Tourist attractions in Kyoto Prefecture
English | Japanese
We will introduce sightseeing spots in Kyoto for those who come to Japan from overseas.
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Table of contents
Sure, here are some popular tourist attractions in Kyoto that you might be interested in visiting.
Kiyomizudera is a temple located in the Higashiyama district of Kyoto, officially known as Otowasan Kiyomizudera. It is believed to have been founded by Kukai, also known as Kobo-Daishi, and was registered as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1994. In particular, the wooden stage of the main hall, known as the 'Stage of Kiyomizu,' juts out over a cliff, offering a sweeping view of the city of Kyoto below. At 'Otowa Waterfall,' it is said that one's wish will come true if they scoop water from one of the three streams.
Fushimi Inari Taisha is a significant shrine located in Kyoto City and is the head shrine of the numerous Inari shrines found all over Japan. The main deity enshrined here is the Inari God (Ukanomitama-no-kami), and it is known as a place where people pray for bountiful harvests and business prosperity. The symbolic 'Thousand Torii Gates' line the pathway, creating a photogenic spectacle, and making it one of the iconic tourist spots in Kyoto.
"The Bamboo Grove Path," located in Arashiyama, Kyoto, is a beautiful walkway, surrounded as its name suggests, by bamboo that grows so high it seems to cover the sky. This scenery, which symbolizes the beauty of Japan, attracts many tourists from both within the country and abroad. The path, enveloped by towering bamboo, lets you feel the tranquility and coolness, offering an opportunity to enjoy the seasonal atmosphere throughout the year.
Kinkaku-ji is one of the most popular tourist spots in Kyoto and is also registered as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. With its upper two floors completely covered in gold leaf, the temple shines amidst the surrounding verdant trees, presenting a luxurious and dazzling spectacle that is sure to leave an unforgettable impression. If the weather is favorable, you may also get a chance to see the reflection of the inverted Golden Pavilion in the pond in front of it.
Gion, located in the Higashiyama Ward of Kyoto City, is a traditional district of arts and culture where the old-world charm of Kyoto is strongly preserved. Especially in Hanamikoji Street and the Shirakawa area, it is known for its scenic townscape lined with maiko, tea houses, and old townhouses. Furthermore, the Gion Festival, held every July, is one of the three major festivals in Japan and is famous for attracting a large number of tourists.
Nijo Castle, a UNESCO World Heritage Site in Kyoto, showcases Japan's rich history and architectural prowess through its impressive palace buildings and well-preserved fortifications.The Ninomaru Palace, with its intricate wood carvings and wall paintings, offers a glimpse into the lavish lifestyle of the ruling shogunate.The castle's expansive gardens, featuring serene ponds and seasonal flora, provide a tranquil setting for visitors to explore and appreciate Japan's cultural heritage.
The Philosopher's Path is a scenic walk of about 2 kilometers located in Sakyo Ward, Kyoto. Its name comes from an episode where Kitaro Nishida, a philosopher from the Showa era, used to stroll and ponder here. Known also for its cherry blossom trees, it is a beautiful place where full-bloom sakuras can be observed in the spring. Along the way, there are numerous temples and cafes, making it an ideal spot to spend time leisurely.
Ginkaku-ji, officially known as Touzan Jisho-ji, is a Zen temple of the Rinzai sect located in Sakyo Ward, Kyoto City. It was constructed by the shogun Ashikaga Yoshimasa during the Muromachi period and features architectural structures and gardens that reflect the culture and art of that time. The Kannon Hall, designated as a national treasure, is particularly noteworthy and is called the Silver Pavilion, which also serves as the origin of the temple's name.
The Kyoto Imperial Palace was the residence of the Emperor until the Meiji Restoration. Today, the Kyoto Imperial Palace is used to hold tea ceremonies to celebrate the accession to the throne and to host state guests. Currently, the Kyoto Imperial Palace is open to the public without reservations, and visitors can enjoy the historical architecture and gardens at any time.
Toji Temple is the only remaining relic of Heiankyo. It was established about 1200 years ago and was registered as a World Heritage site in 1994. The five-story pagoda, a symbol of Toji Temple, can be seen from the window of a Shinkansen train. Standing at approximately 55 meters, it is the tallest wooden tower in Japan. On the temple grounds, there's a 120-year-old cherry tree called "Fuji Sakura". When in bloom, the sight of the vibrant flowers with the five-story pagoda in the backdrop is truly magnificent.
