Best Things to Do in Kyoto

· 5 min read

Best Things to Do in Kyoto

Last Update:Date: 20/05/2024


Travelers often find themselves overwhelmed with choices when planning a trip to Kyoto, Japan. With its rich history, intricate cultural practices, and stunning natural landscapes, Kyoto offers an array of experiences that can make deciding where to start quite challenging. Imagine standing in front of the Golden Pavilion, its golden exterior shimmering under the sunlight, or walking through the mystical torii gates of Fushimi Inari Shrine. How do you choose among these breathtaking options? This guide aims to help you navigate through the best things to do in Kyoto, ensuring you make the most of your visit. By the end, you'll not only know what to see but also the best times to visit and practical tips for each location. Are you ready to uncover Kyoto's hidden gems and iconic landmarks? Let's dive in!

Table of Contents

  • Marvel at the Golden Pavilion (Kinkaku-ji)
  • Explore Fushimi Inari Shrine
  • Experience the Aoi Festival
  • Visit Kiyomizu-dera Temple
  • Wander Through Arashiyama Bamboo Grove
  • Stroll Through Gion District
  • Shop at Nishiki Market

Marvel at the Golden Pavilion (Kinkaku-ji)

A Glimpse into History

The Golden Pavilion, or Kinkaku-ji, is a Zen Buddhist temple located in the Kita Ward of Kyoto. Originally constructed in the 14th century, it served as a retirement villa for Shogun Ashikaga Yoshimitsu. After his death, the villa was transformed into a Zen temple, symbolizing the shogun's deep connection to Buddhism. Although the pavilion has been reconstructed multiple times due to fires and wars, the essence of its original design remains, showcasing the enduring spirit of Japanese architecture (source).

Architectural Splendor

Kinkaku-ji is celebrated for its breathtaking architectural design, which harmoniously blends different styles across its three floors. The first floor, built in the Shinden style, features natural wood pillars and white plaster walls reminiscent of Heian Period palace buildings. This floor houses statues of the Shaka Buddha and Yoshimitsu, which you can view from across the pond (source).

The second floor, constructed in the Bukke style used in samurai residences, is entirely covered in gold leaf. Inside, it houses a seated Kannon Bodhisattva surrounded by statues of the Four Heavenly Kings, although these are not open to the public (source).

The third floor, built in the style of a Chinese Zen Hall, is gilded both inside and out and is capped with a golden phoenix. This floor epitomizes grandeur and spirituality, reflecting the pavilion's deep connection to Zen Buddhism (source).

Visitor Experience

As you enter, you'll immediately notice the meticulously manicured gardens, meandering paths, and tranquil ponds. The journey towards the pavilion is marked by crossing an iconic stone bridge, which builds anticipation as the Golden Pavilion comes into view, nestled harmoniously amidst lush greenery (source).

Exploring beyond the pavilion itself, you can take leisurely strolls along stone pathways that wind through beautifully landscaped gardens. Hidden tea houses, serene ponds teeming with koi fish, and picturesque bridges offer different perspectives of the pavilion, creating a truly immersive experience (source).

Best Times to Visit

Kinkaku-ji is open year-round from 9 AM to 5 PM. To enjoy the tranquil beauty of the pavilion with fewer crowds, it's best to arrive early in the morning. The temple is particularly enchanting during spring and autumn when cherry blossoms and fall foliage add vibrant touches to the surroundings. For a unique experience, visiting during winter when the pavilion is covered in snow can be especially magical (source).

Getting to Kinkaku-ji

Kinkaku-ji is located at 1 Kinkakujicho, Kita Ward, Kyoto, 603-8361, Japan. It's easily accessible by various modes of transportation, including bus, taxi, or by taking the Kyoto City Subway followed by a short bus ride. General admission is 500 yen, while student admission is 300 yen (source).

Worried about crowds? Visit just after the temple opens or just before it closes. Mondays are also a good option, as they tend to be less crowded. Avoid visiting on holidays, as the site can become overwhelmingly busy (source).

