Where and How to Visit the Sightseeing Spots in Kyoto.


  • Many foreigners are planing to visit Kyoto, but do not know how to visit many spots in several days. This articles only describe the standard of how to visit the popular places(temples, gardens, shrines) among foreigners in Kyoto for several days. Use these maps for trains and subways in Kyoto.
  • http://www.jrpass.com/images/map/map_... https://www.westjr.co.jp/global/en/tr... Use this map for walking in Kyoto: Higashiyama and Arashiyama. http://www.jnto.go.jp/eng/location/rt...


    Standard plan in Kyoto.


    I have taken several foreign friends and guests to Kyoto, and this was made from that experience. There are many things to see in Kyoto, but this includes limited number of places, since it was made for first time visitors who have 2-4 days for Kyoto. For those who have 2 days, consider Day 1 and 2, who have 3 days, Days 1-3, and who have 4 days Days 1-4.


    Kyoto Day 1 (Sanjusangendo, Kiyomizu-dera and South Higashiyama, Gion; if it's full day, also Fushimi Inari)

  • This actually is a half day plan, considering you take a train to Kyoto and arrive at noon. It's better to finish your lunch by Bento in Sinkansen train, so that you can start sightseeing as soon as you arrive Kyoto. Go to your hotel and leave your luggage. Kiyomizu-dera(the 3rd most popular among TA) and the historic south Higashiyama area is a must see. I personally add Sanjusangendo, as this is the artistic highlight of Kyoto and the 5th most popular place among TA. If it's a full day plan, add Fushimi Inari Shrine, the most popular spot among TA this day
  • If it's a full day course, take Keihan Railway Main Line to Fushimi Inari to visit the Fushimi Inari Shrine at first. Then, take the Keihan Railway again to Shichi-jo(7th street) station and walk 5 min to Sanjusangendo
  • If it's a halh day course, take Keihan Railway Main Line to Shichijo (7th street) station: if you are in Kyoto station, take JR Nara Line to Tofuku-ji and transfer to the Keihan Line and if you are in central Kyoto, take the Keihan from Sanjo(3rd street) or Gion-Shijo(Gion-4th Street) stations. Walk 5 min from Shichijo to Sanjusangendo Temple, the artistic highlight of Kyoto. Please read my review here.
  • Then, take a cab (to save time) to Kiyomizu-dera(Temple), walk the preserved areas of Sannenzaka and Ninenzaka slopes (this way is downhill), see Yasaka Pagoda and Ishibe Koji(Alley), visit Kodaiji Temple and its nice garden, walk through Yasaka Shrine.
  • It would nice if you have time to go to Heian Shine and enter its wonderful garden in the back before it close.
  • Finally, come back to Gion and see both Gion Shirakawa and Gion Hanamikoji streets.
  • Go to Pontocho for dinner, try Kawayuka Restaurants (dine out restaurants overlooking Kamo-gawa(Kamo River) from May to September.

    Kyoto Day 2 (Nijo Castle, Kinkakuji, Arashiyama Day)

  • Arashiyama and Saga are also must see places in Kyoto, but it can be combined with another must see place, Kinkaku-ji temple (or Rokuon-ji Temple or Golden Pavillion) and Nijo Castle.
  • Go to Nijo Jo Mae (Nijo Castle front) by subway Tozai (east-west) Line to visit Nijo Castle*. Then, take a cab (to save your time) to Kinkakuji (Golden Pavillion)*: if it's a heavy season, it's good to go to Kinkakuji at first, or if you don't go to Nijo Castle, also go to Kinkakuji at first, and for this, go to Nijo-jo Mae, or JR Enmachi or subway Karasuma Line Kitaoji stations, and take a cab to Kinkakuji.
  • Then, take a cab again to Ninnaji Temple*, and see this Temple for a while, then walk 5 min to Omuro-Ninnaji station and take the tram-like Keifuku line (so-called Randen) to Arashiyama terminal.
  • Actually, the Bamboo Grove is the most popular place among foreigners, but don't forget to go to Tenryu-ji Temple* and see its nice garden at first. Then, exit from its north back exit and go leftward to the Bamboo Grove. It can be very crowded and you may not be able to take a good picture.
  • Then, don't miss the small temples in Saga area, such as Jojakkoji, Nison-in, Gioji, Adashinonenbutsuji, which are serene and are the real beauty of this area.
  • Then, go to Daikakuji temple, if you have time.
  • Then, visit Togetsukyo Bridge.
  • If you have kids and energy and time left, consider going to Iwatayama Monkey Park. If you go to this park, it takes some time(1-2 hours), so you should skip Ninna-ji and Daikakuji at least.
  • If you are interested in Sagano Scenic Train and Hozugawa River Boat, also skip Nijo Castle, Kinkakuji and Ninna-ji and take more time (maybe a whole day) in Arashiyama in this day.

