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Kyoto/Higashiyama

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Kyoto : Higashiyama
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Understand[edit]

Ginkaku-ji

Some of the most picturesque parts of Kyoto are located in the eastern region of the city, across the Kamo River. Visiting the main tourist attractions of eastern Kyoto will fill a full day - a suggested itinerary is to work north from Kiyomizu-dera to Ginkakuji, passing through Gion, and visiting Yasaka Shrine and Nanzenji before following the Philosopher's Walk to Ginkakuji. For those with very limited time, the Higashiyama area is a good choice to concentrate on since it has a large number of Kyoto's best all close together, with little time wasted going from one to another.

Get in[edit]

By train[edit]

Keihan Railway serves the entire area of eastern Kyoto, offering easy access to every part of the area. It also connects the eastern region to Northern Kyoto at Demachiyanagi Station, from which Shimogamo Shrine is within walking distance, or cross the street to Eizan Railway Demachiyanagi Station to go as far as Kurama. Keihan Railway travels south to Southern Kyoto, extending as far away as Hirakata and Osaka, and offering easy connections to Uji at Chushojima Station.

By subway[edit]

Travelers staying in Central Kyoto can easily reach the Higashiyama area using the municipal subway system's Tōzai Line. For tourists, the most convenient stops on this line are probably Higashiyama Station (north of Gion) and Keage Station (near Nanzen-ji). The subway is also convenient for those traveling onward to Otsu and Lake Biwa.

By bus[edit]

Numerous Kyoto City Bus routes traverse the neighborhood, particularly along the major north-south thoroughfare, Higashioji-dori. Route 100 is the most convenient for tourists: it runs from Kyoto Station to Ginkakuji, stopping only at major attractions. Useful local routes include #5, Kyoto Station – Shijo-Karasuma – Gion – Ginkakuji, and #206, Kyoto Station – Sanjusangendo – Gion – Chionji – Kitaoji (in northern Kyoto).

See[edit][add listing]