Cultural Insights

Kinkaku-ji holds immense cultural significance as a symbol of Zen Buddhism and harmonious integration with nature. The pavilion's upper two floors are covered entirely in shimmering gold leaf, radiating an ethereal glow that captivates visitors. The juxtaposition of the golden reflection on the pristine pond creates a serene ambiance, making it an ideal spot for meditation and contemplation (source).

The temple grounds also feature the head priest's former living quarters, known for their painted sliding doors (fusuma), although these are not open to the public. The gardens have retained their original design from Yoshimitsu's days and include spots of interest such as the Anmintaku Pond, which is said to never dry up, and statues that people throw coins at for luck (source).

Additional Attractions

In addition to the Golden Pavilion, the temple grounds are home to the Sekkatei Teahouse, where you can experience a traditional tea ceremony. This offers a unique opportunity to relax and enjoy a cup of green tea while taking in the serene surroundings (source).

For those interested in exploring further, the nearby Gion District and Kiyomizu-dera Temple are also worth a visit. The Gion District is famous for its traditional wooden machiya houses and geisha culture, while Kiyomizu-dera Temple offers stunning views of Kyoto from its hillside location (source).


A visit to Kinkaku-ji offers an opportunity to delve into Japan's rich history and immerse yourself in a tranquil and reflective atmosphere. The pavilion's shimmering golden exterior, nestled amidst serene gardens, captivates the hearts of visitors from around the world. Whether you are a history enthusiast, an architecture aficionado, or simply seeking a peaceful retreat, Kinkaku-ji is a must-see destination in Kyoto.

Discover the Fushimi Inari Shrine

A Glimpse into Fushimi Inari Shrine

Nestled in southern Kyoto, Fushimi Inari Shrine is one of Japan's most iconic and significant Shinto shrines. This shrine, dedicated to Inari, the Shinto god of rice and prosperity, is famous for its thousands of vibrant vermilion torii gates that create enchanting tunnels weaving through the sacred Mount Inari. With origins dating back to 711 AD, it is a site of profound historical and cultural importance (Japan Guide).

The Mesmerizing Torii Gates

The most captivating aspect of Fushimi Inari Shrine is its thousands of torii gates, called Senbon Torii. These gates, donated by individuals and businesses, bear the donor's name and the donation date. They symbolize the transition from the mundane to the sacred, creating a spiritual pathway that meanders up Mount Inari. Over 10,000 gates form a continuous tunnel stretching approximately 5 kilometers (Why So Japan).

Hiking Through Mount Inari

Embark on a hike to the summit of Mount Inari, standing at 233 meters. This moderate hike takes around two to three hours round trip. As you trek through the dense forest and under the torii gates, you'll encounter smaller shrines and fox statues, considered messengers of Inari. The trail offers several viewpoints for panoramic views of Kyoto (Bucket List Bri).

Must-Visit Spots

The Main Shrine

At the base of Mount Inari lies the main shrine, a bustling area where locals worship Inari, especially during festivals. The main hall is perfect for observing traditional Shinto rituals. Purchase omamori (protective charms) and ema (wooden plaques for prayers) here (Japan Guide).

Senbon Torii

Senbon Torii, or the

is the most photographed section of Fushimi Inari Shrine. This area is particularly popular among tourists for its stunning visual impact and the sense of walking through a seemingly endless tunnel of gates. Early morning or late afternoon visits are recommended to avoid the crowds and capture the best photos (Two Wandering Soles).

Yotsutsuji Intersection

About halfway up the mountain, visitors will reach the Yotsutsuji Intersection. This spot offers a rest area and a viewpoint with a panoramic view of Kyoto. It is a popular place to take a break and enjoy the scenery before continuing the hike to the summit. The intersection also provides an opportunity to decide whether to proceed to the top or return to the base (The Broke Backpacker).

Tips for Your Visit

When to Visit

Fushimi Inari Shrine is open 24/7. For a serene experience, visit early in the morning or late in the evening. Nighttime visits are particularly magical, with the torii gates illuminated by lanterns, creating an ethereal ambiance (The Broke Backpacker).

What to Wear

Dress modestly out of respect for the religious site. Comfortable walking shoes are essential for the hike. For a traditional experience, consider renting a kimono in nearby Kyoto (The Broke Backpacker).