Nishiki Market in Kyoto is a shopping district located in the heart of Kyoto City. It has numerous shops selling food ingredients like seafood and vegetables, as well as many places where you can enjoy eating while walking around, making it a popular area for tourists. Given its proximity to major tourist spots and easy access by public transportation like the subway, it's definitely a place you should stop by when you have the time.
Tofuku-ji is a temple located in the Higashiyama Ward of Kyoto, currently known as a large temple complex housing 25 sub-temples. In addition to the mountain gate and the main hall, the temple is renowned for the three bridges (Tsuuten-kyo Bridge, Gaun-kyo Bridge, Engetsu-kyo Bridge) that span across the valley "Sengyokukan" within the temple grounds, as well as the garden designed by Mirei Shigemori. It is also famous as a representative autumn foliage spot in Kyoto, attracting many tourists in the fall.
Heian Shrine is a stunning Shinto shrine in Kyoto, Japan, known for its striking vermilion architecture and expansive Japanese gardens. Dedicated to the spirits of Emperor Kammu and Emperor Komei, it offers a serene, spiritual experience. A visit to Heian Shrine allows travelers to immerse themselves in the rich history and culture of Japan's ancient capital.
The Sanjusangen-do Temple in Kyoto, Japan, is a mesmerizing destination known for its 1001 statues of Kannon, the Goddess of Mercy. Visitors can marvel at the stunning architecture and serene atmosphere of this 13th-century temple. Discover the unique spiritual and cultural experience that awaits you at this UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The Kyoto National Museum is a must-visit destination in Kyoto, Japan, for those interested in the country's rich history and cultural heritage. Its extensive collection features Japanese art, artifacts, and archaeological findings, providing a comprehensive understanding of Japan's past. Located near other famous attractions, the museum offers a perfect opportunity to immerse oneself in the beauty and sophistication of Japanese culture.
Katsura Imperial Villa, a masterpiece of Japanese garden design and architecture, showcases the harmony between nature and traditional aesthetics. Visitors can appreciate the elegant structures, including tea houses and a shoin-style palace, set amidst a serene landscape with meticulously arranged ponds, bridges, and stone arrangements. A guided tour through this sublime cultural treasure offers a rare glimpse into Japan's imperial history and the refinement of its classical arts.
Nishi Honganji Temple, a UNESCO World Heritage site, is a significant center of Jodo Shinshu Buddhism in Kyoto, featuring magnificent architecture and serene atmosphere. The temple's vast wooden halls, such as the Goei-do and Amida-do, showcase exquisite craftsmanship and artistry. Visitors can also explore the beautiful gardens and appreciate the temple's rich history, making it a must-visit destination for those interested in Japanese culture and spirituality.
Eikando Temple, located in Kyoto, is renowned for its stunning autumn foliage and elegant architecture. As a prominent Buddhist temple, it houses an important Amida Buddha statue with a unique backward glance. Visitors can also enjoy beautiful gardens, serene ponds, and impressive cultural events throughout the year.
The Sagano Scenic Railway is a captivating attraction in Japan, offering breathtaking views of the Hozugawa River and the surrounding lush landscape. This nostalgic train journey takes you through the heart of Kyoto's stunning Arashiyama region, providing a unique and unforgettable experience. Immerse yourself in the beauty of nature, seasonal colors, and historical sites while traveling aboard this charming, vintage-style train.
The Kyoto Railway Museum is a fascinating attraction for train enthusiasts and history buffs alike, showcasing an impressive collection of Japanese trains, from vintage steam locomotives to modern bullet trains. This interactive museum offers hands-on exhibits, simulators, and educational displays that provide a comprehensive insight into Japan's railway history and technology. Visitors can also enjoy panoramic views of the city from the observation deck, making it a must-visit destination in Kyoto.
The Kyoto Aquarium is an engaging attraction featuring a wide variety of aquatic species, from local Japanese freshwater life to exotic marine animals. With its interactive exhibits and immersive displays, the aquarium offers a fun and educational experience for all ages. Visitors can enjoy daily events, such as feeding shows and informative presentations, making it a must-visit destination for those interested in marine life and conservation.
Kitano Tenmangu Shrine is a historical and cultural landmark in Kyoto, dedicated to the deity of scholarship and learning.Visitors can explore the shrine's numerous buildings and structures, including the iconic main hall with its distinctive architecture and vibrant red color.Additionally, the shrine's grounds are a popular spot for cherry blossom viewing during the spring season.
