Take a morning bullet train (Shinkansen) to Kyoto. The journey takes 2hr 15min and costs ¥14170. This is covered under the JR pass.
After checking in head to the Gion District in Kyoto to taste old-world Japan. An absolute must in your Japan itinerary for first-time travellers. This historic neighborhood is famous for its traditional wooden machiya houses, quaint teahouses, and geisha culture.
As you make your way through the streets of Gion, you'll feel like you've been transported back in time to the Edo period. If you're lucky, you might even catch a glimpse of a maiko (apprentice geisha) or a geiko (as geisha are called in Kyoto) on her way to a performance.
But Gion isn't just about geisha culture. You'll also find plenty of traditional shops selling everything from artisanal ceramics to handmade sweets. And if you're feeling peckish, be sure to try some of the local specialties, like yatsuhashi (a sweet, chewy rice cake filled with cinnamon and sugar) or kaiseki (a multi-course traditional Japanese meal).
Next head to Nishiki Market, this lively covered market, also known as Kyoto's Kitchen, is a food lover's paradise, with vendors selling everything from fresh seafood to handmade sweets. Your senses will be overwhelmed by the sights, smells, and sounds of the bustling marketplace. You'll see vendors grilling fresh seafood on skewers, making mochi (sticky rice cakes) right before your eyes, and selling a variety of pickles, spices, and other condiments.
After all that eating, head to Kinkaku-ji Temple for some Instagram shots or just to zen out! At Kinkaku-ji temple you'll be struck by its stunning golden exterior, which glimmers in the sunlight and reflects beautifully in the surrounding pond. It's a breathtaking sight that's sure to leave you feeling awe-struck. And if you're lucky, you might even catch a glimpse of some of the resident wildlife, like the cute little turtles that swim in the temple's pond.
End your day by having a meal at the Gyoza Choo Chao, they have an impressive vegan menu. End the night early, for you have a super early start to the day.
I recommend booking your accommodation in the Hagishyama district in Kyoto for ease of commuting. I stayed at the Sakura cross hotel.