Be guided around the ancient capital of Japan: Three Recommended Tours in Kyoto

  • Kyoto is the ancient capital of Japan, where the centre of government sat for hundreds of years. Kyoto is steeped in history, culture and architecture which is truly breathtaking. Kyoto is one of the top travel destinations for tourists in Japan, however, some people find it difficult to navigate. Public transport relies more on buses than trains and Kyoto is a bit more spread out than other cities. If you want a stress-free way to travel, then why not try taking a tour to make the most of your time?

    Maiko performance

    Maiko are apprentice Geisha, the performance artists of ancient Japan. This is one area of Japanese history which is still very much alive today and is stunning to witness. It is a little difficult to see this aspect of Japanese culture compared to visiting any other shows, so Viator has put together a way to see it with ease. Your evening will involve a two-hour performance by well skilled maiko. You also get to enjoy a multi-course banquet before you witness the show. This meal will be prepared by a chef highly trained in kaiseki style cooking. Your hosts will explain to you the significance of the show you are about to see, the history and meaning behind these elaborate performances. You may even get to play some drinking games during the evening. This is a relaxed experience where you will get a feel of the tradition behind this ancient art.

    Book here

    Eastern Kyoto private tour

    If you don’t want to spend your day with strangers but want to experience all that Eastern Kyoto has to offer, then a private tour might be for you. “Tour by Locals” do exactly as their name says, provide private tours run by the people who live there. Your tour guide will meet you at your hotel so you do not need to navigate across Kyoto alone. You will experience some of the most iconic sites that Kyoto has to offer. The starting point and order all depend on where your hotel is, so the tour is super easy and adapted to you. You can visit the Silver Pavillion, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the wonder of the Philosopher’s Path is also included. Visit Heian Jingu shrine, a real historic monument. You can visit Kiyomizu Temple, the stunningly constructed temple on stilts, built without a single nail. Finish up with the thousand torii gates of Fushimi Inari shrine, one of the biggest tourist spots of all. You can really see a lot of Kyoto this way, the guide can take you through the history or the place, and even better than a group tour, you can get the answers to any questions you might want!

    Book here

    Zen gardens tour

    Gardening and landscaping are an art form in Japan. With influences across different periods of Japanese rule, and also from Buddhism there is a lot to see in Japan. Although Kyoto is a big city, like many of the cities of Japan it has green spaces. This tour highlights the best of the gardens to view. You start at Kinkaku-ji, the Golden Pavillion, which is set within a Muromachi period garden (1227 to 1573). This garden shows the use of water and stone in the garden environment. You will also see two Zen rock gardens. The final stop showcases a Heian period garden. Through out the tour there will be seminars on the garden archetypes and the philosophy behind them. This tour not only gives you a view into some beautiful gardens, but you can learn about the art too!

    *This tour is no longer available

    Related article
    112 Things to Do in Kyoto, a City of Culture, Tradition, and Breathtaking Beauty, in 2018