Japan by Prefecture: Kyoto

Japan by Prefecture: Kyoto

Kyoto Prefecture (京都府; Kyoto-fu) is part of the Kansai Region (関西地方; Kansai-chiho) on Honshu, the main island of Japan.

For most of history, Kyoto played an important role as Japan’s capital. As you can imagine, being the capital for over a thousand years means Kyoto is filled with ancient artifacts and cultural treasures. Once the government head moved to Tokyo, Kyoto’s economy became mainly based on tourism.

Kyoto Prefecture contains fifteen cities, with the most famous being it’s capital city of the same name– Kyoto.

[tie_list type=”starlist”]
  • Ayabe
  • Fukuchiyama
  • Joyo
  • Kameoka
  • Kizugawa
  • Kyotanabe
  • Kyotango
  • Kyoto City
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[tie_list type=”starlist”]
  • Maizuru
  • Miyazu
  • Muko
  • Nagaokakyo
  • Nantan
  • Uji
  • Yawata
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kyoto

Known as the “City of Ten Thousand Shrines”, you could easily spend a week in Kyoto and still not see all of its shrines. While ten thousand is a bit of an exaggeration, the city does hold 2,000 religious sites, which draw 30 million tourists annually.

Within Kyoto City alone, you’ll find around 20% of Japan’s National Treasures and 14% of the Important Cultural Properties.

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Did you know?

Kyoto is known for it’s rich history and preserved traditions. Today the city is home to 17 registered UNESCO World Heritage Sites– more than any other city in Japan.

One of the most popular of these UNESCO sites is Kinkaku-ji (金閣寺), or the Golden Pavillon. This is one of the most visited buildings in all of Japan.

Kyoto - 2011

>>>Read More About Kyoto’s UNESCO Sites

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The polar opposite of futuristic Tokyo, people dream of visiting Kyoto in order to experience ancient Japan. Promises of mystical bamboo forests, traditional handicrafts, and the chance to see blushing maiko rush by lure tourists here year after year.

This is the Japan of yesteryear. 

Kyoto - 2011

The thing about Kyoto is that, unlike many other parts of Japan, it was spared from most of the damages caused during WWII. Originally, it was at the top of the atomic bomb target list, but fortunately US Secretary of War removed it because he had developed attachments to the city while on his honeymoon.

Can you imagine if Kyoto had been affected? All of these thousands of culture sites– gone.

What to See & Do

 

Kyoto is well known for its traditional festivals, which have been taking place for over 1,000 years. The most popular is Gion Matsuri, lasting the entire month of July. This festival is known as one of the three great festivals of Japan, and as such, get’s incredibly crowded during this hot month.

Didn’t think Kyoto got too hot? Think again!

Due to Kyoto’s location in the valley, the summers there are extremely hot and humid. Unbearable temperatures usually reach between 100º and 105º from July through September. It’s also one of the areas most prone to typhoons during September and October, so make sure to prepare for any trips accordingly.

If you’re not planning to attend their summer festivals, I recommend avoiding the city in summer all together. You see, the great thing about Kyoto is that there is always more than enough to do at any time of the year.

Places you absolutely must check out are Kinkaku-ji, Fushimi Inari Taisha, Kiyomizudera, and Arashiyama. 

These are some of the city’s most important cultural properties and they are incredibly beautiful (and photogenic!). If you have additional time, I also highly recommend the Imperial Palace, Nijo Castle and strolling around Gion to spot a geisha or two.

Also, Kyoto is the perfect place to experience Japanese fine arts. Take part in a tea ceremony, try your hand at calligraphy or learn about the art of ikebana (flower arranging).

Kyoto - 2011

Kyoto - 2011  Kyoto - 2011

Arashiyama is one of the most overlooked areas in Kyoto, mainly because it’s a bit further out. However, that is such a mistake! A huge, huge, huge, one actually.

This area is a popular vacation spot for locals and it’s truly the gem of Kyoto.

