Kyoto is a place enveloped in history and teeming with sights and sounds that tell of a by gone era. One where Geisha’s wandered the streets enchanting all that crossed their paths and imperial power was paramount. Kyoto has long since been the cultural capital of Japan and through all of this culture and history it can be difficult to pin point the “need-to-see” and “not-to-be-missed” sights. Here is a roundup of my 5 top places to visit in Kyoto.
Gion is the heart of the old town and used to be known as the most exclusive geisha districts in Japan. Walk along the cobbled streets to experience this history and take your time to wander down the narrow alleyways to discover hidden gems. Kagai is the well-known entertainment area in the Gion district, where you can catch a glimpse of the Geisha gracefully performing their traditional dance.
This sight is not to be missed and it is best to visit early in the morning to avoid the crowds during the peak season. Walking through the bamboo grove seeing thesunlight shine through the poker straight trunks of the bamboo trees is a sight to behold.
Tenryuji Temple and Gardens
Whilst the temple is an attraction in itself the gardens are what is truly not to be missed here. Wander through the winding pathways of cherry blossom and moss-covered mounds delighting in the beauty of nature. You can access the Bamboo Forest from these gardens.
Towards the south east of Kyoto there is the famous Fushimi-Inari shrine with 10,000 bright orange Tori gates leading the way through a wooded forest on the sacred Mount Inari. Situated 233 metres above sea level it takes 2 hours to climb and with as many as 32,000 sub shrines it could take you a lot longer than that to absorb it all. There are some fantastic views of Kyoto from up here as well, just be sure to bring your trainers!
If food markets are your thing then this 5 block narrow market is for you. You can browse stall upon stall of traditional Japanese cuisine such as tsukemono (Japanese pickles, wagashi (Japanese sweets), tea, fresh fish, fruit and vegetables. Save room for lunch here and hole up at the front of one of the seafood and fish stalls to devour your chosen fish. The market is open all week from 9am-5pm.