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Every tourist should know what to see in Kyoto in advance. Even if he intends to see the sights of Kyoto with an experienced guide.
What to see in Kyoto in the first place?
It would be endless to list all the interesting places in Kyoto. Therefore, we have compiled our rating, taking into account the most popular and booked excursions in Kyoto by travelers:
1. Fushimi Inari Shrine
Rows of bright red torii gates at Fushimi Inari Shrine
The temple is included in the list of “major attractions in Japan“, and makes you leave only the most enthusiastic reviews about yourself. Its hallmark is the numerous Torii gates, which form endless corridors several kilometers long. The main building of the sanctuary, as well as the main entrance, is located at the foot of the mountain. In the middle of the hill there is an inner chapel, which can be reached using hundreds of trails and paths.
Official website: http://inari.jp/en/
< h3> 2. Golden Pavilion
Kinkaku-ji Golden Pavilion – Kyoto Buddhist Temple
Few sights in Kyoto, despite all their splendor, can boast such a magnificent view. The Golden Temple serves as a repository for Buddhist relics, and is a real symbol of the city and the entire national culture of Japan. The location of the exquisite structure of three floors is the shore of the Mirror Lake. Your trip here will be unforgettable, also because the pavilion is surrounded by small and large islands overgrown with ancient pines.
By the way, the name of this attraction of Kyoto was given by the expensive decoration of the outer walls – gold leaf (covered with a special urus varnish for protection). After seeing the temple building and walking around its well-groomed grounds, you can head to the Sekkatei Tea House or a nearby pond. We also recommend that you toss a coin at the ancient statues decorating the garden – according to legend, this brings happiness.
3. Sagano Bamboo Grove
Beautiful bamboo path in Sagano
The bamboo grove of Sagano can be safely included in the list of the most beautiful places on the planet. The shape of this Kyoto landmark is a beautiful alley, consisting of several thousand bamboo trees of various kinds. They are arranged in a strict order, and fascinate with their extraordinary stately beauty. If you do not know what to visit in Kyoto, but like active outdoor walks, go here. You will be offered to rent a bike or “hire” a rickshaw. In the latter case, in addition to the trip itself throughout the grove, you will get the opportunity to hear fascinating stories about the creation of this reserved place. Guides in Kyoto, like rickshaws, can tell a lot of interesting and not well-known facts.
4. Kiyomizu-dera Temple
Kiyomizu-dera Temple in autumn nature
We continue our review with a story about a wonderful temple towering on a mountain. One of its key features is the unique design of the wooden platform. It seems to hover above ground level, being at a height of 13 meters. This extraordinary effect is achieved due to the significant slope of the mountain. If you are thinking what to see in Kyoto in 1 day, come here: you can enjoy a panoramic view of the nearby landscapes. Our recommendations will not disappoint even those who are not lovers of natural beauty.
Official website: http://www.kiyomizudera.
5. Nijo Castle
Honmaru Palace in Nijo Castle in Kyoto
In former years, the purpose of this Kyoto landmark was to serve as a fortified residence of the Tokugawa shoguns. The territory of the castle complex, with dimensions of 275 thousand squares, is represented by several flowering gardens and a huge number of buildings. The centerpiece is the magnificent UNESCO-listed Ninomaru Palace.
Official website: http://www2.city.kyoto.lg.
Be sure to check out this beautiful video about Kyoto!
6. Byodo-in Temple
The Phoenix Pavilion of Byodo-in Buddhist Temple in Uji City
Inside the sanctuary there are several chic halls, each of which has its own attractions. So, in the Phoenix Hall, you can see a gilded statue of Amida and a golden halo with the image of 20 bodhisattvas behind her. In addition, there are ancient images of celestials and no less ancient frescoes. At the back of the temple complex is the Homotsu-kan treasury, containing the phoenixes that once adorned Amida's temple, a bell, and original images of bodhisattvas. This is the best option for those who appreciate ancient history and architecture to visit in Kyoto.
Official website: https://www.byodoin.or.jp/en/
7. Silver Pavilion
The Silver Pavilion and the Ginkaku-ji Pond in Kyoto
Along with the Golden Pavilion, the Silver Pavilion was built on the shore of a beautiful lake. Through its sliding walls, you can see the garden area, made in the style of wabi-sabi. As well as unique sand and moss gardens.
