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What to see in Kyoto

Kyoto Attractions

Kyoto is Japan's premier destination for historical sightseeing and tourists keen to sniff out traditional Japanese culture will love the city. The attractions of Kyoto are numerous but they are also spread out all over the place and sometimes take some finding. The positive aspect of exploring is the joy of stumbling upon unexpected treasures and attractions in the charming backstreets of Kyoto. The best way to experience this city is to get lost in it.

Kyoto is a city of temples, shrines, and gardens, and there is lots to see and do. Sightseeing highlights include the Geisha neighbourhood of Gion, the stunning Kiyomizu-dera water temple, the Fushimi Inari Shrine, the Kyoto Imperial Palace, and the temple of Sanjusangen-do. There are also a number of worthwhile attractions just outside of the city, including the Golden Pavilion and its beautiful gardens.

The best way to access Kyoto's tourist attractions (which are not located near subway stations) is by bus. The city is served by multiple bus companies with direct lines from Kyoto Station and several points in the city centre. An English map of the Kyoto City bus network is available from tourist offices, and signs are in English as well as Japanese. Fares are paid on leaving the bus. The only drawback to the buses is that traffic density makes them slow and they can become very crowded.

For getting around the city centre the subway is recommended. Two subway lines cross the city, from north to south and east to west. Kyoto also has a high concentration of taxis, particularly in the city centre.


Most visitors to Japan are fascinated with traditional geisha: white-faced kimono-clad women specially trained to entertain and spoil men in a soothing setting. Kyoto boasts one…

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Meaning 'pure water', Kiyomizu-dera is one of Japan's most celebrated temples. Founded in 780, it is associated with Nara Buddhism, the oldest sect in Japan. The temple is a UNESCO…

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Kyoto Imperial Palace

Japan's imperial family lived in the Kyoto palace from 1331 until 1868, and today visitors can view the furnishings and delicate decorations. Once only accessible via a guided tour that required advanced…

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Minamiza Kabuki Theatre

Kabuki is a traditional Japanese dance-drama known for its stylised performance and the elaborate make-up worn by some performers. It enjoyed a golden age in the late…

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Once part of a large Buddhist temple complex known as the Lotus King Temple, the temple of Rengeoin is better known by its popular name of Sanjusangen-do. Inside the longest wooden…

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To-ji is a Buddhist temple founded in 794 as guardian of the then young capital city. A five-storey pagoda rebuilt in the mid-17th century, a treasure trove of statues, calligraphy,…

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