Kyoto - 2011  Kyoto - 2011

Kyoto - 2011

Tucked away at the foot of the mountains, Arashiyama is filled with small temples, sublime ryokan, traditional shops, and the famed Bamboo Grove.

It’s known for its natural scenery that the city often likes to put on display. You’ll find that during the cherry blossom season in spring and the momiji season in autumn, Arashiyama is crowded with people at all times.

During these times you can also expect illuminations to occur, pushing that beauty-level just a bit further– like the cherry on top of a sundae. 

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How to get there:

From Kyoto (Kyoto Station):
 Take the JR Sagano/San-in Line to Saga-Arashiyama Station and walk for about 10 minutes.

From Osaka/Kobe: Take the Hankyu Main Line to Katsura Station and transfer to the Hankyu Arashiyama Line. Cross the famous Togetsukyo Bridge and walk for about 5 minutes.

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Article’s Featuring Kyoto Prefecture

[tie_slideshow] [tie_slide] 7 Must-Visit UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Kyoto

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3 Days of Hiking and Biking the Best of Kansai
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Foto Friday: Fushimi Inari-taisha, Kyoto

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What to Eat

 

Luckily for tourists, Kyoto really has everything; great attractions, lots of culture, and delicious food.

Kyoto cuisine is famous for its delicate or refined taste. Due to all the temples in the area they are known for their vegetarian Buddhist dishes, tofu products, and haute cuisine kaiseki.

While in Kyoto, you need to sample at least one of the city’s regional specialties:

  • Yuba (湯葉), tofu skin
  • Yodufu (湯豆腐), tofu served in hot broth
  • Kyogashi (京菓子), traditional Kyoto-style wagashi (sweets)
  • Uji Matcha (宇治抹茶), matcha (green tea powder) from Uji, Kyoto
Kyoto - 2011
Kyoto - 2011Kyoto - 2011

[box type=”shadow” align=”aligncenter” class=”” width=”600″]Another reason I ❤ Kyoto? The Nintendo HQ is located there!
Surprising, isn’t it?
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Kyoto Prefecture Omiyage

 

green-tea-products

Kyoto - 2011  DSC01048

Kyoto is all about the green tea products, kimono, and Chirimen handicrafts.

Uji, Kyoto was one of the first places in Japan to take part in tea cultivation. At that time it became highly regarded as the drink of the nobles. Today, Uji’s tea is still considered to be of the highest quality in Japan.

As such, you’ll find green tea flavored products everywhere in Kyoto. From green tea Pocky to Kitkats, this is the perfect Kyoto souvenir.

If you’re looking for non-edible items, kimonos and Chirimen handicrafts will be your best bet. Wander down any road around Gion and you’ll find that they’re lined with beautiful kimono shops.

However, kimono are expensive, heavy, and kind of impractical for the every day traveler. I’d recommend going for the Chirimen as they’re cute and easy to bring home.

Chirimen is a traditional weaving technique that was developed in the late 16th century. It was once primarily used to make fine kimonos, but now it is also used for small dolls, purses, and other decorative trinkets. The key characteristic of this silk fabric are its soft wrinkles. The wrinkles are created by alternating two types of silk thread, twisting them in different directions.

These fine handicraft are perfect as souvenirs for anyone with a good aesthetic sense. You can purchase them from three shops in Kyoto Prefecture: two are located in Kyoto near the Gion district and the other, the Chirimen Craft Museum, is in Arashiyama.

If those aren’t of interest, Kyoto is also the best place to buy wooden combs and high-end chopsticks.

Kyoto is all about the traditional and delicate.

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>>>Read About Other Prefectures in Japan

 

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82 Comments

  1. Colleen Mason
    March 30, 2016 / 1:11 pm

    This post has been so helpful! My husband and I are leaving for Japan in less than 2 weeks and will visit Tokyo and Kyoto. Any suggestions you have for us as to what to see and how to divide our time would be awesome! We have about 9 days total.