8. Ryoan-ji Temple
Dry Garden or Rock Garden at Ryoan-ji Buddhist Temple
Your trip to Kyoto would not be complete without a visit to this temple. Its own main attraction is a rectangular platform measuring 10 m by 25 m. What could be interesting in it? Every day, workers level gravel, moss and rock fragments at the site with a special rake, creating original images.
Official website: http://www.ryoanji.jp/
9. Sanjusangen-do Temple
A long, narrow structure – Sanjusangen-do Buddhist Temple – in Kyoto
If you came to Japan to admire the unique statues, what to see in Kyoto should be clear to you without words. You will be able to see, among other things, the longest wooden sculpture in the country (over 100 meters high). This giant Kannon rises in the central part of the Sanjusangen-do, around it on each of the four sides there are five thousand smaller statues (but also in human height). Book hotels in Kyoto in January and you can experience the famous Willow Rite held here.
10. Heian Jingu Temple
Main gate of Heian Jingu Temple in Kyoto
You can enter the large area of this temple by passing the highest gate of the Oten-mon country. Every year, mass festivities are organized in Heian-jingu: hundreds of Japanese and guests of the state put on outfits of past centuries and arrange solemn processions. They escort the remains of Emperors Komei and Kammu being transferred from the Imperial Palace to Heian Jingu. It is believed that in this way the spirits of the nobles can inspect the temple complex belonging to their memory. The territory of the temple is surrounded by four gardens, spread over 33 thousand squares. Each garden has not only its own reservoirs, but also its own unique “chips”. So, in the South Garden you can find a tram – a monument to the opening of the first tram tracks in the city.
Official website: http://www.heianjingu.or.jp/
11. Kyoto Imperial Palace
Gate of the Kyoto-gosho Imperial Palace
An offer for the most demanding tourists who do not know where to go in Kyoto. The luxurious palace complex is surrounded by a wall that “protects” several buildings and gardens. The sights include many objects, including a pond, the Kogosho Small Palace, the Empress's Palace, the halls of the members of the imperial family, the main hall of Shishin.
Official website: http://sankan.kunaicho. go
12. Nanzen-ji Temple
Sanmon Gate at Nanzen-ji Temple in Kyoto
The date of construction of the temple complex is 1291. The building is included in the list of the 5 largest temples in the city. In addition to the sanctuary itself, there are unique gardens that have retained their appearance almost unchanged since the 14th century. Of particular interest to travelers is the eastern rock garden located in front of the main hall. The fact is that the shape of its stones evokes associations with playing cubs and tigers. As for the southern garden, it is most suitable for peaceful walks. You can go to its two beautiful reservoirs. The way to Nanzen-ji is through the aqueduct.
Official site: http://www.nanzen.net/
13. To-ji Temple< /h3>
Toji Temple Pagoda in Kyoto
The five-tiered pagoda that adorned the To-ji Buddhist temple complex could be included in the list of “the best sights in Kyoto” in and of itself. Today, rising 57 meters to the sky, it is still one of the tallest wooden buildings in the city. Another unique property of the temple is its main hall. This is the largest room in the complex, bearing the honorary title of “National Treasure” of Japan. Inside are valuables from various eras, such as the statue of Buddha Yakushi Nyorai. Other rooms also contain precious statues, some of which were created from wood about 1.2 thousand years ago.
Official website: http://www.toji.or. jp/en/
Kyoto Attractions: What else to visit in Kyoto?
We have listed the main attractions of Kyoto briefly. However, not only they deserve your attention, but also such fascinating objects of architecture, culture and history as:
14. Ninna-ji Temple
Rock garden near the former palace buildings of Ninna-ji Temple
The interior halls are decorated with beautiful paintings and other masterpieces of art. The area of the complex is divided into parts with the help of high walls. In the northern zone, there is the main Kondo hall, a cherry orchard and a pagoda with five tiers. In the west-south part there are pavilions with ancient treasures and a pond. In addition, there is an ikebana school on site.
