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[[Image:Kyoto_Kinkakuji.JPG|thumb|The Golden Pavilion (''Kinkaku'')]]
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{{pagebanner|Kyoto banner.jpg}}
  
Nestled among mountains in Western Honshu, '''Kyoto''' (京都) has a reputation worldwide as [[Japan|Japan's]] most beautiful city, boasting more World Heritage Sites per square inch than any other city. However, visitors will be surprised how much work they will have to do to see its beautiful side. Most visitors' first impressions will be of the urban sprawl of central Kyoto, around the ultra-modern glass-and-steel train station.
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{{printDistricts}}
  
Nonetheless, the persistent tourist will soon discover Kyoto's hidden beauty in the temples and parks which ring the city center, and find that the city has even more than meets the eye.
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Kyoto (京都) was the capital of [[Japan]] for over a millennium, and carries a reputation as its most beautiful city.  However, visitors may be surprised by how much work they will have to do to see Kyoto's beautiful side. Most first impressions of the city will be of the urban sprawl of central Kyoto, around the ultra-modern glass-and-steel train station, which is itself an example of a city steeped in tradition colliding with the modern world.
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Nonetheless, the persistent visitor will soon discover Kyoto's hidden beauty in the temples and parks which ring the city center, and find that the city has much more to offer than immediately meets the eye.
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==Districts==
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[[Image:Kinkakuji.jpg|thumb|upright=1.7|The Golden Pavilion of Kinkaku-ji]]
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Though dwarfed in size by other major Japanese cities, Kyoto is vast in terms of its rich cultural heritage - the material endowment of over a thousand years as the country's imperial capital. The city's numerous palaces, shrines, temples and other landmarks are spread out over the following districts:
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*'''[[Kyoto/Central|Central]]''' - Site of Nijō Castle (a former residence of the Tokugawa shōguns) and the stately grounds of the Imperial Palace.  The district's southern end is anchored by the massive glass-and-steel building of the city's main gateway, Kyoto Station.
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*'''[[Kyoto/Arashiyama|Arashiyama]] (Western Kyoto)''' - Set against the beautiful tree-covered hills of Arashiyama, this district is rich in both historic and natural wonders.
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*'''[[Kyoto/Higashiyama|Higashiyama]] (Eastern Kyoto)''' - Nestled between the Kamo River and the temple-studded mountains of Higashiyama, this area's many attractions include the famed geisha district of Gion and the historic sites strung alongside the well-known Philosopher's Path.
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*'''[[Kyoto/North|North]]''' - Graced with scores of centuries-old shrines and temples, including several [[World Heritage Site|World Heritage Sites]].  One of Kyoto's most famous attractions - the magnificent gilded pavilion of Kinkaku-ji - can be found here.
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*'''[[Kyoto/South|South]]''' - This district covers a large part of Japan's former capital, stretching from the Ōharano area in the west to Fushimi-ku, Daigo, and the southern tip of Higashiyama-ku in the east.
  
 
==Understand==
 
==Understand==
Kyoto was the capital of Japan and the residence of the Emperor from 794 until the Meiji Restoration of 1868, when the capital was moved to [[Tokyo]]. During its millennium at the center of Japanese power, culture, tradition, and religion, it accumulated an unparalleled collection of palaces, temples and shrines, built for emperors, shoguns, geishas and monks. Almost alone among Japanese cities, Kyoto escaped the Allied bombings of World War II, although it could be argued that the concrete redevelopment that turned 95% of Kyoto into an ordinary Japanese city did just as thorough a job.
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Nestled among the mountains of Western [[Honshu]], Kyoto was the capital of Japan and the residence of the Emperor from 794 until the Meiji Restoration of 1868, when the capital was moved to [[Tokyo]]. During its millennium at the center of Japanese power, culture, tradition, and religion, it accumulated an unparalleled collection of palaces, temples and shrines, built for emperors, shoguns, and monks. Kyoto was among the few Japanese cities that escaped the allied bombings of World War II and as a result, Kyoto still has an abundance of prewar buildings, such as the traditional townhouses known as ''machiya''. However the city is continuously undergoing modernization with some of the traditional Kyoto buildings being replaced by newer architecture, such as the Kyoto Station complex.
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===Orientation===
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Kyoto's city planners way back in 794 decided to copy the Chinese capital Chang'an (present-day [[Xi'an]]) and adopt a '''grid pattern''', which persists to this day in the city core.  West-east streets are numbered, with Ichijō-dōri (一条通, "First Street") up north and Jūjō-dōri (十条通, "Tenth Street") down south, but there is no obvious pattern to the names of north-south streets.
  
 
==Get in==
 
==Get in==
  
 
===By plane===
 
===By plane===
Kyoto does not have its own airport. The nearest international gateway is [[Kansai International Airport]], 73 minutes away by the fastest train. Most domestic flights land at Osaka's Itami Airport, one hour away by bus.
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{{infobox|Not arriving at Kansai or Itami?|*A small number of air flights operate daily from Tokyo's [[Narita Airport]] to Itami and Kansai, for the benefit of international passengers. Another option is to take the ''Narita Express'' limited express train to Tokyo's Shinagawa station, then change to the Tokaido Shinkansen.
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*If you arrive at Nagoya's [[Chubu Centrair International Airport]], Kyoto can be reached in 80 minutes by taking the Meitetsu Airport Line to Nagoya, then changing to the Tokaido Shinkansen.}}
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Kyoto does not have its own airport, but rather is served by [[Osaka]]'s two airports. There is an excellent road and railway network between the two cities.
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====From Kansai====
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=====By train=====
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Overseas travellers can fly into [[Kansai International Airport]] and then get a train to Kyoto. Kansai Airport Station is located opposite the arrival lobby where the Japanese Rail (JR) West Haruka Kansai Airport Limited Express Train can be caught. The best and fastest way to get to Kyoto from the airport is to buy a one-day '''JR West Kansai Area Pass'''[http://www.jr-odekake.net/en/jwrp/kansai.html] and take the Haruka Limited Express (non-reserved tickets only). The Haruka Limited Express takes about 77 minutes, with trains leaving every 30-60 minutes. The pass is for foreigners only and costs ¥2,300, which is ¥680 less than a regular Haruka Limited Express ticket from the airport to Kyoto. You will need to show your passport, as well as a copy of your foreign-bound return flight, when purchasing a ticket.
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Another option that JR started to offer is the '''ICOCA and HARUKA discount ticket'''[http://www.jr-odekake.net/en/icoca-haruka/] which includes travel in unreserved seating on the Haruka to Kyoto and any JR station within a designated "Free Zone" and a rechargeable ICOCA transit card containing ¥2000 (includes ¥500 deposit) that can be used on JR, private railways, buses and stores in the Kansai region. A one-way discount ticket costs ¥1600 and a round-trip costs ¥3200.
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Both of the above tickets can be purchased online or at the Kansai Airport train station.
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=====By bus=====
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Comfortable limousine buses run from the airport to Kyoto Station, twice an hour, stopping at some of the major hotels along the way. The ticket costs ¥2,500 (children ¥1,250) one-way or ¥4,000 for round-trip. Bus tickets can be purchased outside of the airport's arrival lobby on the first floor. (just go straight when you leave customs through the "North gate").
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The buses leave from bus stop #8, which is located directly opposite the ticket vending machine.
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The ride takes 88 minutes but can take longer when there is traffic (about 90 – 135 minutes).
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====From Itami====
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Located near [[Osaka]], Itami Airport is Kansai's largest domestic airport. Travelers flying into Kyoto from other areas in Japan will most likely arrive here. The easiest way to get to Kyoto from Itami Airport is by limousine bus No. 15. The trip takes about an hour and costs ¥1,280. The buses run three times an hour.  Alternatively, you can take a combination of monorail and train, which requires at least two changes (monorail to Hotarugaike, Hankyu Takarazuka Line to Juso, Hankyu Kyoto Line to Kyoto) but costs just ¥650 and can be completed in an hour. Whereas the Limousine Bus will leave you at Kyoto Station in the '''southern''' part of Kyoto, the Hankyu Railway runs to Shijō Street in '''central''' Kyoto.
  
 
===By train===
 
===By train===
Most visitors arrive at JR Kyoto station by Shinkansen (bullet train) from [[Tokyo]], 2 hours and 14 minutes away on the fastest ''Nozomi'' service.
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[[Image:Nozomi kyoto.jpg|left|thumb|250px|A 500-series shinkansen train entering Kyoto station.]]
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Most visitors arrive at JR Kyoto station by Shinkansen (bullet train) from [[Tokyo]]. ''Nozomi'' trains take approximately 2.15 hrs. to Kyoto and costs ¥13520 one-way. Travel agencies in Tokyo and Kyoto sell nozomi tickets with ¥700-1,000 discount. If you buy a ticket in an agency, it is "open date" - you can board any train as long as it is not full. All you have to do is show up at the train station, register your agency ticket and then you will be reserved a seat. The trains are equipped with vending machines and attendants selling snacks.
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''Hikari'' trains, which run less frequently and make a few more stops, cover the trip in around 2.45 hours, but only the ''Hikari'' and the ''Kodama'' trains can be used by [[Japan#Japan_Rail_Pass|Japan Rail Pass]] holders at no charge.
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Travelers can also take advantage of the '''Puratto Kodama Ticket''' [http://www.jrtours.co.jp/kodama/], which offers a discount on the all-stopping Kodama services if purchased at least one day in advance. You get a reserved seat and a free drink on board. With this ticket a trip from Tokyo to Kyoto costs ¥9800 and takes 3.45 hours. Note that there is only one Kodama service per hour from Tokyo, and a few early-morning Kodama trains cannot be used with this ticket.
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During travel periods when the [[Seishun 18 Ticket]] is valid, you can go from Tokyo to Kyoto during the day in about 8.30 hours using all-local trains. Traveling in a group is the best way to get discounts. The usual fare is ¥8000 however a party of three costs ¥3800 per person, and a group of five traveling together drops the price down to ¥2300 per person.
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For travel in the [[Kansai]] region, a cheaper and almost as fast alternative is the JR ''shinkaisoku'' (新快速) rapid service, which connects to [[Osaka]], [[Kobe]] and [[Himeji]] at the price of a local train. For a slightly cheaper price you can use the private Hankyu or Keihan lines to [[Osaka]] and [[Kobe]], or the Kintetsu line to [[Nara]].  The Kansai Thru Pass includes travel on the private lines through to Kyoto, and this may prove cheaper that a JR Pass if you are staying a few days in the area.
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====Overnight by train====
  
For travel in the [[Kansai]] region, a cheaper and nearly as fast alternative is the JR ''shinkaisoku'' rapid service, which connects to [[Osaka]], [[Kobe]] and [[Himeji]] at the price of a local train.  Slightly cheaper yet are the private Hankyu or Keihan lines to [[Osaka]], or the Kintetsu line to [[Nara]].
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Direct overnight train service between Tokyo and Kyoto on a daily basis was abolished with the discontinuation of the ''Ginga'' express train in 2008. An alternative route via northern Japan became moot when another overnight train was removed from regular service in 2012. As a result, taking the bus is now the easiest way to travel between these two cities at night.
  
===By bus===
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Overnight travel between Tokyo and Kyoto is still possible, and if you have a Japan Rail Pass and are willing to do some research, it can be inexpensive as well. The idea is to split your journey into two parts, stopping at an intermediate destination en-route in order to sleep somewhere. Your cost will only be for the hotel room, as your train fare has already been paid for on your rail pass.  
The cheapest way of traveling from Tokyo or other distant points to Kyoto is by night bus, which terminate at Kyoto station.
 
  
==Get around==
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This two-part method carries a couple of advantages: '''location''' and '''money'''. You will more than likely find good accomodations very close to a main train station in a smaller city, compared to a big city such as Tokyo, and it will more than likely be cheaper than hotels found in Tokyo. You could use the money you save to forward some of your luggage to Kyoto using a '''luggage delivery service''' and take an overnight bag with you, which will make the journey easier.
The sheer size of the city of Kyoto, and the distribution of tourist attractions around the periphery of the city, make the city's public transport system invaluable.
 
  
The '''Kansai Thru Pass''' (''Surutto Kansai'') stored-value card can be used on all means of transportation in Kyoto (and the rest of the [[Kansai]] region), with the notable exception of JR trains.  You can purchase the cards in denominations starting at ¥1000 at any train or subway station.
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For example, you can use the Tokaido Shinkansen late at night and sleep over at a hotel in [[Shizuoka]], [[Hamamatsu]], [[Toyohashi]] or [[Nagoya]]; In the morning, grab one of the first bullet train departures in the same direction to continue your trip. Here is an example: In the evening hours, take a ''Hikari'' or ''Kodama'' train to Hamamatsu (75-90 minutes via ''Hikari'' or 2 hours via ''Kodama''). Once there you can take a rest at Hamamatsu's [http://www.toyoko-inn.com/e_hotel/00169/index.html '''Toyoko Inn'''], which costs as low as ¥4000 for a single room if booked in advance. At 6:30 the next morning, board the first bullet train of the day, a Kodama, and you will be in Kyoto before 8:00.
  
===By train===
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Remember that Japan Rail Passes are '''also valid for JR buses''' operating between Tokyo and Kyoto (see 'By Bus').
The Keihan train line can be useful for traveling in eastern Kyoto, while the two Keifuku tram lines are an attractive way of traveling in the northwest.
 
  
===By subway===
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===By car===
Kyoto's subway network has two subway lines, the north-south '''Karasuma Line''' and the west-east '''Tozai Line'''Both are useful for travel in the city center but not really suitable for temple-hopping.
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Kyoto is easily reached by car via the Meishin Expressway between [[Nagoya]] and [[Osaka]], but you'll definitely want to park your car on the outskirts of the city and use public transport to get aroundMost attractions are in places built well before the existence of automobiles, and the availability of parking varies between extremely limited and non-existent. Furthermore, what little parking is available might be outrageously expensive.
  
