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Reasons to Visit Kyoto| © 
Reasons to Visit Kyoto| © Mian Flickr

13 Reasons to Visit Kyoto, Japan

Picture of John Asano
Updated: 27 October 2017
The ancient capital of Kyoto offers numerous reasons to visit, from historic temples and colourful shrines, to the mysterious culture of maiko and geisha and artistic luxury of multi-course kaiseki ryori meals. Here are a few of our favourite reasons to visit the cultural and historic heart of Japan. What are you waiting for?

Historic Temples

Kyoto is home to over 1,600 historic Buddhist temples with many dating back more than a millennium. The most famous temple district is Higashiyama, where you can find some of the best and oldest temples in Japan such as the celebrated Kiyomizu-dera Temple.

Colourful Shrines

Kyoto is home to over 400 colorful shrines dedicated to Japan’s ancient religion, dotted around the city. Some of the most famous include Fushimi Inari Taisha, Heian Jingu and Yasaka Jinja.

World Heritage Sites

Kyoto has one of the world’s largest collections of UNESCO World Heritage Sites which include 12 Buddhist temples, 3 Shinto shrines and 1 historic castle. No trip to Kyoto is complete, without visiting at least some of these amazing sites.

Samurai Castles

Kyoto is home to several historic samurai castles. Nijo Castle is its best known as the former official Kyoto residence of the powerful Tokugawa Shoguns, who ruled Japan for over 250 years. It was designed to show off their prestige and wealth and is a must see for its ninja proof chirping nightingale floors.

Sublime Stroll Gardens

Take a stroll in one of Kyoto’s many gorgeous stroll gardens,designed to be enjoyed as recreation by feudal lords and samurai shoguns. There are many places around Kyoto to enjoy these peaceful gardens from temples and shrines to public parks and ryokan (traditional inns).

Tranquil Zen Gardens

Relax and contemplate the world at one of Kyoto’s famous dry stone Zen Gardens. One of the best and most famous is the Zen Garden at Ryoan-ji Temple, which features 15 mystical rocks floating in a sea of pure white sand.

Geisha and Maiko Culture

Kyoto is the birthplace of Maiko and Geisha (Geiko in the local dialect) culture with the Gion district its spiritual home. The wooden teahouses and traditional restaurants of well preserved areas such as Hanami-koji Street and Pontocho offer the best chance to spot a Geisha elegantly scurrying to their next appointment.

Gionmachi Minamigawa, Higashiyama Ward, Kyoto, Kyoto Prefecture 606-8346

Ryokan and Machiya

Kyoto is home to many ryokan (traditional Japanese inns) and machiya (traditional Kyoto townhouses) that offer a glimpse into old Kyoto. They are a fantastic place to stay to experience authentic Japanese style accommodation and lifestyle.

Kyoto Cuisine

Kyoto has a rich and historic food tradition with various culinary styles that have been around for centuries. Enjoy the luxury of carefully prepared multi-course kaiseki ryori meals, or simply relax and reap the health benefits of shojin Buddhist cuisine.

Matcha Flavoured Goodies

If you are a green tea lover, then you will be in matcha heaven in Kyoto. Matcha goodies can be found everywhere and include such things as ice cream, chocolate, cookies, cream puffs, cakes and traditional yatsuhashi confectionary.

Traditional Sake

Sake has been made in Kyoto since the 16th century with the Fushimi area home to many of Japan’s most famous sake breweries. Most places offer a chance to sample some of their finest with a great variety of tastes available.

Cute Monkeys

We all love cute monkeys and the Arashiyama Monkey Park in Arashiyama is home to around 130 wild monkeys. The park aims to replicate the wild habitat of the monkeys, so the adorable creatures roam around free and hang out with the tourists who visit the park.

8 Arashiyama, Genrokuyama-cho, Nishikyo-ku, Kyoto, Kyoto Prefecture

Kyoto International Manga Museum

The Kyoto International Manga Museum is Japan’s largest manga museum and exhibits the history of manga and manga publishing in Japan. This is a must see destination for any pop culture fan with a collection of some 300,000 comics and manga related exhibits. If you are experiencing temple and shrine fatigue then check out this shrine to manga.

Oike agaru, Karasuma-dori, Chukyo-ku, Kyoto, Kyoto Prefecture, +81 75-254-7414