Sightseeing in Kyoto

Kyoto does not have a shortage of unique historical or UNESCO sites, and deciding which places to go can be a bit daunting. I was pleasantly surprised by how many sites I actually got to see in Kyoto in the three days I was there. Kyoto is so interesting in that historical sites are often surrounded by modern buildings, and it is amazing to realize that the city street you are walking on was once a path to a sacred shrine.

I recommend your first stop to be Kyoto Station. Chances are, if you came from Osaka, Kyoto Station is where you arrived, and Kyoto Station will become your best friend during your time in Kyoto because it can access many different locations from one place. Kyoto Station itself is massive and so beautiful. Since it was raining my first day in Kyoto, I took the time to explore Kyoto Station, and it was really helpful in my planning for sightseeing in the later days. Kyoto Station has a jaw-dropping 11 floors and this includes platforms for trains, hotels, several floors of shops with clothes and food, and there even is a floor dedicated to ramen restaurants. I highly recommend going to the Kyoto Tourist Information Center located on the second floor. Here you can check out several pamphlets to tell you where to go. I found a bus route here which helped me to plan which locations I should go, which bus stop, and which bus to take to get there. If you want to speak someone, there are also multilingual staff members here that can assist you in planning your agenda.

Kyoto Station 1 Kyoto Station 2

One of the first places sightseeing places you should see is Nijo-jo Castle, located in the center of Kyoto it was built in 1603, and Nijo-jo Castle served as the residence of the first shogun in the Edo Period.  One of the really nice things about this castle was the audio-guide that you could rent after purchasing your ticket inside. It really helped me to learn more about what I was looking at and understand the history of the region. You cannot take pictures inside the actual building, but I think that was something that helped to make the experience more special. Do not worry though if you love photos because the surrounding gardens are extremely beautiful in the spring time, and if you’re lucky enough to catch the cherry blossoms, you will be in a real treat.

Nijo jo Castle 1 Nijo jo Castle 2 Nijo jo Castle 3

This next location is a place that I feel is a bit underrated, and it is Ryoanji Temple. Located a short 20 minute walk from the famous Kinkakuji Temple, Ryoanji provides a nice respite from the clamoring crowd at Kinkakuji Temple.  Known for its famous zen rock garden, I was a bit skeptical of how great a rock garden would be. I was pleasantly surprised to find it one of the most relaxing atmospheres in all of Kyoto. This was one of the only places where you can find tourists being speaking in hushed tones while enjoying the atmosphere of the rock garden. If the rocks don’t enchant you as much as they did me, Ryoanji Temple also has a beautiful garden where once section is like being in a cherry blossom forest. I was there for the end of cherry blossom season, and I can only imagine what it was like when the flowers were in full bloom.

Ryoanji 1 Ryoanji 2

The last place I want to recommend is Sanjusangen-do Temple. This is a Buddhist temple which is famous for the 1,001 statues of Kannon which is the goddess of mercy. You cannot actually photograph the inside of the temple, but seeing this hall full of statutes is very memorable. You will see people who practice Buddhism paying tribute to Buddha who is in the center of the temple and surrounded by Kannon. This is another great location to get away from the massive tourist crowds and enjoy a quite space.

Sanjunsangen 2 Sanjusangen 1

For more suggestions on places to visit in Kyoto, I recommend the article previously written by Kavi which can be found here: . I also recommend checking out for more inspiration on places to visit in Kyoto as well as other cities in Japan.


Article by Catherine from the U.S.A.

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