KINKAKUJI (GOLDEN PAVILION)
Located in Northern Kyoto, the Kinkakuji or ‘Golden Pavilion’ is a Zen temple whose top two floors are completely covered in gleaming gold leaf
. Its breathtaking beauty makes it one of the most visited places in Japan. The Golden Pavilion is set in a magnificent Japanese strolling gardenand looks over a pond, called Kyōko-chi (Mirror Pond), thatreflects the building.
Access : Take the Karasuma Subway Line to Kitaoji Station (15 min,¥250) and take a taxi (10 min, around ¥900) or bus (10 min, ¥230, bus numbers 101, 102, 204 or 205) from there to Kinkakuji.
Open daily, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., ¥400.GINKAKUJI (SILVER PAVILION)
Ginkakuji is a Zen temple along Kyoto’s eastern mountains of Higashiyama. It is composed of the Silver Pavilion itself and also half a dozen other temple buildings,a beautiful moss garden and a unique dry sand garden. Despite its name, the Silver Pavilion was never covered in silver. Instead, it is believed that the name arose as a nickname to contrast it with the Golden Pavilion.
Access : Bus number 5, 17 or 100 from Kyoto Station, 35-40 min, ¥230 one way. By foot along the Philosopher’s Path from Nanzenji, 30-45 min.
Open daily, Mar-Nov 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., from Dec-Feb 9 a.m.to 4:30 p.m., ¥500.GION DISTRICT
Gion is Kyoto’s most famous geisha district, filled with shops, restaurants and ochaya (tea houses). The traditional wooden houses (or ‘machiya’) that line the cobbled streets give the district its typical atmosphere. The most populararea of Gion is Hanami-koji Street a typical though expensiveplace to dine. Many of the machiya houses there now function asrestaurants.
Gion can be reached from Kyoto Station by bus number 100 or206 (20 min from Kyoto Station, ¥230). Get off at Gion bus stop. Alternatively, the closest train stations are Gion Shijo Station on the Keihan Line and Kawaramachi Station on the Hankyu Line.THE PHILOSOPHER’S PATH
Paved with cobblestones and lined by cherry trees, the Philosopher’s Path is a charming pathway through Higashiyama District. For about two kilometers, it follows a canal and passes by restaurants, cafes, boutiques andmany small shrines and temples, starting from the Silver Pavilionand ending close to Nanzenji Temple. It will take you about 40 min to walk down the entire pathway. In April, the path becomes one of the city’s most popular cherry blossom viewingspots.
Access : To reach its southern end, head to Nanzenji Temple located a 5-10 minute walk from Keage Station on the Tozai Line. To reach its northern end, take bus 5, 17 or 100 from Kyoto StationKIYOMIZU-DERA TEMPLE
The Kiyomizu-dera is perhaps the most famous of Kyoto’s temples. With its impressive veranda jutting over the valley and supported by 13-meter-high wooden columns, the temple’s outline is engraved in the minds of Japanese people. The view of Kyoto you can appreciate from this platform is breathtaking
, but not as impressive as the view of thetemple during its fall illuminations, when the surrounding treesare glowing with red and orange and the main hall seems to befloating on a sea of fire.
Access : Bus number 100 or 206 from Kyoto Station (15 min, ¥230). Get off at Gojo-zaka or Kiyomizu-michi bus stop, from where it is a10-minute uphill walk to the temple. Alternatively, Kiyomizu-derais about a 20-minute walk from Kiyomizu-Gojo Station on the Keihan Railway Line. Open daily, 6 a.m. to 6 p.m., ¥300.NISHIKI MARKET
This market is the best way to immerse yourself into Kyoto lifestyle. Seafood, fresh and fried tofu, localvegetables, dried fish… do not hesitate to taste the samples when they are offered to you: it could only be a pleasant surprise. As you walk across the covered alleys, you will eventually get hungryand stop at one of the dozens of snack stands in the market. It isthe perfect place to try sashimi (raw fish) or soy ice cream.
Access : The market is a 5-minute walk from Shijo Station on theKarasuma Line.KYOTO IMPERIAL PARK
The park is home to the Imperial Palace, which was occupied until 1868. You can visit the extensive gardens freely or take a tour, but you cannot go inside the buildings. The walk is still well worth it.The park entrance is located between Marutamachiand Imadegawa Stations on the Karasuma Subway Line.SANJUSANGENDO
Founded in 1164, the temple houses no less than 1001 statues of the bodhisattva of compassion, Kannon. This incredible building was also the site of traditional archery competitions.10 minutes by foot from Kyoto Station. Open daily, 8 a.m. to 5p.m., ¥600.YASAKA JINJA
(Yasaka Shrine) The landmark of the Gion geisha district and the largest Shinto shrine in Kyoto, Yasaka Shrine is not to be missed. Follow the bright, vermillion gates to visit the heart of the shrine, where hundreds of thousands of visitors go to ringin the New Year, then to its garden, Maruyama Park, home of anincredibly old and picturesque weeping cherry tree.
Access : Take Kyoto City bus 201, 203, 206, or 100 (¥230) to Gion.
Open daily, free.KOKEDERA/SAIHO-JI
(Moss Gardens) Located in western Kyoto,the zen temple Saiho-ji is better known by its nickname Kokedera,or Moss Temple. Entrance is limited and by written invitation only,but visitors are treated to a true Buddhist experience: beforeentering the stunning moss gardens, one must participate inmeditation or sutra copying with the monks!
Access : Take Kyoto Bus 73 or 83 to Kokedera.Entrance by invitation at one predetermined time per day. To apply, send a postcard with an international reply coupon with your requested date of visit and number of people.¥3000.
Learn more about IC Card and Kyoto Buses here