Kiyomizu Temple
  • Kiyomizudera (清水寺), 1-chome, Kiyomizu, Higashiyama-ku (Nearest bus stop: Kiyomizu-michi, routes 100, 202, 206, 207 or Gojozaka), 075-551-123, [1]. Daily: 6-18. This temple complex, with a spectacular location overlooking the city, is a deservedly popular attraction, with very different appearances according to the season. It is approached by either of two tourist-jammed souvenir-shop-lined streets, Kiyomizuzaka or Chawanzaka. Highlights of the temple complex include; The main hall's wooden veranda, supported by numerous pillars and offering incredible views over the city. Jishu Shrine, the love-themed shrine selling countless charms to help you snag the one you love, and featuring two "love stones" positioned around 18m apart which the lovelorn must walk between with their eyes closed to confirm their loved one's affection, and Otowa-no-taki the temple's waterfall, which gives it its name (Kiyomizu literally means 'pure water'). Visitors stand beneath the waterfall, and collect water to drink by holding out little tin cups. Mountain hike, if you're up for a mountain walk, steer to the right-hand pathway instead of taking the left toward the Jishu-jinja. The path leads through a gate and winds up onto the mountain. You can walk up for a good hour and not reach the end of the path. Has lovely forest and great scenery, and makes for a nice short excursion out of the city traffic. ¥400.  edit
  • Sanjusangendo (三十三間堂), "Sanjūsangendō (Nearest bus stop: Hakubutsukan Sanjusangendo-mae, routes 100, 206, 208), 075-561-0467, [2]. 8AM–5PM. should be near the top of the list for every Kyoto visitor. It was founded in 1164 and became famous for its 1001 beautiful wooden and gold-leaf covered statues of Kannon, goddess of mercy, housed in thirty-three bays (sanjusan = 33, gendo = bays) in the main hall. The temple also has a small but beautiful garden. Be aware that photography of the statues is not allowed. ¥600.  edit
  • Chishakuin (智積院), 964 Higashikawaracho, Higashiyama-ku, 075-541-5361, [3]. 9AM–4PM. Close to Sanjusangendo and with an award winning garden, Chishakuin is often overlooked but makes a nice addition to any itinerary in the area. It also has a beautiful hydrangea garden in June and the autmn leaves there are especially nice. ¥500.  edit
  • Shinnyodo (真如堂), 82 Jodoji Shinnyocho, Sakyo-ku, 075-771-0915, [4]. 9AM–4PM. This temple is popular for its nice rock gardens, long covered hallways, autumn colors, and elegant 3-story pagoda. Far fewer foreigners knowing about Shinnyodo also makes for a more relaxing, peaceful erxperience. ¥500.  edit
  • Konkai-Komyoji (金戒光明寺), 121 Kurodanicho, Sakyo-ku, 075-771-2204, [5]. 9AM–4PM. A tranquil temple founded in 1175, and one of the 8 head temples of Jodo sect of Buddhism. It's been destroyed several times in history but rebuilt. You can see beautiful tigers painted on its fusuma sliding doors), walk through a magnificent rock garden, and in late November, its pond garden is exquisite.  edit
  • Bishamondo (毘沙門堂), 18 Anshuinariyamacho, Yamashina-ku, 075-581-0328, [6]. 9AM–4:30PM. This temple is nearly unknown to the outside world, but the locals know it quite well and adore its annual cherry blossoms and particularly the autumn leaves. ¥500.  edit
  • Rokuharamitsuji (六波羅蜜寺), 81-1 Rokuro-cho 2-chome, Matsubara-dori, Higashiyama-ku, 075-561-6980, [7]. 8AM-5PM. While the temple itself may not seem so special, the trip is made worthwhile by the amazing Kamakura Period artwork housed in its museum. In particular, the statue of Kuya is quite a unique piece of artwork depicting Kuya Shonin reciting the nenbutsu. To depict the words, the artist Taira Kiyomori, sculpted six miniature figures of Kuya Shonin walking out of his open mouth. Each figure represents one syllable in the nenbutsu. This temple is also the 17th temple of the Saigoku Kannon Pilgrimage. Grounds: free, Museum: ¥500.  edit
  • Kyoto National Museum (京都国立博物館), 527 Chayamachi, Higashiyama-ku, 075-541-1151, [8]. 9:30am - 5:00pm, closed Mondays. Is near Sanjusangen-do, and has a large collection of ancient Japanese sculpture, ceramics, metalwork, painting, and other artifacts. (It's quite similar to the Tokyo National Museum in Tokyo/Ueno.) The Museum building is fairly grand, but the statue of Rodin's The Thinker out front is a bit out of place, as there's no Western art inside. It's seven minutes east of Shichijo Keihan. admission ¥500.  edit
  • Yogenin (養源院), 656 Sanjusangendomawari, Higasiyama-ku (Between Sanjusangendo and Chishakuin), 075-561-3887, [9]. 9AM–4PM. The original temple was built by one of Hideyoshi Toyotomi's concubines in honor of her father, but the temple was destroyed by a fire. When rebuilding the temple, the floorboards of Fushimi Castle in Southern Kyoto were used to construct the ceiling. Since Fushimi Castle was the site of quite a bloody battle, you can still see blood from samurai who committed seppuku. The artwork is also very famous, particularly the elephant paintings. Non-Japanese visitors have mixed success trying to enter the temple. You may be shown an English write-up that states that only those who understand Japanese are able to enter (because everyone who enters will have a guide through the temple). Or the staff may refuse ask you to leave. Don't be deterred. Simply agree to the tour, pay the fee, maybe lie about your Japanese ability, and then politely pay attention to your guide as they walk you through. ¥600.  edit

Okazaki area[edit]

Heian Shrine
  • Heian Shrine (平安神宮), 97 Nishi Tennocho, Okazaki, Sakyo-ku, 075-761-0221, [10]. Mar-Aug:8:30-17:30; Sep-Oct: 8:30-5; Nov-Feb: 8:30-4. Built in 1895 in commemoration of the 1100th anniversary of Kyoto, the shrine was designed as a scaled-down replica of the original Imperial Palace. Many people go to see the wide grounds but never discover the real treasure sitting behind it. The Shin'en Garden is arguably the most beautiful shrine garden in Kyoto, with nothing else like it. It is also a popular place for the cherry blossoms (hanami). Grounds: free; Garden: ¥600.  edit
  • Murin-an (無鄰菴), 31 Nanzenji Kusakawacho, Sakyo-ku, 075-771-3909, [11]. 9AM–6PM. This is the secret jewel of Kyoto - the former villa of a Japanese prime minister, built between 1894 and 1898, and one of the nicest traditional gardens in Kyoto, yet still unknown to most foreign tourists (so far). You can stroll around a peaceful stream that runs through the property and the garden uses the mountains behind it as "borrowed scenery". See it before the tourist mobs discover it and ruin the experience. ¥600.  edit
  • Kyoto City Kyocera Museum of Art (京都市美術館), Okazaki Park, Sakyo-ku, 075-771-4334 (fax: 075-761-0444), [12]. 9AM-5PM, Closed Mon. This museum houses a wide variety of art with the permanent collections featuring artists that are from Kyoto. Special exhibits may feature Japanese art from other areas or foreign artwork.  edit
  • Kyoto National Museum of Modern Art (京都国立近代美術館), Okazaki Enshoji-cho, Sakyo-ku, 075-761-4111, [13]. 9:30AM=5PM (on Fridays during special exhibitions, hours may be extended to 8PM). Closed Mondays. An interesting museum featuring works from famous, as well as up-and-coming modern artists. Exhibits change frequently, so its best to call or visit the website to see exactly what will featured during your visit. You may also want to make sure they will not be changing exhibitions, as they often close an entire floor of the museum during the transition. ¥420. (college students receive a discount and special exhibitions cost extra).  edit
  • Yoshida Shrine (吉田神社), 30 Kaguraoka-cho, Yoshida, Sakyo-ku, 075-771-3788, [14]. Most famous as the site of the Setsubun Festival held in February, this small shrine was very highly revered during the Heian Period, and the court made offerings here. Free.  edit
  • Kyoto City Zoo (京都市動物園), Okazaki Houshoji-cho, Sakyo-ku (located on the east side of the Kyoto City Kyocera Museum of Art), 075-771-0210, [15]. 9AM–5PM (Tue-Fri), 9AM-8PM (Sat-Sun), Closed Mon. Like most zoos, visitors will see lions, tigers, and monkeys. There is an aviary and reptile exhibit, as well. The zoo has some native Japanese animals, but there isn't much to set it apart from most other zoos in the world. ¥620.  edit
  • Hosomi Museum (細見美術館), 6-3 Okazaki, Saishoji-cho, 075-752-5555, [16]. 10AM-6PM. Closed Mon. A museum that showcases Japanese religious art from all periods of history. Exhibits change each season but typically feature famous artwork from local temples and shrines. Prices vary depending on the exhibit.  edit

