Fun things to do in Kyoto

  • Ryoanji Temple
    by Ewingjr98
  • The Moss Garden (Koke-dera)
    The Moss Garden (Koke-dera)
    by shrimp56
  • Otagi Nenbutsuji Temple
    Otagi Nenbutsuji Temple
    by Rabbityama

Most Viewed Things to Do in Kyoto

  • Orchid's Profile Photo

    At Ninomaru Palace tread lightly please....

    by Orchid Updated Oct 25, 2014

    Within the sturdy walls and moats of Nijo Castle, approached through the the grand Karamon gateway lies a paean to the glory of Tokugawa Ieyasu in the form of the glorious Ninomaru Palace, whose residence this once was. A highlight of the palace is one of the world's first burglar alarms!

    During the Edo period, assassination by ninja was a very real threat. So the nightingale floor (Uguisu-bari), a effective if low-tech alarm system served to alert Daimyo or Shogun bodyguards that intruders of ill intent were on the prowl.

    When one puts ones weight on the floorboards of the Ninomaru Palace, the surface bends and warps, causing the securing nails to rub against a jacket or clamp, generating low creaks reminiscent of chirping birds. This chorus of faux birdsong, alerting the palace guards, giving any would be assassin the choice of flight or death.
    I guess fat assassins did not succeed, as the heavier the footfall, the louder the chirp!

    And so it was that when the cacophony of tour guides 'listening-to-me'-ing their unfortunate followers subsided, the creaking palace floors did indeed sound like a twittering of many birds. There are 5 buildings in the complex, connected by corridors with the famous creaking floorboards, and it takes some time to wander through on soft socked feet, along passageways with fine square-panelled ceilings and elaborate wall paintings, viewed through the sliding panels of the interior rooms. The grandest rooms are the audience hall of the Shogun himself, where said potentate with sit on an elevated platform, flanked by bodyguards hidden in closets. Trusting times indeed.

    I first read of the 'nightingale floor' in Lian Hearn's fine novel, 'Across the Nightingale Floor', so it was a special pleasure to be able to try one out for myself.

    Another strict 'no photo' establishment (inside the palace), the entrance is included in the ticket to Nijo Castle (600 Yen in 2014). Opening hours of the castle are 8:45 to 17:00.
    Opening hours are the same as for the castle.

    Palace exterior The nightingale floor Interior view - ceiling and wall panels Detail at palace portal
    Related to:
    • Architecture
    • Historical Travel
    • Castles and Palaces

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  • Ewingjr98's Profile Photo

    Kiyomizu-zaka, Higashiyama

    by Ewingjr98 Written Oct 19, 2013

    Kiyomizu-zaka is the street leading uphill to the gate of the Kiyomizu-dera Temple in Hagashiyama, eastern Kyoto. This street is lined with touristy shops selling food, ceramics, clothes and local crafts. The best part of the area are the free samples of mochi and tea that many shops offer.

    In the morning the street will be quiet, but by noon, Kiyomizu-zaka is filled with tourists and worshipers heading to the shrine.

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  • Ewingjr98's Profile Photo

    Shijo Street (Shijodori)

    by Ewingjr98 Written Oct 7, 2013

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    Shijo Street, literally translating to mean "Fourth Street," is the main commercial thoroughfare of Kyoto. This busy street stretched about 5.5 miles from Yasaka Shrine in Gion to Matsunoo Shrine in Ayashiyama. The eastern end of the street passes through the busy commercial area of Gion, before crossing the Kama River to Central Tokyo. From here, the Hankyo Subway Line follows Shijodori all the way to Ayashiyama, where it crosses the Katsura/Oi River via the Togetsukyo Bridge.

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  • nathasha's Profile Photo

    get dressed up as geisha/maiko!!!!!

    by nathasha Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    yes a truly wonderful memory for a lifetime!!!! there are many places to do this, but i love the area of kiyomizudera as it is so historical and beautiful place, truly the old japan!!!

    read my step-by-step guide on how to do it in my kyoto travelogue :))))

    thank you - arigatou gozaimasu!!!!

    nathasha in kimono!!!

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  • A volunteer tour group: Japan Space Kyoto

    by cwmdavis Written Jun 7, 2010

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    "Japan Space Kyoto" is a volunteer group in Kyoto that promotes Japanese culture. On Wednesdays, only, they take a small group of visitors and give them a 1 hour lesson in Japanese language, followed by a walking tour and a visit to a Japanese home. They are wonderfully warm people who offer a truly unique experience, one we recommend highly.

    Related to:
    • Historical Travel

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  • bladedragon's Profile Photo

    Rickshaw

    by bladedragon Written Aug 5, 2009

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    Originally, this is a human powered transport, however nowadays it has become tourist attraction.
    You can find rickshaws everywhere in Kyoto and some major temples in Tokyo (such as Asakusa).
    Anyway the word "rickshaw" originated from a japanese word of "jinrikisha" (l—ÍŽÔ: l jin = human, —Í riki = power or force, ŽÔ sha = vehicle)

    Jinrikisha (Rickshaw)

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  • dancinbudgie's Profile Photo

    Kobo-San Market

    by dancinbudgie Written Aug 1, 2009

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    This market is held on the 21st of each month. There are all kinds of things to be found here, food, clothing (even beautiful second hand kimono), homewares, ceramics...you name it, it's probably here some-where.
    The stall holders are very friendly...especially the gentleman pictured...he was selling the most delicious dried strawberries (he made me eat a handful before I bought some), as well as other wonderful dried fruits.
    We were so happy that our visit coincided with the market....even the rain didn't dampen our enthusiasm! if you aren't around on the 21st, there is another market held here on the 1st Sunday of each month. That one is an antique market...so I'm sure it would also be worth a look.