  2. Veronica
    January 7, 2016 / 5:18 pm

    Great photos and tips! We are a family of 3, my husband and my 8 yr. old daughter. Do you have any suggestions on what tours to take or just do it all freestyle?

  3. March 9, 2015 / 8:29 pm

    Your photos are amazing, and this looks so fun. I would love to experience the mystical bamboo forests and more!

    • Beth Williams
      March 9, 2015 / 10:51 pm

      The Bamboo Grove is one of my favorite spots in Japan :)

  4. March 9, 2015 / 6:26 pm

    my BF’s older brother is actually going here in a few weeks! will have to pass this along.

    • Beth Williams
      March 10, 2015 / 7:38 pm

      Jealous! I hope he has a great time.

  5. March 9, 2015 / 9:41 am

    Sounds like a great place to experience! You shared a lot of wonderful things that make me want to add it to my Must Visit List!

    • Beth Williams
      March 10, 2015 / 7:40 pm

      Glad to hear Lisa! Japan is an amazing place.

  6. March 9, 2015 / 1:39 am

    Japan is very beautiful in your photos, I really wanted to visit there I hope I’ll visit there looks like different experience.

    • Beth Williams
      March 9, 2015 / 10:38 pm

      Japan is filled with unique experiences for sure!

  7. March 8, 2015 / 11:39 pm

    Thanks for sharing us a lot of stuff about Japan! This will surely come in handy for travelers who wanted to visit the country soon! Oh, by the way, I got something about Japan too! – The oldest operating hotel in the world that can be found in Japan!

    http:www.cavitenio.com/2015/03/world-oldest-operating-hotel-japan.html

    • Beth Williams
      March 9, 2015 / 10:39 pm

      Wow, I actually did not know this! Might just have to stay there on my next trip :)

  8. March 8, 2015 / 11:22 pm

    The Japanese culture is so amazing!! I love the architecture of their buildings as well.

    • Beth Williams
      March 9, 2015 / 10:39 pm

      Me too! So simple, yet elegant.

  9. March 8, 2015 / 6:50 pm

    Kyoto looks like a beautiful city, the Arashiyama temples look so peaceful. I would absolutely love to visit Japan and this city one day. Thanks for providing all these details.

    • Beth Williams
      March 9, 2015 / 10:45 pm

      You’re welcome Leslie! I hope you get the chance to visit.

  10. March 8, 2015 / 6:07 pm

    Thank you for sharing these things about Kyoto! I love that Matcha Kitkat, by the way.

    • Beth Williams
      March 9, 2015 / 10:47 pm

      I love any of the Japanese Kitkats! :)

  11. Catherine S
    March 8, 2015 / 12:49 pm

    This looks like a wonderful place to visit. Japan is on my bucket list for vacation destinations.

    • Beth Williams
      March 10, 2015 / 7:40 pm

      I hope you make it there!

  12. March 7, 2015 / 11:06 pm

    Thank you so much for this wonderful guide on Kyoto! I would love to visit Japan someday and yes, I think I would crave ancient Japan, so Kyoto would be the place for me.

    • Beth Williams
      March 10, 2015 / 7:52 pm

      Japan offers so much for everyone! The traditional side is great, but the modern is equally as fun!

  13. March 7, 2015 / 6:01 pm

    My hubby and I went to Japan for my birthday sometime of mid last year and we had so much fun. I just we were able to check out Kyoto. I have learned so much from your blog post and I am totally grateful. Someday if we ever get to go back I will definitely add this place to our must visit list.

    • Beth Williams
      March 10, 2015 / 7:50 pm

      Jealous!! I hope you had an amazing time. What a birthday present!

  14. March 7, 2015 / 5:38 pm

    It looks like a beautiful place. I’m so glad it was left off the bombing list too. Would love to travel here some day.

    • Beth Williams
      March 10, 2015 / 7:50 pm

      I hope you get the chance!

  15. March 7, 2015 / 9:15 am

    Kyoto is on my wish list. My parents visited years ago and had an amazing time. The food was amazing

    • Beth Williams
      March 10, 2015 / 7:47 pm

      Glad they had a great time! I bet you would too!

