Fukuoka to Kyoto Travel Guide for Students on a Budget

 

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Getting from Fukuoka to Kyoto is easy—We’ll show you how! As for what to see in and do once you arrive at one of Japan’s most unique and traditional cities? We’ve got some ideas about that, too.

Transportation

Flying

One way to get from Fukuoka to Kyoto is to fly from Fukuoka International Airport to one of the two airports in Kansai, either Kansai International Airport or Itami Airport. If you can get tickets from a budget airline like Peach (which is based at Kansai International) then it can actually be significantly cheaper to fly from Fukuoka to Kyoto than to take the train.

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If you fly into Kansai International, there are two options for getting to Kyoto Station: You can either take an express train or an airport bus. The fastest way is the JR Haruka Limited Express Train, which takes 70 minutes and costs 2850 yen for a non-reserved seat or around 3500 yen for a reserved seat.

The airport bus, which takes 100 minutes and costs 2550 yen to Kyoto Station with 1-2 buses per hour, is slightly slower than the express train. That said, you are trading speed for convenience. If you have a lot of luggage I would recommend the airport bus over the trains as you can store your baggage underneath the bus for the duration of the trip and don’t have to worry about carrying it up and down stairs or into crowded train cars.

Taking a Train

The second option is to take the train from Fukuoka to Kyoto. Taking the train from Fukuoka is also fairly easy to do, and can actually be faster when you consider the time traveling to and from airports. From Hakata Station to Kyoto Station, it takes about 2 hours and 45 minutes by Nozomi Shinkansen (bullet train) and costs 15,860 yen one way.

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Once you arrive in Kyoto you will probably use the bus to get to many of your destinations. Kyoto has two subway lines, but they are not very expansive and do not reach many tourist destinations. For 500 yen you can buy a one-day bus pass, which is easily worth its price if you take the bus more than 2-3 times. You can even buy them on the bus from the driver. Make sure to pick up a bus map at a tourist information center (there is one at Kyoto Station).

What to See

There is so much to see and do in Kyoto. Here is a list of just a few must-visit places. You could easily spend a couple weeks just in Kyoto! There are literally thousands of temples and shrines, as well as a castle and the Imperial Palace.

Fushimi Inari

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Fushimi Inari is a shrine dedicated to the fox goddess, Inari. It is famous for its rows and rows of bright red torii gates, which were even featured in the movie Memoirs of a Geisha. The main shrine is at the foot of a small mountain, and the torii gates line the path up its slope. It takes 2-3 hours to walk the whole path to the summit and back, but many people only climb about 45 minutes to the Yotsutsuji intersection, where you can enjoy some tofu ice cream and nice views of Kyoto before heading back down.

Kinkakuji, Ryoanji, and Ninnaji

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Kinkakuji is probably the most famous temple in Kyoto, and for good reason.  With its stunning bright gold color, the building is as beautiful in person as it is in photos. However, you can’t go inside the building or even get close to it, so after taking photos there is not much to do. Continue up the road from there and you will reach Ryoanji in about 15 minutes. Ryoanji is the opposite of Kinkakuji; where Kinkakuji is bright and flashy, Ryoanji is subdued and austere. Ryoanji has one of the most famous rock landscape gardens in Japan.

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There are fifteen stones in the garden, but it is said that you can never see all fifteen stones from one perspective. Try contemplating the meaning of the stones, just as Zen masters have done in the distant past. From there, continue further north to the temple Ninnaji. Traditionally, a member of the Imperial Family would serve as the head priest of this temple. The Goten, the former residence of the head priest, is built in the style of an imperial palace and has a beautiful garden. There is a small charge to enter but it is worth it!

Gion District
Another place not to be missed in Kyoto is the Gion district. This is the main neighborhood of the fabled geisha, or geiko as they are more commonly known in Kyoto. There are some nice shops where you can get traditional Japanese crafts like wooden combs, lacquerware, and fabrics. There are also many teahouses inside traditional wooden machiya houses. If you are very lucky, you may catch sight of a real geiko, or even a maiko (a geisha apprentice). At Gion Corner, you can see a show with traditional Japanese arts such as tea ceremony, bunraku, ikebana, and dances performed by real maiko. Tickets are 3150 yen or 2800 yen with an online coupon.

Where to Stay

IchiEnSou Hostel

This is a small hostel run by a friendly young couple who speak some English. It costs 3000 yen per night for a bed in a dormitory room. The location is centrally located near Gion and there is free WiFi and a shared kitchen. It’s not a party hostel, but it’s convenient and you can actually get a good sleep.

Shunkoin Temple

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Shunkoin Temple is part of a large temple complex called Myoshinji. Shunkoin is a beautiful historical temple run by an American-educated monk, Rev. Kawakami, who can give you a tour and teach you traditional zazen meditation in perfect English. A private room costs only 6,500 yen for one night or 5,500 yen each for two people sharing a room. There is even free WiFi and a shared kitchen. If you are interested in traditional Japanese culture, this is experience is not to be missed. You’ll need to book far ahead of time for peak travel seasons.

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Matsubaya Ryokan

This is recommended for single travelers interested in staying in a Japanese-style inn. A small room with no bathroom is only 4,400 yen per night. For 6,800 yen you can have a 6-mat room with attached bathroom. The rooms are tatami style with green tea provided. The staff is friendly and helpful, but please don’t expect much English.

Dormy Inn Premium Kyoto Ekimae

Dormy Inn is a business hotel chain in Japan. This location is very convenient at just 5 minutes on foot from Kyoto Station. A single room will cost around 9000 yen and up. You can get the best rates by booking at least 28 days in advance.  Because this is a premium Dormy Inn, the rooms are a bit larger than usual. Furthermore, they have free late-night ramen noodles! The inn even has a shared Japanese bath on the top floor. There is also a hearty breakfast buffet which you can sometimes get quite cheaply by booking a package on the hotel website—it’s all Japanese, so get a friend to help you if necessary.