Nearby Attractions

After exploring Fushimi Inari Shrine, visit other attractions in the Fushimi Ward. The area is famous for its sake breweries, offering insight into the traditional brewing process. Nearby attractions include Tofuku-ji Temple, known for its beautiful gardens, and the Fushimi Castle ruins (Live Japan).

Practical Information

Getting There

Take the JR Nara Line to Inari Station, a five-minute walk from the shrine. Alternatively, the Keihan Main Line stops at Fushimi Inari Station, also a short walk away (Japan Guide).

Admission and Opening Hours

The shrine is open 24 hours a day with no admission fee, making it accessible to all visitors at any time. This flexibility allows for a personalized and relaxed visit, whether you prefer the tranquility of early morning or the mystical atmosphere of nighttime (The Broke Backpacker).

Final Thoughts

Whether you're a history buff, a nature lover, or just looking for a peaceful escape, Fushimi Inari Shrine has something magical to offer. The combination of historical significance, spiritual ambiance, and natural beauty makes it a unique destination. Exploring the torii gates, hiking to the summit of Mount Inari, or participating in traditional rituals will provide a profound and memorable journey into Japan's cultural and spiritual heritage (Two Wandering Soles).

Experience the Aoi Festival

Discover the Historical Significance

The Aoi Matsuri, also known as the Hollyhock Festival, is one of Kyoto's three major festivals, alongside the Gion Matsuri and Jidai Matsuri. Dating back to the 6th century, it stands as one of the oldest and most historically significant events in Japan. The festival's origins are linked to the deities of the Kamo Shrines, who were believed to have caused natural disasters. After the Emperor made offerings to these gods, the disasters ceased, and the tradition of the Aoi Matsuri began (Japan Guide).

The Grand Heian Procession

The main attraction of the Aoi Matsuri is the grand procession, showcasing over 500 participants dressed in the aristocratic attire of the Heian Period (794-1185). The procession starts at the Kyoto Imperial Palace, travels to the Shimogamo Shrine, and concludes at the Kamigamo Shrine. The entire route covers approximately 8 kilometers and takes several hours to complete (Japan Travel).

Highlights to Watch For

  • Heian-Period Attire: Participants don elaborate costumes, including the "junihitoe," a 12-layered kimono worn by court ladies. The central figure, known as the Saio, wears a silk kimono that weighs around 30 kilograms (Japan Travel).
  • Gosho-guruma: These are ox-drawn carts adorned with wisteria flowers, adding a touch of elegance to the procession (Live Japan).
  • Furyu-gasa: Umbrellas decorated with peonies and irises, carried by participants, are another visual highlight (Live Japan).

Best Viewing Spots and Accessibility

The Aoi Matsuri is easily accessible via public transportation, and there are several prime viewing spots along the route. Paid seating is available at the Kyoto Imperial Palace and Shimogamo Shrine, with tickets ranging from 3,500 to 5,000 yen. These seats offer the best views and are highly recommended for those who want to fully immerse themselves in the experience (Japan Guide).

Major Viewing Spots

  • Kyoto Imperial Palace: The procession starts here at 10:30 AM. It’s a short walk from the Marutamachi Station on the Subway Karasuma Line (Kyoto Travel). Arrive early to secure a good spot.
  • Shimogamo Shrine: The procession arrives here around 11:40 AM and departs at 2:20 PM. This shrine is accessible via the Demachiyanagi Station on the Keihan Line (Kyoto Travel).
  • Kamigamo Shrine: The final destination, where the procession arrives around 3:30 PM. It’s accessible via the Kitaoji Station on the Subway Karasuma Line (Kyoto Travel).

Cultural Activities and Local Delights

The Aoi Matsuri is not just a visual spectacle; it also offers a range of cultural activities that provide deeper insights into Japanese traditions.

Traditional Games and Performances

At the Shimogamo Shrine, townsfolk celebrate with various traditional games and performances. These include archery competitions and horse races, which are reminiscent of the Heian period’s courtly pastimes (Japan Travel).

Rituals and Ceremonies

Several preliminary rituals, known as "Zen-gi," are conducted at both Kamigamo and Shimogamo Shrines starting in early May. These rituals offer more opportunities to experience the festival’s rich traditions (Live Japan).

