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History / Culture / Tour Spots in Kyoto Area

  • Fushimi Inari Taisha
    Travel / Tourism
    Kyoto Kyoutoshi Fushimi-ku Fukakusa Yabunouchi cho 68
    This shrine in Fushimi Ward, Kyoto City, is the head of all Inari Shrines in Japan, which total to around 30,000 shrines. The shrine is particularly famous for its vermillion lacquered Torii gate tunnels, as well as to parishioners visiting the god for business, harvest, and fortune. Many of the buildings on the grounds are also painted with brilliant vermillion lacquer including the front shrine, main shrine, and tower gate, which has been designated an Important Cultural Properties of Japan. The torii gate corridor, said to consist of several thousand to 10,000 torii gates, twists and turns making it quite the spectacle. Beyond that is the rear shrine as well as the entrance to Mt. Inari-san which is dotted with countless small burial mounds. It is one of the most famous spots in the Kansai region to visit for the annual New Year Shrine Visit and draws huge numbers of visitors every year.
  • Kiyomizu-dera Temple
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    4.5
    10590 Reviews
    Travel / Tourism
    Kyoto Kyoutoshi Higashiyama-ku Kiyomizu 1-294
    A famous Buddhist temple located in Higashiyama Ward in Kyoto City, Kyoto Prefecture. The temple is said to have been started when the priest Enchin enshrined a thousand-armed statue of Kannon above the Otowa Waterfall in 778. The main temple nave enshrines a standing figure of an eleven-faced Kannon and is built in the elegant Shinden-zukuri style. The Kiyomizu Stage jutting out over the Cliffside offers a sweeping view of the streets of Kyoto and blooming cherry trees, verdant plant life, or autumn foliage depending on the season, making it a popular photo spot. The three channeled Otowa Waterfall is said to provide benefits such as long life and people line up to drink its waters. Bustling with students on a school excursion as well as tourists both domestic and international, the Kiyomizu-dera Temple is one of Kyoto’s most popular tourist sites.

    One of the nicer place to see autumn leaves. Too bad the temple is still under renovation. But I still won't skip this place if I visit Kyoto.

  • Kitano Tenmangu Shrine
    Travel / Tourism
    Kyoto Kyoutoshi Kamigyou-ku Bakurochou
    Popularly known as “Kitano no Tenjin-san,” this Shinto shrine is located in Kamigyo Ward, Kyoto City. The shrine was founded in 947. It is also the head shrine of all 12 thousand Tenmangu and Tenjin shrines throughout the country dedicated to Sugawara no Michizane, the god of scholarship. The shrine is frequented by students and test-takers not only during entrance exam season in winter but throughout the year. The main shrine, erected in 1607, is a National Treasure and a magnificent example of Momoyama architecture. Famed for its Japanese apricot blossoms, a gorgeous open air tea ceremony is performed by Kamishichiken geisha at the shrine during the Plum Blossom Festival on February 25. The shrine also bustles with numerous street stalls and people during the Tenjin Market, opened every month on the 25th.
  • Rokuon-ji Temple (Kinkaku-ji Temple)
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    4.5
    15343 Reviews
    Travel / Tourism
    Kyoto Kyoutoshi Kita-ku Kinkakujichou 1
    This temple began when third generation shogun of the Muromachi shogunate Ashikaga Yoshimitsu inherited the Saionji family's mountain villa and called the villa “Kitayamadono.” After his death it was changed into a Zen temple named “Rokuonji.” The reliquary hall is a three-story building shining beautifully in gold and looks pretty reflected in the Kyokoike (mirror pond). This brilliant architecture was a symbol of Kitayama culture but burned down in a 1950 fire, then was rebuilt in 1955. In 1994 it was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

    It's a beautiful setting with vendors at start and finish. An interesting walk as part of our tour....which included a few shrines . Not much to see beyond the gardens and building photo ops .

  • Shimogamo-jinja Shrine
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    4.5
    922 Reviews
    Travel / Tourism
    Kyoto Kyoutoshi Sakyou-ku Shimogamoizumigawachou 59
    Formally titled the Kamomioya Shrine, this historic Shinto shrine is one of Kyoto’s oldest. The entire grounds of the shrine are registered as part of the “Historic Monuments of Ancient Kyoto” World Heritage listing. Dedicated to the guardian deity of Kyoto as well as the guardian deity of woman’s duties, since ancient times the shrine has been seen as providing divine aid in receiving guidance, achieving victory, and starting new projects. The grounds are also dotted with women-oriented shrines and sites, such as the Aioi-sha, a shrine dedicated to luck in marriage, and Kawai Shrine, a guardian shrine for women.