Maruyama Park area[edit]

  • Maruyama Park (円山公園), 625 Gion-machi, Kitagawa-ku, 075-561-1350, [17]. is the main center for cherry blossom viewing in Kyoto, and can get extremely crowded at that time of year. The park's star attraction is a weeping cherry tree (shidarezakura). Main entrance to the park is through Yasaka Shrine. Admission is free.  edit
  • Kodaiji Temple (高台寺), 526, Shimogawara-cho, Kodai-ji, Higashiyama-ku, 075-561-9966, [18]. 9AM-5PM. This temple was built for Toyotomi Hideyoshi's widow by Tokugawa Ieyasu and is located right next to the Ryozen Kannon temple. If you really like temples this is one of the best in Kyoto, and it's got a nice bamboo grove that you walk through on the way out. Entrance fee: ¥600.  edit
  • Chionin (知恩院), 075-531-2111, [19]. 10AM–4:20PM. The head temple of the Jodo sect of Buddhism. The Sanmon gate at the entrance to the temple is the largest of such gates in the nation. Visitors can walk freely around the complex and inside the buildings, except for those that house the temples "Seven Wonders". There are 2 temple gardens, the Yuzen Garden (¥300), the Hozo Garden (¥400), or both for ¥500. temple grounds free, gardens ¥500.  edit
  • Shōrenin (青蓮院), 69-1 Sanjobo-cho, 075-561-2345, [20]. 9AM-5PM. Once associated with the head Tendai Buddhist sect temple, Enryakuji on Mount Hiei, Shorenin is considered to be one of the top five Tendai sect temples. During the Tokugawa period, it served as temporary lodging for a retired emperor after the Imperial Palace burned down. Those who come during November may be able to practice a tea ceremony (See "Do" section of the guide). ¥500.  edit
  • Awata Shrine (粟田神社), 1 Awadaguchi Kajicho, Higasiyama-ku, 075-551-3154, [21]. 6AM–5PM. Quietly hidden away between Shōrenin and the Westin Miyako Kyoto Hotel, this nice shrine is free from the tourist hordes and gives good city views from the hill behind it, a nice approach through a maple leaf "tunnel" every autumn, and a thousand year old festival that takes place every October.  edit
  • Higashi Otani Mausoleum, [22]. Located in a cemetery, tourists typically visit this site accidentally however, because some of the ashes of Shinran, the founder of Jodo-Shin Buddhism, are contained inside the mausoleum, it is a popular place for Buddhists to come to pay their respects. Free.  edit
  • Ryozen Kannon (霊山観音), Kodaiji Shimokawaracho, Higashiyama-ku (At the northern end of Ninenzaka), 075-561-2205, [23]. 8:30-16:30. A memorial to all soldiers who died in World War II, with a 24-meter-tall statue of Kannon. There are also several monuments to see inside the temple, as well as be able to go inside the Great Buddha. ¥200, includes an incense stick to place in the temple.  edit
  • Ryozen History Museum (霊山歴史館), 1 Ryozen-cho Seikanji. 10AM-4PM, Closed Mon. A museum dedicated to displaying artifacts and information about the Meiji Restoration.  edit
  • Ryozen Gokoku Shrine (霊山護国神社), 605 Seikanji-Ryosen-cho, 075-561-7124, [24]. This shrine was built to house the souls of all those who died from the Meiji Restoration uprisings and the Russo-Japanese War to the end of World War II. It is the first shrine in the nation to be officially recognized as a shrine for war dead, but also glorifies the kamikaze and has a nationalist tinge.  edit
Gion district (祇園)[edit]
Tea houses along the Shirakawa Canal

