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The 20 Best Things to Do in Kyoto, Japan

The 20 Best Things to Do in Kyoto, Japan


With so many issues to do in Kyoto like witnessing the cherry blossoms in full bloom, having fun with tea ceremonies in conventional tea homes, and strolling by way of Zen gardens, you’ll by no means need to go away. Known for its exceptional historical past Kyoto, has managed to protect its authenticity and historical traditions, and acts as a window into Japan’s previous. It has one of many world’s largest collections of UNESCO World Heritage Sites and is without doubt one of the most visited and cherished cities in Japan. Once the capital metropolis, Kyoto stays the cultural and religious coronary heart of Japan.

Top Things to Do in Kyoto, Japan

Kyoto, Japan is a spot that is filled with temples, and by spending a while right here and exploring every one you may actually see why that is thought of the capital of conventional Japanese tradition.

You can nonetheless see geisha in their conventional kimono and white make-up strolling the streets and the entire temples and shrines are nonetheless occupied and maintained by monks that also stick with it the previous methods, carrying their flowing robes and performing ceremonies from way back.

If you’re in search of a vacation spot that permits you to get away from the hustle and bustle of huge cities like Tokyo and Osaka then that is the place for you. It may be overwhelming with so many issues to do in Kyoto, so this information ought to give a good suggestion of all of the must-see issues in Kyoto. And then you may learn: The Best Day Trips from Tokyo

About Kyoto

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Kyoto is positioned in the Kansai space, about 3 hours away from the capital metropolis of Tokyo by Shinkansen (the primary practice line). The Kansai area is famend for its native delicacies, which makes Kyoto a unbelievable place for tradition and meals lovers alike. We counsel planning on at the very least 3 days in the town to actually get essentially the most bang to your buck.

Pick up your 1 or 2 day hop-on-hop-off bus go to discover the highest points of interest, temples, and shrines in Kyoto at your personal tempo. Including UNESCO World Heritage websites comparable to Nijo Castle, Kinkakuji, Kiyomizu-Dera Temple, and extra.

1. Explore the paths of Fushimi Inari Shrine

Things to do in Kyoto Japan Fushimi Inari Shrine
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One of the very best issues to do in Kyoto is to stroll the paths of the Fushimi Inari Shrine. Once an vital pilgrimage stroll, the Fushimi Inari Taisha Shrine is without doubt one of the most visited shrines in Japan. Famed for its hundreds of vermilion Torii gates, the Fushimi Inari Shrine is devoted to the Shinto God of rice. It’s lovely gates make it one of many prime issues to do in Kyoto. The hike alongside the forest path is pretty simple. You can select to do the entire loop, which can take about 3 hours or simply do the decrease loop in case you don’t have that a lot time.

The path itself could be very busy all 12 months spherical, nonetheless, the intelligent traveler can keep away from the crowds by climbing up the mountain simply earlier than sundown or early in the morning. Along the best way, you’ll encounter the very best view on the Yotsutsuji intersection for an incredible photographic alternative over Kyoto.

Where is the Fushimi Inari Taisha Shrine

The Fushimi Inari Taisha Shrine is positioned in southern Kyoto on the foot of Mount Inari. To attain it take the practice to Fushimi Inari Station on the Keihan Main Line and the doorway is a 5-minute stroll from there. Book this extremely rated Fushimi Inari Shrine tour with an area information. Journey right into a secret bamboo forest, see the purple tori gates, and take in the views away from the crowds. 

2. Kinkakuji Temple

Things to do in Kyoto Japan Kinkakuji Temple
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Located in northern Kyoto The Kinkakuji Temple is a Zen temple that’s actually price seeing. Decorated in gold leaf (therefore why they name it the golden pavilion), the temple sits on a peaceful lake surrounded by bushes. When you go to Kyoto, don’t miss seeing this putting temple, it is without doubt one of the most photographed locations in Kyoto.

The Kinkakuji Temple was initially constructed as a retirement residence for a well-known shogun and he sanctioned it to develop into a temple after he died in 1408. Strolling the grounds, it’s simple to see why this is able to make an ideal retirement place.

Like most locations in Kyoto, we advocate visiting early in the morning to keep away from the crowds and to benefit from the morning mild that shimmers off of the calm waters and the Golden Temple itself.