    Kyoto and Nara Day 3 (Fushimi Inari and Nara).

  • Fushimi Inari is the most popular spot in Japan among foreigners. It's can be combined with Nara using JR Nara Line and also with Sanjusangendo(if you don't go on Day 1 using Keihan Railway.
  • If you want to visit Fushimi Inari, from JR Kyoto station, take JR Nara Line and get off at JR Inari station, or from Central Kyoto area, take Keihan Railway from Sanjo(3rd street) or Gion-Shijo(4th street) station. If you want to go back to Kyoto, take JR Nara line from JR Inari station and if you want to go to central Kyoto again, take Keihan Railway from its Fushimi Inari station. <
  • If you have already visited Fushimi Inari, take JR Nara Line from Kyoto to Nara, if you have the JR Pass. If you don't have the Pass, take Kintetsu Railway from Kyoto to Nara. From Fushimi Inari, take JR Nara Line from JR Inari to Nara (@55 min). Take a cab or bus from JR Nara station or walk to Todaiji Temple*. Watch this good video of Todaiji.
  • https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=33AV9... Also, my review here. Use this map. http://www.jnto.go.jp/eng/location/rt...
  • Then, visit Isuien Park or Kasuga Taisha Shrine or Kofukuji Temple. In the afternoon, take JR Nara line to come back to Kyoto.

    Kyoto Day 4: North Higashiyama

  • If you have Day 4, go to subway Keage station to visit North Higashiyama area, which includes Nanzanji Temple*, Okazaki Canal, Eikando Temple, Philosopher Path and Ginkakuji (Silver Pavillion)*. Also, consider going to Nishiki Market and a department store, such as Isetan in the Kyoto station building.

    Important Tips about Transportations for Sightseeing in Kyoto:

  • Trains(JR and non-JR) and subway system in Kyoto looks complicated and uneasy to understand at first. But, if you understand the following merits and characteristics of these lines, it's easy to use them. If there is no train or subway stations, consider taking a cab to save you time which is most precious to make good memories!! Buses are only good for short rides, not for long distant rides, especially in the city center
  • Local JR lines are convenient to go to Arashiyama (JR Sanin Line), Fushimi Inari and Nara (JR Nara Line), or Osaka(JR Kyoto Line Special Rapid Service) from Kyoto.
  • Subway Karasuma Line is convenient to go north-south and to go to Kitaoji (to take a cab to Kinkakuji or to walk to Nakaragi raod or Kyoto Botanial Garden), while subway Tozai (east-west) line is convenient to go east-west between central Kyoto (Kyoto Shiyakusho Mea(city hall front) or Sanjo(3rd street)-Keihan stations), Karasuma-Oike(to transfer to subway Karasuma line), Nijo Jo Mae(Nijo Castle front), and Uzumasa Tenjingawa (to transfer to Randen train to Arashiyama).
  • Keihan Line is convenient to go from central Kyoto (Sanjo(3rd street) to Kiyomizu-gojo(5th street; to Kiyomizu-dera Temple), Schichijo(7th street; to Sanjusangendo Hall), Fushimi Inari (to Fushimi Inari), Tofukuji (to transfer to JR Nara Line to Kyoto).
  • Hankyu Kyoto Line is convenient to go from central Kyoto (Kaaramachi station) to Osaka (Umeda =JR Osaka station) and to Arashiyama (by transferring to Hankyu Arashiyama line at Katsura station.
  • Keifuku Railway or so-called "Randen" (Arashiyama Railway) connects Shijo-Omiya and Arashiyama. It is convenient to go to Arashiyama from Central Kyoto: if you take the Subway Tozai Line to Uzumasa -Tenjingawa terminal, you can take the Randen from Randen-Tenjingawa, or if you take Hankyu Kyoto Line from Kawaramachi terminal to Omiya station, you can transfer to the Randen from Omiya-Shijo. Also, the Randen Kitano Line is convenient to go from Kinkakuji Temple (Rokuonji or Golden Pavillion), by taking the Randen from Kitano-Hakubaicho, or from Ninnaji Temple, by taking the Randen from Omuro-Ninnaji station, to Arashiyama.