Kyoto has many places to visit. In fact, it is very difficult to choose spots especially for people visiting Kyoto for the first time. The following “Top 20 Ranking” might be helpful for those who are having difficulty selecting spots. For more fun and useful information, please check our Kyoto e-Guidebook which will make your Kyoto trip more memorable, exciting and stress-free.
20 Tofukuji Temple
The best time to visit this temple is the autumn foliage season. The Sanmon Gate is designated as a National Treasure.
19 Botanical Garden and Kamigamo Shrine
For people who love plants and gardens, these spots, which are connected by walking along Kamogawa river, will make the best one day trip.
18. Higashi Honganji Temple and Joseien Garden
After visiting Higashi Honganji, walk to their garden, Joseien. With a 500 yen donation (think it as an entrance fee), a beautiful brochure will be provided.
17. Kyoto Station
Stairs or escalators will lead visitors to a free observatory space. In the underground (Porta), there are many gift shops and restaurants.
16. Sagano Romantic Train (Torokko)
From this train (1240 yen for round trip), passengers can enjoy the beautiful nature Arashiyama has to provide. At the last stop, Kameoka Station, passengers will change seats so that they can enjoy the view from the other side of the train.
15. Shorenin Temple (illumination)
Of course, it is nice to visit this temple during day time. However, the illumination event that focuses on blue in this temple is very unique and worth the price (800 yen). Note that this is the seasonal event.
14. Seimei Shrine
This could be the most unique shrine in Kyoto. It is dedicated to the famous “Onmyoji” (sorcerer), Abe no Seimei.
13. Teramachi & Shinkyogoku Shopping Arcades
These two arcades are located in center of Kyoto city. Shopping, eating and even just browsing here can be fan, it is especially useful when it rains.
12. Tenryuji Temple
Tenryuji Temple’s garden, which makes use of Arashiyama mountain’s landscape, is one of the most beautiful Japanese gardens. Tenryuji is a World Heritage Site.
11. Shimogamo shrine
Also designated as a World Heritage Site. The serene forest (Tadasu no Mori) leading to the shrine is quiet and soothing. Shimogamo Shrine will have a traditional “moving” event next year (April 27th 2015).
10. Yasaka Shrine
The vivid red gate facing Shijo Street is the symbol of Kyoto. It is believed to have been built in 656. For people who are interested in leading a successful business, avoiding bad events or inviting good luck, visit this shrine and make a wish.
9. Nanzenji Temple
Nanzenji Temple has a very large premises in which a magnificent Sanmon Gate and rustic aqueduct stand proudly. It used to a villa for Kameyama Emperor, but turned into a Zen temple in 1291.
8. Kamogawa River
Possibly the most underestimated spot in Kyoto. This beautiful river running east side of Kyoto could be the best walking / jogging course.
7. Philosopher’s Path
This path, named because famous philosophers walked along it, is located along the Higashiyama mountains. Start from Ginkakuji Temple and walk down the path to finish at Nanzenji Temple or Heian Jingu (note that it is a whole day process).
6. Ginkakuji Temple
It is not the most gorgeous temple, however the gardens and views from the small hill are very pretty. It was built in 1482 by order of the Shogun of that day, Ashikaga Yoshimasa.
5. Fushimi Inari Shrine
Thousands of red Torii gates built on stairs look like a tunnel. It was built more than 1300 years ago. When visiting this shrine, be sure to wear sports shoes.
4. Bamboo Alley
Bamboo Alley in the Arashiyama area (near Tenryuji Temple and Nonomiya Shrine) is one of the best scenic spots. It is the cover photo of our Kyoto e-Guidebook.
3. Nijo Castle
Visitors can enjoy time traveling to the Edo Period (1603-1868). This castle, which was built by Tokugawa Shogun families, ironically became the stage where their time ended. Not only the buildings, the gardens are worth looking at.
2. Golden Pavilion (Kingakuji Temple)
Kinkakuji aka the Golden Pavilion is an icon of Kyoto. This gorgeous building was built by Ashikaga Yoshimitsu (third Shogun) in 1397. After he died, Kinkaku was turned into a temple due to his will.
1. Kiyomizudera Temple
Kiyomizudera Temple is the most popular destination in Kyoto. The view from the Kiyomizu Stage makes a great picture. Although it is busy all the time, this is the spot everybody has to visit without exception.