The flagstone-paved streets and traditional buildings of the Gion district, located to the north-west of Kiyomizu-dera, are where you're most likely to see the geisha in Kyoto, scurrying between buildings or slipping into a taxi. The area just to the north of Shijo-dori, to the west of Yasaka Shrine, is especially photogenic - particularly around Shinbashi-dori and Hanami-koji. Sannenzaka ("three-year-slope") and Ninenzaka ("two-year-slope"), two stepped streets leading off from Kiyomizu-zaka, are also very picturesque - but watch your step, slipping over on these streets brings three or two years' bad luck respectively.

  • Yasaka Shrine (八坂神社), 625 Gion-machi, Kitagawa-ku (East end of Shijo-dori. Nearest bus stop: Gion), 075-561-6155, [25]. Always open. At the eastern end of Shijo-dori, at the edge of Gion, this shrine which goes back 1350 years is responsible for Kyoto's main festival - the Gion Matsuri, which takes place in July. The shrine is small in comparison with many in Kyoto, but it boasts an impressive display of lanterns. Free.  edit
  • Kenninji Temple (建仁寺), 584 Komatsu-cho, Higashiyama-ku, 075-561-0190, [26]. 10:00-16:00. Japan's oldest Zen temple, has handsome halls and sand and moss gardens, and is of particular interest to art lovers. Sotatsu's famed Edo-period screens of the Wind and Thunder Gods are on display. And on the high ceiling of the Hatto Dharma Hall writhe Koizumi Junsaku's splendid Twin Dragons, painted and installed in 2002. One of the best temples in Higashiyama. ¥500.  edit

Philosopher's Path[edit]

The Philosopher's Path runs from Ginkakuji down to Eikando, with many travelers choosing to end their journey at Nanzenji (or begin, should you choose to walk towards Ginkakuji). The sites are listed in the order you will pass them if you head south from Ginkakuji. The path is especially nice during the cherry blossom season (usually beginning in late March) but also the autumn leaves in the second half of November is another popular time. If you choose you go then, expect large crowds following the path and taking pictures.

