At a glance
Kyoto is the cultural heart of the nation. If you ask a Japanese to name one city he or she wishes to visit, the answer will most likely be Kyoto. The city looks on the surface as similar as any the other modern city packed with concrete buildings and a visitor might end up with disappointment, seeing large crowds of people at major temples. However, if you carefully plan what to see, eat, buy as well as where to stay, you will find Kyoto one of the most beautiful elegant ancient capitals that preserves tradition nicely co-existing with innovation. Our guests usually say "we will be back".
It is almost impossible to come up with a short list of recommended places to visit in Kyoto. There are a wide variety of options depending on what you want to see and do, and how long you can stay. Here are only a few well-known places.
Kiyomizu temple and its neighborhood
This is the most visited temple in Kyoto. Located in Higashiyama, Kyoto, the temple commands a panoramic view of Kyoto city. The main building, registered as UNESCO's world heritage, is a magnificent architecture which is supported by pillars without using a single nail. There is a phrase in Japanese "jump off the stage of Kiyomizu" which means "take the plunge" or "making a brave decision". This temple is particularly beautiful (and crowded) in cherry blossom and autumn season.
Neighborhood around Kiyomizu temple and Yasaka shrine is a historically preserved area. Strolling along the Gojo-zaka street, San-nen-zaka street lined with souvenir shops and restaurants through to Kiyomizu temple is a fun moment. Particularly, the stone-paved Ishibei-koji street, within walking distance from Kiyomizu, Yasaka shrine or Gion district, is a romantic street to visit at dawn.
After visiting Kiyomizu temple, it makes a big difference to walk through the neighboring cobble-stone streets feeling the history of 1200-years.
Kinkakuji (Golden Pavillion) and Ryoanji
Kinkakuji (Golden Pavillion), which is covered with gold leaf, is best described with the adjective "gorgeous". The temple, registered as World Heritage, is one of the must-sees for first comers to Kyoto. It was originally a villa for General Yoshimitsu Ashikaga in the late 14th century. However, in 1950, the temple was burned down and was rebuilt 5 years later. After seeing the temple, you can take a pleasant walk in the garden surrounding it.
Ryoanji, which is located adjacent to Kinkakuji, is famous for its rock garden. It is a simple and mysterious garden with 15 rocks placed. The mystery of it is that the author and what it represents is unknown. Furthermore, there is no angle, except looking from overhead, where you can see all fifteen stones at once. Try finding an angle and you will know how precisely made this rock garden was.
Fushimi inari shrine
This is no doubt one of the most picturesque shrines in Japan. The highlight is walking through paths lined with thousands of vermilion toriis (shrine gate) on the hill at the back of the shrine. These torii gates are donated from small and large companies. When there are not many people around, it creates a mysterious atmosphere. In the film "Memoirs of Geisha", little Sayuri was running through these shrine gates.
Extending about 400 meters with over 100 stores, Nishiki Market has been "Kyoto's Kitchen" for many years. You can find various foods unique in Kyoto, such as pickles, dried seaweed, Japanese tea, fresh seafood, vegetables and other local foods. Many chefs at high-class traditional Kyo-ryori restaurants buy their ingredients here to serve an exquisite cuisine.
- Tokyo - [2h. 20 min. Shinkansen] - Kyoto
These are a few luxurious ryokans (Japanese style inns) that we recommend. We can book other ryokans or international hotels depending on your travel plan or budget. Please contact us by E-mail (firstname.lastname@example.org) or phone (81-3-5213-5040).
Private Tours in/from Kyoto
If you would like to take a 1 day Kyoto Private Tour, click Kyoto Private Tour.
We will design your own tour of Kyoto or the surrounding area of Kyoto (Nara, Osaka, Kobe, Himeji, etc.) with an English-speaking licensed tour guide.