Kyoto is known as the City of a Thousand Shrines and is certainly an appropriate name for this city. It takes a motivated individual to be able to visit all of the temples and shrines that Kyoto has to offer. Luckily, there are several of sights and activities fit for everybody’s interests. I’ve compiled them and put them in a list for you below. Let’s begin, shall we?
Yamazaki Whisky Distillery
Japan’s famous distillery, Suntory Yamazaki, is heaven to all whisky drinkers. This is a MUST if you are a whisky aficionado because you can buy full sized bottles and goods straight from the factory at a lower price. Stores outside would charge a higher price for the same bottles for a profit and also due to other costs such as shipping and inventory. At Yamazaki Whisky Distillery, you can see the process of whisky and how it is made through a tour of the facility with a tasting at the end. Admission prices range from free to ¥2,000 depending on which type of tour you are interested in. Highly recommend!
Iwashimizu Hachimangu (Shinto Shrine)
An old grand shrine between Kyoto and Osaka. If you are taking the train from Osaka to Kyoto or vice versa, this would be a nice shrine to stop by on the way prior to visiting the City of a Thousand Shrines.
Fushimi Inari Taishi
A very famous tourist attraction featuring a long line of torii gates placed next to each other. It feels like an endless tunnel of orange gates. Although it is opened 24 hours, it is recommended that you go early in the morning (before 10 AM) or later in the evening when the crowds die down. Otherwise, you will be herded along like cows through the narrow path of shrines. If all fails, make your way up the mountain because the higher you go, the fewer people are around. The hike to the top and back is about 2-3 hours but you are welcomed to turn around anytime your legs feel like they’ve had enough.
At the Kiyomizu Temple, there is an Otowa waterfall with 3 streams to drink from representing different things: longevity, success, and love. Whichever stream you drink from, the fortune you will receive. You can visit the Kiyomizu Temple during the day from 6 AM – 6 PM or during the night for Illuminations at 6 PM – 11 PM. There is an entrance fee of ¥400.
Taiho-An Tea House
1-5 Uji-tougawa Uji City, Kyoto
If you love matcha as much as I do and are looking for a legitimate tea ceremony, Taiho-An is one of the many tea houses in Kyoto you can visit. At this particular tea house, you will be able to see how matcha is made in front of your eyes and be able to taste the tea as it is freshly stirred and served. There is an entrance fee of ¥500.
Arashiyama Bamboo Forest
When most people visit Kyoto, the two attractions everyone visits are Fushimi Inari Taishi and Arashiyama Bamboo Forest. At this hot spot, you will find rows and rows of bamboo along both sides creating a walkway as you make your way through the bamboo forest. This is known as the path of bamboo, “Chikurin-no-Michi”. Like skyscrapers, the stalks of bamboo towers over you making you feel insignificant. The magic and beauty of this bamboo forest will make it difficult to resist capturing a photo. So go for it, take out your camera and take a million photos of the vast collection of bamboo trees.
Although the bamboo forest can get a little eerie feeling at night, Arashiyama is available for visit 24 hours of the day. Plan your trip accordingly as the only source of light is from the sun, making you feel closer to Mother Earth and all of her nature.
Jishu Jinja Shrine
1-317 Kiyomizu, Higashiyama-ku, Kyoto
This shrine is dedicated to love. It is believed that closing your eyes and walking from one love stone to another will bring true love… just don’t run into other things or people. There are many young people who come to this shrine to try their luck at love, so it is recommended to come as early as possible to avoid crowds and have fewer obstacles that may deter you from your goal. Hours: 9 AM -5 PM (gate open)
After you accomplish your wishes, walk through the Ishibe Alley to get to the Kodai-ji Temple.
Another temple in Kyoto that is often overlooked by tourists and surrounded by various gardens, such as rock gardens and Tsukiyama style garden. Not only are the museums and temples charming to look at, even the paths that connect the buildings are delightful, such as the bamboo groves, Chikurin-no-Michi, that pave the way. Kodai-ji Temple is available for visiting from 9 AM – 5:30 PM during the daytime. There is also a special entrance for Illumination from sunset to 9:30 PM. The entrance fee is ¥600 (Kodaiji and Sho Museum) / ¥900 (Kodaiji, Sho Museum, and Entokuin).
