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Region
Kansai
Island
Honshu
Largest City
Kyoto
Population
2,644,331

Kyoto

Kyoto Prefecture is a heaven of mushrooms, matcha and more

Break the tourist mould and head outside of the city to uncover the rest of what Kyoto has to offer.

You could spend weeks making endless cultural discoveries in Kyoto City alone but if you can tear yourself away from tradition, the surrounding prefecture also has a wealth of historic and natural gems to uncover. Head north to cross the bridge to heaven at Amanohashidate, one of Japan’s top three scenic views, or forage for prized matsutake mushrooms in the mountains of Tamba. Just south of Kyoto city on the way to Nara, Yamashiro is the perfect place to experience a tea ceremony as the area is known for its superior green tea.

In the center of the Kansai region, Kyoto prefecture draws huge numbers of domestic and overseas tourists all year round to its capital city, Kyoto. Kyoto is not a destination that you should, or could, miss but it can get very busy during Spring and Autumn when the city is in its postcard-perfect seasonal transition. Visit in the summer for a different kind of crowd, gathered for the rowdy revelry of the spectacular Gion Matsuri, one of Japan’s most famous festivals. The winter is quietest but comes with the risk of rain (most of Kyoto’s sights are outdoors).

North of Kyoto City lies the Tango region which has some beautiful beach resorts along its coastline, including Amanohashidate, a long sandbar covered with pines that stretches across the mouth of Miyazu Bay and is known as the ‘Bridge to Heaven’.

Tamba is the mountainous region between Tango and Kyoto City and a source of highly-valued matsutake mushrooms, selling for around $200 per kilo, though there’s plenty of hiking and outdoor activities if you’re not a fan of fungi. Wash it all down anyway with award-winning Tamba wine.

The city of Uji in Yamashiro is all about matcha (powdered green tea) immersion. You can try matcha-flavored anything including soba and sweets, buy matcha souvenirs, make your own matcha and experience a traditional tea ceremony (with free matcha).

Places to visit

Kannon is the Buddhist Goddess of Mercy. You'll spot incarnations of this many-armed goddess throughout Japan.

Sanjusangendo

Don’t be fooled by Sanjusangendo’s austere exterior; concealed within these dark wooden walls are a 1001 statutes of the Goddess of Mercy, all built to human scale.

Fushimi Inari Taisha Shrine in Kyoto, Japan

Fushimi Inari Shrine

Follow the path to riches through 10,000 vermillion torii gates.


Gion

The imagery of geisha almost always springs to mind when people think of Japan—set foot in Kyoto’s Gion district and you might just bump right into one.

Ryoanji Temple

Find your zen at one of the world’s famous meditative rock gardens—serenity-seeking tourists tested, UNESCO approved.


Illuminated autumn leaves at Kiyomizudera temple in Kyoto, Kansai

Kiyomizudera Temple

Take the plunge at one of Kyoto's most iconic sights.

Fushimi Inari Taisha Shrine in Kyoto, Japan

Kyoto

The best place to discover Japan's rich and unique heritage.


Philosopher's Path Kyoto

Philosopher’s Path

Named after an actual philosopher, this streamside path inspires a zen state of mind.

Ginkakuji Temple

Ginkakuji (Silver Pavilion)

All that glitters isn't gold.


Heain Shrine in Kyoto

Heianjingu Shrine

Kyoto’s Palace of Versailles.

Mice statues outside Otoyo shrine

Otoyo Shrine

Matchmaking mice save the day.


Kinkaku-ji Temple (Kyoto)

Kinkakuji Temple (Golden Pavilion)

See it with your own eyes at Kinkaku-ji Temple.

Sanmon Gate at Nanzen-ji Temple in Kyoto, Japan

Nanzenji Temple

On the south end of the Philosopher’s Path, Nanzen-ji Temple wasn’t always the picture-perfect portrait of serenity and everything Zen.


Early in the morning, after a brief rain shower, a relaxing walk through the bamboo forest. A small road leads through the beautifully landscaped bamboo forest. Just a special place. Very few people are on the move.

Arashiyama Bamboo Grove

A breath of still and otherworldly air.

Arashiyama, Kyoto, Japan at Togetsukyo Bridge during the annual autumn light up.

Togetsukyo Bridge

The next best thing to Moon River - Arashiyama’s Moon Crossing Bridge.


Sarasa Nishijin Cafe Kyoto

Sarasa Nishijin Sento Cafe

A charming cafe inside an old bathhouse.

Mount Kurama

Just outside of Kyoto lies this misty mountain paradise.


Kyoto, Japan - November 22, 2013: Kifune Shrine is a Shinto shrine located at SakyO-ku in Kyoto, Japan

Kibune

Fine dining in this tranquil forest getaway.

Nijo Castle

Kyoto’s Undiscovered Gem


Sanjo Bridge

Crack open a beer, and chat up the locals.

Yumeyakata Kyoto

Kimono Yumeyakata

Kimono rental and photo plans for an immersive Kyoto experience.


Daitokuji Temple

Zen Life: Temples, rock gardens, and bamboo forests all in one.