3. Philosopher’s Walk

Things to do in Kyoto Philosopher's Walk
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One of the very best issues to do in Kyoto is to stroll alongside the Philosopher’s Walk. The Philosophers Walk is the right place to take pleasure in a peaceable but lovely stroll. This pedestrian walkway is positioned alongside the Biwa Canal that’s lined with cherry bushes. It additionally connects the Nanzen-ji and Ginkaku-ji (Silver Pavillion) temples. This stroll is without doubt one of the prime issues to do in Kyoto particularly if you’re right here when the cherry blossoms are in full bloom. There are some smaller temples in addition to some cafes and eating places alongside the trail which can be price visiting.

This Kyoto Walking Tour helps you to uncover the magic of Kyoto by way of cultural experiences, temples, and shrines together with Tofukuji Temple, Zen backyard, and Fushimi Inari Shrine plus a go to to the Geisha district.

4. Visit the Arashiyama bamboo grove

best places to visit in Kyoto Japan Arashiyama bamboo grove
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One of the highest points of interest in Kyoto is the Arashiyama Bamboo Grove. Walking by way of the tall inexperienced stalks is like getting into an alien world. The bamboo grove in Arashiyama is maybe essentially the most lovely pure spot in Kyoto. When the wind blows, the bamboo stalks slowly rock, creating a chic and dreamy dance.

The finest time to go to Arashiyama is simply earlier than dawn, when the nice and cozy rays of the solar, slowly penetrate the silent forest. It can also be when you’ll keep away from many of the crowds and tour busses. This is simply one thing you can’t miss when visiting Kyoto.

The Arashiyama bamboo grove is positioned in Western Kyoto and may be reached by taking the practice from Kyoto station to Arashiyama station. Then it’s only a 10-minute stroll to the doorway of the paths, simply observe the indicators. It can also be free to enter.

This extremely rated bamboo forest tour takes you on a rickshaw journey by way of Arashiyama forest with a private information. Imagine touring by conventional means by way of considered one of Japan’s most iconic scenes.

5. Go Geisha Spotting in the Geisha District: Gion

Things to do in Kyoto Japan Gion Geisha
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Kyoto stays a romantic imaginative and prescient of Japan, with Geishas being its most alluring topic. Gion, often called the leisure quarters in Kyoto, is the very best place to go Geisha recognizing. These elusive performers are nonetheless very a lot admired and idolized, not simply by the Japanese, however by the entire world.

There are a number of corporations in Kyoto that set up Geisha exhibits. These normally embrace partaking in a tea ceremony, adopted by a Geisha dance. Book this evening stroll Geisha Tour – one of the vital in style strolling excursions in Kyoto. A 100-minute guided stroll takes you thru nighttime Gion to study Geisha traditions.

Read about dressing up as a Geisha in Memoirs of a Male Geisha in Tokyo, Japan by NomadicBoys.

6. kiyomizu dera temple

Best Things to do in Kyoto kiyomizu dera temple
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Kiyomizu Dera Temple is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, positioned in japanese Kyoto and has to be considered one of Kyoto’s most well-known points of interest. Built in 778 this zen Buddhist temple has a number of the finest views throughout the town. The primary corridor was truly constructed with out nails, which is fairly cool to see, and the remainder of the advanced is simply as spectacular.

The Otowa Waterfall has three streams of water every with a special profit. One for longevity, one for tutorial success, and the opposite for achievement in their love life. Locals use cups hooked up to lengthy poles to drink from considered one of them.

As with many of the extraordinarily in style issues to do in Kyoto, it’s suggested to get there early to keep away from the busses and crowds. Luckily the Kiyomizu Dera Temple opens sooner than most (6 am) so that could be a bit simpler to do. It is well accessible as it’s a 10-minute bus journey from Kyoto station. Take bus 100 or 206. the doorway payment is 400 Yen.

7. Witness the Cherry Blossoms

Cherry Blossoms Things to do in Kyoto Japan
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Almost everybody has heard of the well-known Cherry Blossom Festival (Sakura) that takes place every year in Kyoto. During this time the cherry blossoms across the metropolis’s temples and shrines are in full bloom and it creates this fairytale-like ambiance. Some of the highest locations to see the cherry blossoms are The Philosopher’s Path, the Yasaka Pagoda, and the Kodai-ji Temple which homes the weeping cherry blossom tree.

If you do select to go to Kyoto when the cherry blossoms are in bloom simply remember that’s insanely busy throughout the town at the moment and all the things is dearer. Cherry blossom season is in the spring (April is the primary month) so be sure to e book early.

8. Admire The City From Kyoto Tower

Things to do in Japan Kyoto Tower
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Quite a lot of the favored issues to do in Kyoto revolve round Japanese tradition, Zen temples, and cherry bushes, however there’s a fashionable facet to Kyoto as effectively. One of the very best locations to go to in Kyoto for a style of modering Japan is the best construction in the town, Kyoto Tower.

