20 Things to Do in Kyoto

#1.Kiyomizu-dera Temple

Kiyomizu-dera Temple is inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage site and one of the most popular sightseeing spots in Kyoto because of its beauty and “The Stage of  Kiyomizu.” You can enjoy the temple not only in the daytime but also at night because it’s lighted up at night and will show you the another amazing view.

Moreover, this temple changes its looking with change of seasons. They will be surrounded by beautiful cherry blossoms in Spring, and it will change to colorful autumn leaves in Fall. Therefore, you can enjoy visiting there in any seasons.


#2. Ryoanji Temple

Ryoanji Temple is also one of UNESCO World Heritage sites in Japan and has been populated by the garden of Karesansui style.  This style expresses landscape of mountains and rivers using sands and stones. In this garden, there are 15 stones in total; however, you can see only 14 stones from any angles because number “15” was considered “perfect number” in the past, and someone who designed this garden wanted people to think about what we’re lacking and to appreciate we’re existing in this world.

Moreover, it’s said there is another interesting trick in this temple. It’s said that there is only one spot where you can see all of the 15 stones in a room besides the garden, so it will be fun fi you try to find the spot when you visit Ryoanji temple.

In addition, you can enjoy the beautiful views of every season. Especially, we recommend to see the collaboration with the autumn leaves.

#3. Matcha (Green Tea)

Uji city has been famed because of their green tea products. Maybe, every Japanese has heard the name of Uji green tea. Its high quality is widely known, and they have many restaurants where serves delicious green tea products. They have great variety of green products from simple green tea to ice creams and some unique ones, so it could be a dream place if you like green tea and you can find your favorite style to enjoy green tea in Uji.

#4. Maiko

“Maiko” is a collective term of women who are trainees of Japanese traditional job “geiko” who warms up parties by some performances and games. They wear gorgeous kimono and make up with white base, and their presence is often recognized as beautiful in Japan. You can experience to be “maiko” if you want when you visit Kyoto.

#5. Gion District – Hanamikouji Street

This place is also a popular place where most people visit when they visit Kyoto. There are still many old buildings on this street, and you can find some restaurants and cafes; therefore, you can feel the old and traditional Japan while taking a break in this street.

At night or after raining, it will change its atmosphere from the daytime. You would be attracted when you go out and walk at night and after raining.

#6. Kyo-Ryori,  Kyoto Local Cuisine

Photo Credit: PROPYONKO OMEYAMA@flickr

This is maybe a kind of what you expect about Japanese food. Kyo-Ryori is one of the most traditional and oldest styles of Japanese dishes, and it’s sometimes recognized as what Japanese food is. It looks not very gorgeous but beautiful and is basically made to let people enjoy the taste of its ingredients itself. You’ll be surprised because of how good the taste of the ingredients itself is.

#7. Kinkakuji Temple

Kinkakuzi, officially named Rokuonji, is one of the UNESCO World Heritage sites and probably most famous temple in Japan. “Kin” means “gold” in Japanese, and this temple is literally gold. You won’t be able to forget this gorgeous temple with its beautiful garden and nature surrounding it.

#8. Ginkakuji Temple

Ginkakuji, officially named Jishoji, is from same clan of Kinkakuji. “Gin” means “silver” in Japanese, and this temple is called “Ginkakuji” to contrast to “Kinkakuji;” however, it’s not actually silver color. It’s said that this temple is built by General Yoshimasa Ashikaga more than 500 years ago to escape from political battles, and so this place has calm and beautiful atmosphere you can be relaxed.

#9. Nishiki Market

Nishiki is called “Kyo’s kitchen” because it’s a main place for food in Kyoto. This market was originally started about 400 years ago and has still loved by many people. This market has almost 400m length, and there are more than 100 stores on this street. You can find every kind of food here and experience Kyoto’s culture.

You can try small samples at some stores if you can’t imagine how the taste is like, and you can also eat what you bought in some stores if you want, so this market might be a good place to get your souvenirs for your family or friends.

#10. Zazen

Photo Credit: Marc van der Chijs@flickr

Zazen is a Japanese traditional meditation people do in temples to organize mind. People sit calmly, close eyes, and meditate in temple with a priest. When the priest thinks someone has distraction, he hits a shoulder of the person with an wooden stick. There are some temples where let you experience zazen in Kyoto, so it will be good if you want to refresh or experience some traditional Japanese cultures.

#11. Nijo Castle

Nijo Castle was constructed by Ieyasu Tokugawa in Edo Period and is inscribed as one of the UNESCO World Heritage sites. Moreover, this place is known as starting and ending place of the Edo government. In the past, this castle had used as a detached palace of imperial family and as a main governmental building of Kyoto because of its historical importance.

You can enjoy amazing pictures on the door and its structures which have been kept beautiful when you go inside, and they also have three gardens which have different each style; therefore, you won’t be boring if you visit this castle.

#12. Kyoto Aquarium

Kyoto Aquarium is a kind of new tourists spots in Kyoto. They are divided into 12 areas with each themes, and you can meet various types of marine living things. They especially recommend the dolphin show and the huge glass aquarium. In the dolphins show, well-trained dolphins will make you amazed by their wonderful skills and the cuteness. On the other hand, the huge glass aquarium contains so many types of fishes and fantastically lighted up, and it will make you relaxed.