 
===By bus===
 
===By bus===
The bus network is the only practical way of reaching many attractions. Most city buses have a fixed fare of ¥220.
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As Kyoto is a major city, there are many day and overnight buses which run between Kyoto and other locations throughout Japan, which can be a cheaper alternative than shinkansen fares.
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The run between Tokyo and the Kansai region is the busiest in Japan, and fierce competition between bus operators has resulted in better amenities and lower prices. Buses from Tokyo follow either the Tomei Expressway or the Chuo Expressway to Nagoya, then the Meishin Expressway to Kyoto. Trips take approximately 7-9 hours depending on the route and stops.
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The following are among the major bus services available between Tokyo and Kyoto: ''(Current as of March, 2012)''
  
You can also purchase a one day pass (¥500) with which you can ride an unlimited number of times within a one day period.  This is especially useful if you plan on visiting many different points of interest within Kyoto.
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=====Willer Express=====
  
The municipal transport company publishes a very useful leaflet called '''Bus Navi'''. It contains a route map for the bus lines to most sights and fare information. You can pick it up at the information centre in front of the main station.
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Discount bus operator '''Willer Express''' [http://travel.willer.co.jp/en/] runs daytime and overnight buses with a variety of seating options ranging from standard bus seats to luxurious shell seats. Bus journeys can be booked online in English, and Willer's '''Japan Bus Pass''' is valid on all of their routes with some exceptions.
  
==See==
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Buses from Tokyo leave from Willer's own bus terminal, located west of Shinjuku Station in the Sumitomo Building. Some buses also leave from '''Tokyo Disneyland''' - Goofy Car Park, '''Tokyo Station''' - Yaesu-Chuo Exit, '''Shinagawa Station''' - Shinagawa Prince Hotel and '''Yokohama Station'''. In Kyoto, Willer Express uses the '''Hachijo Exit''' (八条口) at the south side of Kyoto Station, with some routes also stopping in front of the Kiyomizu-Gojo post office.
  
Kyoto offers an incredible number of attractions for tourists, and visitors will probably need to plan an itinerary in advance in order to visit as many as possible.
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Willer's overnight one-way fares to/from Tokyo start from approximately ¥3800 for overnight trips in standard seats up to ¥9800 in shell seats with advanced purchase. Daytime bus fares start from ¥4900. Fares are typically higher on weekends and holidays.
  
===North-western Kyoto===
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=====JR Bus=====
  
Visiting the vast temple complexes of north-western Kyoto can take the better part of a day. A suggested itinerary is to take the subway (Karasuma line) to Kitaoji station, and walk west along Kitaoji-dori. Daitokuji, Kinkakuji, Ryoanji and Ninnaji Temples are all on Kitaoji-dori, and about 15-30 minutes' walk apart. En route, you will see the giant "dai" (大) symbol burned on the hill overlooking the city. Hirano Shrine is a short walk south along Nishioji-dori from Kinkakuji. If you still have time left at the end of the day, take the pleasant electric railway (Keifuku Kitano line) from Omuro to Katabiranotsuji, then take the JR Sagano line from nearby Uzumasa station back to central Kyoto.
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'''JR Bus''' [http://www.kakuyasubus.jp/kanto_kansai/index.html (Japanese Website)] is also a major operator on the Tokyo-Kyoto route. The drawback is that you cannot make online reservations in English, but you can make reservations in train stations at the same "Midori-no-Madoguchi" ticket windows used to reserve seats on trains.
  
* '''Daitokuji Temple''' is a small and understated temple complex, boasting several small, secluded subtemples. Daitokuji is the quietest of the temples in north-western Kyoto, and if you visit it at the start of the day, you could virtually have it to yourself. Eight of the twenty-four subtemples open to the public (most days 9am-5pm), and each charges an admission fee (around ¥400). The highlight of the subtemples is '''Daisen-in''', located on the northern side of the temple complex, which has a beautiful Zen garden without the crowds of Ryoanji Temple. '''Koto-in''' is particularly noted for its maple trees, which are beautiful in autumn. ''Nearest bus stop: Daitokuji-mae''.
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JR Buses depart from '''Tokyo Station''' - Yaesu Exit (八重洲口) and the '''JR Highway Bus Terminal''' (JR高速バスターミナル) located adjacent to Yoyogi Station on the Yamanote Line (one stop south of Shinjuku). In Kyoto, buses congregate at the '''Karasuma Exit''' (烏丸口) at the north side of Kyoto Station.
  
* '''Kinkakuji Temple''' (the Golden Pavilion) is the most popular tourist attraction in Kyoto, and the crowds that constantly surround it reflect this. The pavilion was originally built as a retirement villa for Shogun Ashikaga Yoshimitsu in the late 12th century, and converted into a temple by his son. However, the pavilion was burnt down in 1950, by a young monk who had become obsessed with it. The pavilion was rebuilt in the Fifties to look even more tacky than before - extending the gold leaf covering it to the lower floor. Visitors follow a path through the moss garden surrounding the pavilion, before emerging into a square crowded with gift shops. Open daily 9am-5pm, admission ¥400. ''Nearest bus stop: Kinkakuji-michi''.
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JR Bus offers, in order of comfort and price, '''Seishun (youth) buses''' with 2x2 seating configurations, '''Standard buses''' with individual seats arranged 1x1x1, and '''Premium Buses''' that offer wider seats and more amenities.
  
* '''Hirano Shrine''' is a small shrine, which goes into overdrive during the cherry blossom viewing season, setting up amusement and food stalls. A small park of cherry trees next to the shrine is hung with lanterns and drawings by local schoolchildren. Sufficiently far off the tourist trail to be worth a look. Admission is free. ''Nearest bus stop: Waratenjin-mae''.
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JR Bus' overnight one-way fares to/from Tokyo start from approximately ¥3500 for overnight trips in Seishun buses up to ¥7600 for premium buses with advanced purchase. Daytime bus fares start from ¥5000. Fares are typically higher on weekends and holidays.
  
* '''Ryoanji Temple''' is notable for its large Zen garden, which is considered to be one of the most notable examples of the "dry-landscape" style. The raked gravel is permanently surrounded by vast numbers of tourists contemplating their existence. The rest of the grounds are worth a look too - particularly the large pond. Open daily 8am-5pm (Mar-Nov), 8.30am-4.30pm (Dec-Feb). Admission ¥500. ''Nearest bus stop: Ryoanji-mae''.
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Some JR Buses heading to/from Osaka stop at the '''Kyoto Fukakusa Bus Stop''' on the Meishin Expressway. Fujinomori Station on the Keihan Railway is a 10-minute walk from Fukakusa, while Takeda Station on the Kintetsu Railway and the Kyoto Subway is 15 minutes away; all can be used to reach the main city. A local city bus also runs to Kyoto station from the nearby Youth Science Center 1-2 times per hour.
  
* '''Ninnaji Temple''' is another large temple complex which is often overlooked by tourists. Admission to the grounds is free, allowing visitors to view the 17th century five-storey pagoda, and the plantation of dwarf cherry trees (which are always the last to bloom in Kyoto, in early-mid April). However, visitors shouldn't miss the temple itself, which demands an admission fee of ¥500, and features some beautifully painted screen walls, and a beautiful walled garden. In the hills behind the temple, there is a delightful miniature version of the renowned 88-temple walk in Shikoku, which takes an hour or two (rather than a month or two). This can provide a delightful end to a day of looking at tourist attractions. Open daily 9am-4.30pm. ''Nearest bus stop: Omuro Ninnaji''.
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Note that the Japan Rail Pass CAN be used for overnight trips on standard buses between Tokyo and Kyoto called "Dream" services. If traveling during the daytime, direct buses between Tokyo and Kyoto are NOT covered by the rail pass (you can use the much faster bullet train instead).
  
===Western Kyoto===
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=====Other bus services======
[[Image:Bamboo-arashiyama.jpg|frame|A walk through the bamboo forest, Arashiyama, Western Kyoto]]
 
  
The '''Arashiyama''' area to the west of the city is dismissed in most Western guidebooks in a brief paragraph suggesting "other attractions". However, the area is rightfully very popular with Japanese tourists, and is well worth a visit. To get here, take the JR Sagano line from Kyoto station to Saga Arashiyama.
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*'''Hankyu Bus:''' overnight from Ikebukuro Station, Shinagawa Bus Terminal and Yokohama Station. Fares start from ¥7950. Buses stop at the Kyoto New Hankyu Hotel.
  
* The walk through a forest of bamboo to '''Nonomiya Shrine''' and '''Okochi Sanso''' (a traditional house, previously occupied by a Japanese silent screen legend), is a real highlight of a visit to Kyoto. No admission fee for the shrine, ¥1000 for Okochi Sanso (price includes a cup of matcha (traditional Japanese tea, in the tea garden).
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*'''Keihan Bus:''' overnight from Shinjuku Highway Bus Terminal, Shibuya Mark City, Tokyo Disneyland and Keisei Ueno station. Discount buses ¥5000; regular buses ¥8180. Buses stop at Kyoto Station's Hachijo Exit.
  
* Feeding the macaque monkeys atop the mountain in '''Iwatayama Monkey Park''', to the south of the river, is worth the entrance fee (and the demanding climb!). ¥500 admission fee to enter the park.
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*'''Kintetsu Bus:''' overnight from Asakusa Station, Ueno Station, Tokyo Station and Yokohama Station. "Flying Liner" buses from ¥6320; "Flying Sneaker" discount bus from ¥3900 with advance purchase. Buses stop at Kyoto Station's Hachijo Exit.
  
* Just outside Saga Arashiyama station is the '''19th Century Hall''' - a museum covering the unlikely combination of steam locomotives and pianos. Probably best to look at it from the outside, and listen to the amusing tinny music it blasts out.
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*'''Kosoku Bus:'''overnght from Shinjuku station, Tokyo station (Yaesu South exit, Kajibashi Parking Lot), and other places. The cheapest ticket is ¥1800. The buses arrives to Jujo Kanagawa (close to Jujo subway station). For more information you can visit their [http://www.kosokubus.com/en/  Webpage.]
  
===Central Kyoto===
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==Get around==
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The sheer size of the city of Kyoto, and the distribution of tourist attractions around the periphery of the city, make the city's public transport system invaluable.
  
* '''Nijo Castle''' is certainly one of the highlights of Kyoto. The series of ornately-decorated reception rooms within the Ninomaru complex is particularly impressive, and known for its "nightingale floors" - wooden flooring which makes bird-like squeaking sounds when stepped on. From the donjon of the inner castle, you can get good views over the castle layout, and the rest of the city. Open daily, 8.45am-5pm, with last admission at 4pm. Admission ¥600. ''Nearest bus stop: Nijojo-mae. Nearest subway station: Nijojo-mae''.
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One of the easiest ways to plan a route is through '''Hyperdia''' [http://grace.hyperdia.com/cgi-english/hyperWeb.cgi] or '''Kurage''' [http://kurage.kilo.jp/trains]. These websites contain station-to-station route plans, which reference public and private trains and subways as well as buses throughout Japan.    
  
* The '''Imperial Park''' is a large, peaceful area in the centre of Kyoto, centred around the '''Imperial Palace'''. The Palace itself is only open to visitors on pre-booked guided tours - English tours take place at 10am and 2pm Monday-Friday, and bookings must be made at the Imperial Household Agency, located to the west of the palace complex. The park is home to 50,000 trees, including cherry, plum and peach tree orchards.
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If you are planning to travel beyond city limits you might consider using the tickets from [[Kansai#Get_around|'''Surutto Kansai''']]. For use in west Japan, including Kyoto, there are some other useful tickets: a rechargeable smart card, '''ICOCA''', can be used on rail, subway and bus networks in the [[Kansai]] area and also [[Okayama]], [[Hiroshima]], [[Nagoya]] (Kintetsu trains) and [[Tokyo]] (JR East trains). These cards are available at vending machines at these rail stations, and cost ¥2000, which includes a ¥500 deposit that will be refunded when the card is returned at JR West Station. For use in Kyoto only there are some other useful tickets:
  
* '''The Museum of Kyoto''' is particularly worthwhile if you have a burning interest in ancient pottery, otherwise not really worth a visit. Open daily 10am-8.30pm. Admission ¥500. Located on Takakura-dori. ''Nearest bus stop: Shijo Karasuma. Nearest subway station: Karasuma Oike''.
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* The '''Kyoto Sightseeing Card''' can be purchased as a one-day (Adults ¥1200/Children ¥600) or two-day pass (¥2000/¥1000). It can be used for unlimited travel on the subway and city buses as well as a part of the Kyoto bus route. The two-day pass has to be used on two consecutive days. This can be purchased in the Kyoto tourist information kiosk in Kyoto station.
  
* '''Nishi Honganji Temple'''
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* The ''' Traffica Kyoto Card''' is a stored-value card in denominations of ¥1000 or ¥3000. It can be conveniently used up to face value on all subways and buses by simply sliding it through the ticket gate. They offer a 10% bonus value.
  
* '''Toji Temple''', an oasis of calm near central Kyoto, its pagoda is the tallest wooden structure in Japan.
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* There is a website for bus and train planning: http://arukumachikyoto.jp/index.php?lang=en, but be sure to download the '''Android''' [https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=jp.kyoto.city.arukumachikyoto&hl=en], or '''IOS''' [https://itunes.apple.com/en/app/id629358027?mt=8] for a good reference.  The app lists bus routes, as well as the next coming bus for your stop.
  
* '''Kyoto Tower'''
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Check the Kyoto City Webpage [http://www.city.kyoto.jp/koho/eng/access/transport.html] for more information on how to use these cards.
  
* '''Pontocho Alley'''
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===By train===
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[[Image:Kyoto-railways.png|thumb|420px|Map of railway lines in most of the Kyoto municipality]]
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Kyoto is criss-crossed by several train lines, all of which are clearly sign-posted in English. Although the lines are run independently and prices vary slightly between them, transfers can be purchased at most of the ticket machines. The '''Keihan''' train line can be useful for traveling in eastern Kyoto, while the two '''Keifuku''' tram lines are an attractive way of traveling in the northwest. Across the street from the northern terminus of the Keihan Line is the '''Eidan Eizan''' line, which runs to [[Mount Hiei]] and [[Kurama]]. The '''Hankyu''' Line starts at ''Shijo-Kawaramachi'' downtown, and connects to the Karasuma Line one stop later at ''Karasuma''. It's useful for reaching ''Arashiyama'' and the ''Katsura Rikyu''; it runs all the way to [[Osaka]] and [[Kobe]]. '''JR''' lines run from Kyoto station to the northwest (JR Sagano line), to the southwest (JR Kyoto line) and to the southeast (JR Nara line). There are local and express trains so check if they stop at your station before you get on.
  