The Kyoto International Manga Museum offers a captivating experience, showcasing an extensive collection of manga, both historical and contemporary. Visitors can immerse themselves in the colorful world of Japanese comics and attend engaging workshops or events. This unique attraction blends cultural significance with entertainment, making it a must-see destination in Kyoto.
Hozugawa River Cruise is a thrilling and picturesque boat ride that takes visitors down the Hozu River in Kyoto, Japan. This traditional river journey showcases the area's stunning natural beauty, including lush forests, steep cliffs, and fascinating rock formations. A skilled boatman navigates the rapids, offering a unique and exciting way to experience the region's breathtaking scenery.
Kodai-ji Temple, located in Kyoto, is a stunning Rinzai Zen Buddhist temple known for its exquisite architecture, beautiful gardens, and captivating history. Visitors can admire the elegant tea houses, explore the scenic walking paths, and enjoy the vibrant seasonal foliage. The temple offers a peaceful and serene atmosphere, making it a perfect destination for meditation and contemplation.
Yasaka Shrine, located in the Higashiyama Ward of Kyoto City, has been affectionately known as "Gion-san." In the main hall, a designated National Treasure, there are believed to be various benefits such as warding off bad luck, matchmaking, and prospering business. Within the shrine grounds, deities of beauty and matchmaking are enshrined. Moreover, the Gion Festival, one of the three major festivals in Japan, is held at Yasaka Shrine, attracting many visitors.
Toei Kyoto Studio Park offers a captivating glimpse into Japan's Edo period, complete with traditional streets, samurai shows, and ninja performances. Immerse yourself in the world of your favorite Japanese films and dramas, as this functioning film studio is open to the public for a unique experience. With attractions, workshops, and themed restaurants, the park provides an unforgettable journey into Japanese culture and history.
The Gion Festival is one of the largest festivals in Japan and is held every July in Kyoto. The festival is a time of thanksgiving to the gods and prayers for the purification of the city from epidemics, and attracts many tourists during Yoiyama, when the floats line the streets of Kyoto, and during Mikoshi-togyo and Yamahoko Junko, the procession of portable shrines.
Maruyama Park, located in Kyoto's Gion district, offers a serene escape with its lush greenery, picturesque pond, and meandering paths. Famous for its spectacular cherry blossoms in spring, the park is a popular spot for hanami (flower viewing) parties. Throughout the year, visitors can enjoy leisurely strolls, relax in tranquil settings, and explore nearby attractions such as Yasaka Shrine and Chion-in Temple.
The garden with more than 200 maple trees at Jojakkoji Temple displays the beauty of the four seasons throughout the year, and the autumn leaves are especially breathtaking in fall. Located halfway up Mt. Ogura, the temple attracts many visitors with its combination of historical architecture and spectacular natural scenery, including an observatory with a spectacular view of Sagano, an old gate, a thatched Niomon gate, and an eclectic pagoda.
Ninna-ji is a temple founded in 888 by Emperor Uda, and its grounds are home to a multitude of valuable buildings. It's renowned as a cherry blossom viewing spot in Kyoto, bustling with many tourists in spring. Particularly famous is the 'Omuro Sakura,' a variety of late-blooming cherry blossoms. Additionally, the temple lodgings located within the grounds are available for general public to stay.
Chion-in Temple offers a serene, spiritual experience with its stunning traditional architecture and expansive gardens. Visitors are captivated by the impressive Sanmon gate and enjoy exploring the peaceful temple grounds. This historic site, nestled in the heart of Kyoto, is a must-visit destination for those seeking a taste of Japan's rich cultural heritage.
Kennin-ji Temple, as the oldest Zen temple in Kyoto, offers visitors a serene and spiritual atmosphere. With its beautiful Zen gardens, traditional architecture, and exquisite screen paintings, it provides a glimpse into the rich history of Japanese Zen Buddhism. A visit to Kennin-ji is a perfect opportunity to experience tranquility amidst the bustling city while appreciating Japan's cultural heritage.
Byodo-in is a temple located in Uji City, Kyoto Prefecture, known for the Byodo-in Phoenix Hall, which is depicted on the 10 yen coin. The Phoenix Hall, built on a small island in the Ajiike Pond, has a beautiful symmetrical shape, and was named for its resemblance to a bird spreading its wings. In addition to domestic and international tourists, it has also become a popular destination for school excursions.
Thank you for reading to the end.
( Written by Tatsuo Ikura )