Sightseeing spots in Kyoto

Famous sightseeing spots in each area of Kyoto are introduced.

Point of interest

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  • Rakuto Area

  • Rakusai Area

  • Rakuhoku Area

  • Rakuchu Area

  • Rakunan Area

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Miyako City Kintetsu Kyoto Station

Eikan-do Temple

The best spot to see fall colors in KYOTO

With a history dating back over 1,000 years, Eikan-do is one of KYOTO’s oldest temples. Its principal object of worship is a one-of-a-kind statue of the Mikaeri Amida Nyorai (Amitabha looking back) that is designated as an important cultural property.

Kiyomizu-dera Temple

Enjoy panoramic views of KYOTO from the Kiyomizu stage

Kiyomizu-dera, a designated World Heritage Site, is famous for its main hall with a spacious wooden stage supported by 139 round pillars. The roof of the main building is thatched with cypress bark in an elegant design reminiscent of the shinden-zukuri architectural style.

Ginkaku-ji Temple (Jisho-ji Temple)

A symbol of Higashiyama culture, which placed great value on austere refinement and quiet simplicity

Ginkaku-ji Temple is registered as a World Heritage Site. Its official name is “Jisho-ji.” It was constructed by the 8th shogun Yoshimasa Ashikaga. The Silver Pavilion (a hall dedicated to the Goddess of Mercy) and Togudo (a temple building in the shoin-zukuri architectural style) are designated as national treasures.

Kennin-ji Temple

KYOTO's oldest Zen temple

Kennin-ji was established by Zen master Eisai. Eisai is also credited with bringing back green tea from China to Japan for the first time in 1202 and is therefore known as the patriarch of tea. There are many items of interest including a replica of the Fujin Raijin Zu screen depicting the wind and thunder gods and Soryu Zu, a ceiling painting depicting twin dragons.

Koda-ji Temple

Established by the wife of Hideyoshi Toyotomi Nene, Kodai-ji conveys Momoyama culture to the modern day

Kodai-ji was established in memory of Hideyoshi Toyotomi by his wife Nene in 1606. The temple has many notable features including a garden landscaped by Enshu Kobori and a tea-ceremony house designed by Sen-no-Rikyu.

Sanjusangen-do Temple

A temple established by the military leader Kiyomori Taira in 1164

The temple is famous for its 1,001 statues of the 1000-armed Goddess of Mercy. It is said that you will always be able to find one that looks like someone you know among the statues.

Shoren-in Temple

A prestigious princely temple of Tendai Buddhism

Along with Myoho-in Temple and Sanzen-in Temple, Shoren-in is one of three temples with ties to the Imperial family belonging to the head temple of the Tendai sect, Enryaku-ji Temple.

Chion-in Temple

Head temple of Jodo Buddhism with Japan's largest wooden temple gate (national treasure)

Chion-in was developed from a simple hut built in 1175 by the Buddhist saint Honen, the founder of Jodo Buddhism. In the temple’s precincts, there are as many as 106 buildings of various sizes.

Nanzen-ji Temple

Enjoy a spectacular view from the top of the temple's Sanmon gate

Nanzenji Temple is the head temple of Nanzen-ji Temple sub-sect of Rinzai Buddhism. Its massive Sanmon entrance gate, red-brick aqueduct, and the Hojo Garden are must-see attractions.

Yasaka-jinja Shrine

Known locally as Gion-san, this ancient shrine serves as the venue of the Gion Festival

Yasaka-jinja shrine is said to have been established in 656. The god enshrined here is said to grant business prosperity, good luck, and protection against evil spirits.

Heian-jingu Shrine

Known across Japan for its symbol of giant torii gate and as the site of Jidai Matsuri Festival

Heian-Jingu was built in 1895 in commemoration of the 1100th anniversary of the transfer of the capital to KYOTO, which was previously called Heian-kyo. The shrine features a vast, impressive garden designed by the famous garden architect Jihei Ogawa.

Jonan-gu Shrine

Famous as the "Garden of Flowers" mentioned in The Tale of Genji, enshrining a deity for directional protection

Jonan-gu Shrine was established to wish for a peaceful nation and the protection of the city when the capital was moved to KYOTO. “Jonan” means “south of the capital.”

Sennyu-ji Temple

Famous for granting the wishes of women, including obtaining beauty or finding marriage partner

Senryu-ji Temple is also called “Mitera (Imperial Temple),” as it is the family memorial temple for the imperial family. The temple’s Buddha Hall was reconstructed by the shogun Ietsuna Tokugawa after the original building was burnt down in the 15th century.