Local Food and Drink

Don’t miss out on trying local delicacies like yudofu (tofu hot pot) and matcha sweets available at food stalls around the festival area. These treats add to the immersive cultural experience.

Practical Information for Festival-Goers

Dates and Times

The Aoi Matsuri is held annually on May 15. In case of rain, the festival is postponed to the following day. The procession starts at 10:30 AM and concludes around 3:30 PM (Kyoto Travel).

Admission and Seating

While standing along the route is free, paid seating is highly recommended for the best experience. Tickets can be purchased via Ticket Pia or at the shrines on the day of the festival (Japan Guide).


The festival is easily accessible by public transportation. Major viewing spots are a short walk from nearby subway and train stations, making it convenient for both locals and tourists (Kyoto Travel).

Tips for an Unforgettable Experience

  • Arrive Early: To secure a good viewing spot, it’s advisable to arrive early, especially if you plan to stand along the route.
  • Dress Comfortably: Given the length of the procession and the time spent standing, comfortable clothing and footwear are recommended.
  • Respect Traditions: Flash photography is prohibited as it may startle the oxen and horses. Additionally, be mindful of the cultural significance of the event and behave respectfully (Kyoto Travel).
  • Plan Your Day: Consider exploring nearby attractions like the Kyoto Botanical Gardens or enjoying a meal at a local restaurant to make the most of your visit.
  • Weather Preparedness: Bring an umbrella and wear weather-appropriate clothing as the festival will proceed regardless of light rain.


The Aoi Matsuri offers a unique opportunity to experience Kyoto’s rich cultural heritage. From the elaborate Heian-period costumes to the traditional games and rituals, the festival provides a vivid glimpse into Japan’s aristocratic past. Whether you’re a history enthusiast or simply looking to enjoy a grand spectacle, the Aoi Matsuri is a must-see event in Kyoto. Make sure to plan your visit to fully immerse yourself in this extraordinary cultural experience.

Visit Kiyomizu-dera Temple

Discover the Historical Significance

Kiyomizu-dera, a UNESCO World Heritage site, is one of Kyoto's most iconic temples. Originally constructed in 798, the current structures date back to 1633. The temple is affiliated with the Hossō school of Buddhism, which originated in Nara. Despite the many political and religious upheavals in Kyoto, Kiyomizu-dera has remained a significant spiritual site. The temple's name, meaning 'Pure Water Temple,' is derived from the Otowa Waterfall that runs through the complex. Fun fact: The temple’s stage, made without the use of nails, is an architectural marvel in itself.

Marvel at the Architecture

You’ll be amazed by the Hondō (Main Hall), which boasts a large verandah supported by wooden pillars that juts out over the hillside, offering breathtaking views of Kyoto. Even though the Main Hall is undergoing renovations, it remains accessible to visitors. The temple complex also includes several other halls and shrines, each with its unique architectural style and historical significance.

Engage in Spiritual Practices

Kiyomizu-dera is not just a tourist attraction; it's a living spiritual site. Participate in traditional practices like praying at the Main Hall or drinking from the Otowa Waterfall, which is divided into three streams, each believed to bestow a different benefit: longevity, success in school, and a fortunate love life. Use cups attached to long poles to drink from the streams, a practice that has been followed for centuries.

Discover the Jishu-jinja Shrine

Within the Kiyomizu-dera complex lies the Jishu-jinja Shrine, dedicated to Ōkuninushi, a deity of love and matchmaking. One popular activity involves walking between two stones with your eyes closed. Successfully completing this task is said to ensure success in finding true love. Asking for assistance implies that you will need help in your romantic endeavors as well.

Experience the Tainai-meguri

Before entering the main temple precincts, explore the Tainai-meguri, located just to the left of the pagoda at the entrance. This unique experience involves walking through a pitch-dark tunnel, symbolizing a journey into the womb of a female bodhisattva. At the end of the tunnel, you'll find a rock that you can spin to make a wish. This symbolic act is deeply rooted in Buddhist beliefs and offers a moment of introspection and spiritual connection.

