Kyoto is a popular tourist destination, but Japan often gets a reputation as being expensive – so is it hard to budget? One of the simple solutions to the budget problem is to sprinkle your itinerary with some free sightseeing spots!
So here are 10 places in Kyoto where you can do just that, and experience some history and tradition along the way.
- Table of Contents
- 1. Imadegawa: Rich Nature and Historic Buildings at the Kyoto Gyoen National Garden
- 2. Kitaoji: Walk Along the Nature-Rich River Path, Kamogawa Nakaragi Path
- 3. Arashiyama: Soak in the Kyoto Atmosphere at Bamboo Forest Road
- 4. Higashiyama: Ninenzaka, A Historical and Scenic Road
- 5. Imadegawa: Enjoy a Gorgeous Kimono Show at Nishijin Textile Center
- 6. Okazaki: Demonstrations of Artisans' Traditional Crafts at Kyoto Museum of Traditional Crafts!
- 7. Kujo: Over 1200 Flea Market Stalls at Toji Koubou-ichi!
- 8. Kurama: The Kifune Shrine, A Power Spot Enshrining A Water Guardian Deity
- 9. Shimogamo Shrine: Meet Your Match at the Oldest Shrine in Kyoto
- 10. Fushimi: The Popular and Photogenic Fushimiinari Shrine Senbon Torii
1. Imadegawa: Rich Nature and Historic Buildings at the Kyoto Gyoen National Garden
Kyoto Gyoen is the location where the Emperor resided for over a thousand years after the Heian period. It is a vast national park spanning 0.7km from east to west and 1.3km north to south.
In addition to historic buildings, such as the Kyoto Imperial Palace and the Kyoto State Guest House, there are also many restaurants, souvenir shops, and areas where you can take a break for free.
In the spring, you can enjoy the plum and cherry blossoms. It is also a famous spot for the major festivals of Kyoto, including the Aoi Matsuri and the Jidai Matsuri.
2. Kitaoji: Walk Along the Nature-Rich River Path, Kamogawa Nakaragi Path
The Kamogawa Nakaragi Path is a promenade along the Kamo River that runs from Kitaoji Dori to Kitayama Dori. It’s a comfortable walking path where you can enjoy the lush greenery and babbling river near the Kyoto Botanical Garden. There are about 70 weeping cherry trees are planted along the road, and you can enjoy walking through a beautiful cherry blossom tunnel in the spring.
3. Arashiyama: Soak in the Kyoto Atmosphere at Bamboo Forest Road
The Bamboo Forest Road is located a short walk north of the Togetsu-kyo Bridge, a famous spot in Arashiyama. It is a popular attraction for many who visit Arashiyama. Take in the beautiful, photogenic scenery as you are surrounded by the deep green nature.
This place does get crowded with tourists during the day, so if you want to spend your time more peacefully, we recommend visiting in the morning. The Bamboo Forest is also beautifully illuminated during the Kyoto Arashiyama Hanatoro Festival, held in December every year.
4. Higashiyama: Ninenzaka, A Historical and Scenic Road
Ninenzaka is the name of the road leading through Sanneizaka to Kiyomizu-dera. The surrounding area is designated as a National Preservation District for Important Traditional Buildings, and its stone-paved streets are lined with beautiful structures.
It is a lively place with souvenir shops and cafes. You will also find plenty of unique Japanese goods, including silk crafts and kanzashi hair accessories. It's a place you can enjoy, even just by walking around.
5. Imadegawa: Enjoy a Gorgeous Kimono Show at Nishijin Textile Center
At the Nishijin Textile Center, you can see all kinds of exhibits about Nishijin silks and fabrics, a traditional craft of Kyoto. In addition to hand-weaving demonstrations by traditional craftsmen and hands-on experiences (reservation required), they also hold a daily kimono show, where you can see all kinds of gorgeous kimonos.
They also sell original products, so you can bring the high-class silk fabrics of Nishijin textile into the comfort of your own home.
6. Okazaki: Demonstrations of Artisans' Traditional Crafts at Kyoto Museum of Traditional Crafts!
The Kyoto Museum of Traditional Crafts is a place that introduces you to the traditional craft industries of Kyoto. In addition to permanent exhibitions, which display about 74 different traditional crafts, there are also various events and hands-on experiences held at different times depending on season.
It is a valuable place where you can see up-close demonstrations by artisans of traditional crafts, such as Kyoto lacquerware and Japanese candles. There is also a museum shop that offers a variety of traditional crafts and accessories.
7. Kujo: Over 1200 Flea Market Stalls at Toji Koubou-ichi!
Every month on the 21st, to commemorate the anniversary of Monk Kobo Daishi, the Toji Koubou-ichi Flea Market is held at Toji Temple. More than 1,200 stalls crowd the precincts, selling all kinds of items including antiques, used clothes, and food.
Nearly 200,000 people attend this lively event. It is held from around 5:00AM to 4:00 PM in the evening, rain or shine. It's a good place to see rare items, as well as enjoy delicious street food.
8. Kurama: The Kifune Shrine, A Power Spot Enshrining A Water Guardian Deity
Kibune Shrine is a remarkable, spiritual shrine that has been worshiped since ancient times. It is said to enshrine the guardian deity of water and believed to bring luck and happy connections. Located between the mountains of Kibune and Kurama, it is also famous as a power spot.
A place rich in nature, you can even enjoy the cherry blossoms in the spring, and the autumn foliage in the fall. You can also try Mizuura-mikuji, or water divination, where you can see your fortune written on the water, as told by the Dragon Deity.
9. Shimogamo Shrine: Meet Your Match at the Oldest Shrine in Kyoto
Shimogamo Shrine is said to be the oldest shrine in Kyoto. It is registered as a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Site. Surrounded by the primeval Tadasu-no-Mori Forest, there are all kinds of shrines, including for finding love, and protection for women.
Seasonal events are also held, including the Aoi Matsuri and Mitarashi Matsuri that tourists can enjoy. The shrine is also a popular power spot.
10. Fushimi: The Popular and Photogenic Fushimiinari Shrine Senbon Torii
Fushimi Inari Taisha is the main shrine of all shrines dedicated to the deity Inari throughout Japan. The precincts span the entire Mount Inari, and there is even a popular, 4km long Oyama Meguri Tour.
To the back of the famous Senbon Torii is the Okunoin, where you can try your hand at lifting the Omokaru Stone, to see if your prayers will be answered.
Text by:Niki Shigemi
*Prices and options mentioned are subject to change.
*Unless stated otherwise, all prices include tax.
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