Kyoto, the ancient capital of Japan, is high on the bucket list of many world travelers. And for good reason. It is a city full of cultural treasures, and scenes that foreign (and domestic) holiday-makers long to see: beautiful shrines, zen gardens & traditional buildings.
Speaking of traditional buildings, Kyoto Sanga’s Nishikyogoku stadium looks like it hasn’t seen a facelift since Kiyomizu-dera was built. But don’t let that dissuade you from making a trip to Kyoto to watch football. After all, beauty is in the eye of the beholder.
How to get there
Kyoto is a mainline station on the Tokaido Shinkansen and as such is easily accessible from both east & west Japan. If you’re traveling from Tokyo, expect to pay in the region of ¥13,000 one way. From Fukuoka/Hiroshima in the west you’re looking at ¥17,000/¥12,000 one way.
If the Shinkansen is a bit too rich for your wallet, the long distance bus terminal at Kyoto Station will serve you well. From Tokyo, you can get a bus for as little as ¥3,500 (weekdays) and ¥5000 (weekends). There are lots of operating companies – so shop around. Try Willer Express & JR Bus Kanto for starters. From the west, again try Willer Express.
When actually in Kyoto, it is a bit of a trek to get to the stadium.
- From Kyoto subway station, take the Karasuma line to Shijo
- Walk from Shijo station to Karasuma Station (they are connected)
- Take the Hankyu Kyoto Line (bound for Umeda) and get off at Nishikyogoku Station.
- Follow the signs from the station – it is 5-10 minute walk
- Take Kyoto municipal bus number 73 and get off at Nishikyogoku
- Take Keihan bus number 21 or 21A and get off at Nishikyogoku
The bus is cheaper, but keep in mind that Kyoto is one of the world’s most popular tourist destinations, and buses can get packed very easily, and Kyoto’s road system is pretty average.
At the stadium:
If you’re lucky, the weather will be nice and people will be having picnics in the tree lined area just outside the stadium. By that time you should have passed through Sanga’s famous “Welcome Arch” and you should be able to see the Sanga food court. Why not pick a “Sanga banana” – just because, or grab yourself a very nice Engi-ya lunchbox. It will be very worth your time.
Oh, and bring an umbrella – there’s very little cover.
Post match eats/drinks
Kyoto is a big city, so you’ll be spoilt for choice. There’s the usual chain izakaya’s around Kyoto & Shijo stations. Around Shijo you’ll find BUNGALOW – a pretty funky place that does craft beers & decent wines. Aside from that, I’m not very knowledgable as I usually grab a lunchbox and head straight for the train home. Before leaving Kyoto though you should try green tea somewhere (preferably Gion) and the famous Kyoto sweet Yatsuhashi. My number one choice thought is a green tea & vanilla “Baumkuchen” cake – simply amazing and you can buy it almost everywhere.
What else to do in Kyoto?
Wow, now there’s a question. If you’re planning on going back to Kyoto for a while afterwards, you need to see either (or both) of Kiyomizu-dera or Fushimi Inari. If you want to feel old school Japan, head to Gion and you might see some Maiko’s, or more likely just regular Japanese women dressed in kimono’s.
Kyoto is a special place, you should really take the time to see it properly. But don’t forsake the football though!