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11 Things To Do In Kyoto, Japan - Updated 2020

11 Things To Do In Kyoto, Japan - Updated 2020

Kyoto is rich in tradition where Japanese culture and customs have been preserved throughout the ages. The city is located in the Kansai region where it was known as the former imperial capital of Japan for more than a thousand years. The city is also a big part of the Kyoto-Osaka-Kobe metropolitan area. Kyoto is definitely a perfect place to indulge in different activities that the locals and even visitors can enjoy and tourists feel like a real Kyoto resident! Peace, delicious and authentic Japanese cuisine and stunningly whimsical attractions are just some of the wonders you can experience while you are in Kyoto. Scroll below for a list of the top things to do in Kyoto, Japan.

1. Stroll along the Philosopher’s Path in Arashiyama

Source: Pexels

The Philosopher’s Path in Arashiyama is an iconic location and it will be a whimsical place to immerse yourself in especially during early April when the trees become colorful. Japan is not only a country where you can find bustling cities and advanced technology, but it is also a country where you can find well-preserved natural bounty. Philosopher’s Path in Arashiyama will have cherry blossoms bloom in April along the canal where restaurants, cafe’s and shrines can also be found as you stroll by. One must visit the temple, Honen-in that will stun you with its beauty especially during autumn when the foliage of the trees will surprise you.

Philosopher’s Path in Arashiyama

Address: Tetsugaku-no-michiSakyō-ku, Kyōto-shi, Kyōto-fu, Japan

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2. Shop away at Nishiki Market

Nishiki Market is an old market that is 400-year-old and is home to more than 130 shops that are being run by the same family bloodlines throughout the years. You can appreciate the sakes that have more than 200 years of heritage such as Tsunoki. These are iconic because of their sparkling and cloudy sake called “nigorisake.” You can find traditional and special Japanese food everywhere from teas to preserved vegetables. Well, a visit to Japan or even in Kyoto will not be complete without a Japanese knife as a souvenir or eating Japanese seafood before leaving. You can find it all in Nishiki Market.

Nishiki Market

Address: Japan, 〒604-8054 Kyoto Prefecture, Kyoto, Nakagyo Ward

Website: Nishiki Market

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3. Visit Kinkakuji Temple

Imagine a temple in the middle of a large pond where the temple’s reflection is seen on the clear waters. It appears as if the temple is standing on top of a large mirror. Well, if you have not heard of Kinkakuji Temple yet, you will be stunned because of its appearance. It is considered the Golden Pavilion in northern Kyoto. It is made out of gold and it will be dazzling when you see it in person. You will have to take a winding path on your way to the temple and you can even have some tea and other desserts along the way.

Kinkakuji Temple

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

Website: Kinkakuji Temple

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4. Participate in a tea ceremony (from USD 40)

Going back in time is one of the reasons why you need to participate in a tea ceremony in Kyoto. A tea ceremony may symbolize success, respect, and celebration. It is a Japanese tradition that has some intimate and special reason attached to it. Tea in Japan is as rich as its culture and diversity, you can try different kinds of tea and the most popular of all is the traditional matcha tea. There are numerous places where you can sit down and have a tea ceremony.

Kyoto Wakwak-kan Japanese Tea Ceremony with a Tea Master

Duration 1 hour

116 reviews

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5. Get close to the monkeys at Monkey Park Iwatayama

Are you the type who wants to take the extra mile in order to enjoy nature along with animals? Kyoto can offer an immersive experience for you around the mountainside where you can play, talk, and even chill with the monkeys. Monkey Park Iwatayama will be a bustling tourist attraction and they boast of having 120 snow monkeys. It is located in Arashiyama. However, the park is easily accessible by train and will be perfect to visit during April when the cherry blossoms are at their peak.

Monkey Park Iwatayama

Address: 61 Arashiyama Nakaoshitacho, Nishikyo Ward, Kyoto, Kyoto Prefecture 616-0004, Japan

Website: Monkey Park Iwatayama

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6. Wander through Fushimi Inari-Taisha Shrine

This shrine is majestically unique and mysterious in a way making it special and a favorite for tourists and locals alike. The lined up Japanese red torii also known as gates creates an interior ambiance that is welcoming and cozy, The Fushimi Inari-Taisha Shrine is considered more of a work of art as well as a sacred shrine. It is a favorite of Japanese businessmen because of the tradition of worshiping Inari, the god of business. The torii are also donated or offered by these Japanese businessmen to Inari for good luck in their business ventures.

