What to See & What to Do in Kyoto

Kyoto is a destination not to be missed when visiting Japan. Here are the 7 must see places in Kyoto:

1. Kinkakuji Temple

Also known as the Golden Pavilion, the Kinkakuji Temple is a Zen temple was built in 1408 and rebuilt in 1955 after a tragic fire. The temple overlooks a large pond and its top two floors are completely covered in gold leaf. From the Kyoto Station take the Kyoto City Bus No. 101 or 205 for about 40 minutes which costs 230 yen. The temple grounds remain open from 9am to 5pm and admission costs 400 yen


2. Fushimi Inari

Walk through the famous bright red torii gates. Fushimi Inari is the most famous Shinto shrine in Kyoto that tourists flock to for its red fates, shrine buildings, and mountain trails. You can get to the shrine from the JR Inari Station or Fushimi Inari Station. The area stays open all day and night with no admission fees


3. Nishiki Market

Nishiki Market originally opened in 1310 as a fish wholesale market. Today more than 100 shops and restaurants line this five-block shopping street famously known as Kyoto’s Kitchen. This covered food market offers fresh seasonal food, cookware, equipment, and regional specialties like sweets, pickles, and seafood. You can get to the shopping arcade by foot from the Shijo, Karasuma, or Kawaramachi Stations. Most stores operate from 9am to 6pm, while some stores close on Wednesdays and Sundays


4. Higashiyama

Higashiyama is Kyoto’s best preserved historic district. The area brings to life the old capital city with traditional old Kyoto where there were narrow lanes, wooden buildings, and merchant shops. You can walk through the streets to enjoy the shops, cafes, and restaurants. Don’t miss the Philosopher’s Path, a stone path in the northern part of Higashiyama. From Kyoto Station take Bus No. 100 or 206 towards Kiyomizudera for 230 yen. Get off at Gojozaka or Gion. Alternatively, walk from Kiyomizu-Gojo Station or Gion-Shijo Station.


5. Nijo Castle

The Nijo Castle, which was built in 1603 for the first shogun of the Edo Period, is the best surviving example of castle architecture from Japan’s feudal era, as a result, it is a current UNESCO World Heritage Site. Either take a short walk from the Nijojo-mae Station or take the Kyoto City Bus (Bus No. 9, 50, or 101 for 230 yen) from the Kyoto Station. The hours are 9am to 4pm with a 600 yen admission.


6. Imperial Palace

Explore the former residence of Japan’s Imperial Family who resided in the palace until 1868 when the capital moved from Kyoto to Tokyo. From Kyoto Station transfer lines to arrive at Imadegawa Station. The palace grounds are open from 9am to 4pm and closed every Monday. Free admission.


7. Pontocho

If you want to explore the dining scene or have a bar crawl in Kyoto, head for Pontocho. This is a narrow alley near Kamogawa River filled with restaurants and bars many of which have views overlooking the river. The establishments range from cheap eats to high-end dining. Head to Kawaramachi Station and walk up along the river towards Pontocho.


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