Located in central Kyoto, the tower gives spectacular 360-degree views of the encompassing space in addition to telescopes and contact screens that present the names of what you’re looking at. It is unusual to see such a construction in the center of a metropolis that’s identified for its temples and it has been a controversial topic for locals because it was constructed.

In our opinion, it’s nonetheless price making the journey up to get the total appreciation of the great thing about this metropolis.

9. Attend a tea ceremony

Things to do in Kyoto Tea Ceremony
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The Japanese Tea Ceremony is an enchanting follow that dates again to the fifteenth century when a Zen Buddhist monk influenced the best way such ceremony was carried out. Although an previous custom that’s stated to have began round Uji, the follow of the tea ceremony continues to be very a lot taken severely at present.

Many research it in element and are keen to share their data with vacationers, which may expertise an genuine tea ceremony in one of many myriad tea homes positioned in Kyoto. Experience your personal Japanese tea ceremony led by a tea grasp as you study of the foundations, historical past, and religious position of tea in Japanese tradition.

10. Nishiki Market

plaecs to visit in kyoto Nishiki Market
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Nishiki Market ought to be on each meals lover’s bucket record. A maze of slender streets lined with meals stalls, Nishiki Market has been nicknamed Kyoto’s kitchen.

This is the very best place to strive the weird Tako Tamago (small octopus on a persist with an egg inside its head), native pickles, and recent eel.

11. Eat in Shijo Dori

Things to do in Kyoto Japan Matcha Ice Cream
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Matcha tea ice cream in Kyoto, Japan

No journey to Kyoto may be full with out spending a substantial period of time devouring native delicacies. For the culinary fanatic, Shijo Dori is the place to be, as this can be a lengthy road dotted with meals outlets and eateries.

Furthermore, it’s on Shijo Dori that almost all vacationers can indulge themselves in sampling conventional meals, together with matcha items, charcoal ice cream, fruity mochi, and plum tea.

12. Shrine and Temple hopping

What to do in Kyoto Zen Temple
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Kyoto has many temples to discover

Kyoto stays the religious soul of Japan, being residence to over 2000 shrines and temples. With so many choices, it’s tough to think about visiting all spiritual websites throughout a brief go to to Kyoto. Yet there are a number of shrines and temples not to be missed, together with Ginkaku-ji, and Ryan-ji.

Although few understand it, considered one of Kyoto’s best-kept secrets and techniques is Otagi Nenbutsu-ji, a small Buddhist temple positioned approach off the crushed path, across the Arashiyama district.

Book this Zen Meditation Tour the place you’ll follow Zen meditation with a Buddhist monk, take part in a tea ceremony and wander by way of the bamboo grove. Plus many extra cultural experiences. Details right here.

13. T?fuku-ji

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Kyoto, Japan buildings on the grounds of Tofuku-ji Temple.

T?fuku-ji stands as one of many metropolis’s most esteemed Zen temples, gaining vital consideration for its breathtaking autumn colours. Established in 1236 by the imperial chancellor Kuj? Michiie, the temple’s roots hint again to the monk Enni, who fashioned its inaugural group of monks.

The title “T?fuku-ji” itself is a mix of characters from two of Nara’s historical temples, T?dai-ji and Ok?fuku-ji, symbolizing its aspiration to exceed their magnificence. The expansive temple grounds are residence to numerous notable constructions, with the primary corridor and temple gate each honored as National Treasures of Japan. Moreover, a number of buildings throughout the compound are acknowledged as Important Cultural Properties.

14. The Zen Gardens

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One of T?fuku-ji’s highlights is its Zen gardens, which embody the Hojo or the Abbot’s Hall. Designed in the Nineteen Thirties by the famend backyard designer Mirei Shigemori, every of those gardens mirrors a definite theme and showcases the essence of recent Zen backyard landscaping. The southern Zen backyard, with its iconic moss and granite squares in a checkered format, is maybe essentially the most distinguished. In distinction, the western Zen backyard paints an imaginative scene of a mom tiger and her cubs traversing a river, represented by way of moss mounds and white gravel. The remaining northern and japanese gardens additionally possess distinctive designs, using components like rocks, moss, and azaleas to craft summary patterns and landscapes.

