Japan's Cities

Places to Visit in Kyoto

Fushimi Inari

red tower

You've probably never visited anywhere else like it—thousands of bright orange torii gates snake up through the forest into the mountains. It’s as much of a hike as a temple visit (and quite steep in parts), although you do pass many small shrines with stone fox statues and miniature toriis. The fox is considered the messenger of Inari, the Shinto god of rice. It takes us about an hour and a half to complete the whole walk (a 5 km/ 3.1 mile loop from the station), but you could easily spend two or three hours here


yellow tower

The Golden Temple or Kinkaku-ji is one of the most photographed sights in Kyoto. We were prepared for the famous Zen temple to be overrated, and although it is almost always crowded, we couldn’t help but be impressed by the shimmering golden pavilion reflected in a pond dotted with islands of trees. It was once the retirement villa of a shogun and it became a Zen temple after his death in 1408 (the building has been rebuilt after numerous fires since then). The gardens are pleasant for a stroll (if not too busy) and it’s fun to get an English fortune from a vending machine.

Nishiki Market

nishiki market

On this narrow shopping street you'll find all the ingredients essential for Japanese cooking including an array of pickled vegetables, fish, tofu, giant miso-smothered aubergine, sweets, and other snacks. There are plenty of opportunities to try free samples or to buy a snack to take with you. We liked the sweet black beans and the chilli coated rice cakes. The market has become very crowded in recent years, so it’s best to visit early. You might find it more relaxing to visit a food hall in a nearby department store such as Takashimaya or Daimuru instead. This is Kyoto’s main shopping area so there are plenty of options.

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