Sightseeing Spots in Kyoto

Kyoto represents the history and traditions of Japan as a former capital. Kyoto provides visitors with abundant history, architecture, oriental gastronomes, culture and nature. It is a great opportunity to appreciate not only Japanese traditions but also peaceful nature experiences. Kyoto also offers easy access to historic places including Nara, Osaka and Kobe.

Historic temples, shrines and palaces are every corner of the city. For example, Kiyomizu-dera temple, Kinkaku-ji temple, Shimogamo-jinja shrine and Nijo-jo castle are situated in the city centre of Kyoto. 17 World Heritage Site (WHS) monuments are present in Kyoto including the ones mentioned above. It is worthwhile mentioning that, as Kyoto is surrounded by valleys and rivers, beautiful waterfall scenery often exists close to such monuments. 

We present some of finest monuments in Kyoto. Probably, you are aware of some of them, as they were introduced during the closing ceremony of SAHC2021. By clicking on an image, you can find the details of the concerned monument.

  • “☆” marks show the locations of the monuments.
  • You may not see the map properly if you sign into a Google account. If it happens, please sign out or open this website in another browser.

Kinkaku-ji Temple

The original building of Kinkaku-ji Temple was built around in 1400. It was burnt down in 1950 and the current building was built in 1955. The temple has been inscribed on the WHS list since 1994 as part of the historic monuments of Ancient Kyoto. “Kinkaku” means a golden pavilion. The temple is commonly called Kinkaku-ji Temple as the building is gold plated. However, the official name is Rokuon-ji Temple. The golden pavilion is a three-story building and each story has a different architectural style.

Ginkaku-ji Temple

A two-storey temple, Ginkaku-ji was built in 1490. It has been inscribed on the WHS list since 1994. Despite of its official name Jisho-ji temple, it is commonly known as Ginkaku-ji temple. The name is derived from a two-story pavilion called “Ginkaku” (see, the picture). Ginkaku means a silver pavilion. Nevertheless, you cannot find silver anywhere in Ginkaku. In fact, the word silver is said to be attributed to a story where people regarded Ginkaku as a contrast to Kinkaku-ji Temple*. Each storey has a different architectural style, and as a whole this heritage architecture conveys a unique Japanese sense of finding beauty in simple things.

* Kinkaku signifies gold as mentioned in the section of Kinkaku-ji.

Kiyomizu-dera Temple

Kiyomizu-dera Temple was originally built in 778. The building has been lost many times and the current one was built in 1633. The temple has been inscribed on the WHS list since 1994. “Kiyomizu” means clear water. Clear waterfalls are situated in the site of the temple. The temple is probably well known for a very spacious terrace. It is worthwhile noting that it is supported by timber frames held by Nuki joints.

Nijo-jo villa

Nijo-jo villa was built in 1603. It has been inscribed on the WHS list since 1994. The Ninomaru-goten Palace is the most outstanding in the site. It consists of six buildings of different size that are connected by corridors. Visitors can walk around in all the buildings. The interior of the palace has luxury beautiful wall paintings.

Ryoan-ji Temple

Ryoan-ji Temple was built in 1450. It is known to have been lost in 1468 and rebuilt in 1488. The temple has been inscribed on the WHS list since 1994. The temple is the best known for a Japanese Zen-style garden. Although visitors are not allowed to step in, they can enjoy view from a terrace. The garden consists of fifteen stones and white gravel. All fifteen stones are placed so that only fourteen stones can be seen from any angle. Interesting, isn’t it?

Fushimi-Inari Taisha Shrine

Fushimi Inari Taisha temple was founded in 711. The main shrine building has been designated as an important cultural property since 1909. The shrine is very well known for thousands Torii gates in line. It is based on a custom that donating Torii as a sign of gratitude for a wish granted. Many firms and individuals have donated Torii gates, as it resulted in about 10,000!! Torii gates forming a path.

Byodoin Temple

Byodoin Temple was built in 1052. It has been inscribed on the WHS list since 1994. The Amida-do main Hall is located in the centre of a pond and people can see its reflection in water. It is also known as Phoenix Hall for a pair of phoenix figures on the end of the top roof ridge. Phoenix Hall and phoenix figures are found in Japanese coins and banknotes. have a look in your wallet!!

That’s all at the moment but more are coming!! Please keep yourself updated!!

Helpful websites 

Kyoto City Official Travel Guide is an official municipal website that provides information on sightseeing spots in Kyoto.

Kyoto Tourist Information Center “Kyo Navi” is a comprehensive multilingual website with a plenty of information on accommodations, events, meals and so on. In addition to the website, you can visit the center for further information. It is located in Kyoto Station.

and please don’t hesitate to ask for our help for hotel reservations and transports in and around Kyoto. We are fully aware of language barriers you may encounter during your stay in Japan. We are happy to lend you a hand in this matter at any time.