[one_third_last] Matsuri Procession at Tempozan

A festival procession at Tempozan Marketplace




Warning. Hotels are booked out very quickly, during peak seasons in Japan.  This is especially true in Kyoto.

“Kyoto was once a best kept secret and I love it that way, but not anymore”, said Stephen, an American who has been living in Kyoto for the past 20 years.


Holiday accommodation in Kyoto is mostly fully booked especially during the peak season from March till May. The hotel occupancy rate tracks at an 80% annual average. Needless to say, in reality, it gets extremely crazy during the peak periods. The same holds true during the fall Autumn period. Towards Christmas, hotel rooms start booking out as early as September. Most tourists who fail to secure a hotel or accommodation booking in Kyoto, spill over into nearby Osaka.


Tips & Resources

1. Start planning and make your hotel bookings as early as one month in advance. To be very sure, two months is a safe buffer and you get a wider selection base before the holiday crowd starts gobbling up your available accommodation options. So, get onto your online hotel booking websites and book in advance.
2. Check out accommodation options on AirBnB.  You can narrow down your search geographically, by price, and by size. These are very useful filters saving you a lot of time and money.  Bear in mind that although the description says it’s a whole apartment with one bedroom, the entire space is about 20 square meters or less sometimes!  Even if the hosts declare that the bedroom sleeps four, be prepared to squeeze. The futons or bedding when spread out will take up just about the entire bedroom with very, very little space for walking.  For more comfort and quality, opt for apartments with two bedrooms at least.
3. If you have not been able to get a hotel, and you are desperate, you might try a guesthouse or a capsule hotel. They are not the most comfortable. Considering the claustrophobic cocoon-like cell in a capsule, or the possibly noisy environment and roommate potluck of a guesthouse, but at least, you can sleep for the night.
4. Bring only small luggages. This is because you will be using the trains and subways VERY often.  You will find your huge luggage extremely cumbersome to lug around within the convoluted mazes of train stations.  The major train stations are brimming with people, so it’s going to be tricky and frustrating to navigate your way around with your bulky luggages. Also, they are very noisy when you pull them along and heads will turn.  They also take up a lot of space in the trains which is not very considerate of you. In short, your giant suitcases will be a huge inconvenience.  They also take up precious space in the tiny hotel rooms in Japan.
5. Backpacks are a must.  You will be walking about 70% of the time.  Backpacks are the best way to carry your water bottle and stuff, and they will get heavier as the day progresses, because of the shopping.
6. Pack the absolute minimum.  You won’t regret taking this advice.  No matter how tightfisted you are, you will BUY things.  Lots of it. Japan is one gigantic, selling advertisement that is alive with temptations bombarding you in the face every single day you are out exploring. It is packed with everything you need. All your daily necessities are readily available, and yes, remarkably affordable and in a mind-boggling variety.  Just visit Daiso, any of the 100-yen shops, or any of the stationary shops and see if you can come out empty-handed.
7. Cash is king here in Japan.  It is wise to start educating yourself about the currency fluctuations if you are planning a trip to Japan.  Start preparing your spending money by converting your dollars to Japanese Yen in small amounts, when the rates are in your favour.


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