10 Best Things to do in Kyoto Japan

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Things to do in Kyoto
Higashiyama walk 2

Best Things to do in Kyoto Japan

Kyoto, a major tourist destination, the cultural capital of Japan. With more than 2,000 places of worship, Kyoto is certainly not lacking in things to do. Overflowing with temples and places of pilgrimage, Kyoto also offers great cuisine, pretty parks and remarkable palaces in this city that was once the imperial capital of Japan.

Today, modern Kyoto is in tune with its ancient history and culture, but if you can’t decide which Kyoto attractions to visit, take a look at our list of 10 best things to do in Kyoto Japan.

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The 10 Best Things to do in Kyoto Japan

1. Iwatayama monkey park

Things to do in Kyoto
Iwatayama monkey park

The first attraction on our list of top 9 things to do in Kyoto is a little different from the rest but also recommended. The Iwatayama monkey park is home to around 170 Japanese macaque monkeys, also known as snow monkeys.

You can feed them only in an exclusive refuge, through a fence. After feeding them, you can leave the shelter and walk around, where the monkeys are free, but you are not allowed to touch the fallen food, nor the monkeys

2. The temple of the golden pavilion

things to do in kyoto japan
The temple of the golden pavilion

One of the best known and most visited attractions in all of Japan is the Kyoto Golden Pavilion temple. Commonly called Kinkaku-Ji, this temple is officially called Rokuon-Ji, which literally translates as the Temple of the Deer Garden.

So don’t be disturbed by its many names heard! Whichever you like most about this beautiful and fantastic attraction, it should be on your list of things to do in Kyoto.


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3. Climb the Kyoto tower

things to do in kyoto japan
Kyoto tower

If you arrive by Shinkansen (the Japanese TGV), you will undoubtedly disembark at Kyoto station. One of the best things to do in Kyoto to be well located in the city is to climb the Kyoto tower.

You cannot miss it; it is right in front of the train station. Once at the top, you will be able to see the different districts, which are identified for tourists.

4. Higashiyama walk

Things to do in Kyoto
Higashiyama walk

There is a lot to see in the Higashiyama district. Among others, a large green island where there are several Buddhist temples, some of which you can enter to see the monks pray. Provide shoes that are easy to remove, as they are prohibited in temples.

Things to do in Kyoto
Higashiyama walk 2

Unfortunately, you can’t take pictures inside. You will also see traditional Japanese gardens, with patterns drawn in the sand. The main attraction of the district remains the Big Buddha.

5. Arashiyama bamboo forest

things to do in kyoto japan
Arashiyama bamboo forest

One of the most beautiful bamboo forests in the region has been developed for tourists to walk around. It is rather impressive to see all these long stems glued to each other move with the rhythm of the wind.

Getting lost in Arashiyama Forest is relatively easy, but there are always signs to exit at the corner of an intersection. A small street full of souvenir shops is located at the edge of the forest.

6. Sleep in a Ryokan

Best Things to do in Kyoto
Sleep in a ryokan

The peculiarity of ryokans is that they rest on the ground covered with bamboo rugs. Two small cushions and a duvet will serve as your bed. It is forbidden to keep your shoes there; you are provided with sandals.

There was a toilet in the room, but no shower. Therefore, it is necessary to use the hot springs located on the top floor to wash. Instructions are provided to Westerners at the reception.


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7. Imperial Palace and 8. Nijo Castle

Things to do in Kyoto
Imperial Palace

It is still possible to visit the Kyoto Imperial Palace, but you need to book. You can do this on the internet on the day of your visit or by going to the imperial house agency as soon as you arrive. Near the Palace, you can enter the Nijo Castle.

Best Things to do in Kyoto
Nijo Castle

It is a gilded palace, surrounded by a moat. The replicas of the period paintings are worth seeing, although unfortunately they cannot be photographed. You can also walk in the surrounding park and take part in a tea ceremony on site.

9. Japanese shopping and barbecue

Things to do in Kyoto
Japanese shopping and barbecue

To shop like the Japanese, you have to go to Shinkyogoku. It is a shopping mall where you can find everything. The covered and illuminated streets will catch your attention as soon as you exit the metro, near Kyoto City Hall.

This area is also full of all you can eat Japanese barbecues. Just pay a lump sum (with or without alcohol), and you get everything you want on the card for an hour and a half. You have to cook it yourself on a grill in the middle of your table.

9. The geishas of Gion Corner

Best Things to do in Kyoto
The geishas of Gion Corner

It is one of the last places in Japan where you can see it. This is Gion Corner (Gion-Shijo metro station). Open your eyes as you wander the small streets lined with red lanterns and traditional houses, and you should come across authentic geishas.

Their white powdered faces, their high wooden sandals and the flowers in their hair will help you distinguish them from Japanese women in kimono.

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