Fushimi Inari-Taisha Shrine

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

Website: Fushimi Inari-Taisha Shrine

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7. Dine at a restaurant in Pontocho

Located just beside the riverbank of the Kamogawa, the cobbled stone walkway of Pontocho is enchanting and will bring tourists a step back into the olden days along with a wonderful gastronomic experience. This place will be an unforgettable experience for anyone who would like to try out any of the high-class eateries or restaurants in the area. The food is the best in Kyoto and the ambiance and the water views will surely complete your feast. There are also bistros, hole in the wall izakayas, and Geisha houses here. The wonderful location is also great at night when hospitality is at its best!


Address: Japan, 〒604-8016 Kyoto Prefecture, Kyoto, Nakagyo Ward, 下樵木町196−1

Website: Pontocho

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8. Relax in the hot springs of Mt. Kurama

Who would miss a dip in the hot springs in Japan? Whether you watch Japanese movies or anime, it is an integral part of Japanese culture to relax and chill at natural hot springs. One suggested area in Kyoto is the hot springs of Mt. Kurama where you can visit, preferably after a long day or a long week of touring the city. You can choose the traditional ones for a more culture-oriented experience or just settle for the ones that fit your modern needs. You can also visit the Kurama temple where mountain goblins can welcome you in!

Kurama Hot Spring

Address: 520 Kuramahonmachi, Sakyo Ward, Kyoto, Kyoto Prefecture 601-1111, Japan

Website: Kurama Hot Spring

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9. Find peace at the Eikando Zenrinji Temple

Japanese people are into self-peace and the best way for them to get it is to peacefully meditate in one of the shrines or temples of their choice. If you are looking for a palace to find peace in Kyoto, head to the Eikando Zenrinji Temple or the Temple of Eternal Peace. This temple houses hundreds of monks and it is nestled in the middle of a forest giving it peace amidst nature. It is where you can also have Zazen sessions or training but prior reservations are needed.

Eikando Zenrinji Temple

Address: 48 Eikandocho, Sakyo Ward, Kyoto, Kyoto Prefecture 606-8445, Japan

Website: Eikando Zenrinji Temple

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10. Picnic under the cherry blossoms at Maruyama Park

Finally, a trip in Tokyo would not be complete if you have not experienced the wonderful display of cherry blossoms, Mostly, every early April, there will be cherry blossoms blooming and changing the color of the streets and the trees everywhere. It is a wonderful culture and tradition for Japanese people to celebrate the changing of seasons and appreciating them as they are. Every year, people from Kyoto celebrate spring at Maruyama Park on spring evenings where they gather. You can set up a picnic area just beneath the trees and street food will be available along with sake to maximize the enjoyment of a peaceful picnic evening.

Maruyama Park

Address: 463 Maruyamacho, Kyoto, Kyoto Prefecture 605-0071, Japan

Website: Maruyama Park

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11. Kyoto Arashiyama insider walking tour (75 USD)

Source: Magical Trip

Once you’re in Kyoto, it’s a must to visit the Tenryu-ji temple and the breathtaking bamboo forest in Arashimaya. Magical Trip eases all the hassles away of booking each of these must-visit destinations by offering this highly rated excursion. The tour includes a local and passionate guide, all the entrance fees to the temples, as well as an authentic Kyoto lunch in a serene and scenic restaurant. So make your trip more magical by booking this four-hour itinerary, allowing you to visit and experience the best of Kyoto in a well-organized, unforgettable, and informative way.

Kyoto Arashiyama insider walking tour

Duration: 4 hours

Price: 75 USD

See our full list of recommended Hotels in Kyoto and also compare the prices with airbnbs in Kyoto

Kyoto is just a peaceful and wonderful place

There is nothing better than having a bustling metropolis and nature infused together to create a wonderful city that allows both a busy working itinerary and a relaxing driven vacation. Relaxation and beauty are the traits this city offers in Japan. Without the culture, the hospitality, the Japanese people’s respect for nature, and their desire for peace and relaxation, Kyoto and the best things to do in the wonderful city would not be uniquely possible.

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