This is the oldest park in Kyoto and a gorgeous place for a perfect view of the cherry blossoms. Food stalls with tables and chairs are available to admire the beauty of the seasons. There is no entrance fee and opened 24 hours for viewing.
In Higashiyama, near downtown areas of Kawaramachi and Gion, grounds are lit up for Illuminations. There is an entrance fee of ¥500 for 9 AM – 5 PM and ¥800 for seasonal evening illuminations.
Gion Tatsumi Bridge
For the most picturesque place in Gion and a popular area for cherry blossom, Gion Tatsumi Bridge is the place to go!
Nicknamed Kyoto’s Kitchen. You can go shopping for a variety of things here, mostly food-related items. You can buy groceries to take home or fresh seafood to eat on the spot.
Everything is locally produced and procured so you’ll be able to taste the wonders of Kyoto all in one spot. The area is crowded with locals and tourists so it can get pretty busy from time to time. The hours are 9 AM – 6 PM.
Eat ramen at Ippudo Nishikikouji
653-1 Bantoya-cho, Higashinotoin, Nishikikoji higashi iru, Nakagyo-ku
I was so in love with the Ippudo in New York, I had to try the Ippudo from Japan. Only a block from the Nishiki market, you can slurp ramen from 11 AM to 2 AM at Ippudo Nishikikouji, if you haven’t had the chance to in Fukuoka. Try the Akamaru New Ramen (¥800) or the Shiromaru for a lighter Tonkotsu broth.
Nijojo (Nijo Castle)
There is no shortage of areas for you to view cherry blossoms during the month of March and April. One of which includes the Nijo Castle, where there is a dedicated cherry blossom area. The hours are 8:45 AM – 5 PM and there is an entrance fee of ¥600 to enter.
Tetsugaku-no-michi (Philosopher’s Path)
Take a tranquil stroll through Philosopher’s walk to gain some wisdom and to view the cherry blossoms. It is a path runs goes along a canal and is filled with hundreds of cherry blossom trees. When the trees are in full bloom you will be able to see a series of cherry blossom trees so be prepared for the crowds when the time comes.
Pay attention to the beauty around you as you are on your journey to your destination, there is elegance everywhere you turn.
Satisfy Your Sweet Tooth at Nakamura Tokichi Honten
10 Uji Ichiban, Uji City, Kyoto
Love matcha? Love dessert? This is the perfect place for you! Here you will find all things matcha including tea, noodles, and ice cream. Get the cold Matcha Zenzai, which is matcha jelly with matcha balls.. the perfect Japanese dessert! Also, the matcha parfait is very popular and delicious.
Hours: Tea Shop 10:00-17:30 / Cafe 11:00-17:30 (last order at 17:00)
Eat at ALL the McDonald’s!
One of my FAVORITE things to do while I am traveling to another country is trying the local McDonald’s to see their offerings. I’ve had some pretty surprisingly delicious things at McDonald’s, so don’t just overlook them next time you go traveling abroad. Pop in and check one out to see if they have anything unusual yet intriguing to try! (Post for another time the various items I’ve had at different McDonald’s locations.)
More Shrines and Temples:
- Kinkaku-ji (Golden Pavilion)
- Hours: 9 AM – 5 PM
- Entrance fee: 400 JPY
- Shimogamo Shrine
- Hours: 5:30 to 18:00 (summer) / 6:30 to 17:00 (winter)
- Entrance fee: Free
- Kibune Shrine
- Hours: 6 AM – 8 PM
- Entrance fee: Free
- Kurama-dera Temple
- Entrance fee: 200 JPY
- Chion-in Temple
- Entrance fee: Free
- Tenryu-ji Temple Arashiyama
- Entrance fee: Free
- Hours: 8:30 AM – 5:30 PM
- Read Japanese comic books at Kyoto International Manga Museum
- For a legitimate wagyu beef experience, go Hafuu Honten for lunch or dinner. There is also a tasty take-out wagyu beef cutlet sandwich available.
- Address: 471-1 Sasaya-cho, Nakagyo-ku, Kyoto-city (located on Fuyacho-street, and Ebisugawa-street to the north
- Hours: 11:30 – 1:30 PM lunch / 5:30 -9:30 PM dinner – closed Wednesdays
- Make sure to grab small snacks wherever you go, even if they look funny.
- See the Geishas at the popular Gion Street
- Sip on some tea at the Tea House at the summit of Mt. Yoshida