Daigo-ji Temple

Known since the Heian period as "the temple of flowers," Daigo-ji is also famous as the site of Hideyoshi Toyotomi's cherry blossom viewing party

The expansive Daigo-ji grounds cover the entire mountainside of Mt. Daigo. The temple’s five-storied pagoda, which was built in 951 to console the spirit of deceased Emperor Daigo, is the oldest wooden building in KYOTO Prefecture.

Tofuku-ji Temple

Enjoy the spectacular view from the Tsuten-kyo Bridge

Tofuku-ji Temple is KYOTO’s largest Zen temple and is ranked among the five great Zen temples of KYOTO. Its name was taken from the two great temples in Nara: Todai-ji and Kofuku-ji. The temple’s must-see attraction is the Hasso-no-niwa Garden designed by famous landscape architect, Mirei Shigemori.

Kitano Tenman-gu Shrine

The principal shrine of Tenman-gu shrines across Japan dedicated to the God of Learning

Kitano Tenman-gu is the most important of several hundred shrines across Japan that honor Sugawara no Michizane, a famous scholar and politician of the 9th century. The shrine fair is held on the 25th of every month and attracts many visitors.

Shokoku-ji Temple

The head temple of the Shokoku-ji sub-sect of Rinzai Buddhism built by the shogun Yoshimitsu Ashikaga

On special public viewing days, visitors can see the Kaizando Garden and the painting of a roaring dragon on the ceiling of the temple’s lecture hall. (Open to public only on special public viewing days in spring and autumn)

Seimei-jinja Shrine

A shrine dedicated to Abe no Seimei, a court astrologer of the Heian period

Due to its location northeast of the Imperial Palace, which is considered an inauspicious direction in Feng Shui, Seimei-jinja bears many pentagram-shaped shrine crests to ward off evil spirits. Prayers offered at the shrine are said to protect the worshipper from evil spirits and bad luck.

To-ji Temple

Japan's tallest five-storied pagoda

To-ji Temple is registered as a World Heritage Site. Its official name is Kyoogokoku-ji Temple. The highlight of the temple is the three-dimensional mandala formed by many Buddha statues in the lecture hall.

Nishi Hongan-ji Temple

An array of national treasures and important cultural properties representing Momoyama culture

Nishi Hongan-ji Temple is registered as a World Heritage Site. It is the head temple of Hongan-ji Temple sub-sect of Jodo-Shinshu Buddhism. The Hiunkaku Pavilion is designated as a national treasure and is known as one of KYOTO’s three great pavilions alongside Kinkaku-ji and Ginkaku-ji temples.

Mibu-dera Temple

A temple associated with the Shinsengumi

In Mibuzuka, an island in a pond in the eastern section of the temple, there is a grave pagoda for the members of the Shinsengumi (a samurai group which played an active political role in the late Edo period). Mibu-dera is also famous for Mibu kyogen, a traditional pantomime performance. (Open to the public 14 days per year)

Kamigamo-jinja Shrine

KYOTO's oldest shrine

Kamigamo-jinja Shrine is registered as a World Heritage Site. Kamigamo-jinja is officially called Kamowake-ikazuchi-jinja. The shrine originated as a place to worship the deity who wards off evil spirits, and since the transfer of capital to KYOTO in 794 it has also served to honor the deity who guards the Northeast and the primary deity of the land.

Kurama-dera Temple

One of KYOTO's most famous mystical sites where the young general Minamoto no Yoshitsune said to have met a long-nosed goblin

Kurama-dera Temple was established in 770 by the Buddhist saint Gantei, the leading disciple of the high priest Ganjin. The temple houses a statue of Vaisravana (attendant spirit), which is designated as a national treasure.

Sanzen-in Temple

An ancient temple counted as one of three Tendai sect temples with ties to the imperial family

Sanzen-in’s Ojogokurakuin Hall, which houses a national treasure, a statue of the seated Amida trinity, stands in the serenity of Yuseien Garden, which is renowned for its beautiful mossy landscapes and Japanese cedar trees.

Shimogamo-jinja Shrine

One of KYOTO's most important and oldest shrines, mentioned in the Shoku Nihongi, an imperially commissioned Japanese history text completed in 797

Officially named Kamomio-jinja, Shimogamo-jinja has many shrine buildings and structures reminiscent of the Heian period, including two main shrines that are designated as national treasures and the Romon tower gate. The shrine, including “Tadasu no Mori”(the forest in the shrine’s precinct), is registered as a World Heritage Site.

