The Best Places to Start Your Day in Kyoto

Kyoto is the crown jewel of Japan. For many people, Kyoto is what they think of when they imagine Japan. As the former capital of Japan for more than a thousand years, the city exists as a unique cultural time capsule that spans centuries. With everything there is to see and do, things can get crowded as the day progresses, so there are some things that are better seen first thing in the morning.

  • Fushimi Inari Shrine

    Fushimi Inari Shrine

    Fushimi Inari Shrine

    Fushimi Inari Shrine is probably the most iconic place in Kyoto. Its long, dense tunnels of vermillion gates attract visitors all year long. The temple is dedicated to the Shinto god of rice and has been in Kyoto since the 8th century. The grounds of the temple probably won’t be too crowded, but the hiking trail will be packed with people trying to get the perfect photo of the torii gates.

  • Arashiyama Bamboo Forest

    Arashiyama Bamboo Forest

    Arashiyama Bamboo Forest

    Another stunning sight is the Arashiyama Bamboo Grove. A 500 meter path cuts through the thick forest of bamboo that can reach as high as 30 meters. While 500 meters isn’t very far, this trail can become overwhelmed, as this is one of the most popular destinations in the area. The trail runs from Tenryu-ji Temple and Arashiyama’s main street. Entrance to the forest is free and visitors can walk the path at any time, night or day, but there aren’t any lights along the path.

  • Kinkaku-ji, the Golden Pavilion

    Kinkaku-ji, the Golden Pavilion

    Kinkaku-ji, the Golden Pavilion

    Japan is mostly known for its Shinto temples, but Buddhism has also featured prominently in the country since the 6th century. Kinkaku-ji is one of Kyoto’s most recognizable Buddhist temples and is designated as a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage sight. It’s easy to see how Kinkaku-ji, which translates to “Golden Pavilion,” got its name. The temple’s 2nd and 3rd floors are actually covered with gold leaf. This location lends itself to an early morning outing, especially in the fall. The gold of the temple is complemented by the early morning light and the bright red maple trees growing in the surrounding forest.

  • Kiyomizu-dera

    Kiyomizu-dera

    Kiyomizu-dera

    Founded more than 1,200 years ago, Kiyomizu-dera is another temple with World Cultural Heritage status worth checking out before the crowds show up. The temple features a wooden platform that rises over the hill the temple stands on, giving you a great view of the forest below. There are several attractions at the temple that bring people from near and far, including the Otowa Waterfall, which is said to give luck to people who drink from its waters; a statue of the deity, Kannon; and the Jishu Shrine, a place built in honor of the deity of matchmaking.

  • Kimono Forest

    Kimono Forest

    Kimono Forest

    On your way to visit Arashiyama’s bamboo forest, there’s another unique forest you can stop at. The Kimono Forest is just outside Arashiyama Station. At night, it’s lit up and during the day, the vibrant colors don’t need any help. The Kimono Forest is actually an art installation created by Yasumichi Morita during a revitalization project in 2013. It consists of 600 pillars covered with fabric that mimics traditional kimono designs. At night, the pillars are illuminated by lights inside the pillars, so this site can be enjoyed at night as well.

    Fushimi Inari Taisha
    Address
    Kyoto Kyoutoshi Fushimi-ku Fukakusa Yabunouchi cho 68
    Phone
    0756417331
    Chikurinnomichi
    Address
    Kyoto Kyoutoshi Ukyou-ku Sagaogurayamatabuchiyamachou
    Phone
    Rokuon-ji Temple (Kinkaku-ji Temple)
    Address
    Kyoto Kyoutoshi Kita-ku Kinkakujichou 1
    Phone
    0754610013
    Kiyomizu-dera Temple
    Address
    Kyoto Kyoutoshi Higashiyama-ku Kiyomizu 1-294
    Phone
    0755511234
  • Arashiyama(Keifuku Line)
    Address
    Kyoto Kyoutoshi Ukyou-ku Sagatenryujitsukurimichichou
    Phone
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