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15 CHARMING Issues to Do in KYOTO (Useful Information)

Best things to do in Kyoto Japan

Searching for one of the best issues to do in Kyoto? You’re in good arms.

Extra so than some other metropolis we’ve visited in our 5+ years of journey, Kyoto has left an impression so deep we appear unable to shake it.

We took our first journey to Kyoto within the fall of 2019 and have just lately returned (as quickly as vacationers had been allowed to go to post-pandemic).

Our first go to was timed for peak fall shade (right here’s a roundup of the finest spots to see fall foliage in Kyoto) so our second journey was strategically timed throughout low vacationer season.

We wished to see all town needed to provide at a slower tempo (and with much less crowds).

To that finish, this record of one of the best issues to do in Kyoto is predicated on a cumulative 4 weeks spent exploring Kyoto. And sure, I’m counting down the minutes till I return.

With that mentioned, let’s bounce proper in!

Best things to do Kyoto

Earlier than we dive in, for these you asking: We stayed at this EXCELLENT (and reasonably priced) lodge whereas visiting Kyoto. Can’t advocate it extremely sufficient!

where to stay in Kyoto
Our completely cozy lodge room in Kyoto

Stroll the Gion District

Kyoto’s unequivocal darling within the Gion District. Oozing attraction from each historic nook stuffed to the brim with quaint picket properties and slim streets, this is called the geisha district.

I’d argue that when most people consider visiting Kyoto, this space is the image that involves thoughts. The star of the present is the Hōkan-ji Temple (colloquially often called Yasaka Pagoda), which swells with vacationers most hours of the day.

If you need some semblance of solitude, I recommend arriving earlier than dawn (or effectively previous midnight, when you’re jet-lagged).

Exploring the world and getting aimlessly misplaced on the meandering streets is likely one of the finest issues to do in Kyoto. Pop into any retailer that piques your curiosity (for souvenirs or fascinating and distinctive trinkets for your self).

Hōkan ji Temple in Kyoto Best things to do Kyoto

Attention-grabbing reality to know earlier than visiting Kyoto

Throughout World Battle II People created two atomic bombs. By the point the 2 bomb had been accomplished, Germany had surrendered however Japan remained concerned.

As such, a choice was made that the atomic bombs can be utilized in Japan (heartbreaking). From there, it turned a query of choosing two cities.

Kyoto was on the record of strategies however was promptly faraway from the record by the Secretary of Battle (Henry Stimson) as a result of he had honeymooned within the metropolis and decided it too lovely to destroy.

Kyoto best things to do

Some useful recommendation: A phrase on geishas

Geishas undergo rigorous coaching for a lot of (many) years and dedicate themselves to a lifetime of expert leisure at stylish occasions. You might even see one strolling to (or from an occasion) whereas visiting Kyoto.

There’s no assure that you simply’ll see a geisha (and that’s alright!) nevertheless it you do, please give them area. Guests have taken an odd method to photographing them and it borderlines harassment (in my view) once I see so many individuals circling behind one for pictures.

I’ve been fascinated with the lives of Geishas since studying this lovely e book in highschool, so I utterly perceive the fascination. However all the time keep in mind to be respectful, you characterize the nation you’re visiting from and that’s an honor.

Expertise Fushimi Inari Shrine 

No record of one of the best issues to do in Kyoto is full with out mentioning the breathtaking Fushimi Inari Shrine. Heck, you’ve most likely seen pictures of this space already.

Fushimi Inari Shrine is taken into account a very powerful shrine (out of 1000’s in Japan) devoted to the Shinto god of rice, Inari.

interesting things to do in Kyoto Fushimi Inari Shrine Kyoto

The draw is the ocean of vermilion torii gates that create a tunnel impact, taking guests from the wholesome forest to the summit of the sacred Mount Inari.

In the event you’re on the lookout for adventurous issues to do in Kyoto, I encourage you to stroll your entire loop (which clocks in at 3 miles and takes 2-3 hours).

In the event you’re pressed for time (exhausting in charge you — there’s quite a bit to see whereas visiting Kyoto), spend 1-2 hours having fun with the temple, embark on a brief stroll by means of the torri gates and name it a day.

Warrants point out: Whereas shrines are alleged to be inherently peaceable, Fushimi Inari Shrine is something however. This is likely one of the hottest issues to do in Kyoto (for good motive) so anticipate crowds most hours on the day.

We visited at dawn and managed to keep away from the crowds, nevertheless it began to get very busy as we left.

