Kyoto is not really a very large city, although there are many places to visit! The bus, train, and subway system really makes most of the city very easy to access. What many people consider to be "off the beaten path" are lesser visited sites, but they are actually very easy to access and very much "ON the path"! Because of this, I have put my destination tips in the "Things to Do" section.
With that said, there are a few places that are a little off the beaten path:
-The Ohara area in northeastern Kyoto is slightly removed from the main part of the city. There is a bus that will take you there, so it's still not difficult to reach.
-The Matsuo area is located just south of Arashiyama is off the tourist trail for most foreigners. Still, there is a bus that goes here, as well.
-The Takao area in the northwest also has buses that regularly come here, but it's removed from the hustle and bustle of the inner city. You definitely wouldn't want to try to walk here!
Probably the most "Off the beaten Path" area of the city is the Oharano area! Buses to this area leave from stations closer to the area, not Kyoto Station. It is further south than the Matsuo area in a mainly agricultural part of the city (it doesn't even look like Kyoto!). After arriving at your stop, you may still have to do some walking to get there, so it's important to have a map here. It's a great place for those who enjoy stepping off the tourist trails to see some great shrines and temples without the hords of tourists you'll find in the city center.
Kyoto is a top destination for visitors to Japan and its also a large city. That doesn't mean that there aren't places where one can get off the beaten path. Even in some of the high traffic tourist destinations, such as Ginkaku-ji or Kinkaku-ji temple, a visitor can find areas that aren't as visited within the temple grounds. Many times I found myself away from the crowds & wandering through a peaceful section of a Japanese garden undisturbed. The photo I've included is on a gardner painstakingly hand grooming a moss covered slope in the centuries old Ginkaku-ji temple garden. And yes...I found him off the beaten path.
There are many places in Kyoto, that you must see...but its important how do you see it!!! The best way is hire a bicycle and go around the town!!! You will find many places which are just amazing!!
Like the one in this photo. Its restaurant, built on a river and the lanterns hanging outside...
There are enough temples in Kyoto to easily find one that is not top-popular by tourists. One that I want to tell you about is the great Senjusangendo-hall. In this templecomplex are an amazing amount of wooden statues to be bewondered. The maker(s) must have taken decades to forfill this great work of art.
Just walking by the streets away from the city center, you find a lot of pretty gardens and small temples, holding a relaxing atmosphere with the sound of the water flowing somewhere around...
Japan is not all about Modernity/Hi-tech... the countryside exists and there is a rustic rural feel to the place. Do explore, and you will find that there is a less hectic pace in Japan