  • Ginkakuji (銀閣寺), Ginkakuji-cho (Nearest bus stop: Ginkakuji-michi, routes 5, 17, 32, 100, 102, 203, 204), 075-771-5725, [27]. Mar-Nov: 8:30-5:00; Dec-Mar: 09:00-4:30. This temple, known as the Silver Pavilion, is at the northern end of the Philosopher's Walk. Much like its golden counterpart Kinkakuji, the Silver Pavilion is often choked with tourists, shuffling past a scrupulously-maintained dry landscape Zen garden and the surrounding moss garden, before posing for pictures in front of the Pavilion across a pond. Unlike its counterpart, however, the Silver Pavilion was never actually covered in silver; only the name had been applied before the plans fell apart. The garden around the temple is also very beautiful and worthwhile. Be sure not to miss the display of Very Important Mosses. ¥500.  edit
  • Hōnenin (法然院), 30 Shishigatani Goshonodancho, Sakyo-ku, 075-771-2420, [28]. 7AM-4PM. A quiet temple with some interesting raised dry rock gardens. It was built in honor of Honen, the founder of the Jodo sect. The best time to visit is from late spring to autumn to see the beautiful moss growing on the ground and the thatched roof temple gate. Free.  edit
  • Anrakuji (安楽寺), 21 Shishigatani Goshonodancho, Sakyo-ku, 075-771-5360, [29]. 9:30AM-4:30PM. A temple built to console the soles of Anraku and some concubines who were killed by order of the Imperial Court who did not approve of their Buddhist sect. It is especially nice in the second half of November to see the autumn colors, as well as cherry blossoms and azaleas in springtime. It is only open to the public for brief periods in spring and autumn (see their website). ¥500.  edit
  • Kōunji (光雲寺), 075-751-7949, [30]. A zen temple designed around the borrowed scenery of the surrounding mountains, it was once owned by Empress Gomizuno. One of its highlights is its beautiful koi pond.  edit
  • Kumano Nyakuōji Shrine (熊野若王子神社), 2 Nishioji, Sakyo-ku, 075-771-7420, [31]. A nice shrine to visit in the autumn when the leaves are changing. It's a worthwhile stop for those traveling along the Philosopher's Path, but probably not worth making the trip just to see this shrine. Free.  edit
  • Eikando Temple (永観堂禅林寺), 48 Eikando-cho, Sakyo-ku (Nearest bus stop: Nanzenji/Eikando-michi, route 5), 075-761-0007, [32]. Daily 9AM-5PM. A large temple said to have been originally constructed by Priest Kukai. The temple features a unique statue of Amida Buddha, Mikaeri Amida, that looks to the right rather than facing forward. The temple grounds also feature a Tahoto pagoda and a lake. The temple is particularly pleasant in the autumn when the leaves are changing. ¥600.  edit
Aqueduct, Nanzenji Temple
  • Nanzenji Temple (南禅寺), Fukuchi-cho, Nanzenji, Sakyo-ku (Nearest bus stop: Nanzenji/Eikando-michi, route 5). 8:40AM-5:00PM (until 4:30PM Dec-Feb). with its distinctive two-story entrance gate (sanmon) and aqueduct, is another popular temple in Kyoto, but its larger size means that it doesn't seem as crowded as many of the others. Nearest bus stop: Nanzenji, Eikando-michi. Nearest subway station: Keage. Open daily, 8.30AM-5PM. Walking around the temple complex is free, including the unusual Meiji-era aqueduct that wouldn't look out of place in Italy. There are three regions of Nanzenji that you can pay to enter: Sanmon - the two-story main gate to Nanzenji Temple charges ¥500 for admission, and offers pleasant views over the surrounding area of the city. Nanzenin Zen Temple - a small, but relaxing temple with a gorgeous pond garden behind the aqueduct, dating back to the 13th century, charges ¥300 for admission, and the Hojo - the abbot's quarters, is a more interesting building, with a small raked gravel garden and some impressive paintings on the sliding doors of the buildings. ¥500.  edit
  • Tenjuan (天授庵), 86-8 Nanzenji Fukuchicho, Sakyo-ku, 075-771-0744, [33]. 9AM–5PM. This is an often overlooked sub-temple of Nanzenji, which is sad because it has a magnificent garden and scenery you likely have seen in photographs online but wondered where it was. The garden at the height of the autumn colors is simply astonishing. ¥400.  edit
  • Konchi-in (金地院), 86-12 Nanzenji Fukuchicho, Sakyo-ku. 9AM–5PM. Konchi-in is another Nanzenji sub-temple with a large dry rock garden and using the mountains in the background as "borrowed scenery". It also has a nice pond garden with koi fish and from late May, countless water lilies blooming. ¥400.  edit

Do[edit][add listing]

During warmer months, Japanese and foreigners alike gather on the banks of the Kamo River to drink and make merry. The area around the Sanjo Bridge is the most popular. It's a friendly, welcoming scene. In summer months, on Fridays and Saturdays, a group of fire dancers and drum players occasionally hold free performances.

  • Walk the Philosopher's Path (哲学の道 tetsugaku-no-michi). The 2km-long path through northeastern Kyoto, along which a philosophy professor, Kitaro Nishida, used to frequently walk in the 1920s. It is a surprisingly pleasant and relaxing walk even today, though much more crowded. The walk runs south from Ginkakuji beside an aqueduct to Nyakuoji Shrine, many guidebooks suggest that the walk continues further south from there to Nanzenji, but this southerly section of the walk is less consistently signposted. The route passes several temples en route, notably Honenin, a beautiful secluded temple with a thatched gate. The best time to walk the trail is in the spring when the cherry blossoms are in bloom, as the path is lined with cherry trees, or in the fall when the leaves are changing. Of course, these are also the most crowded times of year.  edit
  • Ninenzaka and Sannenzaka (二年坂 三年坂), 2-221 Kiyomizu, [34]. Next to Kiyomizudera are two carefully preserved pedestrian streets that still give you a glimpse of Japan from long ago. Today, they are loaded with stores catering to tourists and souvenir hunters, and they can get jammed with people in the afternoon, but it is still worth passing through to get a real taste of Kyoto.  edit
  • Explore Hanmikoji Street (花見小路), [35]. This is the place to be from the evening to spot some geisha and maiko on their way to thier appointments. The street still keeps its old traditional appearance, and this is ground zero for the old Gion culture of Kyoto.  edit
  • Mount Daimonji (大文字山). Mount Daimonji is a bit more than a hill, but it provides a breathtaking view of the city. So if you feel like a hike, this is a pleasant hour long forest walk. At the summit, you can check out the city views, or keep hiking through the forest for hours, as long as you don't mind winding up far away from where you started. There's a clearly marked path up the mountain that begins near Ginkakuji. To reach the trailhead, turn left when facing the gates of Ginkakuji, and, before the stone torii (the iconic gate found throughout Japan), turn right and follow the path upwards. You'll soon be greeted with a map of the hill. If you don't know Japanese, don't worry, just follow everyone up the very-obvious path to the summit. (35.01979,135.81157) edit
  • Ride in a Rickshaw, 075-533-0444, [36]. Unlike the days of old when rickshaw pullers were looked down upon, the men pulling them today are quite highly regarded (and highly attractive). Some of the most popular pullers may even have their own patrons. These men do not simply transport you; they also act as guides, sharing information about the area and attractions. For those who can understand Japanese, it can be as informative as it is fun. The rickshaws are particularly popular with couples, as it can be quite romantic, especially in the evenings. The drivers are very friendly and will gladly take a picture of you sitting in it to remember the experience. Although they do have some set routes, you can also request to be taken to a specific attraction (within a reasonable distance, of course). Rickshaws can be found throughout the area from outside Maruyama Park to Kiyomizudera. Prices vary depending on what route you choose, but they typically range from ¥5000-7000.  edit
  • Tea Ceremony at Shorenin, [37]. Open from 10 AM to 3:30 PM on the vernal equinox, May 5, and throughout November. The ceremony is held in the former study of retired Emperor Gosakuramachi known as the Kobun-tei, typically not open to visitors. The room was rebuilt in the 1990s after a fire burned down the original, but it is still an interesting place nonetheless, and the tea ceremony is an interesting experience. The ceremony costs ¥1000 in addition to the temple entrance fee, costing ¥1500 total.  edit