Fushimi Inari Shrine

Go to Kiyomizu-dera Temple

Kyoto has no scarcity of breathtaking temples, however the one which stole the cake (for us) was Kiyomizu-dera Temple. Based in 778 AD, the prime location atop a hill provides guests unparalleled panoramic views of the gorgeous metropolis under.

The title Kiyomizu-dera interprets to “pure water temple.” Becoming, contemplating it was constructed on Otawa Waterfall. At this time, the waterfall is split into three streams and guests might use cups to drink from the water.

Every stream supplies a singular profit – longevity in life, success at school and a lucky love life. However be conscious!

Ingesting from all three is taken into account grasping. And no, you possibly can’t carry your water bottle in hopes of stocking up on additional luck within the love division.

Kyoto best things to do

You’ll enter the temple by means of a major corridor, make sure that to admire the constructing as a result of it’s an architectural feat. Your complete corridor was constructed with out nails!

Spend your time slowly strolling by means of the attractive temple (there’s so many paths to select from), this is likely one of the most fascinating issues to do in Kyoto.

  • Kiyomizu-dera is open each day 6am to 6pm 
  • Admission: 400 yen ($3.65) per grownup
  • Tackle: 294 Kiyomizu, Higashiyama Ward, Kyoto, 605-0862, Japan
Kiyomizu dera Temple

Eat your weight by means of Pontocho Alley

Wandering by means of Pontocho Alley was one of many highlights of our journey, and I feel it’s among the finest issues to do in Kyoto at night time.

This can be a slim alley full of quaint eating places (that seat lower than 10 folks) and old-school bars that comes alive within the night hours. A number of the eating places are excessive finish and conventional, whereas others cater to these on a finances.

best places to eat Kyoto

The outlets are lovely (utterly conventional Japanese buildings) by design. Fashionable buildings are usually not allowed within the space (neither are vehicles) to maintain this space as genuine as attainable (a number of the eating places don’t provide English menus).

In the event you’re up for just a little journey, I recommend doing a little bit of analysis forward of time (we used Google Maps) to discover a bar or restaurant that catches your curiosity. Then, embark on discovering it!

You’ll move energetic eating places en route, peek in by means of the small home windows and watch life unfold inside.

Visiting Pontocho Alley is likely one of the finest issues to do in Kyoto for foodies, or those who love conventional Japanese structure and tradition.

Pontocho Alley Kyoto at night

Let’s speak concerning the Arashiyama Bamboo Grove

These on the lookout for one of the best issues to do in Kyoto gained’t be shocked to see Arashiyama Bamboo Grove on the record.

Touristy? Sure. Crowded? Such as you wouldn’t consider. Value it? Laborious to say — let me offer you some information so that you could determine for your self.

The Arashiyama Bamboo Grove is a colossal grove of bamboo that turned uber well-known due to Instagram. Looks as if everybody needs to get a photograph with this wholesome bamboo grove (us included!).

Arashiyama Bamboo Forest Kyoto Visiting Kyoto for the first time

We swung by whereas visiting Kyoto and arrived proper at dawn.

Due to our early morning wake-up name (we acquired up round 4am to prepare), we hardly bumped into anybody else after we arrived. We admired the bamboo and took some pictures, however inside 20-Half-hour of our arrival, the place was swarming with guests.

It acquired so busy so quick! Is sensible although, contemplating there’s just one major path by means of the grove.

In the event you don’t get to the grove proper at dawn, anticipate to bump elbows with hordes of vacationers. At peak occasions, it appears inconceivable to get by means of.

Do with this data what you’ll, however right here’s my take. Visiting the Arashiyama Bamboo Grove is likely one of the most original issues to do in Kyoto.

Nevertheless, until you’re prepared to get there proper at dawn, I don’t assume the expertise will likely be pleasant (and would most likely skip as a result of the extraordinary crowds will make it exhausting to benefit from the space).

Arashiyama Bamboo Forest Kyoto

Some recommendation: Making an attempt to flee the crowds whereas visiting Kyoto?

There’s a excessive focus of nice issues to do within the Arashiyama district. From the Bamboo forest to a plethora of gorgeous temples, you’ll be spoiled for selection.

The largest problem is maintaining your cool amidst busy crowds. If you end up a bit overwhelmed by hordes of individuals, I recommend heading towards the Hozugawa River.

On a whim, we determined to walk down the Hozugawa River to work up an urge for food for lunch and located ourselves pleasantly shock.

We didn’t run into many of us throughout our stroll, which leads me to imagine this isn’t probably the most widespread issues to do in Kyoto (oddly sufficient).

