Before going into the exquisite things to do in Kyoto, a few quick history facts:
- Kyoto used to be the capitol of Japan, for about a thousand years. You may hear people calling it the thousand-year capitol.
- During World War II, Kyoto was left out of the list for possible atomic raids due to its historic significance.
- It went from being the largest city in the 16th century to being the 9th largest, as of 2015.
Even so, Kyoto today stands as a city of cultural magnificence. Castles, palaces, markets, and geishas. Be prepared to embrace pure historic Japanese beauty.
Things to do in Kyoto:
1. Fushimi Inari-taisha
Fushimi Inari-taisha, a shrine dedicated to Inari, the Shinto god of rice. Foxes are considered the messenger of Inari and you’ll find sculptures of them scattered around the shrine.
Fushimi for me was the most memorable in Kyoto. Not only because of its vast complex, consisting of five shrines, but because of the trails and trails of thousands of vermilion torii gates. This magical red pathway leads you up Mount Inari, for a 2-3 hour hike around the facility.
2. Kyomiduzera Temple
(photo by @peterdang)
Kyomizudera, also known as Pure Water Temple, is one of the most popular temples in Kyoto. What it’s known for is its wooden stage, 13 meters above the hillside below. The expression “to jump off the stage at Kiyomizu” is the Japanese equivalent of the English expression to “take a plunge”.
3. Arashiyama Monkey Park
Located in the Arashiyama mountains is a monkey park. For $5 admission fee and a 20 minute steep climb up, you’ll find yourself surrounded by monkeys galore! Enter the park shelter to feed the monkeys through a metal grid. Small bags of food will be available for you and do not worry, the monkeys never get full.
P.S. Don’t forget to stop and take in the beautiful views.
4. Arashiyama Bamboo Grove
A 15 minute walk from the monkey park and you’ll find yourself at the magical Arashiyama Bamboo Grove. Stand among sprawling bamboo stalks, peer up at its magnificence and enjoy the serenity of this bamboo heaven.
Kinkakuji, otherwise known as the Golden Pavilion, is a Zen Buddhist temple covered completely in gold leaf. This building has an astonishing history of being burnt down numerous times, only to be finally rebuilt in 1955 and sustained till now. The best time to visit is during sunset, to see Kinkakuji’s golden reflection across the pond.
See the rest on the Kyoto travel video guide here.