An ancient city, Kyoto served as the capital of Japan for over 1000 years from around 794. It is dotted with historic castles, temples and shrines, plus a wide range of craft workshops and stores, many of which have been operating for centuries.
Arashiyama is a pretty, semi-rural district on the western fringe of Kyoto. It is very popular with tourists and has a range of attractions including boat and rickshaw rides, scenic bamboo grove, a Monkey Park, scenic steam railway, plus restaurants, shops and cafes. It pays to explore restaurants and shops on side streets, as businesses on the main road tend to have inflated prices.
Downtown sits between central Kyoto and the river, north of the Kyoto Station area. It’s a bustling area full of brand name stores, department stores, and restaurants for all different budgets and styles. Off the main roads, you can find local shopping areas, like the Teramachi-dori and Shinkyogoku Shopping Streets.
Fushimi is to the south of Kyoto is a picturesque area with a long history of sake brewing. It is very famous for the Fushimi Inari Taisha, a shrine to the Shinto god of rice which features thousands of vermilion torii gates.
Gion is well known as the most prominent Geisha district in Kyoto and is located between Yasaka Shrine in the East and the river on the western side. The area contains many streets with preserved machiya-style architecture, as well as tree-lined streets, shrines, and open spaces. It has many luxury restaurants and lodgings, and is very popular with tourists.
Imperial Palace Area
A large district in central Kyoto surrounding the Kyoto Imperial Park and Nijo Castle. It has a mix of big buildings, parks, and open spaces, plus many shopping malls and busy streets.
Nishijin is to the north-west of the Kyoto Imperial Park and is a traditional area famous for its weaving crafts. There are several museums and galleries in the area, showcasing the local textiles.
Northern Higashiyama starts at Okazaki Park and Gion on the southern edge and is largely a quiet residential area pushing towards the eastern mountains. The area has a number of shrines, temples, and scenic sites dotted among the quiet neighbourhoods.
The area around Okazaki Park houses several major cultural centres of Kyoto, including museums, art galleries, and the famous Heian Jingu Shrine. The shrine’s 24m Torii gate towers over the precinct.
Southern Higashiyama, literally Eastern Mountain, starts at Gion on the western edge and is nestled into the slopes of the eastern mountains of Kyoto. One of the best preserved historic neighbourhoods in Kyoto, and the mix of preserved old merchant buildings, shrines, temples, and small handmade craft stores makes you feel like you’re stepping back into ancient Japan.