You planned your trip to Kyoto months ago and you have just realized it is going to rain? Don’t fret for there are a lot of great things to do on a rainy day. Kyoto is essentially known for its temples and gardens, and some of them are perfect to visit even in bad weather. From places where you can go shopping, have a hot meal or drink, and many interesting sightseeing spots, here is a list of 15 fun things perfect for a rainy day.
The Kyoto Handicraft Center is a great spot if you like more traditional souvenirs. Here you can find books, origami, calligraphy, Japanese pottery, kimono, yukata, lacquerware, decorated boxes, etc. You can spend hours and hours in this shop, finding little treasures to take back with you as souvenirs of your trip. And finding shelter inside, you might even forget it’s raining outside! You can also try your hand at making your own souvenirs, as workshops can be booked in advance. If you are not the nifty type, there is a restaurant and occasional Maiko performances and tea ceremonies. The Kyoto Handicraft Center is open from 10:00 AM to 7:00 PM every day.
Strolling along these famous pedestrian streets next to Nishiki Market is a perfect activity for a rainy day because they are covered for their entire lengths. You can enjoy all the little shops lining the streets and find lots of things, a very popular item being the famous Japanese souvenir jackets with embroidery in the back. Teramachi and Shinkyougoku shopping arcades are more than just shopping, they are cultural experiences!
The station of Kyoto is the main gate of access to the city. A real crossroad of transport, it serves the Shinkansen, the local trains of JR and Kintetsu, the city subway, and it is also a terminal for the majority of bus lines. However, the station also serves as a shopping and dining complex with numerous choices and a beautiful rooftop garden. On a rainy day, you don’t even have to leave the station to have fun.
Yojiya is a cosmetic brand that Japanese women try to buy whenever they are in Kyoto. This company is more than a century old, and has a ‘rags to riches’ story, having started from a simple cart. One of their top-sellers is ‘aburatorigami’ (facial oil blotting paper), sold in elegant packaging. Go find shelter in one of their shops where you can stay for hours and find cosmetic products to take back home.
Nishiki Market is Kyoto’s culinary epicenter, located on a long covered street lined with many food stalls. Browsing the market is a perfect activity to do in the middle of the day, rain or shine, as it is full of food stalls with ready-to-eat food. It is surely an unmissable place for food lovers. Open daily from 9:30 AM to 6:00 PM, both locals and tourists come here to enjoy Japanese specialties.
Yojiya, the famous cosmetic brand in Japan, has expanded into the restaurant market as well. There are three Yojiya Cafés in Kyoto and each one is a very nice place to stop by during a long day of traveling, especially when the weather is bad. A cup of hot matcha latte is a like a warm hug on a Kyoto rainy day!
On a rainy day, what can be better than a bowl of steamy hot ramen to help you perk up? Ramen Sen no Kaze is one of the most famous restaurants in Kyoto, known for their excellent tonkotsu broth. If you are having a long day and feeling a little bit cold, ramen from this restaurant will be the best answer.
The Kyoto International Manga Museum is a entirely dedicated to the art of manga. It contains approximately 300,000 comics of all kinds and from various times, and the main room contains an exposition on manga history. The collection is mostly in Japanese, but you can find some manga in English or in French. This visual storytelling goes beyond language, so some people are happy to just flick through beautiful art. You can relax and read all afternoon in this museum on a rainy day. It is open daily from 10:00 AM to 6:00 PM.
The National Museum of Modern Art, Kyoto is one of the unmissable museums in the city. It annually hosts six or seven exhibitions where you can learn about Japanese artists, as well occasional exhibitions of modern and contemporary European and American art.
You can learn about how kimonos are made and watch artisans at work in this textile paradise. For those who love to create something there are many workshops to learn from the masters and make your own scarf, pouch, hat and so on. Every hour, a show is taking place so if you are lucky, you can help with a kimono catwalk. In the center there is also a museum retracing kimono history and a huge souvenir shop where you can find some little treasures.
Sanjusangen-do is a Buddhist temple situated in the district of Higashiyama in Kyoto. What makes it different from most temples is that its majestic and long main wooden building is known for accommodating 1,001 statues of the goddess of condolence, Kannon. Sadly, photos are forbidden, but it’s still a calm spiritual experience not to be missed, be it a rainy day or a sunny one.
This temple complex is very conveniently located near Kyoto Station. Behind its big magnificent gates, halls of impressive sizes follow one after the other and you’ll be sheltered from the weather as you explore them. Dedicated to Amida Buddha as well as Shinran, this temple is perfect if you need a place to visit during a rainy day.
Ryoanji is a Buddhist temple situated at the bottom of Mt. Kinugasa-yama along the Kinukake-no-Michi road in the northwest of Kyoto. This temple is famous for its zen stone garden where you can sit down and enjoy the calm. Thanks to its wooden roof, you can stay dry while meditating in front of a beautiful view.
This little traditional theater is a great place to enjoy Japanese culture, and escaping a rainy day is just a bonus. They hold 50-minute performances related to various Japanese arts such as the Kyomai dance, flower arrangement, tea ceremony, the Japanese instrument koto, court music Gagaku, Kyogen theater, and puppet theater Bunraku. With a little luck, you can also be selected from the audience to participate in one of the activities.
The tea ceremony is a traditional practice in Japan. It is the art of preparing and drinking tea, elevated to be more than a simple activity. Everything from the room itself to the shape of the cup and the choice of wagashi sweets holds special meaning. At En, you can enjoy the experience of a Japanese tea ceremony in a relaxing and fun way, as well as learn about its history.
The weather in Japan can be very fickle, but it would be a shame to stay in your hotel room because of a rainy day. Even in bad weather, you can still enjoy your trip, just make some adjustments and make sure to bring an umbrella. It’s smarter to travel by train since street traffic slows down on rainy days and taxis can be harder to get. Regardless of the weather, have great time in Kyoto!
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