- 4 min read

Best Spots in the Heart of Kyoto

World Heritage, Geisha and tea houses

HOTEL MYSTAYS Kyoto-Shijo has chosen a fantastic location to set up business. Right from the front door you can see so much of Kyoto, nothing is too far or undoable. Like mentioned in an earlier article, you can walk over to the Gion District, a famous pleasure district of Kyoto known for its traditional architecture, tea houses and Geisha. A bit beyond that, however, are some of Kyoto’s most famous and prized sights—still in the neighborhood and well worth the mid-afternoon walk.

Look at any map and you will see a major clump of temples and shrines—it can be a bit overwhelming by their numbers. ‘Which do I go to first?’ ‘Can I see all of them in one day?’ ‘Which one’s the best?’ Luckily, I’ve done that thinking already, and if you are to visit any three, these are the top picks.

Walk a minute or two out of the main Gion district and you have found yourself Yasaka Shrine. It was originally a shrine of imperial patronage, and from 1871 through 1946, if was officially named one of the Kanpei Taisha’ meaning that it stood in the first rank of government supported shrines. Heavily connected with the Gion District (actually once called Gion Shrine), it is famous for holding annual festivals, attracting thousands of people every year, for the Gion Matsuri (Gion Festival) and the Japanese New Year. Its impressive appearance is enough to make you fall in love, its green grounds relaxing and comforting and friendly peaceful atmosphere suitable for any time of the year. For this shrine, there is no entrance fee!

If you are a fan of Japan in any facet, you have certainly seen a picture of Kiyomizudera. It is on every travel page, personal blog or poster related to Japan, but seeing in person is something else. It belongs to the Historic Monuments of Ancient Kyoto and is a UNESCO World Heritage site. It was constructed in 1633 and it’s name ‘Kiyomizu’ means pure or clean water, named after the waterfall that runs through the ground of the temple. To get to the temple, you walk through a series of beautiful streets, very similar in appearance to Ishibe Alley or Gion’s streets. Restaurants, gift shops and tea houses line the pedestrian streets, where you can buy memorable souvenirs or some of Kyoto’s famous sweets and treats. When you reach the top, if you are so inclined, you can pray at the central shrine, but make sure your wish is a special one. The entrance fee is ¥300 and well worth it!

In the opposite direction but still very easy to get to is the historic Nijo Castle. Also belonging to Historic Monuments of Ancient Kyoto and is also a UNESCO World Heritage site, this castle holds extreme importance in Japanese culture and history. Tokugawa Ieyasu, the founder of the Tokugawa Shogunate (the last feudal Japanese military government which existed between 1603 and 1868) ordered every feudal lord of Western Japan to help contribute to it’s completion. The central and largest building in the complex is Ninomaru Palace, used as living quarters for the shogun. Right outside is a beautiful pond and garden, appropriately called Ninomaru Garden. You can walk throughout the inside and outside of the temple, walking and audio tours available, seeing exactly where the past shoguns of Japan used to live, eat and sleep. This amazing experience is less than a twenty minute walk from your hotel and the entrance fee is only ¥600. The only downside, they don't allow pictures inside, sorry we couldn't get any!

There are countless other worth while ventures all around Kyoto, so if you are staying for more than a few days, take advantage of what is around you. For a nearby accommodation option, I recommend HOTEL MYSTAYS Kyoto-Shijo. View our article here and check the English version of their website.

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Jerome Lee 8 years ago
Some beautiful photos you have here Charles!
Charles Colfer Author 8 years ago
Why thank you! I try my best :)
Relinda Puspita 8 years ago
Kiyomizudera is always beautiful in every season.
Mary Kawai 8 years ago
Lovely photos. I remember obsessively collecting those Kiyomizudera tickets.
Olga 8 years ago
I visited Kiyomizudera and Nijo-castle. They are really great!

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