Seven Places in Kyoto to Top Your Must–See List

  • As you may know, Kyoto is the ex-capital of Japan filled with nothing but magnificence. Known for being more traditional than the big cities such as Tokyo or Osaka, Kyoto will take you on a journey that will give you a glimpse of the Shogun lifestyle and the Onin war effects and many other historical events. If you’re visiting Japan, Kyoto must be on your checklist; but in order to fulfill the Kyoto experience, there are certain places you shouldn’t miss, and seven of them are the following:

    1- Gion (祇園)

    Interested in Geisha lifestyle? Gion is one of the most famous Geisha districts! What feeling is nicer than walking amidst the old teahouses and wooden buildings with eye soothing luminance while noticing a Geisha (or Geiko) in her fastidious Kimono? Gion has very traditional restaurants and nearby fancy izakayas that will give you a taste of the Japanese drinking etiquette. On a further note, if you are able to, visit it during the summer (mid-july) to experience the Gion Matsuri.


    2- Yasaka Shrine (八坂神社)

    If you’re still in Gion, you can’t miss Yasaka Shrine since it used to be called Gion Shrine. Constructed in 656, Yasaka Shrine stood in the first rank of government supported shrines. In addition, it marks the beginning of the Gion Matsuri. With its attractive redness and the green surroundings, nature and tradition collide to becalm your soul.


    3- Kiyomizu-dera (清水寺)

    Again, if you’re still in Gion, Kiyomizu-dera is walking distance and can be reached with a few uphill steps. Kiyomizu-dera is a Buddhist temple founded in 798; however, the current buildings were constructed in 1633. If you can tell from the picture, the view up there is splendid and worth the tiring steps.


    4- Kyoto-Gosho (京都御所)

    Want to check out the former official residence of the Japanese Emperor? Kyoto-Gosho is the place to go to. Also known as the Kyoto Imperial Palace, Gosho was built in 1855. However, emperors began residing in it since 1869. It lost its role during the Meiji Restoration when Tokyo became the capital of Japan in 1868. Nevertheless, it is still open to the public and it holds occasional ceremonies.


    5- Fushimi Inari Taisha (伏見稲荷大社)

    You will have to walk uphill again, however, this time, the journey to the top is even better than the top itself. Fushimi Inari Taisha is the head Shrine on the Inari Mountain and it consists of five shrines along the mountain. Throughout Japan, Fushimi Inari Taisha has around 40,000 sub-shrines that consist of these marvelous red gates that are spread throughout the Inari Mountain creating a path that will be the route of an unforgettable journey.


    6- Kinkaku-ji (金閣寺)

    Kinkaku-ji, one of the most famous temples, is also referred to as The Temple of the Golden Pavilion, and its original name is Rokuon-ji (Deer Garden Temple). The stunning architecture reflects Muromachi period’s garden design. With the mountains behind, the surrounding greenery and the breezeless pond reflecting the gold leaf along with the roof ornament, Kinkaku-ji earns its fame and abundant visitors.


    7- Arashiyama (嵐山)

    Literally meaning “Storm Mountain” due to it being situated betwixt the river, mountain and Bamboo forest, Arashiyama might need a whole day to fully explore. However, feeling both trapped and liberated but appeased amidst the bamboo trees, it is no wonder it’s one of the most visited sights of Arashiyama along Iwatayama Monkey Park.



    To conclude, I sure left behind a lot of other sublime sights, however, for now, these fall on the top of my list of preferences; so make sure you visit them when you come to Kyoto and I assure you, you will leave with no regrets but a desire to return.

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