First sightseeing in Kyoto, recommended spots and minimum necessary information

Kiyomizu temple Sightseeing

Kyoto is a popular tourist destination for foreigners in Japan. Kyoto is large enough to walk around and there are many places to see. For this reason, foreign tourists visiting Japan for the first time need to study about Kyoto before. When you look at the guidebook, there are many places to see. But, it is not realistic to go around all the famous tourist attractions at once.

This article summarizes the sightseeing spots in Kyoto that should be visited by foreign tourists visiting Kyoto for the first time. By narrowing down the information to the minimum, it is easy to grasp the place to visit. If you are planning to go sightseeing in Kyoto, please refer to it as a model course. I would like you to relax and enjoy Kyoto sightseeing.

Where is Kyoto in Japan

Kyoto is in the center of Japan, far from Tokyo and relatively close to Osaka and Nara.

From Tokyo to Kyoto, it takes about 2.5 hours by bullet-train(Shinkansen). It takes about 2 hours by plane and bus.

It takes about 30 minutes by train from Osaka to Kyoto.
It takes about an hour from Nara to Kyoto by train.

Japan map

Sightseeing area of ​​Kyoto

There are many popular sightseeing spots in Kyoto, Here are four sightseeing spots that are especially popular with foreigners. If you are visiting Kyoto for the first time, we recommend that you visit these four spots.The four spots can be divided into two areas, east and west, centering on JR Kyoto Station.

Kyoto map

Tourist attractions by area

Two sightseeing spots in the east area
・Kiyomizu Temple
・Fushimi-Inari Shrine

Two sightseeing spots in the West area
・Kinkakuji Temple

I will introduce each one. I recommend to take a walk around the following sightseeing spots as a center.

East Area

Kiyomizu Temple

Kiyomizu temple

Kiyomizu Temple was opened at the end of the 8th century and has a history of over 1200 years. It is also registered as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The main hall, national treasure, was rebuilt in 1633 with the donation of Tokugawa Iemitsu. The stage that spreads out in front of the main hall is particularly famous and is called the “Kiyomizu-no-butai (stage-of-Kiyomizu)”. In Japan, there is the phrase “Jump off the stage of Kiyomizu”. This means making drastic decisions.

The precincts are large and it takes about an hour on average to move. I recommend that you look around slowly while enjoying the buildings and scenery.

The following spots are where to see in the Kiyomizu Temple.
・Niomon, West Gate, Triple Tower.
・Main hall, stage of Kiyomizu
・Otowa Falls

Fushimi-Inari Shrine

Fushimi-inari taisya

Fushimi Inari Shrine is the home of Inari Shrine and is said to have about 30,000 companies nationwide. Inari Shrine was originally a shrine dedicated to the Inari god that symbolizes rice (the god of grain and the god of agriculture). Today, Inari god is regarded as a god of industry, including commerce and industry. Fox, the symbol of Fushimi Inari Shrine, is considered the messenger of Inari god.

Speaking of Fushimi Inari Shrine, red-painted Senbon Torii is very beautiful and famous. It’s a good idea to stroll through the precincts and see beautiful torii and fox statues everywhere.

In Fushimi Inari, the whole Inari-yama(mountain) at an altitude of 233 meters is the object of faith, and those with physical strength should visit the mountain top.

There is also a cafe called “Inari Saryo” where you can eat cold drinks, parfaits and shaved ice.

If you only visit Senbon Torii, you can go sightseeing in about an hour. If you walk to the top, it takes about 2 hours. If you walk slowly and look around, it takes about 3 hours.

West Area



For sightseeing in Arashiyama, you should cross the beautiful Togetsukyo Bridge and aim for a bamboo path (Chikurin-no-michi). It is a good idea to take a leisurely walk while enjoying the scenery surrounded by nature. If you get tired of walking, you should ride a rickshaw. We recommend visiting Daikakuji and Tenryuji Temple with beautiful gardens.