Enjoy the Seasonal Highlights

You’ll be mesmerized by the seasonal beauty of Kiyomizu-dera. During spring, the temple grounds are adorned with cherry blossoms, attracting numerous visitors. In autumn, the foliage transforms into vibrant hues of red and orange, offering a picturesque setting. The temple also hosts special night-time illuminations during these seasons, providing a magical atmosphere that enhances your spiritual experience.

Explore Nearby Attractions

The area surrounding Kiyomizu-dera is rich with other attractions. Visit the Ninen-zaka and Sannen-zaka areas just downhill, where you’ll find beautifully restored neighborhoods with traditional shops and teahouses. Gion, the famous geisha district, is also nearby, providing a glimpse into Kyoto's cultural heritage. Don’t miss the Kōdai-ji Temple, known for its exquisite gardens, and Higashi-Ōtani, one of Kyoto's largest Buddhist graveyards.

Practical Tips for Your Visit

  • Best Time to Visit: To avoid crowds, visit early in the morning or late in the afternoon, especially during peak seasons in spring and autumn.
  • Opening Hours: The temple is open from 6:00 AM to 6:00 PM, with extended hours during special events.
  • Entrance Fee: ¥400 for adults and ¥200 for children.
  • Getting There: Use public transport; buses 100 and 206 from Kyoto Station stop near the temple. Be prepared for a steep approach known as Chawan-zaka (Teapot Lane), lined with shops selling Kyoto handicrafts, local snacks, and souvenirs.
  • Accessibility: If you find the steep approach challenging, consider taking a taxi to the top.

For more detailed information, visit the official Kiyomizu-dera website.


Kiyomizu-dera Temple offers a rich tapestry of historical, architectural, and spiritual experiences that you won't want to miss. Whether you're marveling at the architecture, engaging in spiritual practices, or soaking in the seasonal beauty, Kiyomizu-dera promises a visit filled with wonder and enlightenment.

Explore the Magical Arashiyama Bamboo Grove

Step into Another World

Welcome to the Arashiyama Bamboo Grove, nestled on the western edge of Kyoto. This natural wonder is not just famous for its towering bamboo stalks but also for the ethereal experience it offers. Imagine walking through a tunnel of bamboo, where the sunlight filters through the leaves, casting a soft, magical glow. The gentle rustling of the bamboo in the wind adds to the serene ambiance, making it feel like you've stepped into another world (YouCouldTravel).

When to Visit for the Best Experience

To truly soak in the beauty of the grove, plan your visit early in the morning. Arriving before 9 AM helps you avoid the crowds and enjoy a peaceful stroll. This is also the best time for photography, with fewer people around to interrupt your shots (IntrepidScout). If you're visiting in December, don't miss the Arashiyama Hanatouro illuminations. The grove lights up from 5 PM to 8:30 PM, creating a dreamy, fairy-tale atmosphere (YouCouldTravel).

Hidden Gems Within the Grove

For a quiet moment, find a spot near the less-traveled paths. These hidden corners offer a chance to absorb the tranquility and snap some unique photos. One such spot is near the entrance to the Okochi-Sanso Villa, where the bamboo seems to stretch endlessly into the sky (Kanpai-Japan).

Nearby Must-See Spots

Arashiyama is rich in culture and history. Don't miss the Tenryu-ji Temple, a UNESCO World Heritage site. Founded in 1339, its garden, designed by Muso Soseki, remains unchanged and features a serene pond surrounded by pine trees and seasonal cherry blossoms. Another gem is the Okochi-Sanso Villa, the former residence of actor Denjiro Okochi. The villa offers stunning views of Kyoto and meticulously maintained gardens.

Practical Tips for a Smooth Visit

Wear comfortable shoes, as you'll want to explore every nook and cranny. Respect the environment by sticking to designated paths and avoiding loud noises. Remember, the bamboo is delicate—please don't touch or carve into the stalks (YouCouldTravel).

Easy to Reach and Free to Enjoy

Getting to the Arashiyama Bamboo Grove is a breeze from Kyoto Station. Take the JR Sagano Line to Saga-Arashiyama Station; from there, it's a 10-minute walk. The train ride costs 240 Yen (around USD 1.61), unless you have a JR pass. The grove is open 24/7 and is free to enter, making it an accessible and budget-friendly destination (WomenWanderingBeyond).

