Kyoto (京都) once was the capital of Japan and the emperor’s residence from 794 until 1869. Located in Kansai region together with cities such as Osaka and Kobe, Kyoto is one of the most popular destinations for tourists.
Kyoto has many beautiful locations to visit and culture to see. There are numerous shrines and temples such as Kinkaku-ji and Kiyomizudera, as well as famous bamboo forests in Arashiyama or thousands of shrine gates in Fushimi Inari Shrine. If you enjoy traditional culture, art, architecture and history, Kyoto is a must-visit city in Japan.
The locals of Kyoto will always tell you Kiyomizu-dera is a must see place for travellers. Formally Otowa-san Kiyomizu-dera, is a Buddhist temple located eastern side of Kyoto, and is registered as a World Heritage site. It takes its name from the waterfall within the complex, which runs off the nearby hills. Kiyomizu means pure/clear water.The precinct of the temple is fairly large and it will take about 1 hour to go around.
Most visitors take JR Kyoto: bus #100, 202, 206, and 207 which can take about 10-20 mins from Kyoto station.
Kyoto Tower is the tallest structure in Kyoto measuring 131 meters height. It has an observation deck at 100 meters height where public can pay admission fee to enter. You can enjoy the beautiful panoramic view of Kyoto city.
On the ground of Kyoto Tower building, there are restaurants, bars, shopping stores and even public baths. The tower is located approximately 2 minutes from the north exit of Kyoto station so you will see the tall building as soon as you exit the station.
The Kyoto Aquarium opened in March 2012 and became a popular destination for families.
There are unique sea creatures like giant salamanders, heteroconger hassi (a type of eel) which are adorable to see. Many different events are scheduled throughout the day including Penguin show, Dolphin show, Seal show, etc.
Located within the Umekoji Park which is in the Western side of Kyoto. It will take about 15 minutes walk from Kyoto station.
Together with Kiyomizu-dera, Kinkakuji Temple (Golden Pavilion) is one of the famous temples in Kyoto. The top two floors are covered entirely in gold leaf. The temple reflected in the adjoining ‘mirror pond’ is perhaps the most widely-recognised image of Kyoto.
Kinkakuji Temple is located in the far north west of Kyoto and is not located near any major train lines. It is best to get on bus: 101, 102, 204 or 205. All these routes stop at Kinkakuji-michi which is 2 minutes walk away from Kinkakuji.
Ryoan-ji is most famous for its ‘hiraniwa’ which translates to flat garden. It has zen rock garden that showcases a total of 15 rocks which seem to be drifting in a sea of raked white gravel. The interesting design is that, although there are 15 rocks, only 14 rocks can be seen at any given time no matter which angle you view the garden from. The temple was built in 1450 by Daimyo Hosokawa Katsumoto but nobody knows exactly when the zen rock garden was made.
Fushimi Inari Shrine (伏見稲荷大社 Fushimi Inari Taisha) is the famous site for thousands of vermilion torii gates. The torii gate trails lead into the wooded forest of the sacred Mount Inari.
It can take about 2-3 hours to hike to the summit of the mountain and back but you are free to walk just as far as you wish before turning back. Along the way, there are small shrines and a few restaurants which you can enjoy locally themed food such as Inari Sushi and Kitsune Udon (Fox Udon).
Arashiyama bamboo grove is the famous image of bamboo forest you see on many Japanese travel guide books and websites. It’s breathtaking view created by thousands of bamboos will make you feel like you’re taken into another world.
Arashiyama is in the far west of Kyoto, and located a fair distance from the center of Kyoto. It will take approximately 30 minutes from Kyoto station.