===Eastern Kyoto===
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===By subway===
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There are two subway lines [http://www.city.kyoto.jp/koho/eng/access/subway.html] which only serve a rather small part of the city. The north-south running '''Karasuma Line''' runs under Kyoto Station, and the west-east running '''Tozai Line''' links up with it near the city center. Both are useful for travel in the city center but not really suitable for temple-hopping. The Tozai Line does connect with the Keihan Line, however, which runs parallel to the Kamo-gawa, and is convenient for reaching ''Gion'' and southern Kyoto; it also gets you within a short walk of many of the sights in eastern Kyoto.
  
Some of the most picturesque parts of Kyoto, and the older areas of the city, 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 Temple to Ginkakuji Temple, passing through Gion, and visiting Yasaka Shrine and Nanzenji Temple before following the Philosopher's Walk to Ginkakuji.
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A one-day pass for the subway costs ¥ 600.
  
* '''Kiyomizu Temple'''. This temple complex, built overlooking the city is a deservedly popular attraction in the city, approached by either of two tourist-filled souvenir-shop-lined streets, Kiyomizu-zaka or Chawan-zaka. Admission ¥300. Open daily, 6am-6pm. ''Nearest bus stop: Kiyomizu-michi or Gojo-zaka''. Highlights of the temple complex include;
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===By bus===
** The '''main hall's wooden veranda''', supported by hundreds of pillars and offering incredible views over the city,
+
The bus network is the only practical way of reaching some attractions, particularly those in north-western Kyoto. Fortunately the system is geared toward tourists, with destinations electronically displayed/announced in English as well as Japanese. Unlike other Japanese cities, a tourist probably is advised to use the buses here.
** '''Jishu-jinja''', 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 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.
 
* '''Gion district'''. The flagstone-paved streets and traditional buildings of the Gion district, located to the north-west of Kiyomizu Temple, are where you're most likely to see geisha in Kyoto, scurrying between buildings. The area just to the north of Shijo-dori, to the west of Yasaka Shrine, is particularly photogenic - particularly around Shinbashi-dori and Hanami-koji. Sannen-zaka ("three-year-slope") and Ninen-zaka ("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. At the northern end of Ninen-zaka is '''Ryozen Kannon''', a memorial to the unknown Japanese soldiers who died in World War II, with a 24-meter-tall statue of Kannon. Admission is ¥200, including a lit incense stick to place in front of the shrine.
 
* '''Yasaka Shrine''' at the eastern end of Shijo-dori, at the edge of Gion, is the shrine 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. Admission is free. ''Nearest bus stop: Gion''.
 
* '''Maruyama Park''' 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.
 
* '''Nanzenji Temple''', with its distinctive two-storey 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 and along the aqueduct is free, but there are three regions of Nanzenji that you can pay to enter;
 
** '''Sanmon''' - the two-storey main gate to Nanzenji Temple charges ¥500 for admission, and offers pleasant views over the surrounding area of the city.
 
** '''Nanzen-in Zen Temple''' - a small, but relaxing temple and moss garden behind the aqueduct, dating back to the 13th century, charges ¥300 for admission, and is probably only worth it if you have a particular interest in Zen buddhism.
 
** '''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. Admission is ¥500.
 
* '''The Philosopher's Walk''' is the name given to a 2km-long path through north-eastern Kyoto, along which a philosophy professor, Kitaro Nishida, used to frequently walk. It is a surprisingly pleasant and relaxing walk even today, though you will undoubtedly share it with more tourists than Kitaro did. The walk runs south from '''Ginkakuji Temple''' beside a river to '''Nyakuoji Shrine''', many guidebooks suggest that the walk continues further south from there to '''Nanzenji Temple''', but this southerly section of the walk is less insistently signposted. The route passes several temples ''en route'', notably '''Honen-in''', a beautiful secluded temple with a thatched gate.
 
* '''Ginkakuji Temple''' (the Silver Pavilion), at the northern end of the Philosopher's Walk, is approached along a street lined with shops selling tacky souvenirs. Much like its golden counterpart, the Silver Pavilion is often choked with tourists, shuffling past a scrupulously-maintained dry landscape Zen garden and the surrounding moss garden, before viewing the Pavilion across a pond. Be sure not to miss the display of ''Very Important Mosses''! Admission ¥500. ''Nearest bus stop: Ginkakuji-michi''.
 
  
===Southern Kyoto===
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Confusingly however, there are two different bus companies in Kyoto, which occasionally even have overlapping line numbers.  '''Green-and-white''' Kyoto City Buses (市バス ''shi-basu'') travel within the city, and are the most useful for visitors; unless otherwise noted, all buses listed in this guide are city buses.  '''Red-and-white''' Kyoto Buses [http://www.kyotobus.jp/] travel to the suburbs and are generally much less useful.
  
[[Image:WJapan249CF2.jpg|frame|left|The ''torii'' at Fushimi-Inari-taisha]] About twenty-minutes to the south of Kyoto is '''Fushimi Inari Shrine''', another of Kyoto's often-overlooked jewels. Dedicated to Inari, the Shinto god of cereals, Fushimi-Inari-taisha is the head ''taisha'' for 40,000 Inari shrines across Japan.   Stretching 230 meters up the hill behind it are hundreds of bright red ''torii'' (gates). A visitor could easily spend several hours walking up the hillside, taking in the beautiful views of the city of Kyoto and walking through the ''torii'', which appear luminescent in the late afternoon sunCountless stone foxes, also referred to as Inari, are also dotted along the path.
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Many buses depart from Kyoto Station, but there are well-served bus stations closer to the city center at Sanjo-Kawabata just outside the Sanjo Keihan subway line, and in the northern part of the city at the Kitaoji subway station. Most city buses have a fixed fare of ¥230, which is paid into a box next to the driver when getting off. Exact change is required, but machines for exchanging coins and ¥1000 notes are available. You can also purchase a one-day pass (¥500 for adults and ¥250 for children under 12) with which you can ride an unlimited number of times within a one day period. The day passes can be bought from the bus drivers or from the bus information center just outside Kyoto Station. This is especially useful if you plan on visiting many different points of interest within Kyoto. You can also buy a combined unlimited subway and bus 1-day pass for ¥1200 and slightly more economical 2-day pass for ¥2000Note that these passes are not valid on JR trains and busses that serve the area.
  
Approaching the shrine, local delicacies are sold at the roadside, including barbecued sparrow and ''inari-sushi'' (sweetened sushi rice wrapped in fried tofu), which is said to be the favourite food of the fox.
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The municipal transport company publishes a very useful leaflet called '''Bus Navi''' [http://www.city.kyoto.lg.jp/kotsu/cmsfiles/contents/0000019/19770/bus_navi_en200801.pdf]. It contains a route map for the bus lines to most sights and fare information. You can pick it up at the information center in front of the main station.
  
Admission is free. Be warned, the shrine is located close to ''Fushimi Inari'' and ''Inari'' stations, but is nowhere near ''Fushimi'' station! The easiest way to get here is to take the JR Nara line from Kyoto station to Inari station, which exits immediately opposite the entrance to the shrine.
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* '''Raku Bus''' - The city has three routes (100, 101, and 102) which are specifically designed for foreign tourists wishing to hit the tourist spots quickly. The buses skip many of the non-tourist stops and are thus a faster way to get from one sight to the next. The Raku Bus leaves from platform D2 at Kyoto Station. The cost is ¥220 per ride, but the day passes are accepted as well.
  
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===By bicycle===
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Particularly in spring and fall, but at any time of year, getting around by bicycle is an excellent option. Cycling forms a major form of personal transport year-round for locals. The city's grid layout makes navigation easy.  You can rent bicycles in many places in Japan for a reasonable price. During the peak tourist seasons, when roads are busy and buses tend to be crammed beyond capacity, bicycles are probably the best way to navigate Kyoto.
  
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Kyoto's wide, straight roads make for heavy traffic in many parts of the city, but it is possible to find back alleys that are quieter and offer better chances to happen upon all sorts of sightseeing/cultural gems.  Riding on major roads is OK, especially if you are confident and used to riding with traffic on the road, rather than on the sidewalk and especially again if you are used to riding/driving on the LEFT-HAND side of the road. 
  
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* <listing name="Kyoto Cycling Tour Project(KCTP)" alt="" address="" directions="" phone="075-354-3636" url="http://www.kctp.net/en/index.html" hours="" price="" lat="" long="">A five-minute walk from the North Exit (the side with the buses and Kyoto Tower) of Kyoto Station. Bikes range from ¥ 1000 to ¥ 2000 for an actual 27-speed mountain bike with city-tires on it; perfect for the average foreigner who is used to a 'real' bike in their home country.  The following options can be added:  bi-lingual cycling/walking map of Kyoto ¥ 100; light FREE; helmet ¥ 200; back pack; ¥ 100; rain poncho ¥ 100.  They can hold on to your luggage while you are riding.  There are four other locations of KCTP and you can return your bike to any location, however you will incur a ¥ 400 charge if you return the bike to a location other than the one you rented from.  Guided bike tours are also available ranging from ¥ 4500 (three hours) to ¥ 13000 (7.5 hours) that include guide, bike rental, lunch/snacks, accident insurance and admission to some attractions on the tour.  Minimum of two people to guarantee departure/maximum of 10.  Needs to be reserved three days in advance if you want a tour. Don't worry if the mountain bikes sell out - Kyoto (like Tokyo) is a city with perfect kerb transitions so a 3 speed with basket and bell is fine, if a little bumpy on the river path.</listing>
  
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* There is a friendly bicycle rental shop across the street from the Keihan Demachiyanagi station, behind the taxi rank. ¥ 500 for a day, ¥ 750 for a day and night, and ¥ 3000 for a month. ¥ 3000 deposit (¥ 2000 when showing ID). Has 22" children's bikes which come with a free helmet. Opens early (<9AM) - 7PM.
  
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* There is a small rental shop just north of Sanjo Keihan station on Kawabata Dori that rents bicycles, which doesn't have "tourist signs" attached.  On the downside, they do not speak English. ¥ 1000 per day.
  
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* Rakusaiguchi, Katsura, and Saiin stations have Hankyu rent-a-cycle locations, where bikes can be rented for 320 yen a day, and returned the next morning. Electrically assisted bicycles are also available for 430 yen.
  
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* For those staying more than a week or so, purchasing a used bicycle may be economical. Most bicycle shops in Kyoto offer used town bicycles with lights, bell, basket, and lock for around ¥ 5000 — ¥ 10,000 (plus a ¥ 500 registration fee). At least some of this cost can be made back by re-selling the bicycle just prior to departure. Cycle Eirin, a chain found throughout the city, is a good place to start.
  
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==See==
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[[Image:Ninnaji_Pagoda.jpg|thumb|250px|Ninnaji Pagoda]]
  
 +
Kyoto offers an incredible number of attractions for tourists, and visitors will probably need to plan an itinerary in advance in order to visit as many as possible.
  
 +
Japan National Tourist Organization's self-guided "Kyoto Walks" pamphlet  is available in a ready to print PDF format here[http://www.jnto.go.jp/eng/location/rtg/pdf/pg-503.pdf]. The guide enables first time visitors to tour the city with ease and with minimum fuss by providing bus numbers, names of bus stops and clearly marked walking routes. There are a variety of self-guided walks in different districts to sample Kyoto's various sites. If you see the browser's dialog box popping up, just click on it till the entire PDF document opens.
  
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===World Heritage Sites===
  
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In 1994, 17 historic sites were inscribed on UNESCO's [[UNESCO World Heritage List|World Heritage List]] under the group designation '''Historic Monuments of Ancient Kyoto'''.  Fourteen of the listed sites are in Kyoto itself, two are in the neighbouring city of [[Uji]] and one is in [[Otsu|Ōtsu]].
  
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Listed by location, the fourteen World Heritage Sites in the city of Kyoto are:
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*[[Kyoto/North|Northern Kyoto]]: Kinkaku-ji, Ryōan-ji, Ninna-ji, Kōzan-ji, Shimogamo Shrine, Kamigamo Shrine
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*[[Kyoto/Central|Central Kyoto]]: Nijō Castle, Nishi Hongan-ji, Tō-ji
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*[[Kyoto/Higashiyama|Eastern Kyoto]]: Kiyomizu-dera, Ginkaku-ji
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*[[Kyoto/Arashiyama|Western Kyoto]]: Tenryū-ji, Koke-dera
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*[[Kyoto/South|Southern Kyoto]]: Daigo-ji
  
 +
===Imperial Palaces and Villas===
  
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Stroll through the regal retreats of the Imperial Palace or one of the two Imperial villas with gardens and teahouses managed by the Imperial Household Agency. These are the '''Imperial Palace''' (京都御所 ''Kyōto-gosho'') and '''Sentō Imperial Palace''' (仙洞御所 ''Sentō-gosho'') in [[Kyoto/Central|Central Kyoto]], '''Katsura Imperial Villa''' (桂離宮 ''Katsura-rikyū'') in [[Kyoto/Arashiyama|Western Kyoto]], and '''Shugakuin Imperial Villa''' (修学院離宮 ''Shugaku-in-rikyū'') in [[Kyoto/North|Northern Kyoto]]. All four of these sites are open to the public by reservation through the Imperial Household Agency. The gardens located within the precints of each palace and villa are at their most scenic during spring cherry blossom season and autumn where a riot of colors enchant visitors. Each property is still used from time to time for official state functions or for private visits by the current royal family members.
  