Official website: http://www.ninnaji.jp/en/
Geisha among traditional wooden houses in Gion quarter
The famous district of the city, which was equipped in Kyoto back in 656. At one time, geisha lived and worked here. Now Gion is known for its numerous restaurants of national and Italian cuisines. In local shops you can buy kimono accessories, incense, kanzashi and other memorabilia. Most of the buildings in this area are tea houses made of wood. But on some streets there are modern malls and clubs.
Official website: http://www.kyoto-gioncorner.
16. Nishiki Market
Nishiki Market (Nishiki ichiba) in Kyoto Bevis Chin
A narrow street that has concentrated hundreds of boutiques and cafes on its square. Many of the shops and restaurants here are owned by generations of the same families. Visiting the market, you can buy vegetables, seafood, rolls and sushi, spices, sweet products, traditional pickles, and many other processed and fresh dishes and products.
17. Gekkeikan Sake Museum
Gekkeikan Okura Sake Museum in Kyoto 663highland
If you want to know the history and technical details of sake production, head to this museum. Among other things, tourists are invited to enjoy the beauty of the nearby Horikawa River.
Official website: http://www.gekkeikan.co.jp/
Yasaka Pagoda and Sannen Zaka Street in the morning
Today this street is part of the historic quarter of the same name. It consists of stone steps and pavement. The houses built on it have been preserved in their historical form since ancient times. Sannen-zaka is covered with numerous terrible legends. So, according to one of these legends, a person who stumbles on this street will die in the next two or three years. If you are not afraid to walk along the pavement, you can visit national shops and shops selling various souvenirs and food.
19. Ponto-cho quarter
Ponto Street -cho decorated with Wolfiewolf lanterns from Pontocho street in Nakagyo
Since ancient times, Kyoto has been the political, cultural and religious capital of Japan, so it is not surprising that thousands of temples and shrines were built on these lands. However, what to see in Kyoto, except for temples, to make the trip more informative and varied? For example, you can go to a typical Japanese geisha quarter called Ponto-cho – actually a street that stretches for half a kilometer from north to south. There are geisha establishments everywhere, tea houses, which alternate with bars and inexpensive eateries. But among other things, the area is also known for traditional buildings that have been preserved for a long time – such as the Kaburenjo Theater, which today works as a platform where geisha demonstrate their art – since the end of the 19th century, geisha shows have been held here twice a year, which is a kind of combination dancing, singing and playing traditional musical instruments.
20. Kyoto Tower
Kyoto Tower and panoramic view of Kyoto city and mountain range
In order to cover all the best sights of Kyoto in the format of a short trip, you can, without traveling far, start your journey from the central areas of the city, where it is simply impossible not to notice the towering spire of the Kyoto Tower – this is the highest building in Kyoto with an observation platform at around a hundred meters. A gigantic structure is installed on the roof of the building, which houses a five-star hotel. This tower was specially built as a survey tower, so it does not perform any functions, such as a TV tower or a radio tower. It was erected in 1964 and was originally conceived to resemble a Japanese candle. Structurally, the tower consists of 2 parts, of which the first is a steel shaft, up which you can climb on one of the 9 elevators, and the second is a building that supports the shaft. There is a three-level restaurant at the top, and a 360-degree panorama of Kyoto from the observation deck.
Official website: https://www.keihanhotel
21. Samurai and Ninja Museum
Samurai armor at the Samurai and Ninja Museum in Kyoto
Kyoto has been associated with the samurai throughout its history. The Museum of Samurai and Ninja seems to revive ancient history, helping to look at the life of these brave heroes. Having two days in Kyoto at your disposal, you should definitely set aside time to visit this colorful place, where the spirit of samurai, characteristic of traditional Japan, still lives. A tour of the museum allows you to see ancient artifacts, hundreds of ancient swords, armor, other weapons, armor replicas, samurai household items, as well as explore exhibits dedicated to ninjas. And here you can also try on a samurai helmet, armor, kimono or yukata and take a memorable photo. The museum also invites you to participate in a tea ceremony, visit Zen meditations, and watch costumed sword fights. At the service of visitors is a souvenir shop where you can buy real samurai swords, warrior armor and other paraphernalia.
