Solo Travel in Japan: A Trip to Kyoto | Guidable - Your Guide to a Sustainable, Wellbeing-centred Life in Japan
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Solo Travel in Japan: A Trip to Kyoto

By Luisa Seftel Oct 13, 2022

Coming from Germany, I always felt pretty safe travelling on my own. But since I moved to Japan, this feeling of safety reached another level. Solo travel in Japan, especially as a female, is a pleasant experience, as Japan is one of the safest countries in the world. So over a long weekend, I packed my bags and took a Shinkansen to Kyoto, the former capital of Japan.

The Best Things about Solo Travel in Japan

Solo travel coffee

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As an introvert myself, I love travelling on my own. Having only myself as a companion gives me an unlimited amount of freedom. Also, the opportunity to meet new people when I want and to choose to walk on my path without offending anybody is such bliss. Furthermore, I’ve learned so many new things about myself as I started travelling on my own. Whenever I found myself in a sticky situation, I left my comfort zone and became a problem-solver in no time. Especially because Japanese people are very friendly and the country is super safe, you get the opportunity to bring your travel experience to another level. So let’s talk about my three day-solo travel trip to Kyoto!

Exploring Central and East Kyoto by Foot!

Solo travel in Japan Japanese sweets

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As Kyoto has so much to offer, culture and nature-wise, I just had to revisit the city after my last time in 2017. So I rented a Japanese-styled Airbnb only 15 minutes away from Kyoto central station and made sure I booked a place that came with bikes! Kyoto is a very bike-friendly city, so if you don’t like taking public transport or are a bit tired from walking, having a bike is the best! 

On the first day, I chose to walk around the city’s busier streets, such as the colourful Nishi Market where you can find so many yummy-looking street foods to taste. Watching Japanese locals buy ingredients for their households is a great way to spend your time while browsing the small shops. After walking through the buzzing little side streets, I headed east to the Sanneizaka-area, a beautiful place that looks right out of a Japanese history book. Finally, I cooled off in a cute little Japanese Sweetshop and enjoyed a tasty matcha set with warabi-mochi (very soft rice cake) and Zenzai (sweet and thick read-bean-soup with rice cake).

Continuing with food, I got an excellent tip to visit an Omu Rice Restaurant (Omu rice is a style of Japanese omelette dish with rice and a gravy sauce). The place is tucked between the busy streets of Kyoto’s nightlife, but this little hidden gem is famous worldwide (which I didn’t know). As I walked through the tiny alley into Kichi Kichi, I did not expect to get a funny and heartwarming cooking performance while waiting for my dish to be prepared. However, this experience made my solo travel trip so much more fun! So definitely give it a try when you visit Kyoto!

Biking from Fushimi-Inari to South-East Kyoto

Solo Travel in Japan Byodo temple

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On day 2, I woke up early to hike the famous mountain Inari, better known as Fushimi Inari – the mountain with hundreds of red Tori-Gates and thousands of shrines dedicated to Inari, the Shinto god of rice. As I made my way up to the top at 7:30 am, I could enjoy the silence of nature and the countless photo spots between the Tori gates. Going up and down took me about one and a half hours, so the avocado toast and cold brew coffee at Vermillion-cafe. was just the perfect treat to cool off on that hot late-summer day. After hopping onto my bike, I headed to Uji, a less-known area of Kyoto with a fairytale-like Buddhist temple called Byodo, and an old, charming shopping street with small gift shops, restaurants and cafés to relax. 

Kyoto’s Golden Pavilion and Exploring the North-West

Solo Travel in Japan Kyoto garden

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For my last solo travel day, I decided to visit the golden pavilion Kinkakuji in Kyoto. Probably the most famous sightseeing spot besides Fushimi Inari. While walking through the garden towards the pavilion, I watch schoolchildren on a school trip with cute coloured hats, gathering around their teachers to learn more about its history. As much as I can understand the fascination for the pavilion, I enjoy smaller cafés, museums or one of the many breathtaking zen gardens even more, to be honest. The beauty of the golden pavilion was worth a visit, but I can not imagine it with thousands and thousands of visitors trying to line up for the perfect picture. So, returning to the perks of travelling solo gives you even more freedom to choose when to leave a specific place and explore another one. I highly recommend the Okochi Sanso Garden if you are super into Japanese gardens. It is an exquisite, silent garden with a beautiful panoramic view over Kyoto city, close to the famous bamboo forest Arashiyama. 

Solo Travel is an Easy, Safe Way to See Japan

Safety always comes first when travelling on your own. For me, Japan passes with flying numbers in this category. Travelling at your own pace and exploring new places or revisiting old ones brings me great joy. As I, of course, love sharing experiences with friends and loved ones, the perks of solo travel in Japan have beauty on their own. 

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