Stay: Best Kyoto Hotels

Now, let’s talk about the fabulous places to stay in Kyoto that will leave you feeling like a fashion star. Whether you prefer a traditional ryokan or a modern hotel, we’ve got you covered:

Four Seasons Kyoto

Oh, la la! Let’s start with absolute elegance and luxury. Four Seasons Kyoto is your go-to headquarters for an unforgettable Kyoto experience. Picture sleek and modern interiors surrounded by breathtaking nature. The floor-to-ceiling windows bring the outdoors in, creating a seamless blend of comfort and style. And who can resist the 800-year-old Shakusui-en pond garden? Walking across the cherry blossoms, Japanese maples, and weeping willows is like stepping onto a fashion runway. The only dilemma you’ll face is choosing between the Japanese breakfast or the delectable pastries. It’s a tough decision, but with such panoramic beauty, you’ll feel like a supermodel indulging in a guilty pleasure.

Hoshinoya Kyoto

For a taste of pure serenity, Hoshinoya Kyoto is a fashionista’s dream come true. Located in the enchanting Arashiyama district, getting to this paradise is half the adventure. Hop on a boat that glides along the Oi River, effortlessly transporting you into a tranquil world surrounded by forest-covered hills. The wood guest pavilions ooze elegance and authenticity, with fresh slippers and a linen lounge set awaiting your arrival. The moment you step onto the tatami matting, you’ll realize you’re about to embark on a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Immerse yourself in inspiring incense ceremonies, indulge in traditional Japanese cuisine, and wake up to breakfast overlooking the river. Trust me, slowing down has never felt more fashionable.

Ace Hotel Kyoto

If modern and trendy is your style, then the Ace Hotel Kyoto is your hipster haven. This buzzing hotel is a breath of fresh air, standing in the heart of Kyoto like a stylish rebel. With three restaurants, a rooftop bar, and even a Stumptown coffee joint, the Ace Hotel brings a taste of Brooklyn’s cool fashion scene right to the center of Kyoto. It’s like the perfect accessory that adds an edgy twist to your fashion-forward journey. So, put on your skinny jeans and rock this chic and affordable gem.

Where to Eat: Best Kyoto Restaurants

Food is to Kyoto what haute couture is to the runway – an exquisite experience that will leave you craving more. Here are some top-notch restaurants where your taste buds can savor the flavors of Kyoto:

  • Tempura Matsu: This celebrated tempura restaurant in the Arashiyama district is the ultimate spot for traditional Japanese cuisine. It’s like tasting a Michelin-starred dish, but with a fashionable twist.

  • OMEN: Prepare your taste buds for a udon noodle extravaganza at OMEN. This tiny spot serves the best udon noodles of your fashionista life. It’s comfort food with a stylish touch.

  • Monk: Regrettably, I couldn’t get a reservation at Monk, but I’ve heard it’s a fashionista’s paradise. This fourteen-seat, omakase-style pizza joint on the Philosopher’s Path will make you bow down to its mouthwatering creations. Next time, I’ll save a spot for you, Monk.

  • Hitomi: Yakitori lovers, rejoice! Hitomi is the go-to spot for delicious skewered delights in a fun and vibrant atmosphere. Just make sure to book ahead because this place is as popular as the latest fashion trend.

  • Sushi Matsumoto: Indulge in a traditional omakase sushi meal at Sushi Matsumoto. Each bite is a work of art, and I promise you’ll lose count of the mouthwatering courses served. Who needs a runway when you have a sushi bar?

  • Censin: Elegance meets fusion at Censin, a Japanese menu with a touch of Italian influence. This warm and inviting restaurant has earned a spot on Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants list. It’s like finding the perfect combination of patterns in a fashion ensemble.

  • Mama Arashiyama: For a delightful mash-up of Italian and Japanese cuisine, Mama Arashiyama is the place to be. It’s the perfect spot to unwind over a pasta-filled dinner, where elevated food meets relaxed and casual surroundings.

  • Stardust: Calling all vegans! Stardust is a vegan café that has received rave reviews. Sadly, it was closed during my visit, but I’ve heard whispers of its delectable dishes from fashionable veggie enthusiasts.

  • Tan: Farm-to-table takes center stage at Tan, a restaurant that prides itself on using local and seasonal ingredients. Sadly, this hotspot was fully booked during my stay, but trust me, it comes highly recommended by my stylish friends.

And let’s not forget about the coffeeshops and cafés that add an extra dose of fashion to your Kyoto culinary adventure.

  • Bread & Espresso & Arashiyama: If you’re in the Arashiyama area, treat yourself to a coffee and a pastry or sandwich at this charming spot. It’s the perfect pitstop during your stylish exploration.

  • Tsujiri Tea House: For all the matcha lovers out there, Tsujiri Tea House is a must-visit. Indulge in a matcha green tea ice cream or any of their mouthwatering matcha desserts. It’s a flavorful accessory that completes your Kyoto fashion statement.