Regardless, it was a really stress-free technique to spend the afternoon. We watched numerous boats and gondolas roll by, which was a pleasant change of tempo.

Subsequent time round, we plan to have just a little picnic right here. We additionally acquired fortunate with the autumn shade (think about these timber at peak shade!) whereas we had been visiting Kyoto.

Hozugawa River Kyoto

Go to the Gardens at Tenryu-ji Temple

One of the widespread points of interest in Kyoto, I’m tempted to say that Tenryu-ji Temple is a sight for sore eyes. However, in a metropolis as lovely as Kyoto, sore eyes are usually not simple to come back by.

Situated a stone’s thrown from the super-popular Arashiyama bamboo grove, Tenryu-ji is a peaceable Zen temple finest identified for its gorgeous gardens.

In-built 1339 (think about!), Tenryu-ji is taken into account a very powerful temple within the Arashiyama district (it’s a UNESCO World Heritage Website).

The buildings have been misplaced to fires through the years and had been subsequently rebuilt. Many of the present buildings date again to the Meiji Interval (1868-1912).

Nevertheless, whereas the buildings fell sufferer to fires, the gardens remained largely unscathed. Flanked by the arresting Arashiyama mountains, the backyard was thoughtfully curated round a central pond peppered with gorgeous pine timber (ablaze with breathtaking colours within the fall).

The hanging gardens alone make visiting Tenryu-ji Temple among the finest issues to do in Kyoto, you’ll keep in mind this gem for years to come back.

Tenryu ji Temple in Kyoto

Stroll down Shirakawa Dori

We got here throughout Shirakawa dori whereas en path to saké tasting one night. This picture-perfect road sits proper alongside the river, strolling the peaceable riverwalk is likely one of the most romantic issues to do in Kyoto.

Possibly seize dinner at one of many good eating places alongside the river after which pop into any retailer that catches your eye.


Store on the Nishiki Market

Nishiki Market could also be 400+ years previous, however she doesn’t look a day over 20. Simply kidding.

Stuffed to the brim with cheerful distributors promoting scrumptious meals and fascinating stuff (the pottery is value a shout-out), that is the place to be when you’re on the lookout for fascinating meals to strive whereas visiting Kyoto.

Your complete market stretches 5 blocks and encompasses round 100+ distributors. Look forward to finding tons of food-related outlets that promote cookware, knives, contemporary seafood, sweets and produce.

Nishiki Market Kyoto famous market in Kyoto

Swing by Koe Donuts whereas Visiting the Nishiki Market

We walked previous this place whereas exploring the market and promplty popped in. Tempted by the scrumptious smells and delightful donuts, we ordered three and did just a little style check. All of the flavors ended up being nice, very scrumptious donuts! An ideal mid-day choose me up.

famous donuts in Kyoto

Order Udon from Marugame Noodles

We found Marugame Noodles innocently sufficient. My husband is a noodle/pasta fanatic (severely, he has pasta virtually each night time) so after we handed by Marugame Noodles it caught his eye.

Seeing the place stuffed with locals, we popped in and gave it a go — utterly unprepared for the scrumptious (and tremendous reasonably priced) meal we had been about to have.

I imply, simply writing about this place is making my mouth water. We loved the udon right here a lot (and the tempura) that we returned 3 occasions whereas visiting Kyoto for the primary time.

That is undoubtedly among the finest issues to do in Kyoto for foodies.

P.S. In the event you’re ever visiting Honolulu, Oahu, chances are you’ll be shocked to study that Marugame Noodles has a location in Honolulu! We eat there at any time when we go to Oahu.

Marugame Noodles best udon in Kyoto

Go to the Otagi Nenbutsu-ji Temple

Visiting Otagi Nenbutsu-ji Temple is a good factor to do for anybody keen to flee the crowds for a bit. Situated additional away from the primary touristy areas in Arashiyama, this temple doesn’t get as many guests however is certainly value a detour.

House to a fascinating assortment of greater than 1,200 statues depicting Buddha’s disciples, the temple is tucked into the dreamy hillside of western Arashiyama.

Because the temple is additional eliminated, I recommend taking a taxi over (to spare your legs and save time).

Get pleasure from a standard tea ceremony whereas visiting Kyoto

Whereas visiting Kyoto, I used to be eager to partake in a standard tea ceremony. I’m a giant fan of matcha (inexperienced tea), so I wished to study extra concerning the historical past and correct preparation.

Getting ready matcha within the conventional style is a laborious affair. It’s frequent, in Japanese tradition, to decelerate the time and benefit from the preparation correctly.

