Kyoto, Japan

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Kyoto is one of the most popular destinations in Japan because of its rich history and for being one of the oldest metropolises in Japan.  Kyoto is all about its beautiful temples and shrines; of which most are located in scenic mountainous locations.  You will need at least 3 days in Kyoto to explore everything the city has to offer.


Kiyomizudera temple

Kiyomizu-dera temple is part of the UNESCO World Heritage sites.  This temple has one of the most picturesque scenes you will experience while in Kyoto.  Kiyomizu-dera sits on top of a mountain and provides magnificent views of the city.  These views and the rich history of the temple make it one of the most visited temples in Kyoto.  On the way down from Kiyomizu-dera, you will find cobble-stone streets with vendors and tea shops for all your souvenir shopping.

Kinkaku-ji (“Temple of the Golden Pavilion“)

Kinkaku-ji is a picture perfect image of Kyoto.  The top two floors of the temple are covered in gold leaf, which is what makes this temple so impressive and worth seeing.

Nijo Castle

Nijo Castle is part of UNESCO’s World Heritage sites and served as the residence of the Tokugawa Shoguns.  The castle itself is beautiful, as well as the very expansive gardens that surround the castle.

Fushimi Inari Taisha

Fushimi Inari Taisha is known for its thousand lacquered gates that travel from the base of a mountain to about 4 kilometers hillside.  This is the head shrine of Inari, the god of rice, sake, and prosperity.  Walking the mountain trails can take up to 3 hours but make sure you reach the lake that is nestled into the mountain side.  The lake and the mountains provide spectacular views.


Sanjusangen-do is a must-see while in Kyoto.  It is 120 meters in length making it Japan’s longest wooden structure.  Also, Sanjusangen-do is most famous for holding 1,000 statues of Kannon (the goddess of mercy) and 28 statues of guardian deities. In addition, Sanjusangen-do also houses a large wooden statue of a 1,000-armed Kannon.

Worth Noting

The above recommendations are for a 3 day in stay in Kyoto. For additional sites and places to visit, Fodor’s Japan guide is amazing and full of great recommendations. is also a great resource.

Walking tours are very popular in Kyoto and are a great way to get to know the city.  WaRaiDo Guide Networks Co., Ltd. offers a phenomenal 5 hour walking tour in English.  This tour will take you to the non touristy spots while you learn more about the history and culture of Japan.

Side Trip

You can take a side trip to Nara, a Unesco World Heritage site, which is only 45 minutes by train from Kyoto.  For more on Nara, visit our one day recommendations on this beautiful city.

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