Kyoto Guide– The Embodiment Of Japan’s Culture and Nature - Updated 2024

Kyoto Guide– The Embodiment Of Japan’s Culture and Nature - Updated 2024
Trip101 Editorial
Trip101 Editorial 
| 4 min read

Kyoto is a city located at the centre of Honshu Island, Japan. Located about 1 hour and 40 minutes from Tokyo by bullet train, Kyoto has all of Japan you can ask for – great history, Japanese culture, fantastic natural landscapes, and also one of the best Japanese cuisines ever.

There are many temples in Kyoto, more so than many other Japanese cities. Many of them are concentrated close to the city area, making traveling around the tourist spots in Kyoto extremely convenient. The most-recommended transportation options around Kyoto are by cycling or public bus. A 1-day bus pass is available at the Japan Railway Kyoto Station bus terminal. Here are 8 destinations you should visit in Kyoto:

1. The golden pavilion: Kinkaku-Ji

Kinkaku-ji in November 2016 -02
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Martin Falbisoner used under CC BY-SA 4.0

Kinkaku-Ji, perhaps one of the most famous temples in Japan, is located about 40 minutes from Kyoto station by bus. It is one of the many World Cultural Heritage Sites in Kyoto. The official name of the temple is Rokuon-Ji, meaning “deer garden temple”. However, its stunning appearance from the gold that covers the temple gave it its other name, Kinkaku-Ji, which means “temple of the golden pavilion” – an apt name for the beautiful architectural gem. It definitely is one of the places that best represents Kyoto!

Rokuon-ji (Golden Pavilion)

Address: 1 Kinkakujicho, Kita Ward, Kyoto, Kyoto Prefecture 603-8361, Japan

Access info: 40 mins by public bus from JR Kyoto Station bus terminal

Opening hours: 9:00 - 17:00

Fixed holiday: nil

Contact: +81 75-461-0013

Entrance fee: 400 JPY (3.60 USD) for adults

Official URL

Tip from Content Creator

Kinkaku-ji, Kyoto Kinkaku-ji, Kyoto Kinkaku-ji, Kyoto

Photos of Kinkaku-ji/Rokuon-ji shared by content creator from the Philippines, Moxy.

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2. The silver pavilion: Ginkaku-Ji

Kyoto Ginkaku-ji Ginkaku 12
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Zairon used under CC BY-SA 4.0

Also a World Cultural Heritage Site, Ginkaku-Ji is about 30 minutes from Kinkaku-Ji by bus. Ginkaku-Ji, meaning “temple of the silver pavilion”, was built after Kinkaku-Ji. Although it is not as vibrant looking as the previous temple, Ginkaku-Ji is known as a temple that demonstrates the Zen spirit, with inner beauty that appeals to the Japanese people. The garden around Ginkaku-Ji is filled with various types of tree, which gives the site a different expression according to the seasons.

Ginkaku-ji (Silver Pavilion)

Address: 2 Ginkakujicho, Sakyo Ward, Kyoto, Kyoto Prefecture 606-8402, Japan

Access info: 40 mins by public bus from JR Kyoto station bus terminal

Opening hours: 9:00 - 16:30

Fixed holiday: nil

Contact: +81 75-771-5725

Entrance fee: 500 JPY (4.50 USD) for adults

Official URL

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3. The head of Inari shrines: Fushimi Inari Shrine

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Fushimi Inari Shrine</div>
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Robert Jenssen used under CC BY 3.0

There are about 30,000 Inari shrines around Japan, where Inari refers to the god of food and agriculture. Foxes, treated as messengers of the gods, are revered at these shrines. Fushimi Inari Shrine is the head shrine of the all the Inari Shrines and is only 7 minutes from Kyoto station via Japan Railway. It is most famous for the Senbon Torii, where thousands of Torii (gates in Japanese shrines that serve as a boundary between gods and humans) line up to create a mysterious atmosphere. The quaint location has even starred in Japan Railway’s advertisements as well as in the Hollywood movie SAYURI.

Fushimi Inari Shrine

Address: 68 Fukakusa Yabunouchicho, Fushimi Ward, Kyoto, Kyoto Prefecture 612-0882, Japan

Access info: in front of JR Inari Station

Opening hours: all day

Fixed holiday: nil

Contact: +81 75-641-7331

Entrance fee: free

Official URL

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4. Coming across to Geisya? Classical Kyoto Street at dusk

Pontocho by Aleksander Dragnes
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user street in Nakagyo, used under CC BY 2.0

Do you feel lucky if you come across to Geisya during Kyoto Stay rather than chase her? Ponto cho area is west shore of Kamogawa river and it’s the area for people enjoys Geisya party and dining at night. You will be shy to open a door into the restaurants on the street as it looks not welcoming you but once you open the door, you will be surprised by the great view of Kamogawa river or you will see a narrow counter table to serve very limited people but with full hospitality during your dining. Thus, the chance to encourter Geisya around this street is pretty high. Why don’t you try?

