Japan is often seen as a relentlessly modern country. In many ways, that's accurate. But it's also a country of deep tradition and rich culture, and few places exemplify that better than Kyoto. The former capital of the country before Tokyo took its spot, Kyoto remains in many ways the cultural capital. In fact, its many temples and shrines spared it the destruction of the atom bomb during World War II, when the US Secretary of War deemed it too culturally important to be bombed.
A visit to Kyoto is like taking a trip back to the old Japan, before the massive changes the country underwent in the twentieth century. But Kyoto is not a living museum. It remains one of Japan's largest cities and has plenty of modern attractions to offer too. Drop off your bags at a Kyoto luggage storage service and see this cultural treasure for yourself.
8 Best Ways To Experience Kyoto In 2023
The Japanese way of life is totally different from anything you'll experience in another country. To really immerse yourself in it you need the help of guides or locals with insider knowledge who can introduce you to their intricate ceremonies and assist you in maintaining the protocols expected of you in public. With the friendly professionals from the companies listed below, you'll be in good hands from the word go no matter which of the exciting tours you decide to go on. Drop off your bags at a Bounce luggage storage in Kyoto and get ready for the experience of a lifetime.
Best Sake Tour – Kyoto Insider Sake Experience
What's sake, what's it made from, how do they make it and what's the best way to drink it? You can learn the answer to all four of those questions when you visit a sake distillery with a guide from Kyoto Insider Sake Experience. They'll accompany you around a distillery in the Kyoto Fushimi Sake District and explain the entire production process step by step before you get a chance to sample the premium strength rice wine.
Plan your trip to a sake distillery with Kyoto Insider Sake Experience by calling them on 81 75-603-4155 or email them at email@example.com.
Best Photography Tour – Snap Kyoto
When you want to take home amazing souvenir photos it's a good idea to spend time with a local photographer who knows exactly where all the best shots can be taken from. Go out for the day with Snap Kyoto and the guide, Matt, will take you to some especially photogenic places you might not find on your own and advise you on lighting as well as give you inside information about Kyoto. If you want to star in the photos, he'll happily take portrait shots for you too.
Prepare a photography tour of Kyoto with Snap Kyoto by calling Matt on 81-704-495-6529 or email him firstname.lastname@example.org.
Best Bike Tour – Kyoto Bike Tour
One environmentally friendly way to explore Kyoto is on a bicycle ride with Kyoto Bike Tours. Make an early start and head away from the city to see the bamboo forests and the superb mountain scenery of the Arashiyama district where you'll stop off at temples to see the monkeys. It's a full eight-hour day on the road, so be prepared for some pedaling. You could end up a little saddle sore, but it's worth it.
Plan your day out with Kyoto Bike Tours by emailing them at Info@KyotoBikeTour.com or call them here -81-803-854-2334 – for more details.
Best Sightseeing Tour – Maya-Kyoto Tour Guide
For a truly insightful exploration of Kyoto, it's best to go out and about with a personal guide who comes from the city. The Maya-Kyoto Tours guide knows the area and its history like the back of their hand. On an eight-hour tour, they'll walk you around to all the main sights as well as some hidden ones that only someone from Kyoto could know existed and explain everything you need to know about the food, history, and culture as you go. Maya-Kyoto Tours only conducts personal one-to-one or private small group tours.
Prepare to step out in Kyoto with your personal guide by contacting Maya-Kyoto Tour Guide on 81-758-711-523 or by emailing email@example.com.
Best BirdwatchingTour – Kyoto Nature Tours
Kyoto is famous for its migratory birdlife and the best place to go spotting is in the Kyoto Gyoen National Gardens. The gardens are huge so to find the birds it's best to go with a guide from Kyoto Nature Tours who knows the seasons and the various species that appear at different times of the year. If you're new to ornithology they'll explain everything to you including the best way to focus your binoculars.
Plan a bird spotting outing with Kyoto Nature Tours by emailing them at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling them on 81-805-281-4421.
Best Off-The-Beaten-Track Tour – Mardi Tuesday Tours
Set out to explore Kyoto on your own and there are a hundred things you could miss. With Mardi Tuesday Tours you'll be taken to all the main attractions plus several not covered by other tour companies including the architectural wonder that is Kyoto Station as well as some picturesque Japanese gardens and a Japanese tea house.
Sort out a day in Kyoto with Mardi Tuesday Tours by emailing email@example.com.
