There are so many incredible places to see in Kyoto, it’s hard to know where to start. FSS is here to help! Here are our top five favorites in this historic city.
Kimono Dressing in Gion
Visitors to Kyoto, both Japanese and foreigners alike aim to have the most authentic experience in Japan’s old capital by exploring the streets in an authentic kimono. Search online to book an appointment ahead of time, or simply stop by one of the many shops as you walk through the streets. There are different price points for different sets, you can ask for a simple kimono or make it as extravagant as you wish. They will keep your personal items as you walk around the world-renowned Gion district.
Fushimi Inari-taisha Shrine
Take a quick train ride to Inari Station for this famous Shinto shrine. Upon leaving the train station, follow the shop-lined winding road up to the entrance. Grab a delicious authentic Japanese snack from one of the many booths on your way. Then begin the hike up the torii-covered trails of Mount Inari. The full hike can take anywhere from two to three hours, though you’re welcome to turn around at any time. The hike provides gorgeous views of thousands of torii gates winding up through the forest. At the top, you will find aerial views of Kyoto and several smaller shrines and shops.
Don’t forget to visit this beautiful Zen temple completely covered in gold leaf. Kinkakuji has been destroyed and rebuilt multiple times throughout Japanese history. The current structure was built in 1955 and is one of Kyoto’s most visited sights. Though you cannot enter the temple, the views from across the pond are absolutely breathtaking.
This famous temple was founded in 778 AD, but like Kinkakuji, it has been destroyed and rebuilt many times. The latest structure was built in 1633 and was added to the UNESCO World Cultural Heritage List in 1944. Located on Mount Otowa, the paths around this temple provide views from many angles. At different points, you can see a spectacular aerial view of Kyoto, a view of the incredible nature surrounding the temple, or the temple itself– sometimes all three. Visit during the fall or cherry blossom season for exceptionally stunning views.
Another Kyoto sight on the UNESCO World Cultural Heritage list is Toji Temple. This sanctuary was built as the east guardian temple near the main entrance of the old Imperial City. Withstanding earthquakes and fires, this five-story pagoda has stood since 826 AD, making it one of the most famous landmarks in all of Japan. There are many halls surrounding the pagoda, all housing sacred statues of Buddha and other historic artifacts. If you can plan your trip accordingly, try to visit on the 21st when there is a popular all-day flea market.
Regardless of what you decide to see in Kyoto, you cannot go wrong. The city is full of culture and history that makes for a wonderful trip any time of year. Stop by the Information, Tickets & Travel (ITT) office for information on their annual trip to Kyoto, or to book your own trip via the shinkansen!