    Related to:
    • Architecture
    • Family Travel
    • Arts and Culture

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  • bladedragon's Profile Photo

    Ishibe Koji Street

    by bladedragon Written Feb 26, 2009

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    This is one of a very interesting traditional street in Kyoto.
    It is lined with ryotei (restaurants) and ryokan (Japanese-style inns), is permeated with the romance of the Taisho Period.
    Ishibei-koji was originally developed as an area for rooms for rent, and luxurious rental homes.
    Its stone-paved streets add to the feeling of luxury.

    Ishibe Koji Street Ishibe Koji Street Geisha at Ishibe Koji Street

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  • joiwatani's Profile Photo

    Funny, but there's Las Vegas building in Kyoto!

    by joiwatani Written Nov 22, 2008

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    On our way to the Toji Temple, we had to take two trains although we can even see the temple from a distance. So, my sisters and I decided to walk instead of taking another bus leading us to the temple. About four-five blocks away from the temple, we saw a building with a huge logo on it Las Vegas My sisters who has never been to Las Vegas asked to take a picture of them so we can send them to our friends!

    We found out that the building houses some game stations and flinco machines! That made sense because Las Vegas is the gambling capital of the world!

    %cbThe Las Vegas building in Kyoto%c* %cbAT the local Las Vegas%c*
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  • trvlrtom's Profile Photo

    Slow down

    by trvlrtom Written May 20, 2008

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    When in Kyoto, you may feel rushed to see the many gardens, temples and shrines. Together they all make Kyoto the enchanting world attraction that draws visitors from all over. But try not to get caught in a rush to see everything. At some of the sites it seems like there are lines of people simply moving along pathways and scanning what they see without taking it in. Remember that these places have been here for centuries, and many took generations to build or create. When looking at a shrine, temple or garden, try to pause and look for the unexpected delights of beauty in nature. The gardens were made for contemplation, which isn't an easy habit for one to practice these days when media images are rushing at us 24 hours a day.

    lone camelia blossom, fallen onto the moss.
    Related to:
    • Seniors
    • Arts and Culture
    • Hiking and Walking

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  • WStat's Profile Photo

    Don't forget to have a drink !

    by WStat Updated Apr 26, 2008

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    Especially in Kyoto the weather can be extremely hot, humid and taking all of your condition.
    Because one tends to exaggerate ones performance without thinking of health-issues, I recommend to take a rest from time to time and, above all, to have a drink (no alcohol, of course, except a sundowner after the days work has been done !)

    complicated choice !
    Related to:
    • Historical Travel
    • Arts and Culture

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  • kevin407's Profile Photo

    Take your time

    by kevin407 Written Sep 23, 2007

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    My time in Kyoto was short and I had just enough time to take in a sight close to the train station. I found the tourist information office (always located in the Railroad station) and got myself a city map. I picked a temple that looked close and began walking (not wishing to learn the bus system). I was betrayed of course by the map. The temple was much farther than I had anticipated.

    Running short of time my visit of the temple was rushed and I would not have the leisure to return. I quickly walked the site taking in as much as possible and snapping some pictures. That was a mistake.

    The temple is beautiful, detailed and complex. I could easily have spent the day walking all the paths and exploring the detail.

    On my next trip I’ll return and give it the time it deserves.

    Related to:
    • Castles and Palaces
    • Historical Travel

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  • SLLiew's Profile Photo

    Fan throwing festival

    by SLLiew Updated Aug 27, 2007

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    Every temple has its own special festival annually. Check what is going on when you are in Kyoto.

    Took a bus outside Kyoto to this fan-throwing festival.

    The priests will throw fans into the crowd below. I caught one and took it home. Suppose to bring good fortune and good health, I suppose.

    Also round rice cakes, like "mochi" are thrown. I also got one but did not know what to do with it and gave it to a grateful local Japanese.

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  • vic&michael's Profile Photo

    Market Madness

    by vic&michael Written Mar 29, 2006

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    There are 2 big markets held every month in Kyoto.
    Biggest, is the Toji-Temple Markets, held on the 21st of every month.
    Next, is the Tenjin-san Markets (at Kitano-Tenmangu shrine), held on the 25th of every month.

    I always enjoy going to markets, they have such a lively athmosphere, and there are so many traditional foods to eat here. You can buy antiques (pottery, paintings, furniture) or 2nd Hand Kimonos and Obi, or good-luck charms to hang off your bag...etc. This is a great opportunity to do people watching, shopping, and visit a temple!

    The markets can get really really crowded, so if you are crowd-phobic, go very early in the morning, like 7-9am, around lunchtime, till 4pm, it can be a little chlosterphobic. But, you gotta weigh up what's important to you..a sleep-in? Or peaceful shopping? I take the sleep-in every time! :-)

    Tenjin-san markets lots of things to see! Dried fish
    Related to:
    • Family Travel
    • Study Abroad

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  • cheesecake17's Profile Photo

    Walk in KYOTO talk in ENGLISH

    by cheesecake17 Updated Feb 23, 2006

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    The web link has a walking tour of Kyoto for a small fee

    This walk has been privately operated since 1996 by Mr. Hajime Hirooka, better known as Johnnie Hillwalker, one of the best tour guides in Japan, with 43 years of tour guide experience

    Related to:
    • Hiking and Walking

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Kyoto Things to Do

Rabbityama's Profile Photo

As the capital for much of Japan's history, Kyoto flourished for centuries with many important temples and shrines being built around the imperial city.

While many of the nation's great...

Map of Kyoto