Ninomaru Palace, Nijō Castle
Central Kyoto encompasses the urban heart of Japan's former imperial capital. From the carefully tended gardens and stately buildings of the Imperial Palace in the north to the massive, ultra-modern showpiece structure of Kyoto Station in the south, this district has a bit of everything that makes Kyoto what it is today: a marbled mix of old and new, of immeasurably ancient traditions and fast-paced modernity.
Kyoto's extensive rail, subway, and bus networks can all be accessed through the city's main transportation hub: the gargantuan glass-and-steel structure of Kyoto Station (京都駅, Kyōto-eki).
Kyoto Station is a major stop on the Tōkaidō Shinkansen Line. From the station, travellers arriving by shinkansen (or by other railway lines) can easily access the city's municipal subway and bus systems.
Central Kyoto is served by two intersecting subway lines.  The north-south Karasuma Line (which stops at Kyoto Station) and the west-east Tōzai Line link up at Karasuma-Oike Station near the city centre.
Several important bus routes (covering not only Central Kyoto but other parts of the city as well) start and end at the Kyōto-eki-mae terminal - which, as the name indicates, is right in front of Kyoto Station. Take the station's Karasuma/North exit and you'll see the bus terminal, which is divided into four boarding platforms (from A to D) and has signs in English identifying key stops on each route. For detailed route information, pick up a copy of the helpful "Bus Navi" leaflet from the information centre near the terminal.
Ninomaru Garden, Nijō Castle
- Nijō Castle (二条城 nijō-jō), (Nearest bus stop: Nijojo-mae. Nearest subway station: Nijojo-mae). Open daily, 8.45am-5pm, with last admission at 4pm. Certainly one of the highlights of Kyoto, with fine gardens and splendid centuries-old structures. The series of ornately-decorated reception rooms within the Ninomaru Palace complex is particularly impressive, and known for its "nightingale floors" - wooden flooring which makes bird-like squeaking sounds when stepped on so as to give advance warning when someone was approaching. From the empty base of the donjon that once overlooked the innermost section of the fortress (known as the Honmaru), you can get good views over parts of the castle compound and the wider city beyond. Admission ¥600.
- Nijo Jinya, (Just south of Nijo Castle). This former (and still inhabited) samurai house offers a look into how people used to live. The guided tour focuses on the measures taken to avoid and deal with the risk of fire and attack, with several trap doors and escape routes, along with some innovative anti-conflagration architecture. However, it's not a cheap tour and no photos are allowed. Moreover, tours were suspended for two years from the end of 2009 Golden Week (May) while repairs are carried out. Tour ¥1,000.
- The Museum of Kyoto, (Located on Takakura-dori. Nearest bus stop: Shijo Karasuma. Nearest subway station: Karasuma Oike). Open daily 10am-8.30pm. This museum may be particularly worthwhile if you have a burning interest in ancient pottery, otherwise not really worth a visit. Admission ¥500.
- Kyoto International Manga Museum (京都国際マンガミュージアム Kyōto Kokusai Manga Myūjiamu), (1-minute walk north from the Karasuma Oike subway station), . Open 10 AM to 6 PM (last admission 5:30 PM); closed on Wednesdays - or the following Thursday if Wednesday is a national holiday - and during the New Year holidays (as well as during regular maintenance periods). Housed in an old elementary school building, the museum holds over 300,000 manga-related items ranging from rare Meiji-era publications to the works of contemporary artists. One of its main attractions is the so-called "Wall of Manga": a vast collection of some 50,000 volumes arranged on shelves running along the building's corridors. Much of the collection is in Japanese, but there is a sizeable selection of manga translated into various foreign languages (including English) on the ground floor. Visitors are welcome to pick out and read anything they choose from the "Wall of Manga" (although the books can't be checked out for offsite reading), which explains the large numbers of children and young adults that throng the museum - and the large Astroturf field just outside - during opening hours. The museum also hosts special temporary exhibitions and other manga-related events. Admission ¥500 adults, ¥300 high-school students, ¥100 elementary school students; special exhibits cost extra.
- Nishi Honganji, (Nishi Honganji, a 15-minute walk from Kyoto Station), ☎ 075-371-5181, . Open from 6 AM to 5 PM. One of Kyoto's World Heritage Sites, the current building dates back to the 1600s. It is the head temple of the Honganji sect of the Buddhist Jodo sect. Entrance is free.
- Higashi Honganji, (From Kyoto Station, Higashi Honganji is a five-minute walk), ☎ 075-371-9210, . The majestic main hall of Higashi Honganji, said to be the largest wooden structure in the world, can accommodate up to 5,000 people and is the headquarter of the Shinju Sect of Buddhism. The "hair rope" is perhaps the most interesting site in the temple, as it is just that; an extremely thick rope made mostly from human hair. Entrance is free.
