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'Out Of This World!' - Foreigners Recommend Must-Visit Places in Kyoto

'Out Of This World!' - Foreigners Recommend Must-Visit Places in Kyoto

Date published: 17 February 2022
Last updated: 6 February 2023

Overflowing with historical temples and shrines, nature-filled neighborhoods, and retro streetscapes, Kyoto is one of Japan’s most iconic sightseeing destinations.

Get ready to be wowed! We polled our global audience and discovered the top Kyoto hotspots they're eager to return to. You won't believe some of their answers! (*Comments are the personal opinions of respondents.)

Top image: PIXTA

Arashiyama Bamboo Forest - Revisiting This Oasis of Spirituality

(Photo: PIXTA)
(Photo: PIXTA)

The most popular Kyoto destination with our readers was Arashiyama. In particular, the Bamboo Forest, located near Tenryu-ji Temple, received oodles of attention.

“The Bamboo Forest is packed to the brim with lush, beautiful nature. Even now I can still remember the tranquil, solemn ambiance.” (Australian male, 20s)

“The Bamboo Forest came up in most of the guide books when I was planning a trip to Japan. You’d never find such an atmosphere in South America - I really want to go again!” (Chilean male, 30s)

“It was deeply spiritual and sacred. I could feel a definite presence in the forest. I think about it often.” (Filipino female, 20s)

“When I stepped into the forest, it was like I had entered the Japan of my dreams! I’ll definitely be checking it out again in the near future.” (Canadian female, 40s)

“I enjoyed the tranquility and peace of Arashiyama - it was a nice escape from the hustle and bustle of a place like Kuala Lumpur.” (Malaysian male, 20s)

It’s clear that many of the respondents felt a profound connection to the spirituality of Arashiyama. As most of us live in busy cities and towns, the quiet, serene atmosphere of the Bamboo Forest provided a refreshing, nourishing break from the stresses of daily life.

Constantly attracting visitors and even being selected as the cover for numerous Japan travel guides, it’s no wonder that so many long to visit the Arashiyama Bamboo Forest again!

Fushimi Inari Taisha - Taking Photos of the Stunning Torii Gates!

(Photo: PIXTA)
(Photo: PIXTA)

Fushimi Inari Taisha is another mega-popular Kyoto tourist attraction that many of our readers seem keen to explore again.

“Even after having seen numerous photos before, actually witnessing the rows of torii gates up close was an entirely new sensation.” (German female, 20s)

“While many places in Kyoto were packed with sightseers, the backwoods of Fushimi Inari Taisha were much more sparsely populated, allowing me to thoroughly unwind in peace. It quickly became my favorite place in Japan, and I can’t wait to get back!” (Taiwanese female, 30s)

“The long mountain trail leading to the summit gave me plenty of time to reflect on life and enjoy my time. Hiking in a shrine was a truly unique and special experience that I’d definitely recommend trying it.” (American male, 40s)

“The mountain path was surprisingly steep - more so than I expected! In the end, I turned back. Next time I visit, I’m going to the top!” (Turkish female, 20s)

Mt. Inari, home to Fushimi Inari Taisha, is roughly four kilometers in circumference and turns into a proper hiking trail as you approach the summit.

Along with hiking, there are a number of ways to enjoy this remarkable area - like snapping the perfect shot of the torii gates, wandering the shrine grounds, or relishing a cup of tea at one of the teahouses or cafes. With such diversity, we were not surprised to see it near the top.

Gion at Night - A Dream-Like World Straight Out of Anime!

(Photo: PIXTA)
(Photo: PIXTA)

Rather than just simply Kyoto’s geisha district of “Gion,” the vast majority of our readers also wanted to specifically revisit “Gion at night.”