 +
The Imperial Household Agency maintains a quota on the number of visitors to each site per tour. Admission is free. English guides are available at the Imperial Palace; however, tours of the Sento Imperial Palace, Katsura Villa, and Shugakuin Villa are conducted in Japanese only (English pamphlets are given at each destination upon entry and books are available for purchase if you'd like to know more). Overseas visitors can apply online to the Imperial Household Agency in English here [http://sankan.kunaicho.go.jp/english/index.html]. On its website are write ups and videos in English for interested visitors to gauge which ones they would like to visit before making an online application. Please note that advanced applications first become available on the first day of the month, three months in advance of the applicant's preferred touring month. For example, if your preferred date of visit falls in the month of April, you can begin applying on January 1. As these visits are over subscribed by the Japanese and overseas visitors, the Imperial Household Agency has to draw lots to pick the successful applicants. All applicants are notified on the status of their applications whether they are successful or otherwise within a week after closing date. Most applicants to the Imperial Palace are accepted, and early reservation is not usually necessary; however, those planning to visit the Sentō Imperial Palace, or either of the Imperial Villas should apply on the first available day of application as they are highly competitive and entire months of tours often become full within the first few days. Winter tours are typically much less competitive, but be aware that the gardens will not be as beautiful as other times of the year.
 +
 +
If an applicant is not successful, they can still go direct in person to the Imperial Household Agency Kyoto Office to enquire whether there are vacancies, as they typically save a few spots for walk-ins. Many people are able to do this successfully for the Imperial Palace, but it can be more of a risk for the others, so go early. Address:  Imperial household Agency Kyoto Office, 3 Kyotogyoen, Kamigyo-ku, Kyoto, 602-8611,  tel: +81-75-211-1215.
  
 
==Do==
 
==Do==
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===Public baths===
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Public baths have been a cornerstone of the society for centuries in Kyoto. The first public baths, or sentō, were documented in the 13th century. Soon they became one of the few places in society where social status was irrelevant. Noblemen shared baths with commoners and warriors. Today over 140 bath houses remain in Kyoto. Funaoka Onsen is the oldest of these and dubbed "king of sentō", but newer bath houses and super sentō are just as much part of the Japanese bathing culture. If you have the time, make your way to one of the many public bath houses Kyoto has to offer. See [http://kyotobaths.info/ Kyoto Baths] for more information.
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*<do name="Funaoka Onsen" alt="船岡温泉" address="Kyoto, Kita Ward, Murasakino Minamifunaokacho 82-1" directions="take bus line 206 from Kyoto station" phone="+81-75-441-3735" url="http://www.funaokaonsen.info" hours="15:00 - 01:00" price="¥430" lat="35.036912" long="135.744581">Funaoka Onsen is the oldest public bath house in Kyoto still in operation. Its classic building is an excellent example of bath house architecture of the beginning of the 20th century. Funaoka Onsen is popular with both locals and visitors and is a must if you have an hour to spare.</do>
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===Meditation===
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Well-known for its abundance of historical sites, Kyoto often draws visitors eager to experience traditional Japanese culture. Buddhist meditation sessions are one of the most popular of these activities, and multiple options are available. In [[Kyoto/North|Northern Kyoto]], '''Taizo-in''' and '''Shunko-in''' (both sub-temples of Myoshin-ji) offer authentic Zen meditation sessions, complete with explanations of the meaning and significance of such meditation. Reservations are necessary.
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===Blossom Viewing===
 +
====Cherry blossoms====
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Kyoto is arguably the most well known place in the country to view cherry blossoms, and there are certainly no lack of options. On the [[Japan's Top 100 Cherry Blossoms Spots|Official Top 100 cherry blossom spots]] list, three are in Kyoto (Arashiyama, Daigoji, Ninnaji).
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[[Kyoto/Higashiyama|Eastern Kyoto]] is particularly popular during the cherry blossom season. A walk from Nanzen-ji to Ginkaku-ji along the Philosopher's Path, lined with cherry trees, is enjoyable, as there are a variety of temples and shrines to stop at along the way. The garden of the Heian Shrine, not far from the Philosopher's Path, features colorful pink blossoms, which is a nice contrast to the white blossoms you'll see on the Philosopher's Path. The famous cherry tree in Maruyama Park is often the center of attention in the evenings when it is lit up. Vendors line the pathway leading up to it, creating a festive atmosphere. Kiyomizu-dera and Kodai-ji have extended hours during the first few days of this season offering visitors the opportunity to view them at night, lit up against the blossoms. Blossoms can also be seen along the Kamogawa River. The entire area literally blossoms in the spring!
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In [[Kyoto/Central|Central Kyoto]] the northern section of the Imperial Park is home to a variety of different types of cherry blossoms. Nijo Castle hosts its own Nijo Light-Up, in which visitors can walk the grounds of the castle at night among the cherry blossoms (typically for 10-14 days). You cannot enter the castle during the light-up, so those who want to enter should visit during the day to see the castle and the blossoms. Just south of Kyoto station, the grounds of Toji Temple bloom beautifully below the towering pagoda.
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In [[Kyoto/Arashiyama|Arashiyama]], a large portion of the mountainside is bright with cherry blossoms, along with the area around Hankyu Arashiyama Station. During the day, many people enjoy viewing the blossoms on the mountainside from the "Romantic Train" that travels through Arashiyama. At night, the area is lit up and food stalls are set up with a variety of delicious snacks.
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[[Kyoto/North|Northern Kyoto]] offers cherry-blossom scouts worthwhile experiences at Hirano Shrine and Kyoto Botanical Gardens, and a walk inside the large grounds of Daigo-ji in [[Kyoto/South|Southern Kyoto]] is certainly made memorable when all the blossoms are in full bloom.
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====Plum blossoms====
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Although they are less well-known to foreign tourists, who tend only to focus their attentions on seeing cherry blossoms, for those with plans to visit Kyoto from mid-February through mid-March, plum blossom viewing makes for a great alternative. Kyoto has two popular plum blossom locations; Kitano Tenmangu and the Kyoto Botanical Gardens, both in [[Kyoto/North|northern Kyoto]]. Kitano Tenmangu has a large grove of plum trees just outside the shrine entrance that, with a ¥600 fee, you can stroll about. Within the shrine grounds, there are many more trees (viewable for free). The shrine even hosts annual performances by geisha amidst the plum blossoms.  Plum blossoms have a very pleasantly distinct fragrance. These Japanese ume trees are actually more closely related to apricot trees.  However an early mistranslation by the Japanese resulted in these trees being called "plum" trees instead.
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===Festivals and Events===
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* '''Setsubun''' (February 3 or 4) A large bonfire and Shinto ceremony is held at Yoshida Shrine.
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* '''Hanatoro''' (March 14-23 in Higashiyama and December 14-23 in Arashiyama) Streets and temples are decorated with lanterns and flowers, and many places have extended viewing hours into the night.
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* '''Cherry Blossom Season''' (April 1-15; days vary depending upon the weather) Although viewing the blossoms is enough for many, special events are often held throughout the city. (See "Cherry Blossoms" above)
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* '''Aoi Matsuri''' (May 15) Beginning at Kyoto Imperial palace, a large procession dressed in Heian Period garbs walks to Shimogamo Shrine and finishes at Kamigamo Shrine.
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* '''Gion Matsuri''' (July 17) Many Mikoshi are paraded through the streets. It is considered to be one of the [[Japan's Top 3|top three festivals]] in Japan.
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* '''Daimonji Gozan Okuribi''' (August 16) The hillside in Northwestern Kyoto is lit aflame in this festival honoring one's ancestors. Candle lanterns are floated out in Hirosawa Pond.
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* '''Jidai Matsuri''' (October 22) People dressed in traditional garbs parade to Heian Shrine.
  
 
==Buy==
 
==Buy==
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There is a nice selection of reassuringly non-tacky traditional souvenir shops around Arashiyama station in Western Kyoto, selling fans and traditional sweets. More tacky stores can be found in Gion and the approach to Kiyomizu Temple, selling keyrings, cuddly toys, and garish ornaments. Other traditional souvenirs from Kyoto include parasols and carved wooden dolls.
  
Currently, Kyoto is enjoying even more popularity than usual with Japanese tourists due to the success of Japanese TV broadcaster NHK's series '<i>Shinsengumi!</i>' (&#26032;&#36984;&#32068;!), a historic drama following a group of samurai who kept peace in the city in the 1860s. Consequently, among the most popular souvenirs from the city at the moment are the distinctive blue and white happi (shirts) worn by this group.
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More unconventional but colorful (and relatively cheap) souvenirs are the wooden votive tablets produced by Shinto shrines, which bear an image relevant to the shrine on the reverse. Visitors write their prayers on the tablets and hang them up, but there's no rule that says you can't take it with you.
  
There is a nice selection of reassuringly non-tacky traditional souvenir shops around Arashiyama station in Western Kyoto, selling fans and traditional sweets. More tacky stores can be found in Gion and the approach to Kiyomizu Temple, selling keyrings, cuddly toys, and garish ornaments. Other traditional souvenirs from Kyoto include parasols and carved wooden dolls.
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Manga and anime enthusiasts should visit Teramachi Street, a covered shopping street off the main Shijo-dori, which boasts a large manga store on two floors, as well as a two-story branch of Gamers (a chain of anime stores), and a small two-story anime and collectables store.
  
A more unconventional but colorful (and relatively cheap) souvenir are the wooden votive tablets produced by temples, which bear an image relevant to the temple on the reverse. Visitors to the temples write their prayers on the tablets, and hang them up within the temple.
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Many ATMs in Kyoto do not allow non-domestic credit cards to be used, but ATMs in post offices and Seven-Eleven usually do. So if you find your card rejected or invalid in an ATM then try and get to a post office (郵便局 / ''yuubinkyoku'' or JP (in orange letters)) to use their ATMs instead. Look for the PLUS or Cirrus logos, whichever you find printed on the back of your ATM card. Another option is Citibank, which should work, too.  There is an old standby international ATM at the top floor of Takashimaya Department Store at Shijo/Kawaramachi in the "Cash Corner."  The bank of ATMs in the basement of the Kyoto Tower shopping center (across the street from JR Kyoto Station) also includes one machine where international cards may be used.
  
Manga and anime enthusiasts should visit Teramachi Street, a covered shopping street off the main Shijo-dori, which boasts a large manga store on two floors, as well as a two-storey branch of Gamers (a chain of anime stores), and a small two-storey anime and collectables store.
 
 
===Splurge===
 
===Splurge===
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In the shopping areas adjacent to Kiyomizudera (on the other side of the Kamo River), it is possible to purchase samurai swords and top of the line kimonos. Do not be surprised if the prices for either item exceed ¥3,000,000.
  
In the shopping areas adjacent to Kiyomizudera (on the other side of the Kamo River), it is possible to purchase samurai swords and top of the line kimono. Do not be surprised if the prices for either item exceed JPY 3,000,000 or more (USD 30,000).  
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Kyoto incense is also famous. It usually has a very delicate yet fragrant bouquet.  Incense is relatively agreeable in price (¥400-2000). You will be able to find it between Nishi and Higashi Hongwanji.
  
Kyoto incense is also famous. It usually has a very delicate yet fragrant bouquet.  Fortunately, incense is much more agreeable in price (ie, JPY 400-2,000).
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===Damascene===
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Damascene, a special metal created by imbedding other metals, originated in [[Damascus]], [[Syria]] over 2000 years ago and was first introduced to Japan in the 8th century. Since then, it has ceased production worldwide with the exception of Kyoto city, which continues producing it even today. The technique used to create Kyoto's damascene is quite complex, as it must be corroded, rusted, and boiled in tea, along with inlaying many layers of metal to produce the final product. Today, visitors can purchase a variety of jewelry, as well as vases, tea utensils, lighters, and other accessories made using this technique.
  
 
==Eat==
 
==Eat==
'''Pontochō''' (先斗町) is a narrow lane running from Shijo-dori to Sanjo-dori, one block west of the Kamo River. One of Kyoto's most traditional nightlife districts, the restaurants here run the gamut for super-exclusive geisha houses to common yakitori bars. Many have pleasant open-air riverside terraces. Rule of thumb is, any establishment with a menu and prices outside is OK, but others are best skipped.
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If you've just stepped off the train and the first thing on your mind is a bite to eat, there are several restaurants on the tenth and eleventh floors of the Isetan department store attached to Kyoto station. Most of the offerings are Japanese, including a veritable Ramen village, with a few casual Italian cafes as well.
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===Matcha===
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Kyoto, and the nearby city of Uji, is well known for its ''matcha''(抹茶 maccha) or green tea, but visitors don't just come to ''drink'' the tea; there are a wide variety of matcha-flavored treats. Matcha ice cream is particularly popular, and most places selling ice cream will have it as an option. It also shows up in a variety of snacks and gifts.
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===Yatsuhashi===
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'''Yatsuhashi''' (八ツ橋) is another delicious Kyoto snack. There are two types of yatsuhashi; baked and raw. The hard yatsuhashi was originally made using cinnamon, and tastes like a crunchy biscuit. Today, while the biscuits remain the same, you can also buy hard yatsuhashi dipped in ''macha'' and strawberry-flavored glazes.
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Raw yatsuhashi, also known as ''hijiri'' was also made with cinnamon, but the cinnamon is mixed with bean paste and then folded into the ''hijiri'' to make a triangle-shape. Today, you can buy a wide variety of flavors, including ''macha'', chocolate and banana, and black poppyseed. Many of the flavors are seasonal, such as the ''sakura'' (cherry blossom) yatsuhashi available in the spring and mango, peach, blueberry, and strawberry, available from May to October.
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Although yatsuhashi can be purchased at most souvenir shops, the best place to purchase raw yatsuhashi is the famous '''Honkenishio Yatsuhashi'''. While other stores may carry yatsuhashi, this is the place to find all of the seasonal flavors, as well as free samples. Most of these shops are located in [[Kyoto/Higashiyama|Higashiyama]]. The most convenient for tourists is probably the one on Kiyomizu-zaka, just below the entrance to Kiyomizu-dera.
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While many tourists find raw yatsuhashi to be a delicious (and highly affordable) souvenir, be aware that it only lasts for one week after purchase. Baked yatsuhashi on the other hand, will last for about three months. Consider this when deciding what gifts to take home with you.
 +
 
 +
===Other specialties===
 +
Other Kyoto specialities include hamo (a white fish served with ume as sushi), tofu (try places around Nanzenji temple), suppon (an expensive turtle dish), vegetarian dishes (thanks to the abundance of temples), and kaiseki-ryori (multi-course chef's choice that can be extremely good and expensive).
  
