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Kyoto Attractions

Places to visit, points of interest and top things to see in Kyoto

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Let's take in a little bit of history. Back in 794 A.D. Kyoto stood as Japan's capital. It served as such until 1867, when the capital was moved to Tokyo. As a commemoration of Kyoto's glory days and to celebrate the 1100th anniversary of the establishment of Kyoto, the people built the Heian Shrine in 1895. It features a 2/3 scale recreation of the Imperial Palace of the State Hall (Daigoku-den-den) and was dedicated to Emperor Kanmu and Emperor Komei, the first and last emperors to rule while Kyoto was the country's capital. These emperors were deified according to Shinto beliefs.

The Heian Jingu is a Shinto shrine which contains a number of fascinating examples of Japanese architecture. Aside from the Daigoku-den-den (which is the main hall), there are other buildings that are also 2/3 scale reconstitutions that hark back to the golden era of Kyoto... read more arrow
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Kiyomizudera (Kiyomizu-dera) in eastern Kyoto, Japan, is a place for romantics – lovers, poets – and those who believe in wishes coming true. Its trees not only bloom with cherry blossoms but also of paper wishes hung there by the hopefuls who come to the temple to pray for love, prosperity, long life and success. Millions visit this beloved temple compound every year to find peace and an answer to their heart's desire.

Kiyomizudera ("Pure Water Temple") is named after the three streams that flow into Otowa-no-taki (Sound of Feathers), a waterfall inside the temple compound. Its waters are believed to have healing properties. Drink even as you pray for the blessings of the temple deities to be bestowed upon you.

The Hondo (Main Hall) is an example of architecture during the Heian period... read more arrow
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Experience history as you walk along Nijo Castle's nightingale floors. With every few steps, the floors give a squeak, announcing to everyone that someone is on the prowl. The nightingale floors also tell a story – about power and history – that revolves around the castle and those that built it. Nijo Castle is a magnificent landmark of the Tokugawa Shogunate's rise to ascendancy. It is designed to awe and impress, and it continues to do so, even up to now.

Nijo Castle is located in the center of Kyoto and is composed of the Ninomaru Palace, the Honmaru Palace, which each has a wall and a wide moat. Other support buildings between the two fortifications include the kitchens, the guard house, the carriage porch and some gardens... read more arrow
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Here's one perk of being a shogun: When you retire, you get to do it in style. Take, for example, the retirement villa that Shogun Ashikaga Yoshimitsu built. Kinkakuji (or Kinkaku-ji), Yoshimitsu's famous Golden Pavilion, literally shimmers and shines. Lavishly coated in gold leaf and set amidst lush gardens and tranquil pond, the image it presents is simply breathtaking. "Wow" doesn't quite say it.

Located in Kyoto, Japan, Kinkaku-ji is more formally known as Rokuon-ji (the Deer Garden Temple). It was built in 1397 and was part of Yoshimitsu's estate. However, after the Shogun's death and in compliance to his will, the villa was converted into a temple, Today, it is a branch temple of the Zen temple of Shokoku-ji and houses priceless treasures – the sacred relics of Buddha... read more arrow

* Regular pre-pandemic touristic activity level.

You can also rate and vote for your favorite Kyoto sightseeing places, famous historical landmarks, and best things to do in Kyoto by visiting the individual Kyoto attraction pages.