    Most won't visit these lesser traveled shrines in Kyoto sticking to the tourist-packed icons in Higashi-yama or Arashiyama. This is a beautiful shrine in beautiful park that enshrines it.

  • Yasaka-jinja Shrine (Gion Shrine)
    Travel / Tourism
    Kyoto Kyoutoshi Higashiyama-ku Gionmachikitagawa 625
    Popularly known as Gion Shrine, this Shinto shrine is the head shrine of all 3,000 some Gion shrines in Japan. The main shrine building, a designated Important Cultural Property, is actually comprised of the separate shrine sanctuary and worship hall combined under one roof in an architectural style called Gion-zukuri. The shrine’s famed Gion Matsuri festival in summer got its start as a ceremony to pray for the end of a great plague in 869. From New Year’s Eve through New Year’s Day, the shrine is visited by a great many worshippers come to perform the “okera-mairi” ceremony. The ceremony involves lighting a lucky rope from sacred fire of burning “okera” (Atractylodes japonica) roots to bring the fire home and start one’s first home fire of the new year, thus bringing good luck for the rest of the year. The Ota-sha Shrahige-jinja Shrine located on the grounds of Yasaka Shrine is believed to provide grant divine favor to those seeking to improve in the performing arts and, as such, the shrine is visited by Gion geisha and maiko.
  • Byodoin
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    4.5
    1409 Reviews
    Travel / Tourism
    Kyoto Ujishi Uji Renge 116
    A Buddhist temple located in Uji City, Kyoto Prefecture that was founded in 1052 when Fujiwara no Michinaga, the father of Fujiwara no Yorimichi, turned a villa he had inherited into a temple. Due to the pessimism of the time which believed the world was coming to an end, Pure Land Buddhism grew in popularity, and the temple’s hall was designed to recreate the Western Paradise, a key aspect of the faith. The luxurious hall enshrines a seated figure of Amitabha created by the Buddhist sculptor Jocho. Most of the original temple excluding the main hall, Kannon hall, and bell tower were destroyed by fire. In the Byodoin Museum Hoshokan, however, visitors can view a Chinese Phoenix depicted on the ceiling and temple bell (National Treasures) as well as 26 of the 52 floating bodhisattva figures suspended from the ceiling of the main hall.

    The temple and grounds are very beautiful and calming. The museum has a wonderful collection and it was also very peaceful to wonder through. If you want something relaxing to do for an hour or two...

  • Heian Jingu Shrine
    Travel / Tourism
    Kyoto Kyoutoshi Sakyou-ku Okazakinishitennouchou
    A Shinto shrine located in Sakyo Ward in Kyoto City, Kyoto Prefecture which was erected in 1895 to commemorate the 1,100th anniversary of the foundation of the ancient capital of Heian-Kyo. The shrine is dedicated to Emperor Kammu and Emperor Komei. The main shrine building is a 5/8th scale replica of the Heian-Kyo government reception hall used during the time of Emperor Kammu. The shrine’s solemn vermillion lacquered buildings roofed with green glazed tiles and the white gravel covering the grounds are a spectacle to behold. The surrounding Japanese garden is strolling garden built around a central pond which is divided into four separate sections filled with splendid flowering plants and trees appropriate to the four seasons. The shrine is also famous for its weeping cherry trees in spring.
  • To-ji Temple (Kyo-o-gokoku-ji Temple)
    Travel / Tourism
    Kyoto Kyoutoshi Minami-ku Kujouchou 1
    This Buddhist temple is the only remaining structure built during the days of the ancient capital of Heian-kyo (the former name of the city of Kyoto) and officially named Kyo-o gokoku-ji Temple. The temple was registered as a World Heritage site in 1994. The temple’s numerous National Treasures are worthy of note, such as its Kondo Hall (Main Hall), Daishido Hall (Miei House), and five tier pagoda, which is 55 meters (187 feet) tall and is the tallest wooden structure in Japan. Some of the temple’s many other historic and cultural assets include the southern gate and lecture hall, both registered as Important Cultural Properties.
  • Jisho-ji Temple (Ginkaku-ji Temple)
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    4.5
    4254 Reviews
    Travel / Tourism
    Kyoto Kyoutoshi Sakyou-ku Ginkakujichou 2
    A mountain retreat modeled after the Kinkaku-ji Temple (Gold Pavillion Temple) built by Ashikaga Yoshimitsu, grandfather of the eighth Muromachi shogun Ashikaga Yoshimasa, in 1482. After Yoshimasa’s death, the villa was turned into a Rinzai Shokoku-ji school Zen Buddhist temple and, based on Yoshimasa’s posthumous name, the temple was named the Jishoji Temple. The Kannon Hall, commonly known as the Ginkaku (Silver Pavillion), is simple and elegant in its design; the Togu-do hall is the oldest extant example of ancient Japanese shoin-zukuri architecture and is designated a National Treasure.