Why Bamboo Matters in Japan

Bamboo symbolizes strength and resilience in Japanese culture, believed to ward off evil spirits. This cultural significance is evident as you walk through the grove, feeling a part of something timeless and revered (Kanpai-Japan).

Capture the Perfect Shot

For the best photos, visit early in the morning when the light is soft and the crowds are thin. The dappled sunlight through the bamboo creates stunning shadows and highlights. December's Arashiyama Hanatouro illuminations offer a unique chance to photograph the grove bathed in magical lights (IntrepidScout).

Wrapping Up Your Visit

The Arashiyama Bamboo Grove is a must-see when in Kyoto. Its magical pathway, cultural significance, and nearby attractions make it a highlight of any trip to Japan. Follow these tips and visit at the right times to fully embrace the serene beauty and tranquility of this iconic bamboo forest.

Stroll Through Gion District

Discover Hanami Lane

Hanami Lane, or Hanami-koji, is one of the most iconic streets in Gion, known for its traditional wooden machiya houses and atmospheric lanterns. This narrow street stretches from Shijo Avenue to Kenninji Temple and is lined with preserved machiya houses, many of which now function as high-end restaurants and teahouses. The architecture here is a testament to Kyoto's historical charm, with narrow facades that extend deep into the property, a design choice influenced by historical property tax laws based on street frontage (Japan Guide). The best time to visit Hanami Lane is in the late afternoon when the lanterns start to glow.

Walking down Hanami Lane, visitors can experience the essence of old Kyoto. The street is particularly enchanting in the evening when the lanterns are lit, casting a warm glow on the wooden facades. This area is also a prime spot for catching a glimpse of geiko (Kyoto dialect for geisha) and maiko (apprentice geisha) as they make their way to appointments. However, it is important to respect their privacy and not to approach them for photographs (Live Japan). If you visit during the cherry blossom season, try to get here early in the morning to avoid the crowds.

Experience the Serenity of Shirakawa Canal

The Shirakawa Canal area, often referred to as Gion Shirakawa, is another picturesque part of Gion. This area is characterized by its serene canal lined with willow trees, traditional tea houses, and stone-paved streets. The canal runs parallel to Shijo Avenue and offers a tranquil escape from the bustling main streets. The combination of the flowing water, the greenery, and the historic buildings creates a uniquely peaceful atmosphere (Japan Objects).

Visitors can enjoy a leisurely stroll along the canal, stopping at one of the many cafes or tea houses for a cup of matcha tea. The area is particularly beautiful during the cherry blossom season in spring when the trees along the canal are in full bloom, creating a stunning pink canopy over the water (Japan Welcomes You). Don't miss the small, hidden alleyways off the main streets—they often lead to charming little shops and quiet spots perfect for a peaceful moment.

Visit Yasaka Shrine

Yasaka Shrine, located at the eastern end of Shijo Avenue, is one of the most significant landmarks in Gion. This Shinto shrine, also known as Gion Shrine, dates back to 656 AD and is dedicated to the deity of war. The shrine is famous for its vibrant festivals, particularly the Gion Matsuri, which takes place every July and is one of Japan's most famous festivals (Japan Wonder Travel). As a local, I always recommend visiting Yasaka Shrine at dawn. The tranquility is unmatched and it's a great start to your day.

The shrine complex includes several buildings, each with its own unique architectural features. Visitors can participate in traditional rituals, such as washing their hands and mouth at the purification fountain before entering the shrine. The shrine is also adorned with colorful lanterns, which add to its festive atmosphere. Yasaka Shrine is a must-visit for anyone interested in experiencing traditional Japanese culture and spirituality (Japan Welcomes You).

Celebrate the Gion Matsuri

The Gion Matsuri is a month-long festival held every July, transforming the Gion district into a hub of excitement and celebration. The festival dates back to 869 AD and was originally held to appease the gods during a plague. Today, it is one of Japan's most famous festivals, featuring a series of events, including parades, traditional music, and dance performances (Japan Wonder Travel).