- Shosei-en Garden, (Two blocks east of Higashi Hongan-ji Temple), ☎ 075-371-9210, . Also known as Kikoku-tei, Shosei-en Garden was commissioned by Prince Minamoto no Toru. He created the Ingetsu Pond was designed to look like the Shiogama coast in Miyagi Prefecture. During the Tokugawa Period the garden was given to Higashi Hongan-ji Temple, restoring the old sections and adding on to the garden.
Cherry blossoms at Tō-ji Temple
- Tō-ji Temple, . Open 9 AM to 5:30 PM. Although its famed for its pagoda, the tallest in Japan, the other structures within the complex are equally impressive with surprisingly colorful interiors and a variety of precious Buddhist sculptures on display. The rest of the temple grounds are made up of a relaxing garden, with many cherry blossoms in the spring. It is also famous for its flea markets, held on the 21st of every month. Entrance fee: ¥500 (special exhibitions have separate fees).
- Kyoto Tower, (Just north of Kyoto Station), . Open from 9 AM to 9 PM. A sightseeing tower that provides views of Kyoto's urban sprawl. Entrance fee: ¥700.
- Bukkoji Temple, Shinkai-cho Shimogyo-ku, ☎ 075-341-3321, . A temple of Shin Buddhism established by Shinran.
- Mibudera Temple, ☎ 075-841-3381, . 8 AM to 5:30 PM. This temple is most famous for its Setsubun celebration, particularly for the Mibu Kyogen performances on February second and third. During normal times, the temple and the garden/mound are not particularly exciting. The treasures housed are interesting and cheap to see. It is free to walk around the temple grounds, but the garden and treasures each cost ¥100 to see.
- Shinsen-en Garden, 167 Monzen-cho, Nakagyo-ku, ☎ 075-821-1466, . Open from 9 AM to 10 PM. Although cherry blossom-viewing and festivals can be seen all over Japan today, Shinsen-en Garden is where the very first organized cherry blossom viewing festival took place. Admission is free.
The Imperial Park is a large, peaceful area in the centre of Kyoto, centred around the Imperial Palace. The Palaces are only open to visitors on free guided tours, and bookings must be made at the Imperial Household Agency, online or in their office to the west of the palace complex.If you're in Kyoto for an extended amount of time, the park can make for a very pleasant afternoon, and it's large enough to let you forget the noise of the city outside the walls. It's home to 50,000 trees, including cherry, plum and peach tree orchards (mostly in the northern section).
Shishinden, Kyoto Imperial Palace
- Kyoto Imperial Palace (京都御所 Kyōto-gosho), (A 5-10 minute walk south from the Imadegawa subway station, Karasuma subway line), . English tours at 10am and 2pm Mon-Fri (by appointment only). The Palace is a reconstruction (dating from 1855), though the Emperor doesn't actually spend much time there, and the guided tour doesn't actually enter the Palace buildings, only peeking at them from the outside, but nevertheless, it provides interesting insight into the lives of the Imperial Court and it's the only Imperial site in Kyoto that offers English guides. Show up an hour before the tour at the Imperial Household Agency building (west of Kyoto Imperial Palace), and they'll let you join if there's space, or make a booking for another day if there isn't. If you don't want to chance it, advance bookings can also be made online through the Imperial Household Agency's official website . Entrance is free.
- Sentō Imperial Palace (仙洞御所 Sentō-gosho), . Located within the grounds of Kyoto's Imperial Park, the Sento Imperial Palace is arguably the most competitive for reservations, because this is the palace where the present Imperial family stays when in Kyoto.
Kimono fashion show, Nishijin Textile Center
- Nishijin Textile Center, Horikawa-Imadegawa, ☎ 075-451-9231, . While visitors may just go to the museum to see the history of Nishijin Textiles, you may also want to try dressing up as a geisha or trying your hand at weaving. You need reservations for each activity, and separate fees are charged for each activity. Weaving costs ¥1800 adult (¥1500 for students) and dressing up as a geisha costs ¥10000.
The city's main shopping district is centered on the intersection of Shijō-dōri and Kawaramachi-dōri, a short distance from the Kamo River and a manageable walk away from the neighbouring Gion district in Higashiyama. Kawaramachi Station on the Hankyū Line puts you right in the heart of the action, within easy reach of three major department stores and a wide assortment of other shopping options.
For electronics, head up to Teramachi and turn left; for clothes boutiques, including your chance at finding the perfect Engrish t-shirt, turn right into the covered arcade portion of Teramachi and Shinkyōgoku, which runs parallel.