 
==Drink==
 
==Drink==
 +
 +
[[File:MatsunooGrandShrine01.jpg|thumb|250px|Sake casks at Matsunoo Grand Shrine]]
 +
 +
Kyoto's night scene is dominated by bars catering for local needs, most of which are located in [[Kyoto/Central|Central Kyoto]] around Kiyamachi, between Shijo and Sanjo. This area offers a wide variety of drinking options for all types of people. You'll also have no trouble finding the host and hostess bars, courtesy of the staff pacing around out front trying to entice visitors. There are plenty of options beyond this street in other regions, but with such a large concentration of bars along in the same area, its easy to locate a place where you feel most at home to relax for the night.
 +
 +
If you're looking for nightclubs, Kyoto has a few options, but it is not a city known for its thriving dance clubs. Those hoping to experience that part of Japanese nightlife should consider taking a train to [[Osaka]] where many of the clubs are hip and wild enough to rival any [[Tokyo]] club.
 +
 +
===Sake===
 +
Some of Kyoto's most famous [[Japanese sake tourism|sake]] comes from '''Gekkeikan Brewery''' in the Fushimi area of [[Kyoto/South|Southern Kyoto]]. A 400 year old brewery that still produces great sake, Gekkeikan offers tours of its facilities.
  
 
==Sleep==
 
==Sleep==
Kyoto has a wide range of accommodation, much of it geared towards foreign visitors.
+
 
 +
{{sleeppricerange|below ¥11,000|¥11,000&ndash;20,000|over ¥20,000}}
 +
 
 +
Kyoto has a wide range of accommodation, much of it geared towards foreign visitors. During peak seasons, such as the cherry blossoms in April or during [[Japan#Holidays|Golden Week]] when accommodation is difficult to get, consider staying in [[Osaka]].  A thirty minute train ride from Kyoto Station to Osaka Station will cost you ¥540 one way.  Since Kyoto is a major tourist destination, demand is high and prices follow suit.
 +
 
 +
Most of the lodging in the city is clustered near the [[Kyoto/Central|central city]], especially around Kyoto Station and the downtown area near Karasuma-Oike.  The outer areas have a scattering of their own, tending towards inexpensive but often much further from train or subway stations.
 +
 
  
 
===Budget===
 
===Budget===
* '''Ryokan Hiraiwa''' (旅館平岩). Tel. 075-351-6748. [http://www2.odn.ne.jp/hiraiwa/Index_e.htm]. A self-proclaimed ryokan (really a minshuku) catering almost entirely to the foreign market, in an old Japanese house plastered with English signs, warnings and tips. All rooms Japanese style. But it's cheap (&yen;4200 for a single, &yen;8400 for a double, breakfast not included) and reasonably friendly. Slightly inconveniently located halfway between the station and the center of town (it's bit of a hike to either), take bus #17 or #205* from Kyoto Station pier A2 to ''Kawaramachi-Shomen'' (the third stop).
+
[[Image:Ryokan.jpg|thumb|300px|Japanese Style Ryokan]]
 +
 
 +
At the bottom of the price scale, many temples in Kyoto own and run their own lodging complex known as ''shukubō'' (宿坊), usually located on or near temple grounds. Guests are often invited to participate in morning prayer service (''otsutome'') held at the temple. Unfortunately, most temple lodgings do not have English-speaking receptions, and curfews and check-in/out times tend to be strict.  Most are located in the [[Kyoto/North|northern region]] of the city.
 +
 
 +
Hostels are common and popular with students. Inexpensive hotels lack amenities but compensate with prices surprisingly low for Japan; both can be found in all regions of the city, and may be the only options available if you need to stay in an outlying ward.
 +
 
 +
The majority of self-named [[Japan#Inns|ryokan]] in this range are actually minshuku.  Most are small family-run operations and accustomed to dealing with foreigners.  Be prepared to pay for the full stay in advance.
 +
 
 +
As in other Japanese cities, internet cafes and capsule hotels are available for those truly on the cheap.  Expect to pay around ¥2000 for a night's stay in an internet cafe. You get a computer, a comfortable chair, and all the tea and hot chocolate you want.
 +
 
 +
For long-term stay, JamHouses [http://jamhouse.info/english/] near Nijō Castle and Katsura station offer inexpensive shared houses with Japanese roommates. Houses have private rooms and dormitories, equipped kitchens and living rooms. JamHouse near Nijō Castle has also a restaurant [http://charanke.info/english/].
 +
 
 +
====Internet and manga cafés====
 +
 
 +
These "manga-kisas" (short for kissaten which means 'cafe') are not a thing to fear. There is nothing wrong with  staying in these [[Japan#Last_resorts]] for a few nights.
 +
Most manga-kisas have no separate smoking and non-smoking sections, and the bountiful collections of manga will only be in japanese, but they usually have cushions and blankets and free unlimited soft drinks (included with entry fee). Showers are usually available, but sometimes for a fee.
 +
Remember that these cafés won't keep your luggage during the day so either keep it with you, find free storage elsewhere or use a coin locker (¥300-600 per use). The price will usually not be that different from a normal hotel for an overnight stay.
 +
 
 +
 
 +
* <sleep name="Topscafé" alt="" address="Hachijo street" directions="south-east of Kyoto JR station, 5min by walk, near willerexpress bus stop" phone="" email="" fax="" url="http://www.topsnet.co.jp" checkin="" checkout="" price="night starts at 1500y+member card. internet hour starts at 480+member card">Cost is:
 +
120or140 / 1000 / 1800 / 3000 / 1500
 +
+ member card 200
 +
+ vip: +200 for pack
 +
+ 100y/15min overtime</sleep>
 +
{| border="1" cellspacing="0" cellpadding="3" class="wikitable topsnet prices"
 +
! every 15min (single or vip) !! 3h pack !! 6h pack !! 12h pack !! night pack 7h
 +
|-
 +
| 120or140 || 1000 || 1800 || 3000 || 1500
 +
|}
 +
 
 +
* <sleep name="Freespace" alt="" address="south of Shin-kyogoku, near Sanjo-Kawaramachi" directions="" phone="" email="" fax="" url="" checkin="" checkout="" price="night starts at 980y+member card. internet hour starts at 480+member card">cost: member card 200, towel rent 210
 +
open area has a variety of seat: normal, reclining, massage but can't be reserved. It allows even you take the cheap price to have a comfortable seat.
 +
</sleep>
 +
{| border="1" cellspacing="0" cellpadding="3" class="wikitable popeye media café prices"
 +
! !!30mn !! 15mn extra !! 4h !! 7h !! 6h (night) !! 8h (night) !! 12h
 +
|-
 +
| open || 240 || 100 || 980 || 1280 || 980 || - || 1500
 +
|-
 +
| vip || 280 || 100 || 1150 || 1600 || 1280 || 1580 || 1980
 +
  |}
 +
 
 +
* <sleep name="Popeye media cafe" alt="" address="" directions="between kyoto shiyakusho-mae station/honno-ji and sanjo-dori, just near catholic cathedral and Royal Hotel and spa, bus stop kawaramachi-sanjo 4/17/205" phone="" email="" fax="" url="http://www.mediacafe.jp/branch/sanjokawaramachi/index.html" checkin="" checkout="" price="no member card. night starts at 880/1100y. internet hour starts at 280">The most famous one. Cafetaria seat are ok but better to use two if sleeping. no member card, shower extra 100y if cafetaria (included in other case), 100y for towel rent</sleep>
 +
{| border="1" cellspacing="0" cellpadding="3" class="wikitable popeye media café prices"
 +
! !!1h first charge !! 15min after !! 3h pack (day) !! 6h (day) !! 5h (night) !! 10h (night)
 +
|-
 +
| cafetaria (unreserved seat, normally only free drinks+manga, NO internet/wifi normally) || 280 || 70 || 680 || 1180 || 880 || 1100
 +
|-
 +
| open seat (+games+dvd) || 420 || 95 || 920 || 1480 || 980 || 1230
 +
|-
 +
| business (+tv) || 470 || 115 || 1020 || 1780 || 1280 || 1980
 +
|-
 +
| reclining || 525 || 125 || 1230 || 2180 || 1550 || 3100
 +
|-
 +
| massage or pair-sofa or flat || 525 || 125 || 1230 || 2180 || 1760 || 3520
 +
|}
  
 
===Midrange===
 
===Midrange===
 +
The boundary between budget and midrange is often unclear, particularly among ryokan.  Hotels in this category are concentrated in [[Kyoto/Central|Central Kyoto]], serving the business market with the typical amenities and close proximity to transportation. There are also a number of smaller, family-run guesthouses around the Gojo area, which is between Kyoto Station area and historical Gion.
  
 
===Splurge===
 
===Splurge===
 +
 +
Split between the [[Kyoto/Central|downtown]] and [[Kyoto/Higashiyama|Higashiyama]] areas on each side of the Kamogawa River, these top-of-the-line lodgings can make your airfare look cheap.  Western-style hotels dominate in this category; unlike the midrange options, very few of the high end ryokan can be booked without a fluent command of Japanese.
 +
 +
===Machiya-stay===
 +
 +
In Kyoto, there are traditional wooden townhouses called Kyo-Machiya or Machiya.
 +
Kyo-Machiya defined the architectural atmosphere of downtown Kyoto for centuries, and represents the standard defining form of Machiya throughout the country.
 +
 +
There are several facilities offers those Machiya to the travellers to stay privately, and can experience the traditional living in Kyoto.
 +
Most of those facilities are located in central Kyoto that easy to access to any sightseeing spot.
 +
However, generally those facilities don’t offer any meals, but in Kyoto, there is a delivery system from the Japanese restaurant that customer can order and eat in the Kyo-Machiya.
 +
During the guest stay, it is completely private that guests can feel like staying at their home.
 +
 +
The size of the facilities are average 80㎡, can stay from 2 people with prices comperable to a mid range hotel (¥10,000 per night) but it can be better to use with a group of 4 to 6, or with family.
 +
There are facilities that guests can stay together in the same Machiya for up to 14 people.
 +
 +
The price is from ¥25,000-
  
 
==Get out==
 
==Get out==
  
* [[Mount Hiei]] - an ancient hilltop temple complex that traditionally guarded (and occasionally raided) Kyoto
+
* '''[[Asuka]]''' - the cradle of Japanese civilization. The first Japanese Emperors established the capital here, and the oldest shrines, tombs, and temples are in Asuka.
* [[Nara]] - less than an hour's journey by train on the JR Nara line from Kyoto station, this former capital has several temples and tame deer.
+
 
* [[Osaka]] - about half an hour by Shinkansen west of Kyoto, this bustling city offers more retail opportunities and a central castle.
+
* '''[[Uji]]''' - the best tea in Japan and the Byodo-in temple.
* [[Himeji]] - about an hour by Shinkansen west of Kyoto, Himeji boasts a spectacular traditional castle.
+
 
 +
* '''[[Kurama]]''' - less than an hour's journey by a local train from Kyoto Demachi-Yanagi station, the small village of Kurama has real ''onsen'' (Japanese natural hot springs). A nice mountain walk can be made to Kibune, where you can take the train back to Kyoto. The trail is broad and not dangerous, but it consists of many steps. The trip would take 90 minutes (if you don't look too long to all temples and shrines along the route). A map can be obtained from tourist information in Kyoto station.
 +
 
 +
* '''[[Lake Biwa]]''' - if the summer humidity has drained your will to sightsee, take a day swimming at the underrated beaches of western Lake Biwa.  Popular choices include Omi Maiko and Shiga Beach, each about 40 minutes from Kyoto on the JR Kosei Line. 
 +
 
 +
* '''[[Mount Hiei]]''' - an ancient hilltop temple complex that traditionally guarded (and occasionally raided) Kyoto.
 +
 
 +
* '''[[Otsu]]''' - home to some great historical temples, [[Mount Hiei]], and one of [[Lake Biwa]]'s ports.
 +
 
 +
* '''[[Koka]]''' - home of ninjas, and there is the Miho Museum.
 +
 
 +
* '''[[Nara]]''' - less than an hour's journey by train on the JR Nara line from Kyoto station, Nara is an even older capital than Kyoto and has a stunning collection of temples in a giant landscaped park.
 +
 
 +
* '''[[Osaka]]''' - about half an hour from Kyoto by JR rapid train, this bustling city offers more retail opportunities and a central castle.
  
{{stub}}
+
* '''[[Amanohashidate]]''' - literally "the bridge to heaven", it is considered one of Japan's [[Japan's Top 3|top three scenic views]] (along with [[Matsushima]] in [[Miyagi prefecture]] and [[Miyajima]] in [[Hiroshima prefecture]]). It forms a thin strip of land straddling the Miyazu Bay in northern Kyoto Prefecture, hence the name. Visitors are asked to turn their backs toward the view, bend over, and look at it between their legs.
  
 +
* '''[[Himeji]]''' - about an hour by Shinkansen west of Kyoto, Himeji boasts a spectacular traditional castle.
 +
 +
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{{cityguide}}

Revision as of 06:16, 23 August 2017

Kyoto is a huge city with several district articles containing sightseeing, restaurant, nightlife and accommodation listings — have a look at each of them.

Kyoto (京都) was the capital of Japan for over a millennium, and carries a reputation as its most beautiful city. However, visitors may be surprised by how much work they will have to do to see Kyoto's beautiful side. Most first impressions of the city will be of the urban sprawl of central Kyoto, around the ultra-modern glass-and-steel train station, which is itself an example of a city steeped in tradition colliding with the modern world.

Nonetheless, the persistent visitor will soon discover Kyoto's hidden beauty in the temples and parks which ring the city center, and find that the city has much more to offer than immediately meets the eye.