  • Kishin Kissa: When in need of a caffeine fix, head straight to Kishin Kissa. With its aesthetically pleasing ambiance and a delicious menu of snacks, sweets, and matcha, you’ll feel like a fashion influencer hosting a trendy brunch.

  • Me Me Me Coffee House: Start your day off right with a breakfast at Me Me Me Coffee House. Don’t forget to try their delectable donuts because, let’s face it, fashionistas and donuts are a match made in heaven.

Cafés and coffeeshops are the fashion accessories of the culinary world, so don’t forget to pair your taste adventures with these stylish pit stops.

What to Do in Kyoto: The Sights

Now that we’ve covered the essentials, let’s get to the most important part of your fashion-forward Kyoto journey – the sights you can’t miss. Get ready to twirl and strike a pose, because here’s what you should explore:

Explore Historic Kyoto

Ninnenzaka and Sannenzaka Streets are like catwalks of quaint shops waiting for you to explore. Put on your most comfortable shoes and strut up the hills of the Higashiyama District. Along the way, immerse yourself in the beauty of the Kiyomizu Temple at the top of the hill and discover the architectural marvel of the Kodaiji Temple. It’s like stepping into a fashion museum adorned with zen gardens.

Visit the Temples

Prepare to have your fashion senses awakened at Kyoto’s temples. Here are a few must-see temple experiences that will leave you in awe:

  • Rokuon-Ji Temple (Golden Pavilion): Marvel at the breathtaking golden pavilion that shines brighter than any fashion statement. It’s a sight you won’t forget.

  • Daitokuji Temple: Go on a temple-hopping adventure at the Daitokuji Temple complex, home to 22 sub-temples (though only 4 are visible to the public). It’s like having a VIP pass to the most exclusive fashion show.

  • Ryoanji Temple: Experience the most famous rock garden in Kyoto at Ryoanji Temple. It’s like stepping onto a fashion runway made of meticulously arranged stones.


Oh, Arashiyama, how I adore you! This district stole my fashionable heart, and it will steal yours too. Devote a full day to exploring this fashionista’s paradise, where you’ll find:

  • Arashiyama Bamboo Grove: Get ready for a runway experience unlike any other as you stroll through the majestic bamboo grove. It’s like walking with the gods of fashion.

  • Iwatayama Monkey Park: Ready for a daring adventure? Visit the Iwatayama Monkey Park, where over 170 monkeys roam freely. It’s like a fashion safari where you can snap glamorous pictures with your furry friends.

  • The “Moon Crossing Bridge”: Strike a pose on the Moon Crossing Bridge (Togetsukyo) and let the cherry blossoms or fall foliage create a stunning backdrop worthy of a fashion magazine cover.

Shopping in Kyoto

No fashion-forward journey is complete without some retail therapy. Kyoto is famous for its craftsmanship, so prepare to shop ’til you drop. Here’s your shopping itinerary:

  • Chawanzaka Street: Embark on a pottery shopping spree along this charming street, also known as Teapot Lane. It’s like diving into a treasure trove of traditional ceramics, where each piece tells a fashionable story.

  • POJ Studio: This shop is a fashionista’s dream come true. From ceramics to incense to DIY Kintsugi kits, POJ Studio has it all. I may or may not have filled my suitcase with their fashionable wares, like a dedicated shopaholic.

Go to Nishiki Market

In the world of fashion, Nishiki Market is Kyoto’s ultimate runway. This bustling food market is a feast for the senses, offering an endless array of culinary wonders. Take a stroll through the colorful stalls, savor green tea mochi, indulge in sashimi skewers, and embrace the unknown delicacies that await. Don’t forget to treat yourself to a soft-serve with manuka honey because in the fashion world, dessert is always a priority.

Stroll Down Philosopher’s Path

For a peaceful and picturesque excursion, the Philosopher’s Path is your go-to destination. This stone path runs alongside a serene canal, lined with charming shops and restaurants. It’s like walking in a fashion show dedicated to tranquility. So take your time, soak up the beauty, and stop by any intriguing spots you discover along the way. You never know what fashionable surprises await.

Get Dinner or Drinks in Pontocho Alley

As the sun sets, let the vibrant charm of Pontocho Alley enchant you. This historic area comes alive at night with hidden bars and gastronomic delights. Take a stroll along the Kamogawa River, soaking in the romantic ambiance before heading to an unforgettable dinner or a stylish cocktail. It’s like adding the perfect final touch to your fashion-forward day.

Fashionistas, Kyoto is calling, and it’s time to embark on a stylish adventure like no other. From ancient temples to modern delights, this city has everything your fashionable heart desires. So pack your chicest outfits, put on your most comfortable yet fabulous shoes, and get ready to explore Kyoto in style. It’s a journey that will leave you breathless and craving more. As Coco Chanel once said, “Fashion is not something that exists in dresses only. Fashion is in the sky, in the street; fashion has to do with ideas, the way we live, what is happening.” And in Kyoto, fashion is everywhere you look.

But wait, stylish readers! Have you been to Kyoto? Share your favorite fashion moments and hidden gems in the comments below. Let’s create a dialogue that’s as fashionable as Kyoto itself.