Specific places worth checking out include the following:
- Toji Flea Market. On the 21st of each month, Toji hosts a large flea market on and around the temple grounds. It's like a one-day festival, with long rows of food vendors joining an odd assortment of sellers — everything from elegant Japanese crafts and rare plants to piles of old postcards, photos, movie posters, and appliances from decades past.
- Gallery Gado 27 Miyashiki-cho Hirano, Kitaku (on Kinukake no Michi, near Kinkakuji). 075-464-1655. Open everyday, 10:00 AM to 6:00 PM. Gallery Gado sells modern woodblock prints (ukiyo-e) with traditional themes. The gallery also has catalogs of the work of artists who are maintaining this art form. All prints are authentic woodblock prints; postcard-sized prints are available for ¥800, medium-sized prints for ¥2000-3000, and large prints for a few ten thousand yen. 
- Junkudo (8th floor of BAL building on Kawaramachi-dori between Shijo and Sanjo streets). +81 075-253-6460. Open daily 11 AM to 8 PM. Huge bookstore with big selection of English books and magazines.
Sushi on offer in central Kyoto
- Musashi Sushi one of the oldest kaitenzushiya (conveyor belt sushi) restaurants in Kyoto, it is located directly across chain Kappa Sushi at the corner of Sanjo/Kawaramachi. All of the sushi is handmade, though it may take a while to see something new float by. Fortunately, the seats surround the chefs, so you can request whatever you want if you don't see something you like. Price: ¥137 per plate (usually 2 pieces per plate).
- Mikoan - Owned by a female Joudou Shinshu priestess. Go here for some good, cheap vegetarian food, as well as to pet her two cats. From Teramachi, go across Shijo and walk down the street for a few blocks. There will be a very small alley with a sign on it that advertises the restaurant on the right hand side.
- Kappa Sushi is a chain kaitenzushiya (conveyor belt sushi) restaurant on the corner of Sanjo and Kawaramachi at the entrance to the Shinkyogoku/Teramachi covered mall. Lots of variety and cheap prices, but the sushi isn't handmade — machines are used to cut the rice and fish. Price: ¥100 per plate (usually 2 pieces per plate).
- Mr. Young Men is a pleasantly grubby okonomiyaki restaurant downtown, at the corner of Shijo and the covered shopping street of Teramachi. Basic English menus are available. A basic dish of Osaka-style okonomiyaki will run about ¥800, although a few variations (including a bizarre cheese and potato version) are available for about the same price.
- Hati Hati is an Indonesian restaurant on Kiyamachi, near Takoyakushi. It has great food and atmosphere, but it's occasionally converted into a bar and a performance space for local bands and DJs at night on weekends. For really late night food on Kiyamachi, there is a cheap, open-air falafel cafe a couple doors down from Hati Hati that never seems to close.
- Donguri is a cheap yet very nice okonomiyaki restaurant on the Northwest corner of Kawaramachi and Shijo. It's a sub-level place so it might take a bit to find it. It's next to the OPA department store. It's about ¥500 yen for an okonomiyaki and about ¥300-500 for a namachuu (mid sized mug of beer). Great place for a date or nicer evening.
- Kappa Sushi (on Pontocho) is a reasonably-priced (for fresh sushi) restaurant. They have an English menu which is, unfortunately, inferior to the Japanese menu. Specials change daily, but are generally on the pricey side. Sit at the sushi bar, and eat well-apportioned nigiri off of banana leaves with your fingers. Not a bad place to try real o-toro for ¥800 a plate.
- efish 798-1 Nishihashizume-cho +81 075-361-3069 (near the Idemetsu gas station, across the river from Keihan Gogo 京阪五条 station. Open every day, 11 AM to 11 PM (until 10 PM in the winter). This cafe, tucked away down a hidden side street, has a trendy ambiance and river views. For lunch, try the okra curry (¥850) or soup and bread set (¥650). 
- Siam (シャム）A tiny but wonderful Thai curry restaurant on Marutamachi-dori about 100m east of Nishioji-dori. The food is delicious, reasonably priced and spice levels are indicated on the menu. Relax in a soft-lit room decorated with exotic paintings from Bali, while the friendly staff prepare your meal right in front of you. English menu available. Open: 11:30-15:30 & 18:00-21:00. Closed: Wednesdays.
- Fuka(麩嘉）Located west of the Imperial Palace and just a bit south of the Kyoto Prefectural Office, this old shop makes the best nama-fu (wheat gluten filled with sweet bean paste) in Kyoto and supplies many sweet shops and restaurants throughout the city. There might not be enough supplies to sell over the counter, so it is best to arrive early. Open: 9AM-5PM. Closed: Mondays
- Tengu A chain izakaya offering their own beer and good shared food with occasional seasonal specials. One is located underground with an entrance near the corner of Sanjo/Kawaramachi.