    This was the first temple and gardens we visited in Kyoto and after viewing many others, we thought it was one of the better ones. Impressive clipped hedges walking up to the entrance. Excellent...

  • Kifune-jinja Shrine
    Travel / Tourism
    Kyoto Kyoutoshi Sakyou-ku Kuramakibunechou 180
    This shrine in Sakyo Ward, Kyoto City, is the head shrine for the Kifune-Shrines in Japan which number almost 500 shrines. Long been known for the god of rain it has also gained faith from the chefs, cooking industry, and water industries of Japan. Therefore, unlike the regional name of Kibune, the name of the shrine is read as Kifune. The middle shrine located between the main shrine and the rear shrine enshrines the goddess Iwanaga-hime, a goddess of marriage and matchmaking, and is therefore popular amongst young couples.
  • Nanzen-ji Zen Temple
    Travel / Tourism
    Kyoto Kyoutoshi Sakyou-ku Nanzenjifukuchichou
    The head temple of the Rinzai school of Zen Buddhism, located in Sakyo Ward, Kyoto City. The temple was founded by the priest Mukan Fumon as the Zenrin-ji-dono, the imperial villa of Emperor Kameyama in 1291. The temple’s standing is high; it is considered above the five most important Rinzai temples in both Kyoto and Kamakura. Its triple gate is considered one of the three most impressive temple gates in Kyoto and is also famous as the setting of a scene in the kabuki play Sanmon gosan no kiri, in which the character of Ichikawa Goemon utters the well-known line, “How beautiful, how beautiful!” The temple houses numerous Important Cultural Properties, such as famed painter Kano Tan’yu’s screen paining The Tiger of Mizunomi. The grounds contain an abbot’s residence which is a National Treasure and was moved here from the former imperial palace of Fushimi Castle. The temple’s garden is a dry landscape garden representative of the early Edo period style.
  • Tofuku-ji Temple
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    4.5
    1608 Reviews
    Travel / Tourism
    Kyoto Kyoutoshi Higashiyama-ku Honmachi 15-778
    Construction of this large temple was begun in 1236 by the regent Kujo Michiie, who wanted to enshrine Kyoto’s largest monastery. The construction ultimately took 19 years to complete. The temple’s spacious grounds are home to such highlights as Japan’s oldest main temple gate (a designated National Treasure), and a toilet constructed in the Zen style as well as a temple nave decorated with a painting of a dragon on its ceiling (both Important Cultural Properties). Four gardens are distributed to the east, west, north, and south sides of the grounds, and each offers charming but different scenery. The northern garden in particular, with its checkerboard of moss and stones, is a must-see.

    We have visited many spots for autumn foliage in Kyoto. Tofuku-ji Temple is definitely number one. The dense red leaves in myriad shades and shapes are beautiful beyond description. No photo can...