“The after-dark scenery of Gion is utterly entrancing! Not a day goes by where I don’t reminisce.” (Australian female, 30s)

“After sunset, the Nene-no-Michi Lane transforms into a mysterious, enigmatic world straight out of the anime “The Tatami Galaxy.” It feels like a dream now.” (American female, 20s)

“During the evening, I visited Kiyomizu-dera, Yasaka Shrine, and then wandered the streets of Gion. Unlike the daytime, the streets had a quiet, solemn character that made me feel utterly content.” (Italian female, 30s)

The Gion area of Kyoto is crisscrossed by cobblestone streets lined with traditional townhouses weaving together a distinctly Japanese aesthetic.

At night, this character is amplified, creating an alluring, mystifying atmosphere capturing the hearts of all those who visit. However, be aware that some private property and temples/shrines cannot be entered after dark.

Kyoto Delights You’ll Never Forget - Matcha, Hojicha, Nagashi Somen, and More!

(Photo: PIXTA)
(Photo: PIXTA)

While deviating a little from sightseeing, many of our readers also expressed how much they missed the restaurants, sweet shops, and teahouses of Kyoto.

“The hojicha (roasted green tea) ice cream was out of this world! Organic tea-flavored ice cream like this would do well overseas too I think.” (Danish female, 40s)

“I was a big fan of the nagashi somen (thin noodles that flow down a bamboo chute). My kids loved it too - it was a fantastic family activity.” (New Zealand male, 40s)

“I long for another matcha parfait! While we have sundaes in England, Japanese-style parfaits with pieces of mochi have an incredibly satisfying bite, making them an entirely unique treat.” (English female, 20s)

Indeed, ice creams and parfaits enhanced with Kyoto-esque flavors like matcha and hojicha are also super popular with Japanese people. Confectionaries boasting the distinctive sweetness and astringency of tea seem to have taken the world by storm!

Plus the Kibune River, which is famous for dishes like nagashi somen, is also extremely well-known for its iconic riverside platforms.

The Minority Opinions - Kiyomizu-dera, Kenninji, and Kongoji

(Photo: PIXTA)
(Photo: PIXTA)

“The stage at Kiyomizu-dera is a world-famous sight that lived up to the hype. I really want to bring my parents there on my next trip!” (Hong Kong female, 20s)

“The Kenninji dragon ceiling was epic - I get goosebumps just thinking about it! Dragons often appear in many of my favorite anime, like DragonBall and One Piece, so it was really moving to see such a detailed and meaningful depiction of one.” (Mexican male, 20s)

“Kongoji (Yasaka Koshindo) is now really popular on Instagram, which made me want to check it out. It was just as colorful and cute as I imagined! However, there were so many people, and I couldn’t get a good photo - next time I’ll visit during the week.” (Korean female, 20s)

“I was surprised at just how many fantastic cafes there were in Kyoto! I fell in love with “% ARABICA Kyoto” in Arashiyama - which is surrounded by stunning Kyoto scenery. I’ll definitely have it on my itinerary once I visit again.” (Indonesian female, 30s)

Many of these are also trending on social media, such as the famous temples of Kiyomizu-dera and Kenninji, the photogenic “kukuri-zaru” talisman hanging at Kongoji, and the iconic “%” cup logo at ARABICA Kyoto.

  • Kenninji Temple
    • Address 584, Komatsucho, Yamatooji-dori Shijo-sagaru, Higashiyama-ku, Kyoto-shi, Kyoto, 605-0933
      View Map
    • Nearest Station Gionshijo Station (Keihan Line)
      7 minutes on foot
    • Phone Number 075-561-6363

We hope this list of Kyoto spots our international readers are longing to revisit will help inspire your next Japan adventure!

With a mix of renowned destinations like the Bamboo Path and Fushimi Inari Taisha along with a helping of local food and drink, we’re thoroughly impressed with the selections we received!

*The information presented in this article is accurate as of February 2022. Details may have changed since this time.
*Business hours are subject to change depending on the spread of Covid-19.

Written by:

Ran Tanaka

Ran Tanaka

A writer based in Southeast Asia. Happy life is with cheap beer.

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*This information is from the time of this article's publication.
*Prices and options mentioned are subject to change.
*Unless stated otherwise, all prices include tax.

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