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5. Find true love at Kiyomizu-Dera

Kiyomizu temple

Kiyomizu-Dera is a temple located within Kyoto city and is also a World Heritage Site. The name of the temple, which means “pure water temple”, originates from the clean waterfall located within the site. Apart from the spectacular view from the temple, one of the famous destinations within Kiyomizu-Dera is the “love stones”. Located in front of the Jishu Shrine (within the temple complex), two stones are placed about 18 meters (60 feet) apart and it is said that if one successfully walks from one stone to the other, with the eyes closed, the person will be able to find true love.


Address: 294 Kiyomizu 1-chome, Higashiyama Ward, Kyoto

Access info: 15mins by walk after 15mins bus ride from JR Kyoto Station

Opening hours: 6:00 - 18:00

Fixed holiday: nil

Contact: +81 75-551-1234

Entrance fee: 400 JPY (3.60 USD) for adult

Official URL

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6. Kyoto Tower – the city’s landmark

Kyoto tower
Source: 古都の U助

Kyoto is famous for its historical architecture, but the modern buildings are equally beautiful too. The 131-meter-high (430-foot-high) Kyoto Tower is located at Kyoto station. The observatory there is open from 9:00 to 21:00 daily. It is a great place to have a vast view of Kyoto city. There are many restaurants in the building as well as a public bath to enjoy. This is the perfect place to spend your time while waiting for your next train!

Kyoto Tower Observation Deck

Address: Kyoto, Shimogyo Ward, Higashishiokojicho, 721−1

Access info: 5 mins walk from JR Kyoto Station

Opening hours: 9:00 – 20:40

Fixed holiday: nil

Contact: +81 75-361-3215

Entrance fee: 770 JPY (7 USD)

Official URL

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7. Everyone can be a philosopher on this stretch

Nanzen-ji (2635934271)
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user KimonBerlin used under CC BY-SA 2.0

Nanzen-Ji is located about 30 minutes from Kyoto station by train. Built in 1264, it was dedicated as a temple in 1291 and is famous for its Sanmon (main gate) that is listed as one of Japan’s Three Best Gates. The 22-meter-tall (72-foot-tall) gate is accessible and the 3rd floor gives a splendid view of the entire temple compound. The scenery is superb, especially during autumn when the leaves are bright yellow and red. A path of Philosopher is from the north exit of Nanzen-ji towards Ginkaku-ji and it takes 30mins walk.


Address: 86 Nanzenji Fukuchicho, Sakyo-ku, Kyoto 606-8435, Kyoto Prefecture

Access info: 10 mins walk from Keage station

Opening hours: December 1 - February 28 (8:40 – 16:30) March 1 – November 31 (8:40 – 17:00)

Fixed holiday: December 28 - 31

Contact: +81 75-771-0365

Entrance fee: 500 JPY (4.50 USD)

Official URL

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8. Natural beauty Arashiyama and Samurai drama theme park

Source: 島野 佳幸

Arashiyama area is accessible from JR Kyoto Station and it takes only 20 mins ride. If Kyoto is the jewel box of cultural architecture, Arashiyama is the jewel box of natural beauty of mountain side. Even local people still discover fresh suprise in every season to visit Arashiyama area. Bamboo stretch and a small trekking of Arashiyama, also there is a mecca of Japanese samurai drama shooting studio called Toei Kyoto Studio Park. Usually you will need half a day to go around Arashiyama Area.

Toei Kyoto Studio Park

Address: 10 Uzumasa Higashihachiokacho, Ukyo Ward, Kyoto, Kyoto

Access info: Approx. 10 mins walk from JR Hanazono Station

Opening hours: 9:00 - 17:00

Fixed holiday: nil

Contact: +81 75-864-7716

Entrance fee: 2,200 yen (20 USD)

Official URL

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Uniquely Japan

Although Kyoto does not have an international airport, access is possible from Kansai International Airport and Osaka International Airport, both in Osaka prefecture. It is only an hour away from Osaka by train.Furthermore, Kyoto is not only a great destination in itself, but is also located near to other popular sites such as Osaka and Nara. Make sure to add this fantastic city to your list when planning a trip to Japan!

Any must-sees we missed? Tell us about them in the comments section or write a post here to help out fellow travelers!
Disclosure: Trip101 selects the listings in our articles independently. Some of the listings in this article contain affiliate links.


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