- Anil A nice Nepalese restaurant in the Daini Kankou building 6th floor on Kiyamachi. It's got a great atmosphere and awesome food. The dahl, cheese nan and momo dumplings are highly recommended.
- 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.
- Mishima-tei: If you have a yearning for sukiyaki, and your pockets are deep, you must visit Mishima-tei at the junction of Teramachi-dori and Sanjo-dori. Here you will be bowed in and shown to your own private tatami room by your personal kimono-clad hostess. There, having helped you to order, she will prepare your sukiyaki feast on the hotplate set between you. Order the "premium beef", and the richly marbled meat will just melt in your mouth, and require almost no chewing whatsoever: it is delectable – and it should be since two of you will spend around ¥25,000 in less than an hour on 360 grams of beef and a few vegetables! (For the cost-shy, there is a 'tourist set' on the menu which results in a bill of about ¥13,600 for 2.)
- Zen Cafe. A place to meet travelers and locals as it is located next to popular hostel "K's House". The staff are friendly and speak good English and are happy to offer advice on what to see and do from a local's point of view. ¥390 per drink (Spirits, basic cocktails and draught beer) and bar snacks.
- Bar This Way, . Open from 7 PM to 1 AM (close at 3 AM on Fri. & Sat.). A Dutch-owned bar located next to Royal Hotel (between Kawaramachi Sanjo and Oike dori). They offer a large selection of beers especially from The Netherlands and Belgium and many other drinks and food (including handmade gyozasoup). The staff speaking Dutch, English, Japanese, Chinese and German are friendly and prices very reasonable. Bar This Way is on the 3rd Floor (Tanakabld.) and you need to use the elevator to get in. Dutch beer sells for ¥650, gyoza for ¥700.
- Ing. No night in Kyoto is complete without the requisite after hours visit to all-night Ing (a.k.a., "Box Bar," or "the office"). Proprietor Hako-san will keep bringing you the booze, and he's happy to join you for a drink when offered. Food there is always an option - tofu salad & potato pizza are good for the price (¥600). Get ready for Rolling Stones, competitive Jenga, sharing tables with odd drunk people, and clothes permanently soaked in smoke. Good luck finding it. If you see Hamid's Falafel you're on the right track. Ing is on the second floor of a building slightly south of Hamid's. Sapporo sells at ¥600 each shareable bottle.
- Sake Bar Yoramu (酒ＢＡＲよらむ), Nijo-dori east of Karasuma (Marutamachi and Karasuma-Oike subway stations), ☎ +81-75-213-1512 ([email protected]), . 6 pm - 12 am, closed Mondays and first Sunday of the month. From the unusual to the standard, this sake bar has both an impressive selection of traditional Japanese rice wine. Even more impressive is the barkeep and owner, who's from Israel, who can translate your preferences in wine into sake. Well-aged sake is available, busting the myth that sake does not age. Traditionally-brewed sake ranging from slightly cloudy to yogurt-like may also be available.
- Nikki's Bar, Nishi-Kiyamachi 804 Daini Kankou Building. 2000-0500. This is a nice little bar ran by a gregarious Nepalese guy named Nikki. It's got a great bunch of regulars and new customers are always warmly welcomed. It's located just north of Hamid's Kebab shop. Mixed drinks and beer run ¥700 per drink and shots are ¥500. It's a little hard to find because it's on the 8th floor. If you can't find it ask the folks working at Hamid's. 700yen.
- Sugar Trip, 448-13 Shimokajii-cho Kawaramachi-Imadegawa (On Imadegawa-dori a few blocks south of the intersection with O), ☎ 075-211-1145, . A ritsy cocktail bar with a variety of drinks from the standard beers to champaigne and cava. Most people come for one of the many cocktail varieties that this bar is famous for. Original cocktails sell for ¥700-750, Smoothie cocktails for ¥900, Beer for ¥650-700, tonic ¥700.
- Rub-a-Dub, Tsujita bld.BF,115 Ishiya-cho, Kiyamachi-Sanjo, ☎ 075-256-3122, . A one-room Jamaican Reggae bar. It can either be an over-crowded mess or a box of delirious fun, depending on which record is on (and how much you like Red Stripe) either way you must try the jerk chicken. Must be 18 years or older to enter. Jerk chicken, fried rice, and chicken curry each for ¥600.
- A bar, ☎ 075-213-2129. A-bar, a hard-to-find (on 2nd floor) izakaya close to the Shijo/Kiyamachi corners, makes a great start to the evening. Food is good and reasonable - daily sashimi specials and fried goods, especially. You share long tables with foreigners and locals alike; a friendly thing to do would be to pour beers for your neighbors and Suei-san, the proprietor. ¥550 Yebisu.