Best Tea Tour – SAKURA Experience Japanese Culture
A Japanese tea ceremony is a complicated event and one that really needs to be explained in-depth for you to get a true understanding of it. Be accompanied to a full ceremony by SAKURA Experience Japanese Culture and they'll dress you in the customary kimono then serve you tea while telling you all about the procedure and each step’s ritualistic significance.
Plan to take tea with SAKURA Experience Japanese Culture by emailing them at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 81-90-2044-1122 for more information.
Best Family Tour – Kyoto Fun
Keeping youngsters amused while sightseeing isn't always easy. Go on a tour with Kyoto Fun and the kids won't have time to get bored. If your kids are old enough and know how to ride, you can take the tour of Kyoto by bicycle or alternatively on foot if that suits you better. You'll explore temples, shrines, gardens, and the city's quieter back streets.
Schedule your fun family day out with Kyoto Fun by emailing email@example.com or call them on 81-70-1762-3339.
A weekend in Kyoto
Kyoto is an immensely popular place both with Japanese tourists and visitors from abroad. If you only have a couple of days in the city, you'll need to hustle to fit everything in. Drop off your bags at a Kyoto suitcase storage so that you can see the city's top attractions more easily.
- Fushimi Inari-Taisha Shrine is probably the most iconic place in Kyoto. Located on a mountain, the many temples of this spectacular shrine are set amongst the forest and elaborately decorated. You could easily spend the day enjoying the serenity and beauty of this incredible location.
- Kinkakuji Temple is another of Kyoto's architectural treasures. Originally built as a home for a local nobleman, he donated the house to be made into a temple after his death. Located on a quiet lake, this gorgeous temple has to be seen to be believed.
- To balance out the beauty and serenity of Kyoto's many temples, a trip to the Monkey Park is perfect. Home to hundreds of monkeys that run free throughout the park, this attraction is sure to entertain. You can even feed the monkeys, but be on your guard. These cheeky simians are not above picking your pocket if they get the chance.
The ancient city of Kyoto is ideal for exploring on foot. You will do plenty of walking as you explore the ancient sites and modern attractions of this unique Japanese city. Make things easier on yourself by leaving your bags at a Kyoto luggage locker. The lighter you travel, the more of the city you'll be able to see.
Off the beaten path in Kyoto
With the crowds of tourists Kyoto receives, it can seem hard to experience the peace and serenity the temples were designed for. But if you look around, you can find some lesser-known attractions where you can escape the crowd.
- Learn more about a unique Japanese art form at the Kyoto International Manga Museum. Learn about the influence of manga in post-World War II Japan and get your portrait drawn in manga style by an artist.
- Cherry blossoms occupy a unique place in Japanese culture. Visit Maruyama Park when the trees are in bloom to enjoy the exquisite beauty of these flowers. The park is home to a variety of cherry trees, so the blossoms vary from one plant to the next.
- Just outside Kyoto, Mount Kurama is home to an impressive Buddhist temple. You'll also find a hiking trail among the trees where you can stretch your legs. But best of all are the hot Springs in the town of Kurama where you can soothe your tired muscles and rejuvenate in the warm water.
What to do alone in Kyoto
Japan is known as an incredibly safe place to travel, making it ideal to explore solo. And Kyoto has so much to do and receives so many foreign visitors that it's easy to find others who speak your language. Drop off your bags at a Kyoto luggage storage service and head out to see the city for yourself.
- Nishiki Market is one of the liveliest spots in Kyoto. This covered market sells just about everything, from incredible food to traditional crafts and textiles. Embrace the crowds and shop for unique items in this Kyoto institution.
- Kiyomizu-Dera Temple is another striking religious site, with its bright red building surrounded by cherry trees. There is also a waterfall promising success, love, and long life to any who drink from the waters. Experiencing the temple alone is the best way to enjoy the peacefulness. But if you're tired of being alone, walking between two stones in front of the shrine with your eyes closed guarantees you will find true love.
- The Gion district encapsulates all that is best about Kyoto. Known as the city's entertainment district, it is home to theaters and all kinds of artists. Take in a kabuki show or visit any of the many excellent cafés and restaurants. You'll be sure to find something to keep you occupied in this fascinating neighborhood.
The best souvenirs in Kyoto
As a popular tourist destination, Kyoto isn’t short of souvenir shops. At the Fushimi shine, you can pick up a miniature version of the iconic red gate of the temple which makes a wonderful souvenir. Alternatively, Kyoto is known for its bamboo forests. Many shops sell bamboo chopsticks, fans, and other items. Or you could celebrate the Japanese tradition of papermaking at Kamiji Kakimoto handmade paper shop, where exquisite stationery is still made using traditional methods.