The highlight of the festival is the Yamaboko Junko, a grand parade of elaborately decorated floats that takes place on July 17 and 24. These floats, some of which are over 25 meters tall, are pulled through the streets by teams of men dressed in traditional attire. The festival also includes various smaller events, such as the Byobu Matsuri, where local residents display their family heirlooms and treasures in their homes, allowing visitors a rare glimpse into the private lives of Kyoto's residents (Japan Guide).

Experience Traditional Teahouses and Geisha Performances

Gion is renowned for its traditional teahouses, or ochaya, where geiko and maiko entertain guests with music, dance, and conversation. These teahouses are an integral part of Gion's cultural heritage and offer a unique opportunity to experience the refined art of geisha entertainment. However, access to these teahouses is typically by invitation only, making it a rare and exclusive experience (Live Japan).

For those who do not have access to an ochaya, there are other ways to experience geisha performances. Gion Corner, located in the heart of Gion, offers nightly shows that showcase various traditional Japanese arts, including geisha dances, tea ceremonies, and ikebana (flower arranging). These performances provide a comprehensive introduction to the cultural traditions of Kyoto and are a great way to experience the artistry of geiko and maiko (Japan Guide).

How to Get to Gion Easily

Gion is easily accessible from Kyoto Station. Visitors can take bus number 206, which takes about 20 minutes and costs 230 yen, and get off at the Gion bus stop. Alternatively, the closest train stations are Gion-Shijo Station on the Keihan Line and Kyoto-Kawaramachi Station on the Hankyu Line. Both stations are within walking distance of the main attractions in Gion (Japan Guide).

For those who prefer to explore on foot, Gion is also conveniently located near other popular districts in Kyoto, such as the Higashiyama District. A stroll through the preserved streets of Higashiyama, with its traditional shops and historic landmarks, is a perfect complement to a visit to Gion (Japan Guide). Getting lost in Gion is part of the charm—just make sure you have a map handy, or you might end up in the same spot multiple times!

Rent a Kimono for a Day

One of the most popular activities for visitors to Gion is renting a kimono and exploring the district in traditional Japanese attire. There are numerous rental shops in the area that offer a wide range of kimonos, from simple designs to elaborate, formal wear. Professional staff are available to help visitors dress and style their hair, ensuring an authentic and comfortable experience (Japan Wonder Travel).

Wearing a kimono while strolling through the historic streets of Gion adds a unique and immersive element to the experience. It also provides excellent photo opportunities, allowing visitors to capture the beauty of Gion in a way that feels timeless and authentic. Many rental shops also offer packages that include professional photography sessions, making it easy to create lasting memories of your visit to Gion (Japan Wonder Travel).


Exploring Gion offers a unique glimpse into the traditional culture and history of Kyoto. From the serene beauty of the Shirakawa Canal to the vibrant festivities of the Gion Matsuri, there is something for everyone in this historic district. Whether you're sipping matcha in a traditional teahouse, watching a geisha performance, or simply strolling through the charming streets, Gion provides an unforgettable experience that captures the essence of old Japan.

Shop at Nishiki Market

A Glimpse into Nishiki Market

Nishiki Market, also known as Nishiki Ichiba, has been a vibrant part of Kyoto for over 400 years. Originally a fish market during the Edo period, it has transformed into a bustling hub offering a myriad of goods and foods along its 390-meter stretch of Nishiki-koji Street. Despite modern renovations, the market retains its traditional charm with narrow alleys, wooden storefronts, and lanterns that transport visitors back in time (Inside Kyoto).

Unique Shopping Experience

Nishiki Market is a treasure trove of over 120 stores, each offering something unique. The market is divided into two main sections: the visitor-facing market, which sells small bites, souvenirs, and specialty items, and the industrial side, which supplies seafood and seasonal produce to restaurants in Kyoto and beyond (Travel Caffeine).

Specialty Shops to Explore

  1. Maisen-do: Famous for Japanese-style goods like folding fans and frame purses made from Kyoto textiles. Shoelaces adorned with cherry blossoms and folding fans with Kanji are particularly popular (Kyoto Insights).

