Torii gate of the Heian Jingu shrine in Kyoto, Japan

5 Great Kyoto Sightseeing Destinations

Home Japan Travel Guide Kansai Kyoto 5 Great Kyoto Sightseeing Destinations

While planning a trip to Kyoto, it can be difficult to make the decision to choose where to go. Especially if you have a limited amount of time due to the large number of amazing sights that exist in Japan’s ancient capital city. Therefore, here is a list of the 5 recommended places to visit during your stay in Kyoto!

Kinkakuji Temple


The Rokuon-ji Temple, meaning ‘Deer Garden Temple’, is better known by its informal name ‘Kinkaku-ji‘.The name literally means the ‘Golden Pavilion Temple’. This amazing temple is a Zen-type Buddhist compound that was founded in 1397. Its exterior is completely covered with gold leaf. Rokuon-ji has a mirror pond surrounding the entire temple. Together, they are some of Japan’s most beautiful and iconic landscapes in any of the four seasons.

Fushimi Inari Shrine

Fushimi Inari

Known worldwide for its more than 10,000 torii gates in a row, the Fushimi Inari Taisha Shrine attracts about 3 million visitors the first three days of the year alone. That is no wonder, as it is one of Kyoto’s main attractions. Each of the gates (torii) has been donated by a Japanese person or business in the hope of receiving good luck and fortune. The name of the donor is written in black ink on the back of each gate.

The main structure of the shrine was built in 1499 and is designated as an important cultural property of Japan. The sacred enclosure contains five shrines: one lower, one middle, one upper, and two auxiliary shrines. From all over Japan, Fushimi Inari is a must-see for visitors who want to feel the power and beauty of Shinto shrines.

Gion District With Kyoto Geisha

Gion District in Kyoto

There is also a whole district in Kyoto that has remained intact despite the changes in the country and is unique in its style. This is Gion District, home to the famous geisha, a cultural symbol of the nation of the rising sun. In Gion, there are many types of traditional Japanese restaurants, as well as elegant Western restaurants. If you visit this wonderful district, it is recommended that you wear kimono. Gion is an unforgettable walk, recognized worldwide for its unparalleled beauty and tradition.

Arashiyama District

Nonomiya Shrine in Arashiyama, Kyoto

The bamboo forest (Chikurin no Michi) is one of Kyoto’s most popular tourist sites. Most of the bamboo trees in this forest are between 5 and 10 meters high, and some reach up to 20 meters. There is a trail about 200 meters long that runs through the forest where visitors can enjoy a pleasant walk. The path is located between Tenryuji Temple and the Okouchi Sanso Garden, which are also popular tourist attractions. Kyoto’s natural beauty and spirituality can easily be found in the beautiful area of Arashiyama.

Heian-jingu Shrine

Heian Jingu

The main building of the Heian Jingu is a replica of the Chodoin. Identical to the Heian Palace, it was built on a 5/8 scale of the original. The magnificent shape of today’s Heian Jingu is composed of several original structures that were built in 1895.

The Shin-en Garden within the grounds of the Heian Jingu is known worldwide as one of the most famous gardens created during the Meiji period. The garden surrounds the main shrine building and consists of 4 parts. The vast garden is approximately 33,000 square meters and, in its style, presents a path around a pond.

It was designated as a place of scenic beauty by the Japanese government in December 1975. It is showing the essence of all the gardening techniques that were collected during the 1,000 years that Heian-kyo (modern Kyoto) functioned as the capital of Japan. Heian Jingu is a beautiful, spacious, and peaceful place to visit while in Kyoto.

There are many more sights in Kyoto than the aforementioned 5. If you have little time to visit the city, this list will hopefully make it a bit easier for you to plan your best stay here.

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