Welcome to the City of a thousand temples!
What better way to start the day than by sightseeing around Higashiyama neighbourhood?
Higashiyama is home to the iconic Kiyomizu-dera Temple. Founded in the 8th Century, the temple is famous for its wooden terrace supported by 139 pillars. It is also one of the best places to enjoy amazing views of the city.
If you just want to take a walk, you might try Sannenzaka and Ninenzaka alleys, where old wooden houses, traditional shops, tea houses and restaurants are lined up along this picturesque cobbled promenade.
Continue walking until you find the Kodai-ji Temple, home to the mausoleum of Toyotomi Hideyoshi, the warlord who unified the country after centuries of war. While in the area, don’t miss the opportunity to check out the beautiful gardens.
Maruyama Park is next. Located close to the Yasaka-jinja shrine, it’s the oldest park in Kyoto and a short bus ride away from Nanzen-ji Temple, the main temple of the Nanzen-ji school of Zen Rinzai Buddhism.
Make a stop at Tetsugaku-no-michi, the Philosopher’s walk. This pedestrian path of approximately 2 kilometers long follows a canal to Lake Biwa. We would highly recommend visiting Tetsugaku-no-michi during the spring to see cherry trees in blossom, or in the fall.
Day 1 ends at the Kyoto Imperial Palace that can easily be reached by bus, the best way to explore the city. It was once the residence of the Imperial family until the capital moved to Tokyo in 1869. It’s a good idea to book entry tickets in advance!
Kinkaku-ji Temple or Golden Pavilion is a great place to kick-off Day 2. It is named after the gold leaves that cover the temple.
A short walk from there, you will find the Ryoan-ji Temple and its rock garden, one of the iconic landmarks of Zen philosophy. Continue your visit to Nijo Castle (it was built in 1603). In addition to the gorgeous gardens, check out the famous painted screens located in the palace’s main hall.
Another ‘’must do’’ spot is the Kyoto Nishiki Market, known as “Kyoto’s Kitchen”. It’s a great place to find Kyoto specialties, meat, fish, produce and dried food. From there, make your way to Pontocho, one of Kyoto’s five geisha or hanamachi districts, lined with tea houses, geisha houses, restaurants and traditional shops.
Day 2 finishes in Gion, one of the country’s most famous geisha neighbourhoods. During the Edo period, traditional tea houses were built here. One of the highlights is Gion Corner theater where the public can enjoy a true traditional Japanese dance performance by Maiko (Geisha’s apprentice) and Geiko (Geisha).
Arashiyama is just 30 minutes away from the center of Kyoto by train and we recommend you putting it on your bucket list before you leave the city.
Famous for being the Imperial Court’s favourite destination during the Heian period, there’s no shortage of things to see and do in this enchanting town.
Highlights include the bamboo grove, temples such as Tenryuji, Goi-ji and Daikakuji, the Togetsukyo Bridge with beautiful views of Arashiyama, the former residence of actor Okochi Denjiro, and the rushing waters of the Hozu River.
On the way back, don’t miss the opportunity to visit Fushini Inari Shrine, one of the most famous Shinto shrines in Japan, located close to the Inari train station. The shrine is famous for its large number of stunning vermillion torii gates that lead to the foot of Mount Inari through a 4- kilometer long tunnel.
This is the end of our “Kyoto in 3 days” adventure in the city of a thousand temples, we hope you’ve enjoyed what Kyoto has to offer and look forward to welcoming you back on your next destination.