  2. Sawawa Japanese Matcha Sweets: This shop offers a variety of matcha-based sweets on the first floor and a cozy cafe on the second floor. Matcha powder, known for its bright green color and rich flavor, is the best-selling item (Kyoto Insights).

  3. Kimura Fresh Fish: Specializing in fresh fish since the Edo period, this store offers delicacies like Toro Salmon Carpaccio and plump oysters. Customers can enjoy their purchases at the store's seating area (Kyoto Insights).

Culinary Delights

Nishiki Market is a paradise for food lovers. Here are some must-try items:

  1. Takotamago: A small octopus stuffed with a quail egg, skewered, and glazed with sweet soy sauce. A unique and flavorful snack (Japan Wonder Travel).

  2. Yuba (Tofu Skin): Made from the skin that forms on boiling soy milk, Yuba has a delicate texture and creamy flavor. It can be enjoyed fresh or dried (Japan Wonder Travel).

  3. Hamo (Sea Eel) Tempura: A Kyoto specialty, hamo is lightly battered and fried to crispy perfection. It's typically served with dipping sauce and grated daikon radish (Japan Wonder Travel).

  4. Obanzai (Local Small Dishes): Traditional Kyoto home-cooked dishes made with seasonal ingredients, including vegetables, tofu, and fish (Japan Wonder Travel).

Practical Tips and Etiquette

To make the most of your visit to Nishiki Market, keep these tips in mind:

  • Best Times to Visit: Avoid weekends and holidays to steer clear of the crowds. Lunchtime is ideal for sampling the variety of food options.
  • Etiquette: Eating while walking is prohibited. Enjoy your purchases at designated eat-in spaces within the stores.
  • Navigating the Market: The market can be crowded, so plan your route and be patient.
  • Finding Authentic Products: Look for shops with a long history and positive reviews to ensure authenticity (Kyoto Insights).

Nearby Attractions

Nishiki Market is centrally located, making it easy to explore other Kyoto attractions:

  1. Shinkyogoku Shopping Street: Just 5 minutes east, this street is packed with shops and restaurants, ideal for souvenirs and street food (Japan Wonder Travel).

  2. Yasaka Shrine: Located in the Gion district, this 1,300-year-old Shinto shrine is famed for the Gion Matsuri festival and cherry blossom viewing in Maruyama Park (Japan Wonder Travel).

  3. Kamogawa River: A short walk away, the riverbanks are perfect for picnics, leisurely strolls, and scenic views (Japan Wonder Travel).

Getting There

From Kyoto Station, take bus number 4, 17, or 205 from bus stop A2 and get off at Shijo Kawaramachi. The market is a 5-minute walk from the bus stop. The ride takes about 15 minutes and costs 230 yen for adults (Kyoto Insights).


Nishiki Market offers a unique blend of traditional Kyoto culture and modern culinary delights. Whether you're sampling local delicacies, shopping for souvenirs, or soaking in the vibrant atmosphere, Nishiki Market is a must-visit destination in Kyoto.


Kyoto is a city where every corner holds a piece of history, a touch of elegance, and a sense of tranquility. From the awe-inspiring Golden Pavilion to the serene Arashiyama Bamboo Grove, each experience offers a unique glimpse into Japan's rich cultural tapestry. The Fushimi Inari Shrine's endless torii gates, the historical Aoi Festival, and the bustling Nishiki Market each provide their own special charm. Whether you're sipping matcha in Gion or marveling at Kiyomizu-dera Temple's architectural wonders, Kyoto promises an unforgettable journey through time and tradition. By following this guide, you'll be well-equipped to explore the best that Kyoto has to offer, making your trip not only memorable but also deeply enriching. Safe travels and enjoy every moment in this timeless city!

Nigel Arbia

About Nigel Arbia

Hey there, I'm Nigel – a tech enthusiast, Japan lover, and startup nerd with a deep-rooted passion for nature and Asian culture. When I'm not immersed in the latest tech trends or exploring the vibrant streets of Japan, you'll find me sharing my passion, knowledge, and adventures to help others navigate the hidden gems of Japan and discover the wonders of the world around us. Join me on this journey of discovery and innovation as we dive into the intersection of travel, culture, and nature in Japan!

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