Where And When To Experience Snow In Kyoto: The 10 Best Places To Capture Amazing Snow Scenes


Once the capital of Japan, a city on the island of Honshu, Kyoto Is famous for its numerous classical Buddhist temples, Shinto shrines, imperial palaces and traditional houses. It is also known for formal traditions such as Kaiseki dining, consisting of various courses of precise dishes. Tourists prefer the destination for winter festivals including snow and ice competitions held in the area. The festivals include the Sapporo snow festival which is held in February, featuring spectacular snow and ice sculptures. Our list below reveals where and when to experience snow in Kyoto, check them out for the best experience in this lovely city.

1. Mount Kurama-yama

Source: Photo by user Axel Ebert used under CC BY-SA 3.0

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Get good vibes on at mount Kurama-Yama, famously known as the birthplace of Reiki and other many attractions to offer the curious traveler wishing to explore beyond Kyoto, including magical temples, lush forests filled with cedar trees, very welcoming onsen, and an easy day hike. If you are looking forward to a memorable snow experience on this mountain, make sure to visit during the winter month (between early December and mid-March). Take a train to the village of Kurama or if you have hiking boots, opt to hike through the snow, up to Mount Kurama-Yama, for a memorable tour.

Mount Kurama-yama

Address: Kyoto, Japan

2. Tofuku-ji Temple

Tofuku-ji Temple 東福寺15 - panoramio
Source: Photo by user baggio4ever used under CC BY 3.0

Tofuku-ji Temple is situated in a southeastern part of Kyoto, near Tofukuji Station on the JR Nara Line. This temple was built during the Fujiwara clan’s reign and dominated Japanese politics from around 800 to 1185 and was among the main Zen Buddhist temples during the time. Tofukuji Temple is famously known for its incredible maple valley in autumn, but even though it’s not as beautiful in the winter time, there are fewer visitors and more space to freely enjoy your walk around the grounds. The temple is still dope without life and color on the trees.

Tofuku-ji Temple

Address: Honmachi 15-chōme, Higashiyama Ward, Kyoto, 605-0981, Japan

Website: Tofuku-ji Temple

Opening hours: 9am - 4pm

3. Ginkaku-ji Temple

Ginkakuji Temple - Silver Pavilion - Kyoto
Source: Photo by user Gavin Anderson used under CC BY-SA 2.0

Ginkaku-ji Temple, also known as the Silver Pavilion, is an amazing temple set in very beautiful grounds at the foot of Kyoto’s eastern mountains. It has an amazing landscape whereby whether you are sitting on the landing beside the unique sand garden with its two-meter silver cone, or walking the trail and catching glimpses of the Pavilion from different vantage points, you are constantly aware of the lovely details which move the heart. When you want to have the best snow experience in this temple, visit between early December and mid-March and enjoy the charm of the magic of a Japanese winter.

Ginkaku-ji Temple

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

Website: Ginkaku-ji Temple

Opening hours: 8:30am - 5pm

4. Kinkaku-ji Temple

Kyoto, Kinkaku-ji, Golden Temple (6172337393)
Source: Photo by user Arian Zwegers used under CC BY 2.0

Kinkaku-ji Temple is among the top touristic sites in Kyoto. It was built in 1490 during Muromachi period by the shogun Ashikaga Yoshimasa as his retirement villa, modeling after Kinkakuji Temple which was built for his grandfather Ashikaga Yoshimitsu in 1397. Since it was registered as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1994, this temple became a popular site in Kyoto. Kinkakuji Temple has one of the most magnificent winter landscapes in Kyoto, so if it ever starts to snow unexpectedly, be sure to rush towards this temple and no doubt, you will be gazing upon a majestic view that you will never forget.

Kinkaku-ji Temple

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

Website: Kinkaku-ji Temple

Opening hours: 9am - 5pm

5. Nanzen-ji Temple

Nanzen-ji Temple 南禅寺8 - panoramio
Source: Photo by user baggio4ever used under CC BY 3.0

Nanzen-ji Temple, located in spacious grounds at the base of Kyoto’s forested Higashiyama Mountains, is one of the most significant Zen temples in Japan. It is famously known for its gardens, the dry landscape rock garden, moss and the rock garden found in the sub-temple Nanzen-in. Given the named features, this is the perfect place to experience snow, especially in December. Apart from experiencing snow, you can also explore the temple’s precious artifacts including the sliding screens of the main hall and bear lavish paintings by artists of the 17th-century Kano School. You must see all the sub-temples, including Konchi-in, Nanzen-in, and Tenju-an. Nanzenji Temple has everything to see and discover.