#13. Kyoto Tower

Kyoto Tower is the symbol of Kyoto located just in front of Kyoto Station, and it is the highest tower with no rebars in the world. This tower will be the best place for the end of your Kyoto trip. You can see the beautiful Kyoto’s night view from the lookout, and they also have many stores you can buy souvenirs, restaurants, bars, and even hot springs in the building. Since it’s located in front of Kyoto Station, it might be good visit there before you leave Kyoto.

#14. Arashiyama District

Arashiyama District, located at the West of Kyoto city, is definitely one of the places you must not miss if you visit Kyoto. You can see the great collaborations of Japanese cultures and beautiful nature over there, and it absolutely represents “beauty of Japan.” We show some places you’d better visit in Arashiyama below.

Kameyama Park

Kameyama Park is a recommended place if you want to see the seasonal nature in Kyoto. There is an observatory where you can view the colorful nature in the park. However, if you want to experience something different, we highly recommend to ride a boat at the river. You can leisurely view the beautiful nature on the boat.

Chikurin no Michi

This road in bamboo forest is one of the representative traveling spots where everyone tries to visit in Kyoto. It has fantastical atmosphere as if you are in different world or different period. Moreover, this road will be romantically lighted up at night, so it could be a good place to go with your partner.


Togetsuyko is a bridge which is a symbol of Arashiyama. No wonder this wooden bridge may look great in daytime, but it will be more beautiful at night when it is lighted up. However, there is a thing you need to be careful. If you visit this bridge with someone you love, you don’t want to turn around or even glance back until you finish crossing the bridge because there is a myth that if a couple turn around while they are crossing the bridge, they will be broken up. It’s your choice to challenge to the myth because you think it’s just a myth, but we don’t recommend to do it.

#15. Toei Kyoto Studio Park

Photo Credit: PRORyosuke Yagi@flickr

Toei Kyoto Studio Park is a Japanese theme park where people can play in film sets actually used some Japanese movies by Toei company. There are many kinds of fun activities relating Japan in old time, and you can wear costumes of some characters, such as, ninja, samurai, and princes, if you want to. Additionally, you can meet the actual scenes films have been making.

#16. Kifune Shrine

This shrine is the head quarter of all Kifune Shrines around Japan. By the way, it’s said there are about 450 Kifune Shrines in total in Japan, and the head quarter has been existed about 1,300 years. This shrine enshrines the god of water and marriage, so it’s very popular among many couples.

Moreover, there is a unique divination called “water divination” since they enshrine the god of water; therefore, just try it if you are interested. When you sink a paper fortune which you bought at the shrine, the god’s words will be appeared on the paper.

After offering prayers, we recommend to eat “Kawadoko Ryori” which is a traditional Japanese dishes at the restaurant of the shrine if you visit there in Summer. They have outside seats besides waterfall, so you can enjoy the dishes with feeling coolness of the waterfall.

#17. Byodoin Temple

Do you have 10 yen coin? Hououdo of the Byodoin Temple is used for the design on the flip side to the coin. In 2014, it finished renovating inside, so you can see the beautiful red and black structure if you visit there. This temple is surrounded by many types of nature, but the collaboration with Japanese wisteria around the temple in Spring is especially amazing. So many tourists go there to see the beautiful collaboration every year.

#18. Tofukuji Temple

Tofukuji Temple is known as one of the best places for autumn leaves in Japan. So many people visit there to see the autumn leaves and make very ling line in front of the entrance. Sometimes, the temple is closed before all of the tourists enter the temple, so you can somehow imagine how the view would be wonderful.

In addition, they also have beautiful Japanese “karesansui” gardens in it. There are four gardens in the premises and all of them has completely different look. The designs are really modern-like and beautiful although those were made long time ago.

#19. Fushimi Inari Taisha Shrine

This is the head quarter of “Inari Shrines” which have about thirty thousands in total around Japan. They believe foxes are the divine messengers of their god, Inari, and so enshrine foxes in their shrines. The god was originally believes for just fertility, but is also believed for business and safety either now.

Fushimi Inari Taisha Shrine is famous for “the Thousands of Torii” among tourists. Torii is a gate which separates the human’s world and the god’s world, and the color is basically red because red was believed as a color which can keep evil things away. Waking in the tunnel of this torii makes you feel you are heading to the different world. Actually, this tunnel is started at the entrance of the mountain where the god is descended, and going through this tunnel is originally believed to go the world where the god exists. By the way, this tunnel of torii is called “the Thousands of Torii,” but the number has increased and there are actually about ten thousand toriis today.

#20. Fushimi Sake

Fushimi direction in Kyoto is very famous place for Japanese sake. There are many sake breweries and you can taste Fushimi’s sake or take a look at how sake is made. Other than just drinking sake, there are some other food made from sake, so you could enjoy if you are interested in Japanese sake. By the way, “Fushimi Syuzo Koji” where you enjoy many kinds of sake in reasonable prices was just established in early 2016.

Food, Matcha, Shrines, Temples, Things to do