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1-Day Itinerary With North Kyoto’s UNESCO World Heritage Sites - Updated 2020

1-Day Itinerary With North Kyoto’s UNESCO World Heritage Sites
Crystal
Crystal
Updated

After seeing the sights down south, traverse across the rough terrains up north for panoramic views of flourishing landscapes in Kyoto! Following up the South Kyoto’s UNESCO WORLD HERITAGE itinerary, we bring you to the 8 other historical World Heritage Sites and some recommended food for you to fill up your tummy with. Time to trudge on with a map in hand!

In the morning:

Map Location

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1. Ryoan-ji Temple in Ukyo Ward

To best capture the core essence of zen, it is best to head out to Ryoan-ji temple just after 8 in the morning, when the common tourist crowds are still barely awake. Time seems to come to a standstill in the famed rock garden, where the cryptic arrangement of 15 rocks creates a hushed atmosphere that is heavy and yet, tranquil at the same time. Perhaps it is not a bad idea to just take a walk around the temple grounds, taking in the serene sights of clear ponds and blooming spring trees - the idyll environment will set your pace for the rest of the day.

Ryoan-ji Temple

Address: 13 Ryoanji Goryonoshitacho, Ukyo Ward, Kyoto City

Price: from 6 USD

Opening Hours: 8am to 5pm (March to November) 8:30am to 4:30pm (December to February)

Access: 30 minutes away from Kyoto Station by the JR bus.

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2. Ninna-ji Temple in Ukyo Ward

The history of this millennium-old shrine dates back to the year 886, where the ruling emperor of the time ordered for this shrine to be built for the nation’s blessings, as well as spreading the teachings of ancient Buddhism. After countless fires ravaged the holy grounds, it has since been restored into what we see today - a grand exterior featuring intricately painted sliding doors and flourishing gardens, making it a prime spot to visit during the popular cherry blossom season during April.

Ninna-ji Temple

Address: 33 Omuroouchi, Ukyo Ward, Kyoto City

Price: from 6 USD

Opening Hours: 9am to 5pm, till 4:30pm from Dec to Feb, last admission 30 minutes before closing

Access: 10-minute walk west from Ryoan-ji Temple

See our full list of recommended Hotels near North Kyoto, Kyoto, Kinki, Japan and also compare the prices with airbnbs near North Kyoto, Kyoto, Kinki, Japan

3. Kozan-ji Temple in Ukyo Ward

高山寺|Kozanji Temple
Source: Photo by user Izu navi used under CC BY 2.0

The stunning autumn foliage wraps itself elegantly around the ancient Kozan-ji, making it the best time of the year to visit this tranquil mountain hideaway. Known for the occasional monks who practise asceticism around this area, you can catch a peace of mind in the sekisui-in, a sombre room separated by wooden beams, accompanied by the lush views of surrounding trees, making it a quiet spot for some to meditate in.

Kozan-ji Temple

Address: J8 Umegahata Toganocho, Ukyo Ward, Kyoto City

Price: from 6 USD

Opening Hours: 8:30am to 5pm

Access: Take the JR Takao bus from Kyoto station, and walk 5 minutes

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In the afternoon:

Intermission - Grab a quick lunch at Kyoto Ramen Koji near Kyoto Station

Ramen noodles

Head over to Ramen Koji conveniently located near Kyoto Station, where you get to be spoilt for choice! Craving for the tangy burst of fresh seafood? No problem, one Osaka-style ramen coming right up! Or maybe you’re itching for something savoury that packs a punch on your taste buds? The traditional Kyoto-styled ramen is great for food hunters looking for the chewy texture of noodles soaked in a well-cooked broth - that’s the charm of Ramen Koji, no matter which region of ramen you’re craving for, they have it all!

Kyoto Ramen Koji

Address: JR Kyoto Station Building 10F

Price: from 12 USD

Opening Hours: 9am - 6pm. Closed on public holidays.

Access: Connected to the JR Kyoto Station, head up to the 10th floor of Isetan department store

Contact: +81 75-361-4401

Website: Kyoto Ramen Koji

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5. Kinkaku-ji in Kita Ward

Kinkaku-ji temple
Source: Wikimedia

Map Location
The best time to visit Kinkaku-ji temple is during the afternoon when the sun rays are at its harshest - it is when the Kinkaku-ji shines the brightest, too! Translating to “Golden Pavillion”, the temple spans across three stories covered in a thick, gold leaf foliage that sparkles subtly under the glaring heat. Climbing up to the highest story, the grand reflection of the temple on the aptly named “Mirror Pond” is a serene sight to see. Each of the levels is built in a distinct architectural style reflective of prominent eras in Japan’s history - the intricate shinden-style reminiscent of ancient palaces in the past, and the samurai-style respectively, where the stoic walls convey a sense of solemnity.

