If somebody wants to view the cultural and historical beauty of Japan, then he must visit Kyoto. A beautiful city situated on the island of Honshu. Kyoto is one of the largest cities in Japan. Kyoto was initially listed as a target for the catastrophic U.S. atomic bomb during World War II, but later, the Secretary of War demanded that it should be taken off due to its cultural importance.
Kyoto is widely famous for its historic old-style Buddhist Sects, mesmerizing gardens, traditional royal residences, over 200 Shinto Shrines and markets that make it a favorite among travelers. Kyoto was twice named the best city in the world. Your experience during your trip to Kyoto is going to be unique and memorable.
Let’s explore the Most Popular 15 Tourist Attractions In Kyoto.
1. Fushimi Inari-Taisha
The Fushimi Inari-Taisha Shrine is one of the most important Shinto shrines in Japan and is located in Southern Kyoto on the mountain of Inari-san. It is considered one of the most popular and one of the most important shrines dedicated to the Shinto god of rice, Inari.
It is famous for thousands of vermillion torii gates, which start a network of trails through its building. The trails lead into the wooded forest of the sacred Mount Inari, which stands at the height of 233m. It is believed that foxes are the messengers of Inari. Thus you will find many fox statues across the shrine.
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2. Kiyomizu-Dera Temple
This temple is officially known as Otowasan Kiyomizu-Dera situated in the eastern part of Kyoto. It is one of the most famous temples of Japan and listed at UNESCO World Heritage. The temple gets its name from the waterfall, which can be seen inside the temple.
Kiyomizu-Dera is famous for the wooden stage that projects out from the main hall. The stage is supported by 139 pillars and affords a grandiose view of Kyoto town.
3. Ginkakuji Temple
Ginkakuji is a Zen temple along Kyoto’s eastern mountains. Ashika Yoshimasa built this retirement villa in the year 1482 but later converted into a Zen temple after Yoshimasa’s death. Ginkakuji consists of the Silver Pavilion, half a dozen other temple buildings, a beautiful moss garden and a unique dry sand garden.
Ginkakuji is best known for its contemporary culture, known as the Higashiyama Culture. The arts and culture include the tea ceremony, noh theater, poetry, garden design and architecture.
Kinkakuji or Golden Pavilion is a Zen Temple situated in northern Kyoto. The specialty of this temple is that its top two floors are completely covered in Gold leaf. The temple was the retirement villa of the shogun Ashikaga Yoshimitsu and according to his will, after his death, it became a Zen temple of the Rinzai sect.
Kinkakuji is an impressive architectural building created near a pond that resembles Kitamaya culture. The first floor is built in the Shinden style used for palace buildings and Statues of the Shaka Buddha and Yoshimitsu are stored on that floor. The second floor is built in Bukke Style and third in the style of Chinese Zen Hall.
5. Bamboo Grove
Arashiyama is a pleasant, touristy district in the western outskirts of Kyoto. There present the mesmerizing and breathtaking Bamboo Grove. You can walk or ride your bicycle in the path cutting between the groves.
The groves are particularly attractive when there are a light wind and the tall bamboo swings gently back and forth. The beautiful bamboo forest itself attracts many tourists due to the natural distinct rustling sound produces by bamboo.
6. Togetsukyo Bridge
Togetsukyo Bridge is the main highlight of Arshiyama. This bridge was originally built during the Heian Period (794-1185) and reconstructed in the 1930s.
The bridge looks particularly attractive in combination with the forested mountainside in the background. A riverside park with dozens of cherry trees is located just adjacent to the bridge.
7. Eikando Temple
Eikando is formally known as Zenrinji Temple. Eikando temple is very famous for its autumn colors and the illuminations that take place in the fall. In the 11th century, Zenrinji had a popular head priest named Eikan, after whom the temple is popularly named Eikando.
Eikando’s main building consists of Shakado, which is the hall of the historical buddha with a small rock garden and beautifully designed sliding doors. Eikando’s most recognizable building is its Tahoto Pagoda, which is nestled in the trees on the hillside above the temple’s other buildings.
8. Ryoanji Temple
The RyoanJi Temple is one of the most outstanding vacation destinations in Kyoto, yet the entire of Japan. It has a “hiraniwa garden”, which is a flat garden without the usual ponds or man-made hills you see in Japan and one of the most well-known of them all.
The rock garden is the most famous site in Ryoanji Temple, which attracts visitors the most. An interesting feature of the garden’s design is that from any vantage point, at least one of the rocks is always hidden from the viewer.
9. Monkey Park Iwatayama
The entrance of the Monkey Park opens from the Togetsukyo Bridge, which is situated in the Arshiyama mountains. Walk down the scenic streets over the bridge of the Oi River to get to the Monkey Park, which is on the opposite side of the river.
After hiking when you reach uphills, you will find thousands of monkeys roaming around. You can also witness the beauty of Kyoto city from the top. It consists of 120 snow monkeys, which are also known as Japanese macaque.
10. Tenryuji Temple
Tenryunji Temple is ranked among the five great Zen Temples. It is the most attractive temple in Arshiyama. This temple was founded in 1339 at the beginning of the Muromachi Period.
It is also listed on the UNESCO World Heritage site. In addition to its temple buildings, there are attractive gardens with walking paths. Tenryuji is the head temple within the Rinzai Zen sect of Japanese Buddhism.
11. Yasaka Pagoda
Yasaka Pagoda is also known as “Gion Shrine” which is one of the best shrines in Kyoto. This shrine is 1350 years old and situated between the popular Gion District and Higashiyama District. In front of the shrine’s main mall, a dance stage is present with hundreds of lanterns.
These lanterns get lit in the evening. Each lantern bears the name of local merchandise in return for a donation. Yasaka Shrine is also best known for its summer festival, the Gion Matsuri and its cherry blossom.
12. Maruyama Park
Maruyama Park is an open park alongside Yasaka Shrine in the Higashiyama District. The park becomes most popular in Kyoto when the cherry trees are in full bloom.
It is the most crowded place for people watching Cherry Blossom. The highlight of this park is a tall weeping cherry tree, which gets lit up in the night.
13. Nijo Castle
Nijo Castle was built in 1603 as the Kyoto residence of Tokugawa Ieyasu, who was the first shogun of the Edo Period. Earlier Nijo Castle was used as a royal palace but later opened for the public as a historic site.
Its palace buildings are the best surviving examples of castle palace architecture of Japan’s feudal era. In 1994, the castle was listed in the UNESCO world heritage site.
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Pontocho is one of the best atmospheric dining areas in Kyoto, which is very popular among couples. It is a narrow laneway running from Shijo-Dori to Sanjo-Dori, west of the Kamogawa River. The laneway is packed with restaurants on both sides offering a wide range of dining options from traditional to modern Kyoto cuisine.
This type of dining was developed to try some traditional cuisine along with the cooling effects of the flowing water and the lively summer atmosphere.
15. Nishiki Market
Nishiki Market is five blocks long shopping street lined by more than a hundred shops and hotels. Popularly known as Kyoto’s Kitchen. This beautiful market specializes in food-related items like fresh seafood, knives and cookware.
It is a great place to find seasonal foods and Kyoto specialties, such as Japanese sweets, dried seafood, pickles and sushi.