Districts

The Golden Pavilion of Kinkaku-ji

Though dwarfed in size by other major Japanese cities, Kyoto is vast in terms of its rich cultural heritage - the material endowment of over a thousand years as the country's imperial capital. The city's numerous palaces, shrines, temples and other landmarks are spread out over the following districts:

  • Central - Site of Nijō Castle (a former residence of the Tokugawa shōguns) and the stately grounds of the Imperial Palace. The district's southern end is anchored by the massive glass-and-steel building of the city's main gateway, Kyoto Station.
  • Arashiyama (Western Kyoto) - Set against the beautiful tree-covered hills of Arashiyama, this district is rich in both historic and natural wonders.
  • Higashiyama (Eastern Kyoto) - Nestled between the Kamo River and the temple-studded mountains of Higashiyama, this area's many attractions include the famed geisha district of Gion and the historic sites strung alongside the well-known Philosopher's Path.
  • North - Graced with scores of centuries-old shrines and temples, including several World Heritage Sites. One of Kyoto's most famous attractions - the magnificent gilded pavilion of Kinkaku-ji - can be found here.
  • South - This district covers a large part of Japan's former capital, stretching from the Ōharano area in the west to Fushimi-ku, Daigo, and the southern tip of Higashiyama-ku in the east.

Understand

Nestled among the mountains of Western Honshu, Kyoto was the capital of Japan and the residence of the Emperor from 794 until the Meiji Restoration of 1868, when the capital was moved to Tokyo. During its millennium at the center of Japanese power, culture, tradition, and religion, it accumulated an unparalleled collection of palaces, temples and shrines, built for emperors, shoguns, and monks. Kyoto was among the few Japanese cities that escaped the allied bombings of World War II and as a result, Kyoto still has an abundance of prewar buildings, such as the traditional townhouses known as machiya. However the city is continuously undergoing modernization with some of the traditional Kyoto buildings being replaced by newer architecture, such as the Kyoto Station complex.

Orientation

Kyoto's city planners way back in 794 decided to copy the Chinese capital Chang'an (present-day Xi'an) and adopt a grid pattern, which persists to this day in the city core. West-east streets are numbered, with Ichijō-dōri (一条通, "First Street") up north and Jūjō-dōri (十条通, "Tenth Street") down south, but there is no obvious pattern to the names of north-south streets.

Get in

By plane

Not arriving at Kansai or Itami?

  • A small number of air flights operate daily from Tokyo's Narita Airport to Itami and Kansai, for the benefit of international passengers. Another option is to take the Narita Express limited express train to Tokyo's Shinagawa station, then change to the Tokaido Shinkansen.
  • If you arrive at Nagoya's Chubu Centrair International Airport, Kyoto can be reached in 80 minutes by taking the Meitetsu Airport Line to Nagoya, then changing to the Tokaido Shinkansen.


Kyoto does not have its own airport, but rather is served by Osaka's two airports. There is an excellent road and railway network between the two cities.

From Kansai

By train

Overseas travellers can fly into Kansai International Airport and then get a train to Kyoto. Kansai Airport Station is located opposite the arrival lobby where the Japanese Rail (JR) West Haruka Kansai Airport Limited Express Train can be caught. The best and fastest way to get to Kyoto from the airport is to buy a one-day JR West Kansai Area Pass[5] and take the Haruka Limited Express (non-reserved tickets only). The Haruka Limited Express takes about 77 minutes, with trains leaving every 30-60 minutes. The pass is for foreigners only and costs ¥2,300, which is ¥680 less than a regular Haruka Limited Express ticket from the airport to Kyoto. You will need to show your passport, as well as a copy of your foreign-bound return flight, when purchasing a ticket.

Another option that JR started to offer is the ICOCA and HARUKA discount ticket[6] which includes travel in unreserved seating on the Haruka to Kyoto and any JR station within a designated "Free Zone" and a rechargeable ICOCA transit card containing ¥2000 (includes ¥500 deposit) that can be used on JR, private railways, buses and stores in the Kansai region. A one-way discount ticket costs ¥1600 and a round-trip costs ¥3200.

Both of the above tickets can be purchased online or at the Kansai Airport train station.

By bus

Comfortable limousine buses run from the airport to Kyoto Station, twice an hour, stopping at some of the major hotels along the way. The ticket costs ¥2,500 (children ¥1,250) one-way or ¥4,000 for round-trip. Bus tickets can be purchased outside of the airport's arrival lobby on the first floor. (just go straight when you leave customs through the "North gate"). The buses leave from bus stop #8, which is located directly opposite the ticket vending machine. The ride takes 88 minutes but can take longer when there is traffic (about 90 – 135 minutes).

From Itami

Located near Osaka, Itami Airport is Kansai's largest domestic airport. Travelers flying into Kyoto from other areas in Japan will most likely arrive here. The easiest way to get to Kyoto from Itami Airport is by limousine bus No. 15. The trip takes about an hour and costs ¥1,280. The buses run three times an hour. Alternatively, you can take a combination of monorail and train, which requires at least two changes (monorail to Hotarugaike, Hankyu Takarazuka Line to Juso, Hankyu Kyoto Line to Kyoto) but costs just ¥650 and can be completed in an hour. Whereas the Limousine Bus will leave you at Kyoto Station in the southern part of Kyoto, the Hankyu Railway runs to Shijō Street in central Kyoto.

By train

A 500-series shinkansen train entering Kyoto station.

Most visitors arrive at JR Kyoto station by Shinkansen (bullet train) from Tokyo. Nozomi trains take approximately 2.15 hrs. to Kyoto and costs ¥13520 one-way. Travel agencies in Tokyo and Kyoto sell nozomi tickets with ¥700-1,000 discount. If you buy a ticket in an agency, it is "open date" - you can board any train as long as it is not full. All you have to do is show up at the train station, register your agency ticket and then you will be reserved a seat. The trains are equipped with vending machines and attendants selling snacks. Hikari trains, which run less frequently and make a few more stops, cover the trip in around 2.45 hours, but only the Hikari and the Kodama trains can be used by Japan Rail Pass holders at no charge.

Travelers can also take advantage of the Puratto Kodama Ticket [7], which offers a discount on the all-stopping Kodama services if purchased at least one day in advance. You get a reserved seat and a free drink on board. With this ticket a trip from Tokyo to Kyoto costs ¥9800 and takes 3.45 hours. Note that there is only one Kodama service per hour from Tokyo, and a few early-morning Kodama trains cannot be used with this ticket.

During travel periods when the Seishun 18 Ticket is valid, you can go from Tokyo to Kyoto during the day in about 8.30 hours using all-local trains. Traveling in a group is the best way to get discounts. The usual fare is ¥8000 however a party of three costs ¥3800 per person, and a group of five traveling together drops the price down to ¥2300 per person.

For travel in the Kansai region, a cheaper and almost as fast alternative is the JR shinkaisoku (新快速) rapid service, which connects to Osaka, Kobe and Himeji at the price of a local train. For a slightly cheaper price you can use the private Hankyu or Keihan lines to Osaka and Kobe, or the Kintetsu line to Nara. The Kansai Thru Pass includes travel on the private lines through to Kyoto, and this may prove cheaper that a JR Pass if you are staying a few days in the area.

Overnight by train

Direct overnight train service between Tokyo and Kyoto on a daily basis was abolished with the discontinuation of the Ginga express train in 2008. An alternative route via northern Japan became moot when another overnight train was removed from regular service in 2012. As a result, taking the bus is now the easiest way to travel between these two cities at night.

Overnight travel between Tokyo and Kyoto is still possible, and if you have a Japan Rail Pass and are willing to do some research, it can be inexpensive as well. The idea is to split your journey into two parts, stopping at an intermediate destination en-route in order to sleep somewhere. Your cost will only be for the hotel room, as your train fare has already been paid for on your rail pass.

This two-part method carries a couple of advantages: location and money. You will more than likely find good accomodations very close to a main train station in a smaller city, compared to a big city such as Tokyo, and it will more than likely be cheaper than hotels found in Tokyo. You could use the money you save to forward some of your luggage to Kyoto using a luggage delivery service and take an overnight bag with you, which will make the journey easier.

For example, you can use the Tokaido Shinkansen late at night and sleep over at a hotel in Shizuoka, Hamamatsu, Toyohashi or Nagoya; In the morning, grab one of the first bullet train departures in the same direction to continue your trip. Here is an example: In the evening hours, take a Hikari or Kodama train to Hamamatsu (75-90 minutes via Hikari or 2 hours via Kodama). Once there you can take a rest at Hamamatsu's Toyoko Inn, which costs as low as ¥4000 for a single room if booked in advance. At 6:30 the next morning, board the first bullet train of the day, a Kodama, and you will be in Kyoto before 8:00.

Remember that Japan Rail Passes are also valid for JR buses operating between Tokyo and Kyoto (see 'By Bus').

By car

Kyoto is easily reached by car via the Meishin Expressway between Nagoya and Osaka, but you'll definitely want to park your car on the outskirts of the city and use public transport to get around. Most attractions are in places built well before the existence of automobiles, and the availability of parking varies between extremely limited and non-existent. Furthermore, what little parking is available might be outrageously expensive.

By bus

As Kyoto is a major city, there are many day and overnight buses which run between Kyoto and other locations throughout Japan, which can be a cheaper alternative than shinkansen fares.

The run between Tokyo and the Kansai region is the busiest in Japan, and fierce competition between bus operators has resulted in better amenities and lower prices. Buses from Tokyo follow either the Tomei Expressway or the Chuo Expressway to Nagoya, then the Meishin Expressway to Kyoto. Trips take approximately 7-9 hours depending on the route and stops.

The following are among the major bus services available between Tokyo and Kyoto: (Current as of March, 2012)

Willer Express

Discount bus operator Willer Express [8] runs daytime and overnight buses with a variety of seating options ranging from standard bus seats to luxurious shell seats. Bus journeys can be booked online in English, and Willer's Japan Bus Pass is valid on all of their routes with some exceptions.

Buses from Tokyo leave from Willer's own bus terminal, located west of Shinjuku Station in the Sumitomo Building. Some buses also leave from Tokyo Disneyland - Goofy Car Park, Tokyo Station - Yaesu-Chuo Exit, Shinagawa Station - Shinagawa Prince Hotel and Yokohama Station. In Kyoto, Willer Express uses the Hachijo Exit (八条口) at the south side of Kyoto Station, with some routes also stopping in front of the Kiyomizu-Gojo post office.

Willer's overnight one-way fares to/from Tokyo start from approximately ¥3800 for overnight trips in standard seats up to ¥9800 in shell seats with advanced purchase. Daytime bus fares start from ¥4900. Fares are typically higher on weekends and holidays.

JR Bus

JR Bus (Japanese Website) is also a major operator on the Tokyo-Kyoto route. The drawback is that you cannot make online reservations in English, but you can make reservations in train stations at the same "Midori-no-Madoguchi" ticket windows used to reserve seats on trains.

JR Buses depart from Tokyo Station - Yaesu Exit (八重洲口) and the JR Highway Bus Terminal (JR高速バスターミナル) located adjacent to Yoyogi Station on the Yamanote Line (one stop south of Shinjuku). In Kyoto, buses congregate at the Karasuma Exit (烏丸口) at the north side of Kyoto Station.

JR Bus offers, in order of comfort and price, Seishun (youth) buses with 2x2 seating configurations, Standard buses with individual seats arranged 1x1x1, and Premium Buses that offer wider seats and more amenities.

JR Bus' overnight one-way fares to/from Tokyo start from approximately ¥3500 for overnight trips in Seishun buses up to ¥7600 for premium buses with advanced purchase. Daytime bus fares start from ¥5000. Fares are typically higher on weekends and holidays.

Some JR Buses heading to/from Osaka stop at the Kyoto Fukakusa Bus Stop on the Meishin Expressway. Fujinomori Station on the Keihan Railway is a 10-minute walk from Fukakusa, while Takeda Station on the Kintetsu Railway and the Kyoto Subway is 15 minutes away; all can be used to reach the main city. A local city bus also runs to Kyoto station from the nearby Youth Science Center 1-2 times per hour.

Note that the Japan Rail Pass CAN be used for overnight trips on standard buses between Tokyo and Kyoto called "Dream" services. If traveling during the daytime, direct buses between Tokyo and Kyoto are NOT covered by the rail pass (you can use the much faster bullet train instead).

Other bus services=
  • Hankyu Bus: overnight from Ikebukuro Station, Shinagawa Bus Terminal and Yokohama Station. Fares start from ¥7950. Buses stop at the Kyoto New Hankyu Hotel.
  • Keihan Bus: overnight from Shinjuku Highway Bus Terminal, Shibuya Mark City, Tokyo Disneyland and Keisei Ueno station. Discount buses ¥5000; regular buses ¥8180. Buses stop at Kyoto Station's Hachijo Exit.
  • Kintetsu Bus: overnight from Asakusa Station, Ueno Station, Tokyo Station and Yokohama Station. "Flying Liner" buses from ¥6320; "Flying Sneaker" discount bus from ¥3900 with advance purchase. Buses stop at Kyoto Station's Hachijo Exit.
  • Kosoku Bus:overnght from Shinjuku station, Tokyo station (Yaesu South exit, Kajibashi Parking Lot), and other places. The cheapest ticket is ¥1800. The buses arrives to Jujo Kanagawa (close to Jujo subway station). For more information you can visit their Webpage.

Get around

The sheer size of the city of Kyoto, and the distribution of tourist attractions around the periphery of the city, make the city's public transport system invaluable.

One of the easiest ways to plan a route is through Hyperdia [9] or Kurage [10]. These websites contain station-to-station route plans, which reference public and private trains and subways as well as buses throughout Japan.

If you are planning to travel beyond city limits you might consider using the tickets from Surutto Kansai. For use in west Japan, including Kyoto, there are some other useful tickets: a rechargeable smart card, ICOCA, can be used on rail, subway and bus networks in the Kansai area and also Okayama, Hiroshima, Nagoya (Kintetsu trains) and Tokyo (JR East trains). These cards are available at vending machines at these rail stations, and cost ¥2000, which includes a ¥500 deposit that will be refunded when the card is returned at JR West Station. For use in Kyoto only there are some other useful tickets:

  • The Kyoto Sightseeing Card can be purchased as a one-day (Adults ¥1200/Children ¥600) or two-day pass (¥2000/¥1000). It can be used for unlimited travel on the subway and city buses as well as a part of the Kyoto bus route. The two-day pass has to be used on two consecutive days. This can be purchased in the Kyoto tourist information kiosk in Kyoto station.
  • The Traffica Kyoto Card is a stored-value card in denominations of ¥1000 or ¥3000. It can be conveniently used up to face value on all subways and buses by simply sliding it through the ticket gate. They offer a 10% bonus value.