  • Nijojo Castle
    Travel / Tourism
    Kyoto City Kyoto City Nakagyo-ku Nijyotoru Horikawa Western Nishi Nijo Castle Town 541
    This fortification was built in 1603 to lodge Tokugawa Ieyasu when he travelled to the capital after his victory at the Battle of Sekigahara. Later, the site was significantly renovated by the third shogun, Tokugawa Iemitsu, resulting in its present form. In addition to the entire grounds being a nationally designated Historic Site, the site is dotted with numerous historically valuable structures and beautiful sights, including the Ninomaru Palace, the outer citadel palace (a National Treasure), Honmaru Palace, the inner citadel palace (an Important Cultural Property), and Ninomaru Garden, the outer citadel palace garden (a Special Place of Scenic Beauty).
  • Togetsukyo Bridge
    Travel / Tourism
    Kyoto, Kyoto Prefecture Ukyo-ku Arashiyama
    This bridge with a total length of 155 meters spanning the Katsuragawa River offers a vantage point to see the fall foliage of Arashiyama. The bridge is said to have been started by the Jowa-period (834–848) monk Dosho, and the bridge in the current location was built by Suminokura Ryoui in the early Edo period. Togetsukyo Bridge’s name (meaning “the bridge of the passing moon”) is said to have come about when Emperor Kameyama saw a moon move above the bridge and remarked that, “It looks as if the clear moon were walking over the bridge.” The bridge is full of elegance which blends into the landscape of Arashiyama.
  • Ryoanji Temple
    Travel / Tourism
    Kyoto Kyoutoshi Ukyou-ku Ryouanji Otoritoshita 13
    This Buddhist temple in Ukyo Ward in Kyoto City, Kyoto Prefecture is famous for its rock garden. A Zen temple, it was founded in 1450 by the statesman Hosokawa Katsumoto. The shrine grew dilapidated due to the anti-Buddhism movement of the early Meiji period but became world-famous after Queen Elizabeth II visited the temple and praised the beauty of the rock garden. The garden, called the Hojo Tei-en, is a traditional flat garden comprised of 15 stones of various sizes placed amongst white gravel which are designed such that one of the stones will not be visible no matter what angle one views the garden from. Highlights of the temple include Japanese camellias admired by the great general Toyotomi Hideyoshi as well as the Zorakuan tea house. The best time to see the water lilies blooming in the temple pond starts from early summer.
  • Yasui Konpiragu Shrine
    Travel / Tourism
    Kyoto Kyoutoshi Higashiyama-ku Shimobentenchou 70
    A Shinto shrine located in Higashiyama Ward, Kyoto City popularly known as Yasui no Konpira-san. Fujiwara no Kamatari established the shrine during the reign of Emperor Tenchi. He planted purple wisterias and named it Fuji-dera (the Temple of Wisteria) in prayer for the prosperity of his clan and the perpetuation of his descendants. The shrine is principally dedicated to Emperor Sutoku, who excised all desire from himself and became a monk in the Konpiragu in the former Sanuki Province; accordingly, the temple has attracted faithful seeking to excise all bad attachments and make good ones since ancient times. It is believed that spouses and couples who have a good relationship and come here will not see their relationships ended but rather find them growing deeper.
  • Kamo-wake ikazuchi Jinja (Kamigamo-jinja Shrine)
    Travel / Tourism
    Kyoto Kyoutoshi Kita-ku Kamigamomotoyama 339
    This shrine in Kita Ward, Kyoto City, enshrines the patron god of the Kamo clan. It is said the shrine was founded in 678 when the god Kamowakeikazuchi no Okami descended to the foot of Mt. Kamosan during the reign of Emperor Jimmu. The god is said to protect against misfortune, grant good fortune, victory in battle, and protect the power industry. The main hall and temporary shrine are both National Treasures and were last rebuilt in 1863 while the 34 worship halls rebuilt in 1628 are designated Important Cultural Properties of Japan. On May 15th they hold the Aoi Festival, one of Kyoto's three largest festivals, and many people come to watch the procession which is put on in Heian-period costumes.
  • Seimei-jinja Shrine
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    4.0
    287 Reviews
    Travel / Tourism
    Kyoto Prefecture Kyoto-shi, Kamigyo-ku Horikawa Tsushin Ichijo Le Rui Mihacho 806
    This is a Shinto shrine dedicated to Abe no Seimei, a diviner active in the mid Heian period, built in 1007 by Emperor Ichijo in order to appease the diviner’s spirit. The shrine helps ward off evil and danger, and many visitors come to escape misfortune. The shrine has a distinct Onmyodo mystical atmosphere, from the pentagrams depicted on the tori gate, paper lanterns and votive pictures to the diviner stone statues.

    This shrine was established in 11th century for Japan's legendary figure, Abe no Seimei, who was said to be an 'onmyoji' who practiced Japanese yin and yang (onmyo) - a system of divination...

  • Kodai-ji Zen Temple
    Travel / Tourism
    Kyoto Prefecture Kyoto-shi Higashiyama-ku Kodaiji Shimogawara-machi 526
    This temple in Higashiyama Ward, Kyoto City was founded in 1606 to pray for Toyotomi Hideyoshi's happiness in the next life by his wife, Nene. Along with a mausoleum for the both of them, you can also visit the front gate of former Fushimi castle, the Kasatei teahouse, the Shiguretei teahouse, the Kaisando hall which holds favorite mementos of the two, and the Mizukidai pavilion (all of which are Important Cultural Properties of Japan). The fine gold lacquer work on the Buddha dais and miniature shrine within the mausoleum are masterpieces of Momoyama-period artwork and known as Kodai-ji Temple Makie. The garden on site surrounding a small pond is not to be missed and has been nationally designated as a Place of Scenic Beauty as well as a Historic Site. It is lit up during the sakura cherry blossom season in spring, at night in summer, during the gorgeous foliage season in fall, and on New Year's Eve.

Kyoto Main Areas

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Its wooden tea houses, shuffling geisha, and spiritual sights have seen Kyoto hailed as the heart of traditional Japan, a world apart from ultramodern Tokyo. Despite being the Japanese capital for over a century, Kyoto escaped destruction during World War II, leaving behind a fascinating history which can be felt at every turn, from the fully gold-plated Kinkakuji Temple down to traditional customs such as geisha performances and tea ceremonies, which are still practiced to this day.

Kyoto Photo Album

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