From the famous Arashiyama bamboo grove to one of the most celebrated temples in Japan, here are unmissable Kyoto attractions for your trip
Kyoto is the heart of Japan, rich in history and culture. The city has thousands of years worth of history, lush greenery, stunning geishas, traditional Buddhist temples, Shinto shrines and so much more. The city used to be known as the Imperial capital of Japan in the 11th century, and historically was the largest city in Japan until it was surpassed by Osaka and Tokyo. However, this city prides itself with it’s rich cultural history in present day. All Kyoto attractions mentioned are easily accessible by bus or train from Kyoto Station.
Arashiyama Bamboo Grove
The bamboo forest is one of the most photographed places in Kyoto along with the Fushimi Inari Shrine and Kinkaku- ji all for good reasons. The grove is a great place for a walk in the morning as the afternoons are often too crowded. However, the morning is the best time to visit, as it is more quiet, making it easier to listen to the rustling sounds of the bamboo.
Fushimi Inari Shrine
This shrine is dedicated to Inari, the Shinto god of rice. The ground is mainly known for the Senbon Torii, the long densely packed rows of vibrant red gates. The shrine is also a base of a hiking trail leading up to a summit with multiple smaller shrine up along the way. Foxes are thought to be Inari’s messengers, so there will be many fox statues on the temple grounds. Not to mention, the one of the most photographed and Instagrammed shrines in Kyoto.
Kyoto Botanical Gardens
Founded in 1924, the garden is the oldest and most comprehensive botanical garden in Japan. You can have a pleasant stroll here with an amazing view of nature surrounding you. Flowers, bonsai trees, and of course cherry blossoms can all be seen here. There are over 100 different types of cultivar of cherry tree grown in the gardens. The garden is a great getaway from the hustle and bustle of city life for only 200 yen (and another 200 yen if you wish to go into the conservatory)!
Also known as the Golden Pavilion, sits on top of a lake that creates a reflection of the structure. The structure seen by the public now is actually a replica of the original as is was burned down twice in history, once during the Onin War, which destroyed much of Kyoto, and in 1950 by a partisan monk. If lucky, the sun beaming down at the structure will glistens over the lake, leaving a breathtaking view. Then, head down the path towards the hojo, the head priest’s living space, and continue further to visit the garden. It is important to know that the pavilion and the living space are not open to the public, and it’s only for show. The Golden Pavilion, along with some other locations, is one the most popular and photographed!
Kiyomizu-dera is one of the most celebrated temples in Kyoto. The temple is most well known for its wooden stage made from thick wood pillars. The structure offers a beautiful view overlooking the grounds. Also, there are many here making wishes for luck in one’s love life at the Jishu- jinja Shrine, where people try to walk from one stone to another alone with their eyes closed. It is believed that if one crosses successfully, they will find love. The grounds is also one of the few temples that offer light up events, coinciding with Higashiyama Hanatouro, where the area lights ups store and streets to see a bit of what Higashiyama has to offer after hours.
This area is well known for tea houses, wooden ryokan, and local shops. However, Gion is mostly known as where beautiful geishas wandering about. A geisha’s role in present day and in history is to entertain. They are hired at dinner parties and banquets to sing, dance, and entertain all the guests. Typically they perform in the teahouses in Gion, usually for locals; as a visitor it may be harder and more expensive to book a geisha. Best way to see a performance is at the Gion Corner theater, which has daily geisha performances. Or you can see geishas roaming the streets of Gion.
Immerse yourself in the magic of Kyoto attractions, and you’ll keep wanting to go back!