Kyoto Museum of Traditional Crafts

Get your hands dirty — or just view thousands of years of traditional art for free.


kodaiji temple kyoto2

Kodai-ji Temple

Built out of love. (Awwww!)

Iwatayama Monkey Park

In Kyoto? Monkey see, monkey do it!


Yokai (Monster) Street

Kyoto’s weirdest street!

Toei Kyoto Studio Park

A mix of authentic Japanese history and spunky tourist attraction — with NINJAS!


Enko-ji Temple

Dear solo travelers, bliss out here. Xoxo, Nature.

Tengu Statues of Kurama

A magical area in Kyoto, with this legendary figure that has quite a "long" story behind it.


Tofuku-ji Temple

Inspiring gardens and autumn madness at Kyoto’s oldest Zen temple.

Kitano Tenmangu Shrine

With gorgeous plum and maple gardens, this famous shrine also has a bustling monthly market. Plus, get good luck for your studies!


Daimonji

Blaze and amaze: In Kyoto’s mountains is an annual festival that burns with culture.

Shinnyo-do Temple

An autumn hidden gem filled with year-round serenity.


Yasaka Jinja

Gain beauty and celebrate the famous Gion Festival around here.

Ryozen Kannon

Kyoto’s female "Giant Buddha."


Tainai Meguri

The famous Kiyomizudera temple’s secret venue.

kyoto aquarium

Kyoto Aquarium

Get the lowdown on Kyoto's waterways.


Nishiki Market

Food is art in this centuries-old Kyoto market

Cormorant Fishing (Ukai) in Arashiyama

View this traditional fish-catching method in Kyoto: let the birds do the legwork.


Jidai Festival

A journey across 1,000 years worth of Japanese history in Kyoto.

Kamigamo Jinja

Ever shot archery from a horse!? You can watch the great show here at this UNESCO World Cultural Heritage site.


Dog Cafe Living Room

This pack of prancing, playful pugs will melt your heart!

Menbakaichidai Fire Ramen

Flavor, flare and fire: Kyoto's fiercest noodle dish.


Kiyamachi Dori (Street)

When visiting Kiyamachi, don’t miss these often overlooked landmarks. You’ll thank us later.

Tenjin River

Enjoy your hanami in a lesser-known and relaxing location to rival the most popular ones in Kyoto.


Kyoto Botanical Gardens

Unwindddddddddd.

Turtle Stepping Stones of Kamo River

A hot spot for anime and film fans, shutterbugs and lovers!


Mount Atago

Every year, townspeople and tourists alike make a pilgrimage up Kyoto city’s tallest peak.

Genko-an Temple

One of Kyoto’s four ‘blood temples’ emphasizing the delicate relationship between life and death.


Wife&Husband Cafe

Take picnicking to an art form in this sweet and unique way of experiencing Kyoto.

5 Famous Foods You’ll Find in Kyoto

The exquisite art of simple food.


Eikan-do (Zenrin-ji)

Autumn's fire burns slowly.

Imamiya Shrine

Fresh mochi and a magic stone.


Kyoto Railway Museum

Neon genesis of trains.

Arashiyama

Scenic adventures await beyond the bamboo grove.


Hosen-in Temple

You are never truly alone here...

kyoto manga museum

Kyoto International Manga Museum

Reading retreat: The history of manga at your fingertips.


Hozugawa River

The Hozugawa River that winds its way from the lush green mountains of Kameoka to Arashiyama is a prime summer attraction and should definitely be part of your Kyoto Prefecture travel experience....

Fushimi Sake District

The second largest brewery district in Japan.


Shimogamo Shrine

Where the power of god meets a primeval forest.

Heian shrine of Kyoto

Heian Shrine

Where to contemplate the meaning of life.


Iwashimizu Hachimangu Shrine

Take a cable car to see where God of War meets Thomas Edison.

Other Destinations in Kansai

Himeji Castle in Hyogo Prefecture

Hyogo

Touted as ‘a Japan in miniature’, Hyogo is one of Japan’s most diverse prefectures.

Maruyama rice terraces at sunset, Mie prefecture

Mie

The first signs of human habitation on Mie can be traced back 10,000 years and that’s only one of this ancient prefecture’s historical claims to fame.

Cherry blossoms among the Yoshino mountains in Nara prefecture

Nara

Nara prefecture is where you’ll find the immemorial tombs of Japan’s early rulers, its first Buddhist temple and the headquarters of the sacred Shugendo mountain religion.

Osaka, Japan skyline at Osaka Castle Park, Osaka Prefecture

Osaka

Japan's second smallest prefecture is the economic and commercial hub of the Kansai region, driven by it's kaleidoscopic capital city Osaka.

Lake Biwa in Shiga Prefecture

Shiga

Shiga prefecture is so full of scenic views you’ll feel as though you’ve tripped and fallen into a postcard.

Nachi, Japan at the pagoda of Seigantoji and Nachi no Taki waterfall, Wakayama Prefecture

Wakayama

Wakayama prefecture is the spectacular, spiritual heart of Japan.