Geisha and Maiko[edit]

Maiko
  • Geisha Walking Lecture[60]If you are interested about the world of the Geisha, you shouldn't miss the walking lecture by Peter MacIntosh . The walk will have you tour the Gion district where Peter, will give you an insider's view into the past, present and future of this unique and exotic world. If you're lucky you might see a Geisha walking by to one of her appointments. Reservation is to be made by phone: 090-5169-1654
  • Kyoto Cuisine and Maiko Evening, 505 Gion-machi minami-gawa, Higashiyama-ku, 075-541-5315, [38]. Show lasts from 6 PM to 10 PM Events held on Mon., Wed., Fri., Sat., and other chosen days (see website to confirm dates). Located at Gion Hatanaka, this event offers foreigners the rare opportunity to see an authentic performance by real maiko. Guests are served food and you can drink as much as you like during the performance. You can make reservations online (continue to check for updates, because they reserve the right to cancel performances). ¥18000 (includes all-you-can-drink).  edit
  • Photo session as Maiko/Geiko, 4F Ouka Bldg., 576 Gion-cho Minamigawa Shijo-tori Hanamikoji Nishi-iru Higashiyama-ku (Gion), 075-661-0858, [39]. 10:00am - 8:00pm. If you are interested in having a photo session dressed up as a Maiko or Geiko (geisha) or, for men, as a samurai, several studios in Kyoto provide this service at affordable price. The session includes full make up and dress in a kimono and normally lasts for 1.5-2 hours. Options include indoor or outdoor shots (strolling in Gion dressed up as a geisha!), plus at Yumekoubou they will take a few photos with your own camera while they dress you up, for free. It is recommended to select a plan and make reservation online - in some studios they speak very limited English. More links: http://www.yumeyakata.com/eng/index.html, http://www.maica.tv/e/index.html ¥9,975.  edit

Buy[edit][add listing]

  • Rakushisha Paper Crafts (洛紙舎), 549-2 Nishinomon-cho (On Shijo-dori where it intersects with Yamato-Oji-dori near Sanjuusangendo), 075-561-5852. Open from 10 AM to 5:30 PM. A great souvenir shop with some more original and less tacky souvenirs. In particular, for those looking to purchase nice nice paintings or copies of famous Japanese paintings, this shop offers a variety of paintings on paper that looks less cheesy than those that you will find along Shijo or near Kiyomizudera. There are also authentic Kyoto-made paper fans. Much of the items in this store are difficult to find elsewhere, so if you're interested in these items, it's best to buy them here.  edit
  • Honkenishio Yatsuhashi (本家西尾八ッ橋), 075-541-8284, [40]. Open from 8 AM to 6 PM. The best store to buy raw yatsuhashi, it offers the largest variety of flavors, including seasonal varieties. One package of yatsuhashi costs ¥250.  edit

Eat[edit][add listing]