Kinkaku-ji Temple (Rokuon-ji Temple)

Be dazzled by the image of the Golden Pavilion reflected in Kyokochi Pond.

Officially named Rokuon-ji Temple, Kinkaku-ji Temple is recognized as a World Heritage Site. It was built by the 3rd shogun Yoshimitsu Ashikaga. Its garden is made in the chisenkaiyu-shiki style representing a classic example of Muromachi period landscape design, and is designated as a national special historic spot and a special place of scenic beauty.

Kegon-ji Temple (Suzumushi-dera Temple)

Make only one wish to the Jizo Bosatsu of Happiness

Kegon-ji Temple is also known as “Suzumushi-dera,” because of the sounds of crickets that can be heard throughout the year in its precinct.

Kosan-ji Temple

Home of Japanese green tea boasts a huge collection of cultural properties

Kosan-ji Temple was restored and given its present name by the Buddhist saint Myoe in the Kamakura period. The temple has some 10,000 national treasures and important cultural properties.

Jojakko-ji Temple

A Nichiren Buddhist temple well known for fall colors

Jojakko-ji Temple was established in 1595 by Nisshin, a priest of the Nichiren sect, in a location that was said to be the former site of the mountain villa of famous poet, Fujiwara no Teika.

Jingo-ji Temple

Enshrining a national treasure "Bhaisajyaguru" (Buddha of healing and medicine), Jingo-ji also boasts a substantial collection of esoteric Buddhist art

Jingo-ji Temple was home to the priest Kukai for 14 years after his return from China in 809. Recognized as a national treasure, the temple bell is counted amongst Japan’s three best bells. The temple is also well known as one of KYOTO’s best spots for viewing fall colors.

Daikaku-ji Temple

Famous for the harvest moon viewing party held on the banks of the beautiful Osawa-no-ike Pond designated as National Scenic Beauty

Daikaku-ji Temple was originally built as an imperial villa for Emperor Saga, but was converted into a temple after his death. Its Mie-do Hall served as the banquet hall used during the coronation of Emperor Taisho, but was later dismantled and reassembled on the temple grounds.

Tenryu-ji Temple

Home to the powerful ceiling painting Unryuzu (image of dragon and clouds) and one of the country's greatest Japanese gardens

Registered as the first special place of scenic beauty and historical landmark in Japan, Tenryuji’s Sogenchi Teien is a marvelous garden which incorporates the views of nearby Mt. Arashiyama and Kameyama into its design. The garden was created by Zen priest Soseki Muso, who was also known as a superb garden designer.

Ninna-ji Temple

Famous for beautiful cherry blossoms

Ninna-ji is the head temple of the Omuro sub-sect of Shingon Buddhism and is also a registered World Heritage Site. It was founded in 888 by Emperor Uda and was originally known as Omuro-gosho (Omuro Imperial Palace). The temple’s Niomon Gate is designated as an important cultural property and is one of the Three Great Gates of KYOTO. An array of beautiful temple buildings creates a special atmosphere reminiscent of the Heian Imperial Court.

Nonomiya-jinja Shrine

An ancient shrine popular for marriage, mentioned in The Tale of Genji

Nonomiya-jinja Shrine enshrines the god of marriage and conception, and attracts many visitors from all over Japan. Its beautiful moss garden, which was the subject of haiku poems written by Matsuo Basho and Yosa Buson, is not to be missed.

Matsuo-no-taisha Shrine

Home to the god of sake brewing

Inside Matsuo-no-taisha Shrine, you can see stacks of sake barrels wrapped in straw matting, which are donated by sake producers. The shrine’s noteworthy garden, Shofu-en, was landscaped by the famous garden architect, Mirei Shigemori.

Myoshin-ji Temple

Famed for Happonirami-no-Ryu, a powerful painting of an enormous dragon

The highlight of Myoshin-ji are the giant image of a dragon painted on the ceiling of the Hatto Hall by Tanyu Kano and the Akechi-buro, a bathhouse built to console the spirit of warlord, Mitsuhide Akechi.

Ryoan-ji Temple

Site of the world famous rock garden

Ryoan-ji Temple was built by warlord Katsumoto Hosokawa in 1450, who invited Giten Gensho of Myoshin-ji Temple to serve as its chief priest.