Check the Kyoto City Webpage [13] for more information on how to use these cards.

By train

Map of railway lines in most of the Kyoto municipality

Kyoto is criss-crossed by several train lines, all of which are clearly sign-posted in English. Although the lines are run independently and prices vary slightly between them, transfers can be purchased at most of the ticket machines. The Keihan train line can be useful for traveling in eastern Kyoto, while the two Keifuku tram lines are an attractive way of traveling in the northwest. Across the street from the northern terminus of the Keihan Line is the Eidan Eizan line, which runs to Mount Hiei and Kurama. The Hankyu Line starts at Shijo-Kawaramachi downtown, and connects to the Karasuma Line one stop later at Karasuma. It's useful for reaching Arashiyama and the Katsura Rikyu; it runs all the way to Osaka and Kobe. JR lines run from Kyoto station to the northwest (JR Sagano line), to the southwest (JR Kyoto line) and to the southeast (JR Nara line). There are local and express trains so check if they stop at your station before you get on.

By subway

There are two subway lines [14] which only serve a rather small part of the city. The north-south running Karasuma Line runs under Kyoto Station, and the west-east running Tozai Line links up with it near the city center. Both are useful for travel in the city center but not really suitable for temple-hopping. The Tozai Line does connect with the Keihan Line, however, which runs parallel to the Kamo-gawa, and is convenient for reaching Gion and southern Kyoto; it also gets you within a short walk of many of the sights in eastern Kyoto.

A one-day pass for the subway costs ¥ 600.

By bus

The bus network is the only practical way of reaching some attractions, particularly those in north-western Kyoto. Fortunately the system is geared toward tourists, with destinations electronically displayed/announced in English as well as Japanese. Unlike other Japanese cities, a tourist probably is advised to use the buses here.

Confusingly however, there are two different bus companies in Kyoto, which occasionally even have overlapping line numbers. Green-and-white Kyoto City Buses (市バス shi-basu) travel within the city, and are the most useful for visitors; unless otherwise noted, all buses listed in this guide are city buses. Red-and-white Kyoto Buses [15] travel to the suburbs and are generally much less useful.

Many buses depart from Kyoto Station, but there are well-served bus stations closer to the city center at Sanjo-Kawabata just outside the Sanjo Keihan subway line, and in the northern part of the city at the Kitaoji subway station. Most city buses have a fixed fare of ¥230, which is paid into a box next to the driver when getting off. Exact change is required, but machines for exchanging coins and ¥1000 notes are available. You can also purchase a one-day pass (¥500 for adults and ¥250 for children under 12) with which you can ride an unlimited number of times within a one day period. The day passes can be bought from the bus drivers or from the bus information center just outside Kyoto Station. This is especially useful if you plan on visiting many different points of interest within Kyoto. You can also buy a combined unlimited subway and bus 1-day pass for ¥1200 and slightly more economical 2-day pass for ¥2000. Note that these passes are not valid on JR trains and busses that serve the area.

The municipal transport company publishes a very useful leaflet called Bus Navi [16]. It contains a route map for the bus lines to most sights and fare information. You can pick it up at the information center in front of the main station.

  • Raku Bus - The city has three routes (100, 101, and 102) which are specifically designed for foreign tourists wishing to hit the tourist spots quickly. The buses skip many of the non-tourist stops and are thus a faster way to get from one sight to the next. The Raku Bus leaves from platform D2 at Kyoto Station. The cost is ¥220 per ride, but the day passes are accepted as well.

By bicycle

Particularly in spring and fall, but at any time of year, getting around by bicycle is an excellent option. Cycling forms a major form of personal transport year-round for locals. The city's grid layout makes navigation easy. You can rent bicycles in many places in Japan for a reasonable price. During the peak tourist seasons, when roads are busy and buses tend to be crammed beyond capacity, bicycles are probably the best way to navigate Kyoto.

Kyoto's wide, straight roads make for heavy traffic in many parts of the city, but it is possible to find back alleys that are quieter and offer better chances to happen upon all sorts of sightseeing/cultural gems. Riding on major roads is OK, especially if you are confident and used to riding with traffic on the road, rather than on the sidewalk and especially again if you are used to riding/driving on the LEFT-HAND side of the road.

  • Kyoto Cycling Tour Project(KCTP), 075-354-3636, [1]. A five-minute walk from the North Exit (the side with the buses and Kyoto Tower) of Kyoto Station. Bikes range from ¥ 1000 to ¥ 2000 for an actual 27-speed mountain bike with city-tires on it; perfect for the average foreigner who is used to a 'real' bike in their home country. The following options can be added: bi-lingual cycling/walking map of Kyoto ¥ 100; light FREE; helmet ¥ 200; back pack; ¥ 100; rain poncho ¥ 100. They can hold on to your luggage while you are riding. There are four other locations of KCTP and you can return your bike to any location, however you will incur a ¥ 400 charge if you return the bike to a location other than the one you rented from. Guided bike tours are also available ranging from ¥ 4500 (three hours) to ¥ 13000 (7.5 hours) that include guide, bike rental, lunch/snacks, accident insurance and admission to some attractions on the tour. Minimum of two people to guarantee departure/maximum of 10. Needs to be reserved three days in advance if you want a tour. Don't worry if the mountain bikes sell out - Kyoto (like Tokyo) is a city with perfect kerb transitions so a 3 speed with basket and bell is fine, if a little bumpy on the river path.
  • There is a friendly bicycle rental shop across the street from the Keihan Demachiyanagi station, behind the taxi rank. ¥ 500 for a day, ¥ 750 for a day and night, and ¥ 3000 for a month. ¥ 3000 deposit (¥ 2000 when showing ID). Has 22" children's bikes which come with a free helmet. Opens early (<9AM) - 7PM.
  • There is a small rental shop just north of Sanjo Keihan station on Kawabata Dori that rents bicycles, which doesn't have "tourist signs" attached. On the downside, they do not speak English. ¥ 1000 per day.
  • Rakusaiguchi, Katsura, and Saiin stations have Hankyu rent-a-cycle locations, where bikes can be rented for 320 yen a day, and returned the next morning. Electrically assisted bicycles are also available for 430 yen.
  • For those staying more than a week or so, purchasing a used bicycle may be economical. Most bicycle shops in Kyoto offer used town bicycles with lights, bell, basket, and lock for around ¥ 5000 — ¥ 10,000 (plus a ¥ 500 registration fee). At least some of this cost can be made back by re-selling the bicycle just prior to departure. Cycle Eirin, a chain found throughout the city, is a good place to start.

See

Ninnaji Pagoda

Kyoto offers an incredible number of attractions for tourists, and visitors will probably need to plan an itinerary in advance in order to visit as many as possible.

Japan National Tourist Organization's self-guided "Kyoto Walks" pamphlet is available in a ready to print PDF format here[17]. The guide enables first time visitors to tour the city with ease and with minimum fuss by providing bus numbers, names of bus stops and clearly marked walking routes. There are a variety of self-guided walks in different districts to sample Kyoto's various sites. If you see the browser's dialog box popping up, just click on it till the entire PDF document opens.

World Heritage Sites

In 1994, 17 historic sites were inscribed on UNESCO's World Heritage List under the group designation Historic Monuments of Ancient Kyoto. Fourteen of the listed sites are in Kyoto itself, two are in the neighbouring city of Uji and one is in Ōtsu.

Listed by location, the fourteen World Heritage Sites in the city of Kyoto are:

Imperial Palaces and Villas

Stroll through the regal retreats of the Imperial Palace or one of the two Imperial villas with gardens and teahouses managed by the Imperial Household Agency. These are the Imperial Palace (京都御所 Kyōto-gosho) and Sentō Imperial Palace (仙洞御所 Sentō-gosho) in Central Kyoto, Katsura Imperial Villa (桂離宮 Katsura-rikyū) in Western Kyoto, and Shugakuin Imperial Villa (修学院離宮 Shugaku-in-rikyū) in Northern Kyoto. All four of these sites are open to the public by reservation through the Imperial Household Agency. The gardens located within the precints of each palace and villa are at their most scenic during spring cherry blossom season and autumn where a riot of colors enchant visitors. Each property is still used from time to time for official state functions or for private visits by the current royal family members.

The Imperial Household Agency maintains a quota on the number of visitors to each site per tour. Admission is free. English guides are available at the Imperial Palace; however, tours of the Sento Imperial Palace, Katsura Villa, and Shugakuin Villa are conducted in Japanese only (English pamphlets are given at each destination upon entry and books are available for purchase if you'd like to know more). Overseas visitors can apply online to the Imperial Household Agency in English here [18]. On its website are write ups and videos in English for interested visitors to gauge which ones they would like to visit before making an online application. Please note that advanced applications first become available on the first day of the month, three months in advance of the applicant's preferred touring month. For example, if your preferred date of visit falls in the month of April, you can begin applying on January 1. As these visits are over subscribed by the Japanese and overseas visitors, the Imperial Household Agency has to draw lots to pick the successful applicants. All applicants are notified on the status of their applications whether they are successful or otherwise within a week after closing date. Most applicants to the Imperial Palace are accepted, and early reservation is not usually necessary; however, those planning to visit the Sentō Imperial Palace, or either of the Imperial Villas should apply on the first available day of application as they are highly competitive and entire months of tours often become full within the first few days. Winter tours are typically much less competitive, but be aware that the gardens will not be as beautiful as other times of the year.

If an applicant is not successful, they can still go direct in person to the Imperial Household Agency Kyoto Office to enquire whether there are vacancies, as they typically save a few spots for walk-ins. Many people are able to do this successfully for the Imperial Palace, but it can be more of a risk for the others, so go early. Address: Imperial household Agency Kyoto Office, 3 Kyotogyoen, Kamigyo-ku, Kyoto, 602-8611, tel: +81-75-211-1215.

Do

Public baths

Public baths have been a cornerstone of the society for centuries in Kyoto. The first public baths, or sentō, were documented in the 13th century. Soon they became one of the few places in society where social status was irrelevant. Noblemen shared baths with commoners and warriors. Today over 140 bath houses remain in Kyoto. Funaoka Onsen is the oldest of these and dubbed "king of sentō", but newer bath houses and super sentō are just as much part of the Japanese bathing culture. If you have the time, make your way to one of the many public bath houses Kyoto has to offer. See Kyoto Baths for more information.

  • Funaoka Onsen (船岡温泉), Kyoto, Kita Ward, Murasakino Minamifunaokacho 82-1 (take bus line 206 from Kyoto station), +81-75-441-3735, [2]. 15:00 - 01:00. Funaoka Onsen is the oldest public bath house in Kyoto still in operation. Its classic building is an excellent example of bath house architecture of the beginning of the 20th century. Funaoka Onsen is popular with both locals and visitors and is a must if you have an hour to spare. ¥430. (35.036912,135.744581)

Meditation

Well-known for its abundance of historical sites, Kyoto often draws visitors eager to experience traditional Japanese culture. Buddhist meditation sessions are one of the most popular of these activities, and multiple options are available. In Northern Kyoto, Taizo-in and Shunko-in (both sub-temples of Myoshin-ji) offer authentic Zen meditation sessions, complete with explanations of the meaning and significance of such meditation. Reservations are necessary.

Blossom Viewing

Cherry blossoms

Kyoto is arguably the most well known place in the country to view cherry blossoms, and there are certainly no lack of options. On the Official Top 100 cherry blossom spots list, three are in Kyoto (Arashiyama, Daigoji, Ninnaji).

Eastern Kyoto is particularly popular during the cherry blossom season. A walk from Nanzen-ji to Ginkaku-ji along the Philosopher's Path, lined with cherry trees, is enjoyable, as there are a variety of temples and shrines to stop at along the way. The garden of the Heian Shrine, not far from the Philosopher's Path, features colorful pink blossoms, which is a nice contrast to the white blossoms you'll see on the Philosopher's Path. The famous cherry tree in Maruyama Park is often the center of attention in the evenings when it is lit up. Vendors line the pathway leading up to it, creating a festive atmosphere. Kiyomizu-dera and Kodai-ji have extended hours during the first few days of this season offering visitors the opportunity to view them at night, lit up against the blossoms. Blossoms can also be seen along the Kamogawa River. The entire area literally blossoms in the spring!

In Central Kyoto the northern section of the Imperial Park is home to a variety of different types of cherry blossoms. Nijo Castle hosts its own Nijo Light-Up, in which visitors can walk the grounds of the castle at night among the cherry blossoms (typically for 10-14 days). You cannot enter the castle during the light-up, so those who want to enter should visit during the day to see the castle and the blossoms. Just south of Kyoto station, the grounds of Toji Temple bloom beautifully below the towering pagoda.

In Arashiyama, a large portion of the mountainside is bright with cherry blossoms, along with the area around Hankyu Arashiyama Station. During the day, many people enjoy viewing the blossoms on the mountainside from the "Romantic Train" that travels through Arashiyama. At night, the area is lit up and food stalls are set up with a variety of delicious snacks.

Northern Kyoto offers cherry-blossom scouts worthwhile experiences at Hirano Shrine and Kyoto Botanical Gardens, and a walk inside the large grounds of Daigo-ji in Southern Kyoto is certainly made memorable when all the blossoms are in full bloom.

Plum blossoms

Although they are less well-known to foreign tourists, who tend only to focus their attentions on seeing cherry blossoms, for those with plans to visit Kyoto from mid-February through mid-March, plum blossom viewing makes for a great alternative. Kyoto has two popular plum blossom locations; Kitano Tenmangu and the Kyoto Botanical Gardens, both in northern Kyoto. Kitano Tenmangu has a large grove of plum trees just outside the shrine entrance that, with a ¥600 fee, you can stroll about. Within the shrine grounds, there are many more trees (viewable for free). The shrine even hosts annual performances by geisha amidst the plum blossoms. Plum blossoms have a very pleasantly distinct fragrance. These Japanese ume trees are actually more closely related to apricot trees. However an early mistranslation by the Japanese resulted in these trees being called "plum" trees instead.