  • Il Pappalardo, 075-533-3330, [41]. Lunch from 11:30 AM to 3:00 PM, Dinner from 5:30 PM to 10:00 PM. One of Kyoto's best Italian restaurants. Dishes tend to be pricey, but the food tastes delicious. Pizzas are sold at more affordable prices. Pizzas range from ¥1500-2400..  edit
  • Saryou Tsuriji (茶寮都路里 高台寺店), 530 Shimokawaracho, Higashiyama-ku, 075-541-1228, [42]. 12–4:30PM, Closed Thu. Famous for its macha (green tea) parfait, this restaurant is quite popular among Japanese tourists. It is not uncommon to wait 30 minutes just to get inside. Mainly ice cream is served, and most of it is green tea flavored, as it is a Kyoto specialty. It's a nice experience for those who like to make eating part of their travel experience, but for those on a budget, there are plenty of vendors selling cheap macha ice cream cones. ¥850-1250.  edit
  • Sweets Paradise, Koto Cross Hankyu Kawaramachi 6th Floor, 075-212-2234, [43]. 10:30AM–9:30PM. Sweets Paradise is the famed all-you-can-eat cake and dessert restaurant. While they do offer some main dishes, no one comes here for anything but the sugar. After you pay, you can eat as much as you want for 50-100 minutes. ¥1100-2580.  edit
  • TACkitchen (タックキッチン祇園店), 88-1 Sueyoshicho, Higashiyama-ku (From Gion Shijo Stn, walk east along Shijo Dori on the left. After the first traffic light, walk about 100m and turn left onto a small street. About 50m after the next crossroads, TACkitchen is on your left), 075-531-0970, [44]. 6:30PM–4AM, Closed Sun. Not the cheapest, but really great Italian food in a very hospitable environment, with friendly staff, nice music and great dessert. ¥4000~.  edit
  • Torikizoku (鳥貴族), [45]. 5 or 6 pm to late. Torikizoku is the most popular yakitori chain in Kansai. There are several locations in Kyoto - most convenient for travellers is in Kawaramachi/Shijo, just before the bridge, or between sanjo and shijo, on kiyachou-dori. The yakitori is delicious, comes in generous serves and is very cheap. It's very popular with both locals and expats, and is always busy. Try to come before 7:30 to secure seats. Look for the Japanese characters on the distinctive yellow and red sign. All food/drink ¥300 each.  edit

Drink[edit][add listing]

There is a far, far bigger selection of bars and pubs on the other side of the Kamo River between the Kyoto Shiyakusho-mae subway station and the Hankyu Kyoto-Kwaramachi station. But if for whatever reason you don't want to go there, the area has a few places to try.

  • New Sapper (ニューサパー ''nyuusapaa''), 53 Okazaki Tennou-cho, 075-751-5515. 12–5PM, 6PM–12AM Closed Wed. ¥600 for whiskey and brandy, ¥800 for a cocktail fizz.  edit
  • Pig & Whistle (ピッグ&ホイッスル), 115 Shobi Biru 2F, Sanjodori Ohashicho, Higashiyama-ku (1-min walk from either Keihan Sanjo Stn or Sanjo subway stn), 075-761-6022, [46]. 5PM-11PM (Sun-Thu), 5PM-12AM (Fri-Sat). Opened in 1986 with 85 seats and emulates a typical British pub. English menus and English speaking staff. With sports programs on TV, live performances/shows, performing bands on occasion. Dinner from ¥2000.  edit
  • Zoro Peace Lounge Kyoto, 80-11 Sueyoshicho 4F, Higashiyama-ku, 075-525-1900, [47]. 8:30PM–3AM, Closed Sun. A high class wine bar with pasta and lamb dishes. More for serious dates, or quiet conversations. ¥1600~.  edit
  • El Tesoro, Daiwa Bldg 1F, Higashiyama-ku, 075-541-1770, [48]. 4PM–3AM, Closed Wed-Thu. A traditional, upper crust cocktail and liquor bar. Specializes in private label and special reserve aged whisky.  edit

Sleep[edit][add listing]

The small size and historic preservation of this district leave little room for hotels – most people will stay in Central Kyoto instead. There are a few exceptions:

Budget[edit]

Hostels[edit]

  • Gojo Guest House, 3-396-2 Gojobashi-higashi, Higashiyama-Ku (5 min. walk from Keihan Gojo Station), 075-525-2299, [49]. checkin: 3-10 PM; checkout: 11 AM. A Japanese style hostel with a cozy cafe located in the Higashiyama area. Dorm ¥2500/person, twin ¥6000/room, triple ¥9900/room for three people, ¥12,000 for four.  edit
  • Guest House - The Earth Ship, 33-15 Naka-Adaticho, Yoshida, Sakyo-ku (near Kyoto University, 10 min. walk from Keihan Demachiyanagi Station), 075-204-0077, [50]. Friendly shared living room. Dormitory ¥2,500, Private room starts at ¥4000 for one person, ¥6000 for two people, ¥7500 for three, ¥8000 for four. There is an additional discount on these prices for long stays.  edit
  • Guesthouse Engawa (東山の宿 えんがわ), 6-510-25 Gojobashohigashi, Higashiyama-ku, 080-4554-1981, [51]. checkin: 16; checkout: 10:30. Clean, renovated guesthouse with traditional Japanese rooms close to the entrance of Kiyomizudera. Dorm bunks ¥3500, rooms ¥7500~.  edit

