Kyoto Travel Guide

If you’re traveling to Kyoto in the spring, be sure to experience the Gion Matsuri, a festival held at the Yasaka-Jinja shrine and topped off by a spectacular parade through the main streets of Kyoto. A visit to some of the city’s ancient Buddhist temples and Shinto shrines should likewise top any things to do in Kyoto. Some of the most famous include Kinkaku-ji and Ginkaku-ji, the Golden and Silver Pavilions, respectively, as well as Chion-in, the headquarters for Pure Land Buddhism. There is also the stunning Fushimi Inari-taisha, the famed Shinto shrine with arcades of bright vermillion torii gates spread across the mountain. To experience a dash of old Japanese culture, visit the Gion entertainment district, home to the geisha tradition that has been preserved in Japan for centuries.

To sample the best of Kyoto cuisine, visit Nishiki Market, where you’ll find all manner of seasonal fruits, vegetables, seafood and meats, as well as strange local dishes and ingredients that are impossible for a Westerner to identify. Visit some of the city’s iconic noodle shops and tearooms like tourist favorites Omen, Kanei, Hiranoya and Ippudo. Nature lovers looking for things to do in Kyoto will marvel at the bounty of plum, daphne, cherry, camellia and azalea blossoms that bloom in spring at the sublime temple gardens. The Arashiyama Bamboo Grove is another favorite, home to thick stalks of bamboo that sprout in every direction, lending an otherworldly quality to the place.

Located on the lower floors of a kimono company, the complex includes a contemporary crafts shop, chic café, and steel-and-glass gallery exhibiting 450-year-old embroidered kimonos.

11th-generation craftsman Kenkichi Senda creates woodblock-printed washi paper for temple doors, as well as chic handmade pendant lanterns.

A 14th-century Gold Pavilion.

Taste rare brews at this low-key bar run by an Israeli expat.

The store's tailors stitch men’s overcoats from wool, cotton, silk, and hemp.

The riverside 685-year-old Zen monastery has 24 temples on the property.

This tea shop resembles an old-fashioned apothecary, with white-jacketed attendants measuring green tea onto scales.

The Cultural Experience Program organizes homestays and offers hands-on lessons on Japanese cuisine, dance, calligraphy, and ikebana (flower arranging). Four-week intensive summer courses start in July.

The five-acre residential gardens of the late samurai film star Denjiro Okochi.

The gallery-like shop sells lacquered bamboo boxes and handwoven silk capes by local designers.