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Kyoto Guide

Kyoto is a World Heritage city. It's layout, food, people, and artifacts make it a must on any Japan tour. This page records a simple set of the best of Kyoto.

Recommended visits:

  • Katsura Rikyu.
  • Shugakuin Rikyu.
These are the imperial villas, which are opened up to a very limited number of tourists. You need to get a permit at the Imperial Household Agency (075) 211-1215.


  • Nanzenji - see the great gate before the temple compound.
  • Tofukuji - fantastic in autumn, the view from the bridge. Pay the extra fee into the inner compound for a dry rock garden and the famous checkerboard pattern lawn. Also draws a crowd.
  • Kinkakuji - the Golden Temple. Great in any season.
  • Ryoanji - perhaps the best, most famous "karesansui" dry rock garden in all of Japan.
  • Kiyomizudera (Pure Water Temple) - Look over the valley and city of Kyoto from its decks, drink from the Fountain of Strength, the Fountain of Wisdom, or the Fountain of Beauty (sorry only choose one or the effect will be lost).

Also try the authentic Kyoto tea ceremony, and boiled tofu dish (Yu-dofu). Pick up a souvenir of sweet Yatsuhashi, the notable Kyoto miyage. And there are nice gardens at Heian Jingu Shrine worth a look.

Day trips:

  • Arashiyama - Cruise in little boats on the Arashi River, and relax in tea gardens or bamboo forests near the foothills.
  • Ohara - another place notable for its fall foliage, Japanese maples.
  • Uji: Byodo-in - One of my favorites, nicknamed the "Phoenix", it features numerous ornate paintings of Buddhas on the ceiling of the inner hall. A world heritage architectural wonder.

Links to selected photos: Leo's photo site.

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