Official website: https://mai-ko.com
22. Kyoto International Manga Museum
Visitors to Kyoto International Manga Museum Peat Bakke
Exhibition Hall at Kyoto International Manga Museum Olivier Bruchez
Manga culture is the real pride of the Land of the Rising Sun. Its design, content, artistic value allowed it to win worldwide recognition and gain many fans. The heroes of the legendary Japanese comics are remembered for their characteristic features and, above all, they amaze with the size of their expressive eyes. It is manga connoisseurs who are recommended to visit the Manga Museum in Kyoto. It has about 300 thousand books on mango culture in its collection, the collection is constantly growing and being translated into other languages. Of these, about 50 thousand are available for study – you can take a volume or two and look through. The museum has a cafeteria where you can take real courses on drawing mango comics – this process is very interesting and draws those who are interested literally to the head. The Kyoto Museum of Manga goes beyond art as a philistine entertainment and is distinguished by a thorough approach to the study of manga as a culture.
Official website: https://www.kyotomm
23. Kyoto National Museum
Copy of sculpture by Auguste Rodin “The Thinker” in front of the National Museum of Kyoto Yoshio Kohara
Winter travel in Kyoto has a unique atmosphere, especially around Christmas or New Year's Eve. A leisurely walk through the winter powdered city is filled with real magic when the evening lights come on. And in winter, Kyoto hosts a huge number of exhibitions covering a variety of topics – history, art, cooking and much more. In museums, you can get acquainted with Japanese culture and hide from the winter cold. Among the first places it is recommended to visit the National Museum of Kyoto, located in the Higashiyama district. The main focus of its exposition is on the art of Japan in the era of isolation, as well as Asia in general. The opening of the museum took place back in 1897, and initially the collection displayed treasures that were previously in the possession of temples, imperial palaces and private collections. Today, the exposition includes sections of fine art, handicrafts and archaeological artifacts – about 12 thousand objects in total.
Official website: https://www.kyohaku
< h3> 24. Kyoto Railway Museum
Locomotives in the main building of the Kyoto Railway Museum in Kyoto Toshinori baba
The Kyoto Railway Museum introduces visitors to the rich and varied history of Japanese railways. The main exhibition showcases several dozen exhibits of real trains – here are the oldest locomotives of the Meiji era, and the most ultra-modern bullet trains. Each exhibit is equipped with an explanatory card with information in different languages. The local library has 34 thousand copies of books and magazines on railway topics, as well as on other modes of transport. The park area of the museum is most interesting for young visitors – here you can ride miniature wagons or try yourself as a driver in driving simulators. On the territory of the museum there are shops with numerous themed souvenirs, restaurants and even special model trains where you can dine inside.
Official website: http://www.kyotorailwaymuseum
25. Togetsu-kyo Bridge
Cherry blossoms in front of the Togetsu-kyo bridge and Mount Arashiyama in Kyoto
Traveling around Kyoto on your own, you can take a city train, get to Arashiyama Station, from where you can get to a beautiful man-made object surrounded by picturesque nature at the very foot of Mount Arashiyama – this is the Togetsu-kyo bridge, built in the Heian era. The length of the structure is about two hundred meters, and what is remarkable – on one side of the bridge the river is called Katsura, and on the other – Hozu. In ancient times, noble people walked along the bridge, and night walks were especially popular, during which entire performances were staged. The structure perfectly complements the views of Mount Arashiyama, and nowadays, masses of tourists flock to Togetsu-kyo to enjoy a romantic walk in an atmosphere of peace, harmony and peace. The very name of the bridge, which means “Moon crossing”, came from antiquity – back in the 13th century, Emperor Kameyama, walking here under the night sky, noticed that the moonlight seemed to pass through the bridge.
26. Scenic Railway Sagano
The Sagano Scenic Railway along the Hozu Valley in the colorful autumn season
The railway communication in Japan is incredibly developed – on a silent super-high-speed train from Kyoto, you can go to explore the sights of Tokyo, or, on the contrary, plunge into the old days and ride along the Sagano railway line, watch magnificent natural views, see a bamboo forest, admire cherry blossoms or bright autumn leaves, depending on the time of year. It is worth noting that the Sagano tourist railway is a segment of the Sagano Line railway with a length of just over 7 kilometers, decommissioned from normal operation back in 1989, and diesel traction is used here instead of electricity. The line leads through the picturesque section of Arashiyama, through the Hozu Valley, and the open carriages of the train provide a great view of the surrounding beauty. During stops, you can take a stroll around Arashiyama, visit the beautiful suspension bridge, or visit the ruins of Kameoka Castle.