Kinkakuji Temple

Kinkakuji temple

The official name of Kinkakuji is called Rokuonji. Decorated with gold leaf, Shariden (Kinkaku) is one of the most famous buildings in Japan. Kinkaku was created by Yoshimitsu Ashikaga during the Muromachi period. (In fact, Yoshimitsu refurbished the inherited temple.) In 1398, Yoshimitsu completed a luxurious and flashy three-story building, informing people about wealth and authority. Unfortunately, Kinkakuji was destroyed by arson in 1950, and the current building was rebuilt in 1955. It is registered as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

I recommend that you slowly enjoy the buildings and scenery while going around the beautiful garden. Take a walk while watching the pond, stones and seasonal flowers. You can spend a calm and precious time. When the weather is nice, you can see the Kinkaku reflected in the pond.

If you have time, I recommend visiting Kinkakuji and surrounding temples. It is also a good idea to visit Ryoanji and Ninnaji after visiting Kinkakuji. Visiting Toujiin and Myoshinji is also recommended.

Model course

Because the east and the west areas are separated, it is not recommended to visit both in a day. Each tourist spot can be visited in about half a day, including sightseeing in the surrounding area. We recommend spending a day in the east and a day in the west.

A two-day course based on JR Kyoto Station is recommended. On the first day you visit Fushimi Inari Shrine and Kiyomizu Temple. On the second day, visit Kinkakuji and Arashiyama. The order can be reversed.

How to move between tourist attractions

JR Kyoto Station is recommended as a base for sightseeing in Kyoto.

This section explains how to get to each sightseeing spot from JR Kyoto Station. We will also explain how to access Fushimi-Inari Taisha from Kiyomizu-Temple in the east area and Arashiyama from Kinkaku-ji in the west area.

From JR Kyoto station to Kiyomizu Temple

It would be better to take a taxi from JR Kyoto Station to Kiyomizu Temple. If the road is not crowded, it takes about 10 minutes and the charge is about 1,000 to 1,500 yen.

From JR Kyoto station to Fushimi-Inari Shrine

It is recommended that you use a train (JR Nara Line) to move from JR Kyoto Station to Fushimi Inari Shrine. When you get off at Inari Station, two stops from Kyoto Station, Fushimi Inari Shrine is right in front of you. The journey takes about 5 minutes.

From JR Kyoto station to Arashiyama

It is recommended to use a train (JR Sagano Line) to move from Kyoto Station to Arashiyama (Togetsukyo). JR Saga-Arashiyama Station is 6 stops from Kyoto Station and takes about 15 minutes. Togetsukyo is about a 20-minute walk from JR Saga-Arashiyama Station. If you don’t want to walk, you can take a taxi.

From JR Kyoto station to Kinkakuji Temple

It is recommended that you take a train (JR Sagano-Line) and a taxi from Kyoto Station to Kinkakuji Temple. From Kyoto Station, get off at Enmachi Station, which is 3 stops, and take a taxi to Kinkakuji. It takes about 10 minutes to travel from Kyoto Station to Enmachi Station. From Enmachi to Kinkakuji, it takes about 10 minutes by taxi, and it costs about 1,000 yen.There is also a bus from Enmachi Station to Kinkakuji, so you can take a bus instead of a taxi.

From Kiyomizu Temple to Fushimi-Inari Shrine

I recommend a taxi from Kiyomizu Temple to Fushimi Inari Taisha Shrine. The journey takes about 20 minutes and costs about 2,000 yen. However, it may take more time and become expensive when crowded.

If you use a train, you can use Keihan Train from Kiyomizu Gojo Station to Fushimi Inari Station.

From Kinkakuji Temple to Arashiyama

It is recommended to use the JR Sagano Line from Enmachi Station to Saga Arashiyama Station.


This article is a collection of recommended tourist spots for foreign tourists visiting Kyoto for the first time. If you are planning a sightseeing trip to Kyoto, please refer to it as a model course.


Copied title and URL