- Pub Africa, KyotoRokkaku Terrace Bld 1F, ☎ 075-255 4518. Although many think this is an Africa-themed bar, there is nothing very African about it. If there's a football match from home that you need to catch, they'll show it here, and they have cheap Asahi jugs. Beers half off during Happy Hour. Also, their fooseball table is very well kept. Across from the Hub, infra.
British and Irish Pubs
- The Hub: on the small streets connecting Kiyamachi to Kawaramachi, lots of TVs for sports, cheap beer (¥700/pint) (especially with a ¥500 membership) and more expensive imports; food, however, is mediocre. This is basically the headquarters for English-speaking tourists and gaijin residents for happy hour. Avoid the cheap cocktails at Happy Hour - they are mostly ice cubes with little to drink. If you want some inside information about where to go, where to eat, what to see, etc., ask a group here. One of the larger bars in Kyoto, it is a popular spot for happy hours and goodbye parties. The real draw is the foosball, darts tournaments, and, upstairs in the back, the pool table.
- Hill of Tara: a quiet Irish-style pub with good food. A bit more expensive than the frozen stuff from the Pig or the Hub, but a much mellower scene. In the Spring and Summer, they have a nice, though small, second floor balcony.
- McLoughlin's: Is presided over by the most amiable owner/chef Tadg McLoughlin (formerly of Tadg's Irish Pub), located on Kiyamachi between Sanjo and Nijo. Food is reasonably priced, with main course starting at ¥1,200 and a 5 course special menu which is great value. Great quality beers, domestic and foreign (including microbrews). The staff are friendly and speak English. Live music on weekends. Giant screen TV (Mr McLoughlin being a Rugby fanatic), darts, foosball and a great view of east Kyoto. Happy hour is 5pm-8pm. Recently changed name to Tadg's.
The great majority of Kyoto's accommodations can be found here. Staying closer to Kyoto Station provides immediate access to the Shinkansen and the hub of the city bus network; closer to Karasuma-Oike puts you in the midst of downtown and closer to the Gion. They're only minutes apart by subway, making the choice merely a matter of personal convenience.
- Guesthouse Yahata, 544 Yahata-cho, Gojo-agaru, Nishinotoin, Shimogyo-ku (off Gojo-dori, west of the subway station), ☎ +81 (0)75-204-5897 (Japanese only), . checkin: 4-9 PM; checkout: 11 AM. Bunk beds from ¥2500, private rooms from ¥8000 (2-4 people), with free breakfast.
- Hirano's B&B Kyoto, 38 Nakano-cho Oshikoji-sagaru, Shinmachi-dori, Nakagyo-ku (3 min. walk west from the Karasuma-Oike subway station), ☎ +81 (0)75-256-3081 ([email protected]), . A quiet and intimate B&B (three guest rooms), near Nijo Castle. Guests experience being at home with a Japanese family. ¥4000 single, ¥3500/person for two, includes breakfast.
- J-Hoppers Kyoto Guesthouse, 51-2, Nakagoryo-cho, Higashikujo, Minami-ku (8 min. walk south from Kyoto Station, near Kujo subway station), ☎ +81 (0)75-681-2282, SKYPE:jhoppers, . checkin: 3-10 PM; checkout: 8-11 AM. A new and clean backpackers hostel. Rental bikes ¥500/day, Internet ¥300/hour. No curfew; up-to-date local information by native staff. Dormitory bed ¥2500.
- K's House Kyoto, 418 Nayacho, Shichijo-agaru, Dotemachi-dori, Shimogyo-ku (9 min. walk east from JR Kyoto Station along Shichijo-dori, 4 min. walk from Keihan Line Shichijo Station), ☎ +81 (0)75-342-2444 ([email protected], fax: +81 (0)75-342-2440), . checkin: 3-10 PM; checkout: 11 AM. Opened in November 2003, this clean, foreigner-friendly hostel with English speaking staff has amenities like internet access and kitchens. The hostel itself can be difficult to find, as it is located down a narrow street off the main road. Dormitory room ¥2500, twin/double/triple room from ¥2900, single room from ¥3500 (prices per person).
- Kyoto Cheapest Inn, 783 Sabamatsu-cho, Marutamachi Omiya-Dori, Kamigyo-ku (Near Nijo Castle, 1-3 min. walk from bus stop Horikawa Marutamachi, 7 min. walk northeast from JR Nijo station), ☎ +81 (0)75-821-3323, . Credit cards accepted, English available, sheets included. Long stay discount. Additional charges for various services - use of printer or fax, changing sheets more frequently, etc. Dorms from ¥1000−2500, private rooms, ¥7800. Discounts common in winter.