Beyond the gardens, the Ts?ten-ky? Bridge, main to the Kaisan-d? Hall, gives one other visible deal with, particularly through the autumn. The surrounding valley, brimming with maple bushes, transforms right into a vivid canvas of reds, oranges, and yellows, drawing massive crowds. Located conveniently close to the T?fukuji Station on the JR Nara Line, the temple is comparatively simple to entry from Kyoto Station. While many of the temple grounds are open to the general public without spending a dime, sure areas, such because the Hojo gardens and the Ts?ten-ky? Bridge, require an entrance payment. A go to to T?fuku-ji, whether or not for its tranquil gardens or the animated autumn foliage, guarantees an unforgettable Kyoto expertise.

15. Sleep in a Ryokan

Japanese Ryokan Room things to do in kyoto
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Sleeping in a Japanese Ryokan is extremely advisable

To expertise conventional Kyoto, sleeping in a Ryokan is an absolute should. Although comparatively costly, these Japanese inns normally embrace dinner and breakfast, top-notch service, and using the recent springs (onsen).

Ryokans fluctuate in phrases of amenities and finances, however the very best ones will embrace the entire above. A pleasant phrase of warning: the ryokan expertise is so unimaginable, it turns into quite addictive. The Gion Fukuzumi Ryokan is a top-rated ryokan for vacationers to Kyoto. See it on TripAdvisor. Search extra Kyoto Ryokans right here.

16. Take a day journey to Mount Hiei

Things to do in Kyoto Mount Hiei
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Although Kyoto has a lot to supply, the true zen may be pursued outdoors of the town and inside its surrounding mountains. Mount Hiei is a unbelievable choice for a day trip, being simply accessible and residential to a couple of temples alongside the best way.

To entry the highest of the mountain, there’s a cable automotive (a advisable expertise) or a mountain path that leads to an previous Buddhist monastery. For an amazing day trip, finest to take the cable automotive to the highest, then descend on foot to take pleasure in a number of the historical Japanese forested trails.

17. Lose your self in the Kyoto station

Things to do in Kyoto Japan Train Station
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Perhaps the least anticipated advisable attraction, the Kyoto Station, is an incredible place to spend a day. With over 14 tales full of retailers and eateries, this place has one thing for everybody. Start in the basement and store in the native division retailer, which sells mouthwatering recent meals.

End the night by consuming both sushi in Musashi or tonkatsu in Katsukura. It can also be an amazing spot to take pleasure in wonderful views over the town at evening.

18. Kyoto International Manga Museum

Visiting the Manga Museum things to do in Kyoto Japan
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If you’re in search of one thing a little bit out of the abnormal to do be sure to take a look at the Kyoto International Manga Museum. Even if you’re not into manga comics you can be impressed by the 300,000 volumes of comics which can be translated into many alternative languages. The museum is a enjoyable cease when you have children and is the right place to kill a couple of hours if the climate is dangerous.

19. Kyoto Imperial Palace

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The Kyoto Imperial Palace is a spot not to be missed, particularly if you’re visiting in the spring or fall. This palace was used because the residence of various Emperors for 500 years till the capital moved to Tokyo in 1869. The walled compound has some unimaginable and expansive gardens which actually come to life in the autumn.

The constructing themselves are designed in the standard Japanese model and make the right accent to the encompassing nature. This is a spot you positively need to stroll round for an hour or so. It is shut to Nijo Castle and the Kyoto International Manga Museum in addition to the Nashinoki Shrine.

20. Historic Monuments of Ancient Kyoto

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Historically, Kyoto has been the imperial capital of Japan for greater than a thousand years. In 1994, UNESCO inscribed 17 historic websites in Kyoto (in addition to close by Uji and Otsu cities) as a collective World Heritage Site often called the “Historic Monuments of Ancient Kyoto.” Not all temples in Kyoto are a UNESCO World Heritage Site, so in order for you to make a degree of visiting the designated monuments, here’s a record.

