Would you buy a guidebook with this kind of writing?

You know, writing is hard. Writing a travel guidebook is probably even more so, mainly because you are writing information in a way that would be interesting to the reader.

For the past two years, I dreamt of writing a guidebook about Kyoto. In the past months, with the pandemic rearing its ugly head everywhere, and no job that want me, I finally got my butt off the couch and wrote it out.

People who read my draft find it comprehensive and helpful. I guess they are write. But I want you to read it, too.

So here’s an excerpt of my descriptions for two Kyoto locations. Please take a look and let me know in the comments:

  • Do you like it?
  • Is it going to help you, if you are planning a trip to Kyoto?
  • Would you pay money for this kind of writing?

You have my thanks for spending your time on this article. Now without further ado, here’s the excerpt:

Shisen-do (詩仙堂/しせんどう)

Shisen-do is well known for the garden and the motif: Shisen in Kanji means “Legendary Poets”, as the villa turned Buddhist temple was built as a memorial for thirty-six famous Chinese Poets of his time.

The temple used to be the villa of scholar Ishikawa Jōzan, once confidant of the first Shogun, Tokukawa Ieyasu. Jozan became a hermit after defying orders from Ieyasu during the Siege of Osaka against Toyotomi Hideyoshi. He settled down in Kyoto near Ichijoji, built Shisen-do as his home, and lived there until his death at ninety years old. His home was turned in to a Buddhist temple (Jozan-ji) later, while the villa kept its name since then.

Shisen-do is most known for a great spot to see Satsuki (サツキ) flowers in the Spring, Momiji in Autumn, and a snow-in garden in the Winter. It also houses portraits of the thirty-six Chinese Poets of the temple’s namesake.


Address: Kyoto, Sakyo Ward, Ichijoji Monguchicho, 27 (京都市左京区一乗寺門口町27番地 / Location)

Transport: From Kyoto City Subway Kyoto Station (K11), ride Karasuma Line to Kitaoji Station (北大路駅K04), 290 yen. Transfer to Kitaoji Bus Terminal (北大路バスターミナル), ride North No.8 bus for Matsugasaki Sta. Via Shugakuin direction (修学院道・松ヶ崎駅行き). Get off at Ichijoji Sagarimatsucho bus stop (一乗寺下り松町), 230 yen. It will be a five minute walk from the bus stop.

Entrance: Adult – 500 yen, high schooler – 400 yen, Junior high or below – 200 yen.

Opening Hours: 0900 to 1700 hours (last entrance up to 1645 hours).

Official site: https://kyoto-shisendo.net/

Rurikoin (瑠璃光院/るりこういん)

One of the best locations in Kyoto for the maple scene, Rurikoin is situated at the foot of Mount Hiei. In fact, the terminus for Eizan Cable Car to Mount Hiei is only minutes away.

Formerly a privately-owned villa, it has served once as a high-end restaurant and ryokan called Kikaku-Tei. Since 2005, Komyoji Temple in Gifu City purchased the villa, after Kikaku-Tei went out of business, and turned it into Rurikoin, a temple with a gorgeous garden. It’s former name lives on though, as a tea house within the temple had been named as such.

Rurikoin is well known for its gardens, which has numerous maple trees lining the grounds. The view is the best on the second floor, where you can take pictures just like what I have above.[1]

The temple is open to the public for two periods in the year: late Spring, when the maples are the greenest (also known as Green Momiji), and in Autumn[2], when the trees turn into various shade of red and orange (also known as Momiji). Other times it is close to the public. Since Rurikoin in very close to Mount Hiei, and close to Ichijoji and Shugakuin Imperial Villa, a day trip to the area would be convenient.

A few things to note: this is a very popular location to visit, and tickets are usually sold out by noon. During the opening seasons, you can get the day’s ticket at the ticketing booth on the way to the temple, right after crossing the Takano River (see map below). The tickets all have a specific time slot, where guides will direct a group of around 30 visitors to the temple, 10 minutes after the time slot. Be punctual: visitors arriving late for 30 minutes or more will be directed to later slots.

Address: 55 Kamitakano Higashiyama, Sakyo Ward, Kyoto (京都市左京区上高野東山55 / Location)

Transport: From JR Kyoto Station, ride Nara Line to Tofukuji Station (JR-D02), transfer at Keihan Tofukuji Station (KH36) to Temachiyanagi Station (KH42). Transfer at Eizan Electric Temachiyanagi Station (E01) to Yase-Hieizanguchi Station (E08), total transit time 31 minutes. The temple is a 5 minutes’ walk from the station.

Entrance: 2000 yen (same day tickets)

Opening Hours: 1000 to 1700 hrs.

Official site: http://rurikoin.komyoji.com/lp/en/

[1] Want a behind the scene look at how I got that photo? Click here~

[2] In 2020, Rurikoin had open for green momiji from June 1st to July 31st. For momiji season 2019, the opening period was from October 1st to December 10th.