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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.


Gion

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 of the most famous…

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Kiyomizu-dera

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 World Heritage Site…

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Kyoto Imperial Palace

Japan's imperial family lived in the Kyoto palace from 1331 until 1868 (when they moved to Tokyo), and today visitors can view the furnishings and delicate decorations. Once only accessible via a guided…

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Minamiza Kabuki Theatre

Kabuki is a traditional Japanese dance-drama known for its stylised take of performance and the elaborate make-up worn by some performers. It is a very old art form, which had its golden…

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Sanjusangen-do

The temple of Rengeoin, in eastern Kyoto, is better known by its popular name of Sanjusangen-do. Inside the longest wooden building in Japan stand row upon row of life-sized statues of Kannon, the…

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To-ji

To-ji is a Buddhist temple founded in 794 as guardian of the then young capital city. Today, it sits about 10 minutes' walk to the south of Kyoto Station, drawing curious tourists to admire its five-storey…

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