Actually, if I wanted to I could just let my friend do all the research. In this case I think she actually has better reference materials than I do. (I am a weak geek, that I have to admit something like that.) But then, me being me, I really can't just let someone else do all the reserach. So, here's a start.
What it is: This is a pilgrimage temple, on the Saigoku pilgrimage. In addition, the walking tour includes a giant Kanon statues that's, like, somewhere one can photograph it rather than just being something that flies by on the train, as well as a route to Tsubosakayama Castle. This seems to have a decent amount of remains, considering. On the way back we're planning on getting off at Kashihara Taisha.
Transit: Kintetsu line from Kyoto station, change trains at Kashihara Jingu-mae. Base cost is 940 + 1370 for express fares. Not sure if this train will have unreserved or not. Transit time is a little over an hour. Alternate routes Kitetsu Osaka Abenobashi station, two minute walk from Tennou-ji.
An interesting third alternate route involves going through Kintetsu Kooriyama station. Take the Kintetsu line from Kyoto to Yamato Saidai-ji, then transfer to the Kintetsu Kashhara line. Transfer at Kashihara Jingu-mae to train to Tsubosaka Yama station. I seriously doubt we will have time (or the foot stamina) to hit Tsubosaka-yama, Kashihara Jingu, and Yamato Kooriyama Castle. But in the unlikely event that we do manage it, it is possible.
This was originally going to be the first stop of the trip. But it looks like the first train out of Kyoto is 7:45. Which is pointless on the first day, since we'll be up at 5. It looks like the route via Yamato Saidai-ji has trains heading out at 6:06, which is significantly better. Trains head out roughly every half hour.
Notes: Need more research on Tsubosakayama Castle, and the shrine.
Nara - Tamon Castle, Shin Yakushi-ji, Yamato Kooriyama Castle
What it is: I've walked around Yamato Kooriyama Castle, but have been taunted by not really getting inside. Tamon Castle is in Nara, around the corner from Toudai-ji. (In fact, one of the times Toudai-ji was burned was because the builder of Tamon Castle, Matsunaga Hisahide, didn't want other buildings near his castle, so he burned it.) There is probably only a post and maybe a piece of a wall, but it is near Nara Park. Also while in Nara, there is Koufuku-ji.
Transit: Kintestu line from Kyoto station to Kintetsu Kooriyama station. Kintetsu line from Kintetsu Kooriyama station to Kintetsu Nara. Kintestu Nara station back to Kyoto station. Probably will need to look at the lines to make sure to get the right one to Kintetsu Kooriyama, but pretty easy otherwise. (Except... Where are the Kintetsu lines in Kyoto station???)
Notes: Need to check if there is anything I particularly want to photograph for MoB purposes. Otherwise, this is pretty straightforward. May want to bring a copy of a map for directions to Tamon Castle -- though I remember well enough where it is that district maps should be fine. Also, there seem to be some signs around. Not that I've ever seen them while in Nara.
What it is: Big temple complex on Mt. Hiei. I have been trying to get to this sucker for something like 10 years now. Now it will be mine, mine, mine!!!
Transit: Not entirely positive, need more research. I believe the Ohara-bound bus from Kyoto station stops at the foot of the Hiei-zan cable car. From the top of the cable car line, get onto the ropeway. This gets off near the main two complexes. Take a bus from the main complexes over to the piece that Nobunaga missed, as I am informed that it is a ways away from the other temples, and is easy to miss. (Just ask Nobunaga...) Alternately, supposely the Eizan railway (from Demachi Yanagi station) has a stop at the foot of the cable car. There is also a route up from the Lake Biwa side, though that is best used if one has a rail pass.
Notes: Totally need to do my research on this one. All I know is there is a piece that Nobunaga missed, and that I totally want to see this complex.
What it is: The hike from Kibune to Kurama contains several things associated with young Yoshitsune. Unfortunately, one has to hike over the spine of the mountain to see them. Hence, why this has not been done yet. Go from the Kibune side to the Kurama side, then catch a shuttle from the train station to the onsen and soak in a routenburo as a reward.
Transit: Bus or subway to Demachi Yanagi station. Catch the Eizan line to Kurama. Get off two stops from the end (Kibune), the path from there is supposed to be obvious. (with a lot of red lanterns lining it.) Coming back, catch the shuttle from the onsen back to the Kurama train stop, which returns to Demachi Yanagi.
In order to access Kibune, get off at the second last station, Kibune-guchi Station, from where you can walk to Kibune along the road in about 20-30 minutes or take Kyoto Bus number 33 (5 minutes, 160 Yen).
Notes: Need to do more research on what is along the walk. Bring a towel and food, as the onsen doesn't provide towels, and I am not fond of raw egg. Also, need to make sure I know how to find the trail across the mountain. I'm sure it's obvious, but I want to know.
Yasaka Jinja area
What it is: I've been zooming by this temple on the bus for so many years I can't even count. Yasaka Jinja itself is well known as the shrine where all the entertainers and geisha in Kyoto go to pray.
Rokuharamitsu-ji, which is one of the Saikoku pilgrimage temples is in this area. It would be great to be able to swing by, since it looks pretty.
Googling Japanese train stations appears to pull up neat information. I found entries for Yamato Saidai-ji station on Wiki and All Experts. Pretty nifty. I wonder if they list if the station has lockers for ones that do...?
Note: I will continue updating this post as I do more research. If anyone cares, check back on this for further information.
Tech thing to look at: Rover TV. If it has USB and a decent amount of storage space I may need to get one.