Kiyomizu-Dera Temple: Known for its wood terrace that provides a panoramic view of Kyoto, this temple is especially in style throughout cherry blossom and autumn foliage seasons. Enryaku-ji Temple: Located on Mount Hiei, it’s traditionally vital because the headquarters of the Tendai sect of Japanese Buddhism. Daigo-ji Temple: Famous for its five-story pagoda, it’s one other in style web site throughout cherry blossom season. Ninnaji Temple: It’s identified for its conventional imperial palace model structure and delightful gardens. Byodo-in Temple: Located in Uji, this temple’s Phoenix Hall is prominently featured on the Japanese 10 yen coin. Ujigami Shrine: Also in Uji, it’s thought of to be the oldest standing shrine in Japan. Kozan-ji Temple: Located in the Takao area of Kyoto, it’s acknowledged for its historical scriptures and its lovely environment. Saiho-ji Temple: Known because the “Moss Temple”, it’s well-known for its moss backyard. Tenryu-ji Temple: Located in Arashiyama, it’s significantly famous for its scenic backyard. Ryoan-ji Temple: Famous for its rock backyard, which is a quintessential illustration of Zen backyard design. To-ji Temple: Known for its five-story pagoda, which is the tallest in Japan. Kinkaku-ji Temple (Golden Pavilion): Renowned for its golden pavilion which shimmers beside a pond. Ginkaku-ji Temple (Silver Pavilion): While not lined in silver, it’s famend for its sand backyard and delightful grounds. Shimogamo Shrine: One of the oldest Shinto shrines in Japan, it’s positioned in a forested space, offering a serene ambiance. Kamigamo Shrine: Another historical Shinto shrine with a tranquil ambiance. Nijo Castle: Known for its “nightingale floors” which chirp when walked upon, in addition to its lovely gardens. Kyoto Gyoen (Imperial Palace and Sento Imperial Palace Gardens): Located in the center of Kyoto, it was the previous residence of the Emperor.

Each of those websites has been acknowledged for its historic, cultural, and architectural significance, contributing to Kyoto’s status because the cultural coronary heart of Japan. If you’re planning to go to Kyoto, exploring these World Heritage Sites would supply a deep dive into the town’s wealthy historical past and unmatched magnificence.

How to Get to Kyoto, Japan

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Getting to Kyoto, Japan, largely is determined by the place you’re ranging from and your mode of transportation. Most folks journey to Kyoto after visiting Tokyo however you may fly instantly to Kyoto as effectively.

By Air:

Kansai International Airport (KIX): This is the closest main worldwide airport to Kyoto. From Kansai Airport, you may take the Haruka Express practice which instantly connects the airport to Kyoto Station in about 75 minutes.

Osaka International Airport (Itami Airport, ITM): It’s a home airport but additionally fairly shut to Kyoto. From right here, you may take buses that run between the airport and Kyoto Station.

Chubu Centrair International Airport (Nagoya): Another choice, although farther away. From right here, you’d usually take a practice to Kyoto.

By Train:

If you’re touring inside Japan, the Shinkansen (bullet practice) is without doubt one of the most handy strategies. From Tokyo, the Tokaido Shinkansen takes about 2-2.5 hours to attain Kyoto.

If you’re planning to journey round Japan, think about getting a JR Pass (Japan Rail Pass). It permits limitless journey on JR traces (together with most Shinkansen traces) and could be a cost-effective choice in case you’re touring between a number of cities.

By Bus:

Long-distance buses join Kyoto with different components of Japan. While they take longer than the practice, they are often cheaper, particularly in case you’re touring in a single day.

By Car:

You may drive to Kyoto in case you’re comfy navigating Japanese roads and site visitors guidelines. Ensure you have got an acceptable driver’s license and perceive toll street charges.

Getting Around Kyoto

Once you’re in Kyoto, the town has a complete bus and subway system to get you to most main points of interest. There are additionally taxis and bike leases obtainable.

Accommodations in Kyoto

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Kyoto has a variety of lodging from luxurious accommodations, ryokans (conventional Japanese inns), guesthouses, to capsule accommodations. It’s advisable to e book in advance, particularly throughout peak seasons like cherry blossom season or autumn foliage season.

Important: Always test journey advisories, entry necessities, and different pertinent particulars earlier than planning your journey, particularly in case you’re touring internationally.

Remember, these are basic pointers, and the easiest way to get to Kyoto would largely rely in your place to begin, finances, and journey preferences. Safe travels!

Final Thoughts

Kyoto is the right place to take pleasure in conventional Japanese tradition, get a glimpse into the historical past of Japan in addition to take in the unimaginable structure that has made this one of the vital in style vacationer locations in the world. If you intend on visiting Kyoto you gained’t be dissatisfied.

This publish was initially written by Cory Varga and has been up to date by The Planet D. Cory and G, are the completely satisfied British couple behind You Could Travel, a web site geared in direction of inspiring others by way of information-packed articles that revolve round journey guides, suggestions, and suggestions. They specialize in tender journey journey, off-the-beaten-path locations, and culinary affairs. They encourage and encourage a nomadic life-style by way of storytelling and photographic essays. Follow them at: YouCouldTravel / Facebook / Instagram / Pinterest / Twitter

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