- Sandal Wood Hostel, 2F 32-2 Ttakada-Cho ,Saiin, Ukyou-ku (Bus from JR Kyoto Station, right in front of the Daikokuya Super Market. 5 minute walk to the Saiin Metro Station), ☎ +81 (0)75-585-7052 ([email protected]). checkin: 12:00. New hostel with friendly, English-speaking staff. Guests are always greeted with an unlimited amount of either ice cold water, hot coffee, or iced coffee. It is not uncommon for the hosts to offer plates of fruits and nuts during nights in. Free WiFi, towel use, washer and dryer, common room, left luggage service, and much more. Air-conditioned dorms are of ¥2700 per night.
- Tomato Guesthouse, 135 Shimizu, Nishi-iru Shiokoji-Horikawa, Shimogyou-ku (7 min. walk west from Kyoto Station), ☎ +81 (0)75-203-8228, . checkin: 4-9 PM. Dorm ¥2200, private singles ¥3600−¥3900.
- Tour Club, 362 Momijicho, Higashinakasuji, Shomensagaru, Shimogyo-ku (9 min. walk northwest from Kyoto Station), ☎ +81 (0)75-353-6968, . A friendly, clean hostel with both dorm and private rooms. There is a beautiful zen garden and traditional Japanese-living room. Free wifi, coffee and tea and the chance to try on a kimono. Air-con, bicycle rental and laundry are also available. Double en-suite ¥3490 per person, quad en-suite ¥2,930 per person.
- Uronza Guesthouse, 427 Yohoji-cho Shimogyo-ku, ☎ 075-341-3226 ([email protected]), . checkin: 4 PM to 10 PM; checkout: 11 AM. A guesthouse offering Japanese and Western-style rooms. Online reservations are currently unavailable, so guests need to make reservations via phone or e-mail (staff not likely to speak English). Prices start at ¥2200.
Hotels, minshuku & ryokan
- Budget Inn, (near Nishi-Honganji, 7 min. walk northwest from Kyoto Station), ☎ +81 (0)75-344-1510, . checkin: 4:00−9:30 PM; checkout: 10:30 AM. Under the same management as Tour Club (above). A variety of dorm and private rooms, with elevator access. Kitchen and laundry facilities available. Offers discounts for stays beyond 4 nights. Dorm bed ¥2500/night, private rooms ¥10,980 triple through ¥14,980 quad.
- Crossroads, 45-14 Ebisu Banba-cho, Shimogyo-ku (20 min. walk west of Kyoto Station, or #205 bus to Ume Koji Koen-mae then 2 min. walk northwest), ☎ +81 (0)75-354-3066 (fax: +81 (0)75-354-3022), . checkin: 4 PM; checkout: 10 AM. A ryokan with shared shower & toilet facilities. 11 PM curfew. Three rooms: one person ¥4000, two persons ¥7350, three persons ¥10,400.
- Econo Inn Discount Hotel, 67 Hirai-cho, Kawaramachi-Gojo Sagaru, Shimogyo-ku (15 min. walk northwest from Kyoto Station, or just south of Kawaramachi-Gojo stop on buses 4, 17, 205), ☎ +81 (0)75-343-6660 (fax: +81 (0)75-343-6667), . checkin: 3 PM−11 PM; checkout: 11 AM. 21 Western-style private rooms: singles, doubles, and triples. All rooms have a bath unit, air-conditioner and TV. Caters more to long-term stays. Sliding rate scale depending on length of stay: singles go from ¥5880 for one night down to ¥3880 for 21 nights or more; a few small short-term singles range start at ¥3780.
- Hotel Iida (ホテル飯田), 717 Shiokoji-agaru, Akezu-dori, Shimogyo-ku (3 min. northeast of Kyoto Station), ☎ +81 (0)75-341-3256 (fax: +81 (0)75-351-3051), . Mostly Japanese style rooms, with a few Western rooms, both varieties with or without private bath. Singles ¥5250−7875 (Japanese), ¥6300−7875 (Western); doubles ¥8400−14,700; triples ¥12,600-23,625.
- Ikoi-no-Ie (憩の家), 885 Ushitora-cho, Rokujo-dori, Shinmachi Higashi-iru, Shimogyo-ku (12-15 min. walk northwest from Kyoto Station, 5 min. west from Gojo subway station), ☎ +81 (0)75-354-8081 (fax: +81 (0)75-354-8068). checkin: by arrangement; checkout: 11 AM. New facility, opened 2007. All non-smoking rooms, some en-suite. The ground floor rooms near the lobby can be noisy. LAN ports in most rooms. Singles with shared bath ¥4750, private bath ¥7600; doubles ¥7600−8400 shared, ¥9600−11,000 private; triples ¥9600 shared, ¥12,000−¥13,500 private; quad ¥15,000 private.
