The capital of feudal Japan from 794 to 1868, Kyoto is dotted with countless temples and shrines and imbued with a traditional Japanese feel. Explore teahouses, meet geishas and immerse yourself in a world of bamboo groves and ancient shrines.
Fushimi Inari Shrine
No trip to Kyoto is complete without a visit to Fushimi Inari Shrine. Home to over 10,000 vermillion gates, Fushimi Inari makes for a truly spectacular site, whilst also offering an immersive shinto experience. Behind the main building, you’ll find a network of stunning forest trails adorned by these crimson Torii gates, which lead up towards the sacred Mount Inari. If you want to beat the tourists and photographers who flock around the temple, we recommend hiking these trails up to the top so you can enjoy the atmosphere of this important shrine in peace.
Fushimi Inari Shrine is located just outside JR Inari Station, the second station from Kyoto Station along the JR Nara Line!
Walking amidst the verdant green stalks of Arashiyama’s bamboo grove will have you feeling as though you’ve been whisked away to an enchanted world. On sunny days, the light filters through the canopy to imbue your surroundings with an emerald glow, whilst rainy days create a dark and moody atmosphere. Wander through these bamboo pathways and discover a wide variety of ancient temples. Or, to save your legs from aching, rent a bike and cycle along traditional neighbourhoods. We recommend paying a visit to Adashino Nenbutsuji temple, which is home to a proliferation of intriguing stone statues and has its very own serene bamboo grove.
To get to Arashiyama, take the JR Sagano Line (also known as JR Sanin Line) from Kyoto Station to Saga-Arashiyama station.
Kyoto is famous for its matcha and its a popular flavour in dozens of sweets and drinks! We recommend trying out a tea ceremony so you can deepen your appreciation for the art of tea-making but if that’s not your thing, then there’s a host of other ways for you to enjoy matcha in Kyoto. Explore the old neighbourhoods, and you’ll find traditional green tea sweets (wagashi) or venture to hip coffee shops and try out a matcha latte. Nearly every tourist spot in Kyoto will offer matcha ice cream and if you visit a few of the shops, you can sample matcha biscuits and cakes for free!
Gion is Kyoto’s famous geisha district and is home to a wide variety of restaurants, bars and traditional teahouses. Maximise your experience by visiting at dusk, and wander between smoky, lantern-lit alleyways. If you’re lucky you might also spot a geiko (Kyoto dialect for geisha) or a maiko (geiko apprentices) as they move between their evening engagements. Gion is must-see while you travel through Kyoto!
Yasaka Pagoda is the icon of Kyoto and you’ve doubtless seen this majestic wooden structure printed upon a variety of postcards, T-shirts and other souvenirs. Encircled by a network of Gion’s traditional streets and alleyways, the area surrounding the pagoda is just as picturesque as the building itself. Pay a visit to Yasaka’s many craft shops and teahouses and immerse yourself in the atmosphere of Old Kyoto. If you’re keen to explore some of Kyoto’s many other temples, then Kiyomizu-dera Temple is just a stone’s throw away!
Don’t have time to visit Kyoto but need a break from Tokyo? Check out our blogs on Todoroki Valley and Mount Takaosan if you’re in need of some greenery!
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