Kinkaku-ji Temple

Address: 1 Kinkakujicho, Kita Ward, Kyoto City

Price: from 5 USD

Opening Hours: 9am to 5pm

Access: Take the Kyoto City Bus number 101 or 205 from Kyoto Station for around 40 minutes

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6. Kamigamo Shrine in Kita Ward

Don’t be surprised by the two sand cones that greet you on your way to the Kamigamo Shrine - erected since the ancient times, they serve as purification totems during religious festivals and processions. Home to a series of small festivals year-round, the most famous one has to be the one held together with the other Kamo Shrine - the Aoi Matsuri on May 15th annually, where a traditional Heian procession takes off from the Imperial Palace, ending its journey on the holy grounds of Kamigamo Shrine.

Kamigamo Shrine

Address: 339 Kamigamo Motoyama, Kita Ward, Kyoto City

Price: Free

Opening Hours: 8am to 5pm (from 8:30am from November to March)

Access: 15-minute walk from Kitayama Station on Karasuma Subway Line

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In the evening:

7. Shimogamo Shrine in Kita Ward

Shimogamo Shrine reflection
Source: Photo by user Steven Bratman used under CC BY 2.0

After your visit to the Kamigamo Shrine, head over to its sister shrine just 10 minutes away. Believed to be the older one of the pair, the Kamo Shrines of Kyoto were believed to have been built to protect the region from evil spirits ravaging the lands. The aged stone structures surrounding the shrines are worth a look, especially under the bridge if you’re up for a slightly steep climb, as the pond waters are especially poised under the midday light.

Shimagamo Shrine

Address: J9 Izumigawacho, Shimogamo, Sakyo Ward, Kyoto City

Price: Free

Opening Hours: 5:30am to 6pm (summer) 6:30am to 5pm (winter)

Access: Take the Kyoto City Bus from Demachi-Yanagi Station to Shimogamojinja-mae bus stop 5 minutes away

See our full list of recommended Hotels near North Kyoto, Kyoto, Kinki, Japan and also compare the prices with airbnbs near North Kyoto, Kyoto, Kinki, Japan

8. Ginkaku-ji in Sakyo Ward

Map Location
Taking inspiration from the grand Kinkakuji, the Silver Pavillion was converted into a Zen Temple following the death of the ruling shogun back in the 1400s. Home to a variety of natural sights, stop by the unique dry sands garden, where the carefully raked grounds feature a spiral of both dark and light coloured sand, ultimately merging to become a single piece of land entirely. Walk along the trails and it will take you to the moss garden, where the trickling stream runs down the fern-covered grounds - a piece of silent idleness to take home with you.

Ginkaku-ji Temple

Address: 2 Ginkakujicho, Sakyo Ward, Kyoto City

Price: from 6 USD

Opening Hours: 8:30am to 5pm (9am to 4:30pm from December to February)

Access: Take bus number 5, 17 or 100 from Kyoto Station for about 40 minutes

See our full list of recommended Hotels near North Kyoto, Kyoto, Kinki, Japan and also compare the prices with airbnbs near North Kyoto, Kyoto, Kinki, Japan

9. Enryaku-ji Temple in Shiga Prefecture, Sakyo Ward

Enryakuji Kaidanin01n3200
Source: Photo by user 663highland used under CC BY 2.5

The time-worn silhouettes of Enryaku-ji Temple are tucked away on the rugged Mount Hiei, where Tendai monks who follow strict ascetic practices make their home. The main attractions are split into three areas: the Todo, Saito and Yokawa, with the Todo being the most populated by tourists. Most of the monastery’s original buildings can be found here, together with the grand Main Hall. Traverse past the grassy trails into the Saito area, where the oldest building - the Shaka Hall, stands tall against the mountaintops. For the adventurers who like taking the road less travelled, visit the Yokawa area a few kilometres away. The slanting structure of the Yokawa Central Hall supported by sloping beams are an interesting sight to add to your itinerary!

Enryaku-ji Temple

Address: 2 Ginkakujicho, Sakyo Ward, Kyoto City

Price: from 6 USD

Opening Hours: From 8:30am to 4:30pm from March to November 9am to 4pm during December 9am to 4:30pm in January and February The Saito and Yokawa areas open 30 minutes later and close 30 minutes earlier than stated times

Access: Take the Eizan Cablecar to the top of the summit. From there, it’s another 5-minute bus ride to the temple.

See our full list of recommended Hotels near North Kyoto, Kyoto, Kinki, Japan and also compare the prices with airbnbs near North Kyoto, Kyoto, Kinki, Japan

A soul-fulfilling trip

Regardless of your faith, a visit to the shrines is bound to be an eye-opener - it is hard to disregard the calming silence experienced within the walls of these sacred grounds as a regular part of your itinerary. The sight of devotees lining up to offer a word of prayer, monks who give up all of their gold and glory, all in a country often known for their hard work and fast pace of life; to watch this time slow down right before your eyes is a beautiful experience, and definitely one not to be missed.

Disclosure: Trip101 selects the listings in our articles independently. Some of the listings in this article contain affiliate links.

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Crystal is a curious child, who loves exploring Singapore in her free time with a camera in hand. Her street photography subjects often include unaware strangers, uncommon architecture, and...Read more

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