- Palace Side Hotel, Karasuma Shimodachiuri Agaru, Kamigyo-ku (3 min. walk north from Marutamachi subway station K07), ☎ +81 (0)75-415-8887 (fax: +81 (0)75-415-8889). checkin: 2 PM; checkout: 11 AM. It's exactly where the name suggests: across the street from the Kyoto Imperial Palace and park, on Karasuma (near the intersection with Marutamachi). It's a Western-style hotel reminiscent of a much more expensive hotel that could use a good scrubbing. The staff speak fluent English, and the front desk is always open, as are computers with Internet access in the lobby. It's often used by academic groups from nearby universities, though, so advance reservations should be made. There are discounts for stays of three or more nights. Singles ¥6000−7000, twin ¥9000−9800, doubles ¥9800.
- Ryokan Hiraiwa (旅館平岩), 314 Hayao-cho, Kaminokuchi-agaru, Ninomiyacho-dori, Shimogyo-ku (15 min. walk northeast from Kyoto Station, or take buses #17 or #205 from pier A2 to Kawaramachi-Shomen, the third stop), ☎ +81 (0)75-351-6748. 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 are Japanese style. Traditional breakfast is available for an extra charge. Shared bathrooms or a public bath half a block away. But it's cheap (¥4200 for a single, ¥8400 for a double, breakfast not included) and reasonably friendly, though opinions beyond that vary widely. Slightly inconveniently located halfway between the station and the center of town (it's bit of a hike to either). Singles ¥4200−5250, doubles ¥8400.
- Ryokan Kyoraku, 231 Kogawa-cho, Shichijo-agaru, Akezu-dori, Shimogyo-ku (6 min. walk north from Kyoto Station), ☎ +81 (0)75-371-7161 (fax: +81 (0)75-371-1260), . checkin: 3−10 PM; checkout: 10 AM. Recently renovated, with 14 Japanese-style rooms (half with private bath, half without) and two Western-style double rooms (both with private bath). 11 PM curfew. Singles ¥5200−6000 with shared bath, ¥6000−6600 private; doubles ¥9200−10,200 shared, ¥11,000−12,300 private; triples ¥13,800−15,200 shared, ¥16,000−17,700 private.
- Ryokan Yuhara, 188 Kagiyacho, Shomen-agaru, Kiyamachi-dori, Shimogyo-ku (15 min. walk northeast from Kyoto Station), ☎ +81 (0)75-371-9583 (fax: +81 (0)75-371-9580). checkin: 3 PM; checkout: 10 AM. Japanese style rooms, shared bath, sink in room. Recently renovated, very nice rooms, very clean, very friendly. 11 PM curfew. Singles/doubles/triples ¥5,250/9,660/14,490 per room with shared bath, no meals included.
- Station Ryokan Seiki, 24-5, Kitakarasuma-cho, Higashikujo, Minami-ku (5 min. walk south from Kyoto Station), ☎ +81 (0)75-682-0444 (fax: +81 (0)75-682-0171), . Shabby building, but the staff is friendly. Singles ¥5500, doubles ¥8000−9000, triples ¥12,000−13,000.
- Super Hotel Kyoto Karasuma Gojo, Karasuma Dori, Gojo Kudaru, Osaka Machi 396-3 (10 min. walk from Kyoto Station, or at exit 8 of Gojo subway station), ☎ +81 (0)75-343-9000 (fax: +81 (0)75-343-9001), . checkin: 3 PM−midnight; checkout: 10 AM. A Japanese budget hotel chain. All rates include tax and breakfast. Singles ¥6090 (¥5040 off season, ¥7140 peak season); doubles ¥7140−8180−9240.
- Toyoko Inn Kyoto Gojo-Karasuma, 393, Gojo-Karasumasho Karasuma-dori Matsubara-sagaru Shimogyo-ku (15 min. walk north from Kyoto Station, 3 min. walk from Gojo subway station, exit 2), ☎ +81 (0)75-344-1045 (fax: +81 (0)75-344-1047), . checkin: 4 PM; checkout: 10 AM. A Japanese budget hotel chain. Good value for twin rooms. Online reservations showing vacancies & bookings available on all sites, enter as "General Guest" if you do not have membership. Two other locations nearby, at Shijo-Omiya  and Shijo-Karasuma , with similar prices. Singles ¥6200, doubles ¥7200, triples ¥8200.
- Gimmond Hotel (2 min. walk east from Karasuma-Oike subway station), Takakura-Oike-dori, Nakagyo-ku, ☎ +81 (0)75-221-4111 (fax: +81 (0)75-221-8250), . checkin: 1 PM; checkout: 11 AM. A foreigner-friendly hotel, neat and tidy and located downtown near City Hall. Discount for Internet booking. Including taxes and fees: Singles ¥9,586−10,741, doubles ¥16,170, twin rooms ¥16,747−23,100.
