The Most Beautiful Places to Experience Nature in Kyoto

Philosophers Walk
Philosopher's Walk | Jaemin Lee / © Culture Trip

Kyoto has been a place of scenic natural beauty since ancient times with little changing over the centuries. There are countless places that both inspire and enchant visitors with their fairy-tale magic and out-of-this world experiences. Nature can be found everywhere in Kyoto, from the spectacular mountain scenery of Arashiyama and swaying bamboo grove of Sagano to the endless tunnel of torii shrine gates that wind up the mountain in Fushimi, to the breathtaking bay views and crystal clear waters of Ine-cho, known as “The Venice of Japan.” Here are some beautiful places in Kyoto to inspire your next visit.

Arashiyama

Arashiyama is a district on the western outskirts of Kyoto known for its beautiful nature and scenic temples. It has been popular since ancient times as an escape from the city to enjoy its natural setting. It is extremely popular during the cherry blossom season in spring and for the fall foliage season in autumn.

Tenryu-ji Temple in Arashiyama is home to one of the most beautiful traditional Japanese stroll gardens in Kyoto.

Autumn leaves at Tenryu-ji Temple

The Togetsukyo Bridge crosses the Oi River with a beautiful mountain range in the background.

Autumn is one of the best times to visit Arashiyama, with beautiful fall colors in the mountains.

Arashiyama is also home to the Sagano Scenic Railway, which is a romantic sightseeing train with amazing seasonal views.

The Sagano Bamboo Grove

The Sagano Bamboo Grove in Arashiyama is considered one of the world’s most beautiful forests. The enchanting forest is famous for its natural beauty and distinct rustling sound from the bamboo swaying in the wind.

The bamboo grove is popular with both Japanese and foreign visitors to Kyoto, with many people renting a traditional Japanese kimono to further enhance the experience.

The bamboo grove is especially attractive when there is a bright blue sky and a light breeze with the bamboo gently swaying back and forth.

A path through a bamboo grove

Fushimi Inari Shrine

Fushimi Inari Shrine sits at the base of a heavily forested mountain that is called Mount Inari. Trails that span four kilometers wind their way up from the main shrine buildings to the summit at the top.

A giant torii shrine gate marks the entrance to the shrine and is the boundary from the regular world to the sacred world of the shrine.

The shrine sits at a base of a heavily forested mountain and is like entering another world, with the shrine gates lining several paths to the summit of the mountain.

Thousands of vermilion torii shrine gates form what seems like a tunnel to the top of the mountain. The gates are donations by individuals and companies to the shrine.

Fushimi Inari Shrine

Philosopher’s Walk

Philosopher’s Walk is a beautiful stone path that follows a cherry-tree lined canal in Kyoto between Ginkaku-ji (The Silver Pavilion) and Nanzen-ji.

The path is a vivid green in summer and offers some pleasant relief from the heat of downtown Kyoto.

Pink cherry blossoms line the path during spring in Japan, creating a truly spectacular experience.

People visit Philosopher’s Walk

Kyoto Botanical Gardens

The Kyoto Botanical Gardens is the oldest and most comprehensive public botanical garden in Japan. The ever-changing garden can be enjoyed all year round with seasonal plants and deciduous trees. It is the perfect place for a stroll in nature, a picnic, or cherry blossom viewing.

Cacti in the glasshouse at Kyoto Botanical Gardens.

Beautiful tulips during springtime at the Kyoto Botanical Gardens.

Japanese women inspecting a bonsai tree at the Botanical Garden

Uji

Uji is a beautiful small city set in a green valley on the southern outskirts of Kyoto. The fast-flowing Uji River offers some spectacular views, with the area famous for its temples and green tea production.

The spectacular Phoenix Hall at Byodo-in Temple in Uji.

Nicknamed the “Temple of Flowers,” in spring, visitors can enjoy the beautiful gardens surrounding Mimuroto-ji Temple in Uji.

Small Shrine, Manpuku-ji, Mt. Obaku, Uji

Ine-cho

Ine-cho was once a sleepy fishing village along Ine Bay in northern Kyoto Prefecture, but is now an off-the-beaten-track tourist destination that appears to be floating on the sea, giving it the nickname of the “Venice of Japan.”

Traditional Japanese houses line the bay at Ine no Funaya, also known as “Kyoto by the Sea.”

Japanese old town, Ine-cho

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