Midrange[edit]

  • Hidden Inn Kyoto Vacation Rental Townhouse, Kyoto-shi Higashiyama-ku Kamitoryo-cho 126-12 (5 min. walk SE from Keihan Gojo Stn), 050-5534-2429 (), [52]. checkin: 4 PM; checkout: 10 AM. Modern & luxurious centrally located vacation rental townhouse fully equipped with kitchen, 2 bedrooms with Western style beds (sleeps up to 6), free wi-fi. A great option for families or small groups. from ¥19,500 for two.  edit
  • Kyoto Travelers Inn (京都トラベラーズ・イン), 91 Enshojicho, Okazaki, Sakyoku (7 min. walk NE from Higashiyama subway station T10, exit 1, or get off at Heian-jingu-torii-mae stop on the #5 bus), 075-771-0225 (fax: 075-771-0226), [53]. checkin: 3PM; checkout: 10AM. One of the few hotels in eastern Kyoto, near the giant concrete torii of the Heian-jingu shrine. The building is divided into two sections, with Japanese-style and Western-style rooms; the former are often booked solid by groups during the school year, but are preferable if you're OK with a futon instead of actual bed. Free Wi-Fi in the lobby. Singles ¥6825~, doubles ¥12,600~.  edit
  • Amenity Hotel Kyoto (アメニティーホテル京都), 4-171 Kiyomizu, Higashiyama-ku (5 min walk from Kiyomizudera), 075-525-3900, [54]. checkin: 15; checkout: 10. Includes both Japanese and western rooms and a Chinese restaurant on the first floor. ¥5000~.  edit

Splurge[edit]

  • Iori Gion Shinmonzen Townhouse, Shinmonzen-dori, [55]. Located in a traditional machiya, the Gion Shinmonzen (one of the Iori Machiya) is perfect for anyone looking to enhance their experience in Kyoto with ultra-traditional accommodations right in Gion. Reservations are made online. Prices start at ¥35000 (2 people) but vary depending on the day and time of year. Prices are listed for each day on the website.  edit
  • Hyatt Regency Kyoto, 644-2 Sanjusangendo-mawari, Higashiyama-ku (Near Shichi-jo station on the Keihan line, or you can take buses #206, #208, or #100 from JR Kyoto station), 075-541-1234 (), [56]. 5 star hotel with contemporary interior design. All its restaurants feature show kitchens, which is a first in Kyoto. ¥43,000 for twin room.  edit
  • Ryokan Tamahan, 477 Gion, Shimogawara-cho, Higashiyama-ku (Gion District, 10 minutes by taxi from Kyoto Station), 075-561-3188, [57]. checkin: 3pm; checkout: 11am. Traditional Ryokan in quaint Gion district. It's worth the experience for at least one night. The price includes Japanese dinner and a choice of Japanese or Western breakfast. There is free wifi access. Staff are friendly but speak limited English. ¥25,000 per person.  edit
  • Westin Miyako Kyoto, Keage, Sanjo, Higashiyama-ku, 075-771-7111 (fax: 075-751-2490), [58]. checkin: 1 PM; checkout: 11AM. Established in 1890, this is the oldest Western-style hotel in Kyoto. It has over 400 rooms, starting at ¥33,000 for twins. (If you make a reservation through a travel agency, you may get a lower price.) It has about 30,000 square meters, and a few Japanese gardens, one of which, Aoiden (葵殿庭園) was built by Jihei Ogawa (小川治兵衛). The gardens can be visited by non-guests. It's near Keage Station (subway - Tozai Line, T09), or you can take a shuttle bus from JR Kyoto Station.  edit
  • Kyoto Ryokan Kinoe, 44-8 Bishamoncho, Higashiyama-ku, 075-561-1230 (fax: 075-561-8719), [59]. checkin: 3 PM; checkout: 11 AM. Traditional Japanese-style hotel situated at Gion district in Kyoto. It is located near Yasaka Shrine, Kodaiji Temple, Kenninji Temple, Ninenzaka, Sannenzaka and Kiyomizudera.  edit

Contact[edit]

For the latest info on events, happenings, and things to do, contact the Kyoto City Tourism Association.

Stay safe[edit]

While safe for you like other parts of Japan, in the Gion and Pontocho areas there has been a growing backlash against foreigners offensively taking photos like frenzied paparazzi and obstructing geisha and maiko who are walking to their engagements. Some private alleys which have businesses have threatened to fine people taking photos, and while there is no specific law against it (yet), you are strongly asked to behave yourself while being in Japan.



This article contains content that was once found at Kyoto. View that page's revision history for the list of authors.