- Hearton Hotel Kyoto, Higashi no Toin Dori Oike Agaru, Nakagyo-ku (2 min. northeast of Karasuma-Oike subway station, exit 1), ☎ +81 (0)75-222-1300 (fax: +81 (0)75-222-1313), . checkin: 2 PM; checkout: noon. Mid range, Western-style hotel located downtown. Single ¥11,000, twin ¥22,400.
- Hotel Monterey Kyoto, 3 Jyo Minami Karasuma-dori, Nakagyo-ku (West side of Karusuma, south of Sanjo), ☎ +81 (0)75-251-7111. checkin: 2 PM; checkout: 11 AM. Opened in March 2007. The staff are very keen to please. 15 minute stroll to Sanjo Shopping Arcade and less than five minute walk from subway station. Rates vary but they have discounts for internet booking and travel agents offer combined JR tickets and room rates. Includes spa and two restaurants (French and Japanese). Singles around ¥15,000−¥18,000, doubles around ¥20,000−23,000.
- Hotel Sugicho, 172 Moriyamacho, Oike-agaru, Tominokoji, Nakagyo-ku (5 min. walk east from Karasuma-Oike subway station), ☎ +81 (0)75-241-0106 ([email protected], fax: +81 (0)75-221-7271), . checkin: 4 PM; checkout: 10 AM. Mostly Japanese-style rooms, with a few Western. Breakfast and dinner available. Adjacent to Kyoto Gyoen and the Nishiki Markets. Standard plan around ¥9,450−¥18,900, Limited plan around ¥3,900−77,350.
- Kyoto Garden Hotel, Muromachi-dori, Oike Minamiiru, Nakagyo-ku (About 1 min. west of Karasuma-Oike subway station (Karasuma subway line), exit 4-1), ☎ +81 (0)75-255-2000 ([email protected], fax: +81 (0)75-255-2389), . checkin: 3 PM; checkout: 10 AM. Convenient downtown location; a short walk away from the Kyoto International Manga Museum, a long (but manageable) walk away from Nijo Castle. All rooms are non-smoking. Guests with their own LAN-enabled laptops/netbooks can get internet access in their rooms free of charge; just borrow a connection kit from the front desk. Actual rates vary depending on the time of year and discounts/special offers are available for online bookings. Single ¥9240, double ¥12,600−13,650, twin ¥14,700−16,800, triple ¥19,950.
- Kyoto Tower Hotel, Karasuma-dori Shichijo-sagaru, Shimogyo-ku (1 min. walk north from JR Kyoto Station, immediately across the street), ☎ +81 (0)75-361-3212 (fax: +81 (0)75-343-5645), . checkin: 1 PM; checkout: 11 AM. Foreigner-friendly hotel, and the location across the street from JR Kyoto Station is impossible to miss. The same company operates two additional hotels nearby: the Kyoto Tower Hotel Annex, a few blocks northwest, and the Kyoto Dai-Ni Tower Hotel, east of the station. Kyoto Tower: Singles ¥8,000−14,500, twin ¥16,000−31,000. Annex and Dai-Ni: ¥6,500−11,500, twin ¥14,000−19,800.
- Ryokan Shimizu, 644 Wakamiya Agaru Shichijo, Shimogyo-ku (5 min. walk northwest from Kyoto Station, near Nishi-Honganji), ☎ +81 (0)75-371-5538 (fax: +81 (0)75-371-5539), . A modern style ryokan which is welcoming to foreign visitors. The owners can speak some English. En-suite facilities are provided and a Japanese style breakfast is available. There is a communal Japanese bath facility. ¥6,000/person (¥5,000 during winter), higher near holidays.
- Kyoto Hotel Okura, Kawaramachi-Oike, Nakagyo-ku (at Kyoto Shiyakusho-mae subway station, T12), ☎ +81 (0)75-211-5111 (fax: +81 (0)75-254-2529), . checkin: 1 PM; checkout: 11 AM. A large, modern Western-style hotel located downtown. ¥19,000 for a single, through ¥49,000 for a double-occupancy corner room; top-floor suites climb higher still.
- New Miyako Hotel (新都ホテル), 17 Nishikujo-Inmachi, Minami-ku (across street from Kyoto Station, Hachijo exit), ☎ +81 (0)75-661-7111 (fax: +81 (0)75-661-7135), . checkin: 1 PM; checkout: 11 AM. The largest hotel in Kyoto with over 700 rooms, and the prices to match: starting at ¥10,000 for singles and ¥21,000 for doubles. Located immediately south of Kyoto station. If you get a room facing north, you'll be able to see the bullet trains coming in and out of the station, as well as the glass windows from the exterior of the Isetan department store that seem to reflect the sky if the weather conditions are just right. The new and slightly more expensive south wing opened in late September of 2005. ¥11,550 singles through ¥57,750 suites, tax included.
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