Nevertheless, conventional tea ceremonies can final hours, so many locations provide casual, shorter tea ceremonies for guests.

This can be a distinctive and academic expertise, making it among the finest issues to do in Kyoto for these on the lookout for an genuine expertise.

We signed up for a tea ceremony within the Gion district and buckled in for an academic hour. Tucking right into a quiet area and getting just a little break from the bustle of town.

authentic experiences in Kyoto

See the well-known Gold Temple (Kinkakuji Temple)

Kinkakuji Temple is best identified (by People) because the Golden Pavillion. Aptly named, the highest two flooring of the pavilion are literally coated in gold leaf and sits on a peaceable pond.

Some of us contemplate this over temple a bit over-hyped, however actually — how usually do you get the prospect to see a complete constructing painted gold? As such, I’d argue that seeing this masterpiece is likely one of the finest issues to do in Kyoto.

Constructed initially in 1398 as a retirement villa for a shogun, the pavilion turned a Zen temple in 1408. Brace for crowds, realizing that Kinkakuji Temple is widespread for a motive.

You possibly can study extra about this widespread Kyoto attraction by studying this useful article.

Benefit from the Hojo rock backyard at Nanzen-Ji Temple

Courting again to the thirteenth century, Nanzen-Ji Temple is taken into account probably the most vital Zen temples in Japan. The grounds embody a number of sub-temples — probably the most well-known being Hojo rock backyard.

First constructed as a retirement villa for the Emperor Kameyama, the constructing was later transformed in a temple however a lot of the buildings had been destroyed through the civil wars.

Spend a while admiring the spectacular structure earlier than meandering the paths searching for solitude on the numerous gardens.

My favourite backyard was the Hojo (rock backyard), which was uncrowded throughout our go to. I used to be utterly bowled over by the great thing about the backyard and the solitude we had been capable of finding.

Extremely advocate discovering your personal slice of peaceable respite was visiting the Nanzen-Ji Temple.

Nanzen Ji Temple gardens

Visiting Kyoto & Tokyo (Fast Video from Our Current Journey)

The place to eat whereas visiting Kyoto:
  • Pontocho Alley
  • Gion Okay
  • Kichi Kichi
  • Kyoto Kitcho
  • Hachidaimi
  • Sushitetsu
  • Komefuku
  • Kagizen Yoshifusa
  • Gion Takama
  • Yakiniku Hiro
best places to eat Kyoto

Visiting Kyoto? Be taught the distinction between temples and shrines

Final however not least, I’d wish to share the distinction between temples and shrines for anybody planning to go to Kyoto.

In hopes of not oversimplifying, temples are Buddhist and shrines are Shinto. In our expertise, most temples and shrines are free and those who cost solely ask a nominal charge ($3-$5 per individual).

I’m positive it goes with out saying, however make sure that to decorate conservatively/appropriately when visiting temples and shrines. These are thought of sacred locations and respect is paramount.


Temples have massive incense burners and home Buddhist statues. Monks stay and prepare at temples, so it’s not unusual to see them wandering the grounds, particularly early within the morning.

Do you know that Buddhism didn’t originate in Japan? It was launched from China and India and is now an integral a part of the Japanese tradition.


Shrines welcome guests with sacred torii gates. In contrast to Buddhism, Shintoism originated in historical Japan and shares the idea that there are millions of totally different gods on the earth.

Shrines are exceptionally sacred as a result of it’s believed that Japanese gods stay inside the objects housed in shrines. As such, some shrines will put up indicators prohibiting images inside. It’s very important to abide by these guidelines.

Checklist of finest issues to Do in Kyoto, Japan (Submit Overview)

In sum, right here’s a listing of one of the best issues to do in Kyoto throughout your first go to.

  • Stroll the Gion District
  • Expertise Fushimi Inari Shrine 
  • Go to Kiyomizu-dera Temple
  • Store on the Nishiki Market
  • Arashiyama Bamboo Grove
  • Go to the Otagi Nenbutsu-ji Temple
  • Get pleasure from a standard tea ceremony
  • Stroll down Shirakawa Dori
  • Go to the gardens at Tenryu-ji Temple
  • Order Udon from Marugame Noodles
  • See the well-known Gold Temple (Kinkakuji Temple)
  • Benefit from the Hojo rock backyard at Nanzen-Ji Temple
  • Making an attempt to flee the crowds whereas visiting Kyoto? Head to the Hozugawa River

Visiting Kyoto, Kyoto Bucket Checklist Map

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Planning on visiting Kyoto quickly? Don’t hesitate to succeed in out with questions, I’m right here to assist!


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