Official website: https://www.sagano-kanko
27. Maruyama Park
The Maruyama Park area is a popular place for walking and photo shoots Gavin Anderson
If the sights of Osaka are an amazing contrast of historical castles, Shinto, Buddhist shrines against the backdrop of the ultra-modern architecture of the economic center of Japan, then Kyoto is charming park compositions, blooming tsadas, cozy little squares spread out in different parts of the city. Cherry blossom lovers should head to Maruyama Park, where about seven hundred Japanese cherry trees grow. The views of the garden are especially beautiful in spring, when all this splendor blooms, covered with lush pale pink inflorescences. In April, many visitors and locals flock here to watch the cherry blossoms and participate in the hanami festival. At night these days, the park is illuminated by a bewitching backlight. The landscape is adorned with ponds, waterfalls, mounds and tea houses built here and there under sprawling cherry trees.
28. Iwatayama Monkey Park
Wild primates at Iwatayama Monkey Park in Andrea Schaffer
Feeding Time at Iwatayama Monkey Park Noneotuho (talk)
Going to Kyoto with children, one should not miss an entertaining place that will delight not only young travelers, but also everyone who is tired of the sightseeing fuss, flickering through a myriad of temples and other ancient monuments of authentic Kyoto. Iwatayama Monkey Park is located in the picturesque mountains of Arashiyama, where it is easy to get there in half an hour – an hour by train. True, from the station you have to walk a little more uphill on foot, but it's worth it. The park is home to one and a half hundred funny monkeys, which belong to a special kind of “snow monkeys” that live only in Japan. Climbing up to the park, at the end of the route you can get to the platform, from where you can see a beautiful view of the city and the surrounding nature. After contemplation, you can go to the pets, having previously bought special food for them. Monkeys willingly take treats from their hands and even pose for the camera. Each of the individuals has its own name, features and character.
29. Kyoto Botanical Garden
The greenhouse complex of the Kyoto Botanical Garden in Kyoto
The tourist preferences of travelers sometimes vary greatly – while some choose architectural monuments and are interested in advanced engineering achievements, others rush closer to nature and beauty. When choosing where to go for representatives of the second category, it is worth recommending an incredibly beautiful natural area – the botanical garden in Kyoto. Japanese parks are famous for landscape art, which expresses a worldview and a whole philosophy. The Kyoto garden is no exception, there are about 120 thousand plants that bloom, fragrant, alternating with bizarre stones, pebbles and running streams. Here, each plant has its own unique shade and character. The entire territory of the park is divided into different thematic zones, and greenhouses are located separately, which are a huge complex divided into galleries. A beautiful landscape is complemented by a lake, a large river and a Shinto shrine.
Official website: http://www.pref.kyoto
30. Philosophical trail (Tetsugaku -no-michi)
The Philosophical Path along a rock-lined canal at the foot of Mount Higashiyama Luca Mascaro
To complement your holiday in Kyoto, you can bring a bit of philosophy and meditation to it by going for a walk along the Philosopher's Trail, a stone-paved road at the foot of Mount Higashiyama. The trail owes its original name to renowned professor of philosophy Nishida Kitaro, who is rumored to have enjoyed walking along this route to Kyoto University, meditating and contemplating. The trail stretched along a small canal for about 2 kilometers. Along it today there are many cafes, small restaurants and shops where you can buy gingerbread cookies. There are also art galleries on both sides of the trail. The trail becomes a real center of attraction during the cherry blossom season, and in autumn the forest on the opposite side of the canal lights up with magical colors.
interest. To make your trip to Japan as informative and fun as possible, you should hire a qualified guide. He will tell a lot of entertaining facts about the city and its best tourist sites. Just 2.5 hours drive from Kyoto is the capital of Japan – Tokyo. While in Kyoto, consider visiting Tokyo. Read about the sights of Tokyo and get inspired for your next trip to Japan!