Experience my top 5 sightseeing attractions in Kyoto

by Kita Tomomi on 11 August 2017

Kyoto is filled with so many amazing sightseeing experiences, and it’s no wonder that it’s one of the most popular tourist destinations in Japan. If you’re planning on a trip to discover the best of Kyoto, here are my top 5 recommended attractions to check out!

1. Kiyomizu Temple

Did you know that Kiyomizu Temple is certified as a world heritage site?
Built some 1,200 years ago, the height of the main hall is a massive 18 meters tall! There are incredible photo opportunities here, and you can plan a day or evening trip! If you want to take some beautiful pictures, I would suggest coming in the evening (between 530pm and 9pm) to admire the stunning view of the temple when it’s lighted up during spring to fall! The admission fee is 400 yen for adults.

Kiyomizu Temple 1-294 Shimizu Higashiyama-ku Kyoto city Kyoto prefecture.
ZIP code 605-0862

2. Arashiyama Monkey Park Iwata Mountain

At Arashiyama Monkey Park, you can befriend some 135 Japanese monkeys living at the summit of this park, which is 155 meters above sea level!

From the entrance to the top of the mountain, there is a smooth hiking course and it took me around 15 to 20 minutes to climb up. Locals call this experience “shinrinyoku”, which simply means “forest bathing” or taking in the forest atmosphere, and I’d recommended it to those who do not have the opportunity to exercise often! At the mountain summit, you can purchase a bag of treats (100 yen) containing apple and banana to feed the monkeys. Simply place the treats in your hands and they’ll know what to do! However, I recommend not touching the monkeys as they might think you’re trying to harm them…so please be careful! The park is open from 9am to 4pm, and admission is 550 yen for adults.

61 Arashiyama Nakao Shimocho Saikyo-ku Kyoto city Kyoto prefecture. ZIP code 616-0004

3. Toei Kyoto Movie Village

Ever wanted to be part of a movie set? Now you can! This movie village depicts a street from the Edo period, and is still used to shoot films till today!
If you’re a fan of history or a film buff, you’ll be happy to know that a part of this movie village is open to the public as a theme park!

This is the only theme park in Japan where you can observe the filming of period dramas (known as Jidaigeki). Be sure to bring the camera along as there’ll be fantastic photo opportunities everywhere…like dressing up as a ninja or samurai against a film set background! Bring the whole family along as there are all kinds of entertainment such as live studio performances for both adults and children.

10 Taito-Higaokaicho-cho, Ukyo-ku, Kyoto-shi, Kyoto. ZIP code 616-0004

4. Arashiyama Bamboo Grove

This is a famous sightseeing spot in Kyoto known to locals as "bamboo grove street". A placed filled with rich history, imperial and noble families used to live in their villas in this area during the Heian era (794 – 1192). As I walked through the street on my visit here, the cool wind and the thick greenery gave me a feeling of calmness and serenity. Even in daytime, the thick bamboo leaves block out the sunlight and you’ll feel like you’re entering a fantasy world that existed a thousand years ago.

During winter, many visitors come from afar to visit the Arashiyama town center as well as temples and shrines that are beautifully lit up by lanterns. The scenery is truly magical! To get here, I recommend taking the JR Train from Kyoto Station on the JR Sagano/San-in Line to Saga-Arashiyama Station. From there, it’s just a short 5minute walk to Arashiyama bamboo grove.

Arashiyama Bamboo Grove Ukyo-ku, Kyoto-shi, Kyoto. ZIP code 616-0000

5. Jishu shrine

This famous shrine (jisyujinjya) is known as a marriage shrine, and legend has it that it was built before the foundation of Japan. If you make a trip here, you might see many students as it is a popular spot for school excursions.

There is a pair of fortune-telling stones from the Jomon period (jyoumonki) (about 10,000 BC to 300 BC) in front of the main shrine. It is believed that a wish will come true if you can safely reach from one stone to the other while keeping your eyes closed. But do note it’s very popular with the locals…so do expect a queue if you attempt it!

I’m told that it’s especially recommended for students wishing for love, or for women looking for a marriage partner. During springtime, Jishu shrine is also a well-known cherry blossom spot! You can visit from 9am to 5pm, and admission is free.

Jishu Shrine 1-317 Shimizu Higashiyama-ku, Kyoto-shi. ZIP code 605-0862