Nanzen-ji Temple

Address: Nanzenji Fukuchicho, Sakyo Ward, Kyoto, 606-8435, Japan

Website: Nanzen-ji Temple

Opening hours: 10am - 4:30pm

6. Daitoku-ji Temple

Daitoku-ji Temple , 大徳寺 仏殿 - panoramio
Source: Photo by user z tanuki used under CC BY 3.0

Daitoku-ji is a walled temple complex located in northern Kyoto, famous for both its historical significance and its countless beautiful Zen gardens. Whatever the weather, wandering around the Daitokuji Temple is an enchanting experience for any visitor, especially in December when it is snowing. There are 22 sub-temples within the compound’s walls, of which only four are accessible on a regular basis. The four temples include Ryogen-in, Zuiho-in, Daisen-in, and Koto-in. In Ryogen-in, you will find Kodatei Garden whose whirling patterns represents the inhalation and exhalation of breath, while The Zuiho-in temple is famous for its dry landscape gardens. There is a lot more to discover in all four temples. Come and explore!

Daitoku-ji Temple

Address: 53 Murasakino Daitokujicho, Kita Ward, Kyoto, 603-8231, Japan

Website: Daitoku-ji Temple

Opening hours: 24 hours

7. Fushimi Inari Shrine

Torii gates—Fushimi Inari Shrine (9977683204)
Source: Photo by user BriYYZ used under CC BY-SA 2.0

Fushimi Inari Shrine is the most important spiritual ground dedicated to Inari, the Shinto god of rice. It is famously known for its thousands of vermilion torii gates which are said to be the division between the physical and spiritual worlds. During your winter vacation when it is snowing, take a hike early in the morning before it gets crowded, and get to enjoy the empty path leading to the top of the mountain. At night, you can enjoy the quiet and relaxing atmosphere and get to meet the furry residents of the Fushimi Inari Shrine. Do not fear the cats which come out at night hunting and playing between the torii gates.

Fushimi Inari Shrine

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

Website: Fushimi Inari Shrine

Opening hours: 24 hours

8. Kifune Shrine

Kifune-jinja Shintô Shrine - First torii (Ichi-no-torii)
Source: Photo by user Yanajin33 used under CC BY-SA 4.0

During winter, head into the mountains to the north of the city to find Kifune Shrine, a peaceful Shinto shrine dedicated to the god of water and rain and believed to be the protector of those at sea. Kifune Shrine is a popular retreat during the winter, especially because of the amazing view it offers when it snows. While you are here, you can visit The Kibune’s restaurants, a dining platform over the river serving kaiseki meals where visitors can enjoy a meal as the water flows and the snow falls. You can also enjoy hiking trail to Kurama-Dera, a mountain temple in neighboring Kurama. While you are here, you will have countless things to do. Come and enjoy.

Kifune Shrine

Address: Japan, 601-1112 Kyoto, Sakyo Ward, Kuramakibunecho

Website: Kifune Shrine

Opening hours: 9am - 5pm

9. Togetsukyo Bridge

Arashiyama Togetsukyo-bridge
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Tomomarusan used under CC BY 2.5

The Togetsukyo Bridge is Arashiyama’s well known central landmark surrounded by the wonderful scenery of nature, many small shops, and restaurants. Thanks to the stunning views during the snowy days, Togetsukyo Bridge is always filled with tourists, especially in December. Apart from the snow, other tourists also find themselves here because of the attractions in Togetsukyo neighborhood, including Tenryuji Temple, Arashiyama’s famous bamboo groves and pleasure boats for rent on the river. The bridge’s history extends back 400 years and has been featured in many historical films. You can also cross the bridge to enjoy the vista, or look down into river waters to spot schools of koi fish.

Togetsukyo Bridge

Address: Saganakanoshimacho, Ukyo Ward, Kyoto, 616-8383, Japan

Website: Togetsukyo Bridge

Opening hours: 24 hours

10. Kiyomizu-dera Temple

Kiyomizu-dera in Kyoto-r
Source: Photo by user Oilstreet used under CC BY 2.5

Kiyomizu-dera Temple is one of Japan’s oldest and most beautiful Buddhist temples. You will be amazed by its classic red pagoda which has influenced Japanese architecture for centuries. The temple is known for its main hall with a large wooden terrace with a great view of Kyoto city. The temple shows different faces each season, trees grow green during summer and the snow covers them in the winter time. There is a number of attractions to enjoy such as the Otowa waterfall waters which are divided into three separate streams, and visitors can use cups attached to long poles to drink from them. There is so much to do while you are here. Come make discoveries.

Kiyomizu-dera Temple

Address: 294 Tatsumicho, Higashiyama Ward, Kyoto, 605-0862, Japan

Website: Kiyomizu-dera Temple

Opening hours: 6am - 6pm

Discover snow in Kyoto

It does not matter what brings you to Kyoto. The snow will definitely blow your mind. Read the list above and find places where you can experience snow in Kyoto.

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