Festivals and Events

  • Setsubun (February 3 or 4) A large bonfire and Shinto ceremony is held at Yoshida Shrine.
  • Hanatoro (March 14-23 in Higashiyama and December 14-23 in Arashiyama) Streets and temples are decorated with lanterns and flowers, and many places have extended viewing hours into the night.
  • Cherry Blossom Season (April 1-15; days vary depending upon the weather) Although viewing the blossoms is enough for many, special events are often held throughout the city. (See "Cherry Blossoms" above)
  • Aoi Matsuri (May 15) Beginning at Kyoto Imperial palace, a large procession dressed in Heian Period garbs walks to Shimogamo Shrine and finishes at Kamigamo Shrine.
  • Gion Matsuri (July 17) Many Mikoshi are paraded through the streets. It is considered to be one of the top three festivals in Japan.
  • Daimonji Gozan Okuribi (August 16) The hillside in Northwestern Kyoto is lit aflame in this festival honoring one's ancestors. Candle lanterns are floated out in Hirosawa Pond.
  • Jidai Matsuri (October 22) People dressed in traditional garbs parade to Heian Shrine.

Buy

There is a nice selection of reassuringly non-tacky traditional souvenir shops around Arashiyama station in Western Kyoto, selling fans and traditional sweets. More tacky stores can be found in Gion and the approach to Kiyomizu Temple, selling keyrings, cuddly toys, and garish ornaments. Other traditional souvenirs from Kyoto include parasols and carved wooden dolls.

More unconventional but colorful (and relatively cheap) souvenirs are the wooden votive tablets produced by Shinto shrines, which bear an image relevant to the shrine on the reverse. Visitors write their prayers on the tablets and hang them up, but there's no rule that says you can't take it with you.

Manga and anime enthusiasts should visit Teramachi Street, a covered shopping street off the main Shijo-dori, which boasts a large manga store on two floors, as well as a two-story branch of Gamers (a chain of anime stores), and a small two-story anime and collectables store.

Many ATMs in Kyoto do not allow non-domestic credit cards to be used, but ATMs in post offices and Seven-Eleven usually do. So if you find your card rejected or invalid in an ATM then try and get to a post office (郵便局 / yuubinkyoku or JP (in orange letters)) to use their ATMs instead. Look for the PLUS or Cirrus logos, whichever you find printed on the back of your ATM card. Another option is Citibank, which should work, too. There is an old standby international ATM at the top floor of Takashimaya Department Store at Shijo/Kawaramachi in the "Cash Corner." The bank of ATMs in the basement of the Kyoto Tower shopping center (across the street from JR Kyoto Station) also includes one machine where international cards may be used.

Splurge

In the shopping areas adjacent to Kiyomizudera (on the other side of the Kamo River), it is possible to purchase samurai swords and top of the line kimonos. Do not be surprised if the prices for either item exceed ¥3,000,000.

Kyoto incense is also famous. It usually has a very delicate yet fragrant bouquet. Incense is relatively agreeable in price (¥400-2000). You will be able to find it between Nishi and Higashi Hongwanji.

Damascene

Damascene, a special metal created by imbedding other metals, originated in Damascus, Syria over 2000 years ago and was first introduced to Japan in the 8th century. Since then, it has ceased production worldwide with the exception of Kyoto city, which continues producing it even today. The technique used to create Kyoto's damascene is quite complex, as it must be corroded, rusted, and boiled in tea, along with inlaying many layers of metal to produce the final product. Today, visitors can purchase a variety of jewelry, as well as vases, tea utensils, lighters, and other accessories made using this technique.

Eat

If you've just stepped off the train and the first thing on your mind is a bite to eat, there are several restaurants on the tenth and eleventh floors of the Isetan department store attached to Kyoto station. Most of the offerings are Japanese, including a veritable Ramen village, with a few casual Italian cafes as well.

Matcha

Kyoto, and the nearby city of Uji, is well known for its matcha(抹茶 maccha) or green tea, but visitors don't just come to drink the tea; there are a wide variety of matcha-flavored treats. Matcha ice cream is particularly popular, and most places selling ice cream will have it as an option. It also shows up in a variety of snacks and gifts.

Yatsuhashi

Yatsuhashi (八ツ橋) is another delicious Kyoto snack. There are two types of yatsuhashi; baked and raw. The hard yatsuhashi was originally made using cinnamon, and tastes like a crunchy biscuit. Today, while the biscuits remain the same, you can also buy hard yatsuhashi dipped in macha and strawberry-flavored glazes.

Raw yatsuhashi, also known as hijiri was also made with cinnamon, but the cinnamon is mixed with bean paste and then folded into the hijiri to make a triangle-shape. Today, you can buy a wide variety of flavors, including macha, chocolate and banana, and black poppyseed. Many of the flavors are seasonal, such as the sakura (cherry blossom) yatsuhashi available in the spring and mango, peach, blueberry, and strawberry, available from May to October.

Although yatsuhashi can be purchased at most souvenir shops, the best place to purchase raw yatsuhashi is the famous Honkenishio Yatsuhashi. While other stores may carry yatsuhashi, this is the place to find all of the seasonal flavors, as well as free samples. Most of these shops are located in Higashiyama. The most convenient for tourists is probably the one on Kiyomizu-zaka, just below the entrance to Kiyomizu-dera.

While many tourists find raw yatsuhashi to be a delicious (and highly affordable) souvenir, be aware that it only lasts for one week after purchase. Baked yatsuhashi on the other hand, will last for about three months. Consider this when deciding what gifts to take home with you.

Other specialties

Other Kyoto specialities include hamo (a white fish served with ume as sushi), tofu (try places around Nanzenji temple), suppon (an expensive turtle dish), vegetarian dishes (thanks to the abundance of temples), and kaiseki-ryori (multi-course chef's choice that can be extremely good and expensive).

Drink

Sake casks at Matsunoo Grand Shrine

Kyoto's night scene is dominated by bars catering for local needs, most of which are located in Central Kyoto around Kiyamachi, between Shijo and Sanjo. This area offers a wide variety of drinking options for all types of people. You'll also have no trouble finding the host and hostess bars, courtesy of the staff pacing around out front trying to entice visitors. There are plenty of options beyond this street in other regions, but with such a large concentration of bars along in the same area, its easy to locate a place where you feel most at home to relax for the night.

If you're looking for nightclubs, Kyoto has a few options, but it is not a city known for its thriving dance clubs. Those hoping to experience that part of Japanese nightlife should consider taking a train to Osaka where many of the clubs are hip and wild enough to rival any Tokyo club.

Sake

Some of Kyoto's most famous sake comes from Gekkeikan Brewery in the Fushimi area of Southern Kyoto. A 400 year old brewery that still produces great sake, Gekkeikan offers tours of its facilities.

Sleep

This guide uses the following price ranges for a standard double room:
Budget below ¥11,000
Mid-range ¥11,000–20,000
Splurge over ¥20,000

Kyoto has a wide range of accommodation, much of it geared towards foreign visitors. During peak seasons, such as the cherry blossoms in April or during Golden Week when accommodation is difficult to get, consider staying in Osaka. A thirty minute train ride from Kyoto Station to Osaka Station will cost you ¥540 one way. Since Kyoto is a major tourist destination, demand is high and prices follow suit.

Most of the lodging in the city is clustered near the central city, especially around Kyoto Station and the downtown area near Karasuma-Oike. The outer areas have a scattering of their own, tending towards inexpensive but often much further from train or subway stations.


Budget

Japanese Style Ryokan

At the bottom of the price scale, many temples in Kyoto own and run their own lodging complex known as shukubō (宿坊), usually located on or near temple grounds. Guests are often invited to participate in morning prayer service (otsutome) held at the temple. Unfortunately, most temple lodgings do not have English-speaking receptions, and curfews and check-in/out times tend to be strict. Most are located in the northern region of the city.

Hostels are common and popular with students. Inexpensive hotels lack amenities but compensate with prices surprisingly low for Japan; both can be found in all regions of the city, and may be the only options available if you need to stay in an outlying ward.

The majority of self-named ryokan in this range are actually minshuku. Most are small family-run operations and accustomed to dealing with foreigners. Be prepared to pay for the full stay in advance.

As in other Japanese cities, internet cafes and capsule hotels are available for those truly on the cheap. Expect to pay around ¥2000 for a night's stay in an internet cafe. You get a computer, a comfortable chair, and all the tea and hot chocolate you want.

For long-term stay, JamHouses [19] near Nijō Castle and Katsura station offer inexpensive shared houses with Japanese roommates. Houses have private rooms and dormitories, equipped kitchens and living rooms. JamHouse near Nijō Castle has also a restaurant [20].

Internet and manga cafés

These "manga-kisas" (short for kissaten which means 'cafe') are not a thing to fear. There is nothing wrong with staying in these Japan#Last_resorts for a few nights. Most manga-kisas have no separate smoking and non-smoking sections, and the bountiful collections of manga will only be in japanese, but they usually have cushions and blankets and free unlimited soft drinks (included with entry fee). Showers are usually available, but sometimes for a fee. Remember that these cafés won't keep your luggage during the day so either keep it with you, find free storage elsewhere or use a coin locker (¥300-600 per use). The price will usually not be that different from a normal hotel for an overnight stay.


  • Topscafé, Hachijo street (south-east of Kyoto JR station, 5min by walk, near willerexpress bus stop), [3]. Cost is: 120or140 / 1000 / 1800 / 3000 / 1500 + member card 200 + vip: +200 for pack + 100y/15min overtime night starts at 1500y+member card. internet hour starts at 480+member card.
every 15min (single or vip) 3h pack 6h pack 12h pack night pack 7h
120or140 1000 1800 3000 1500
  • Freespace, south of Shin-kyogoku, near Sanjo-Kawaramachi. cost: member card 200, towel rent 210 open area has a variety of seat: normal, reclining, massage but can't be reserved. It allows even you take the cheap price to have a comfortable seat. night starts at 980y+member card. internet hour starts at 480+member card.
30mn 15mn extra 4h 7h 6h (night) 8h (night) 12h
open 240 100 980 1280 980 - 1500
vip 280 100 1150 1600 1280 1580 1980
  • Popeye media cafe, (between kyoto shiyakusho-mae station/honno-ji and sanjo-dori, just near catholic cathedral and Royal Hotel and spa, bus stop kawaramachi-sanjo 4/17/205), [4]. The most famous one. Cafetaria seat are ok but better to use two if sleeping. no member card, shower extra 100y if cafetaria (included in other case), 100y for towel rent no member card. night starts at 880/1100y. internet hour starts at 280.
1h first charge 15min after 3h pack (day) 6h (day) 5h (night) 10h (night)
cafetaria (unreserved seat, normally only free drinks+manga, NO internet/wifi normally) 280 70 680 1180 880 1100
open seat (+games+dvd) 420 95 920 1480 980 1230
business (+tv) 470 115 1020 1780 1280 1980
reclining 525 125 1230 2180 1550 3100
massage or pair-sofa or flat 525 125 1230 2180 1760 3520

Midrange

The boundary between budget and midrange is often unclear, particularly among ryokan. Hotels in this category are concentrated in Central Kyoto, serving the business market with the typical amenities and close proximity to transportation. There are also a number of smaller, family-run guesthouses around the Gojo area, which is between Kyoto Station area and historical Gion.

Splurge

Split between the downtown and Higashiyama areas on each side of the Kamogawa River, these top-of-the-line lodgings can make your airfare look cheap. Western-style hotels dominate in this category; unlike the midrange options, very few of the high end ryokan can be booked without a fluent command of Japanese.

Machiya-stay

In Kyoto, there are traditional wooden townhouses called Kyo-Machiya or Machiya. Kyo-Machiya defined the architectural atmosphere of downtown Kyoto for centuries, and represents the standard defining form of Machiya throughout the country.

There are several facilities offers those Machiya to the travellers to stay privately, and can experience the traditional living in Kyoto. Most of those facilities are located in central Kyoto that easy to access to any sightseeing spot. However, generally those facilities don’t offer any meals, but in Kyoto, there is a delivery system from the Japanese restaurant that customer can order and eat in the Kyo-Machiya. During the guest stay, it is completely private that guests can feel like staying at their home.

The size of the facilities are average 80㎡, can stay from 2 people with prices comperable to a mid range hotel (¥10,000 per night) but it can be better to use with a group of 4 to 6, or with family. There are facilities that guests can stay together in the same Machiya for up to 14 people.

The price is from ¥25,000-

Get out

  • Asuka - the cradle of Japanese civilization. The first Japanese Emperors established the capital here, and the oldest shrines, tombs, and temples are in Asuka.
  • Uji - the best tea in Japan and the Byodo-in temple.
  • Kurama - less than an hour's journey by a local train from Kyoto Demachi-Yanagi station, the small village of Kurama has real onsen (Japanese natural hot springs). A nice mountain walk can be made to Kibune, where you can take the train back to Kyoto. The trail is broad and not dangerous, but it consists of many steps. The trip would take 90 minutes (if you don't look too long to all temples and shrines along the route). A map can be obtained from tourist information in Kyoto station.
  • Lake Biwa - if the summer humidity has drained your will to sightsee, take a day swimming at the underrated beaches of western Lake Biwa. Popular choices include Omi Maiko and Shiga Beach, each about 40 minutes from Kyoto on the JR Kosei Line.
  • Mount Hiei - an ancient hilltop temple complex that traditionally guarded (and occasionally raided) Kyoto.
  • Koka - home of ninjas, and there is the Miho Museum.
  • Nara - less than an hour's journey by train on the JR Nara line from Kyoto station, Nara is an even older capital than Kyoto and has a stunning collection of temples in a giant landscaped park.
  • Osaka - about half an hour from Kyoto by JR rapid train, this bustling city offers more retail opportunities and a central castle.
  • Himeji - about an hour by Shinkansen west of Kyoto, Himeji boasts a spectacular traditional castle.


Routes through Kyoto
ENDShin-Osaka  W noframe E  MaibaraNagoya&#13;
TottoriToyooka  W noframe E  END&#13;
KobeOsaka  W noframe E  OtsuNagoya&#13;
KobeIbaraki  W noframe E  OtsuNagoya



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