  16. Eliz Frank
    March 6, 2015 / 7:47 pm

    Kyoto is a warm and welcoming city. I love the slower pace and the calm that I couldn’t find in Tokyo which is busy and fast. Your post brought back fond memories.

    • Beth Williams
      March 9, 2015 / 10:31 pm

      I adore Kyoto! I lived in Kansai, so it’s definitely more my pace.

  17. March 5, 2015 / 9:24 pm

    I just visited Japan at Epcot and bought Pocky and cute little trinkets. I wish I could see the real place!

    • Beth Williams
      March 6, 2015 / 2:56 pm

      I can’t wait to go to Japan at Epcot to see what they sell there! Getting super excited.

  18. March 5, 2015 / 4:28 pm

    So interesting to learn more about Japan. I’d love to visit someday – my brother has been and always talks about what a great place it is. Thanks for sharing.

    • Beth Williams
      March 6, 2015 / 2:52 pm

      It is a really great place! I hope you get the chance to go.

  19. Rosey
    March 4, 2015 / 11:19 pm

    I think this would be a wonderful vacation destination. I love that there is so much to do in one area!

    • Beth Williams
      March 5, 2015 / 2:27 pm

      Kyoto has so much to do for sure! And it’s only 20 minutes away from Osaka, Kobe, etc.

  20. March 4, 2015 / 8:50 pm

    What an informative and interesting post! It would be so lovely to visit Kyoto someday.

    • Beth Williams
      March 5, 2015 / 2:28 pm

      I hope you get the chance to!

  21. March 4, 2015 / 4:07 pm

    Wow, I’d love to visit in Japan soon. Japan is one of the most beautiful pace I’ve ever heard.

    • Beth Williams
      March 5, 2015 / 2:32 pm

      It is beautiful indeed.

  22. March 4, 2015 / 2:10 pm

    These pictures are beautiful! I have a daughter who is obsessed with everything Japanese. She would love to visit Japan. I would also love to visit, and, I would be open to trying all of this food, it looks amazing.

    • Beth Williams
      March 5, 2015 / 2:33 pm

      That’s awesome, she sounds just like me! :D

  23. March 4, 2015 / 10:10 am

    I love Pocky so much and I’m so glad I’m able to find it here. I cannot wait to visit Japan someday.

    • Beth Williams
      March 5, 2015 / 2:40 pm

      I love Pocky also! They have so many yummy flavors.

  24. March 4, 2015 / 10:08 am

    I love reading travel posts. It always gets me excited about travel and it introduces me to so many different cultures and places I never knew existed. Great post

    • Beth Williams
      March 5, 2015 / 2:40 pm

      Glad I could introduce you to Kyoto Prefecture!

  25. Rebecca Swenor
    March 3, 2015 / 11:49 pm

    I would so love to visit Kyoto some day. It sounds so interesting indeed. I knew none of the information about this place and love hearing about the ancient history etc about different places. Thanks so much for sharing.

    • Beth Williams
      March 5, 2015 / 2:43 pm

      Thanks for reading Rebecca! Kyoto is such a wonderful place.

  26. March 3, 2015 / 8:09 pm

    I have visited Osaka, Narita, and Tokyo, but not Kyoto. Thank you for sharing your pics! I am so curious not to see Kyoto. :)

    • Beth Williams
      March 6, 2015 / 11:12 am

      Kyoto is one of my favorite cities!

  27. March 3, 2015 / 7:30 pm

    I Love me some Pocky :) It’s cool how they still wear the traditional outfits. My husband’s friend is living in Japan with the military right now.

    • Beth Williams
      March 6, 2015 / 11:14 am

      I love how they maintain their traditions even today! Wearing kimono was really fun.

  28. March 3, 2015 / 7:08 pm

    I would love to visit Japan one day, Kyoto looks so beautiful; surely a place I will visit!

    • Beth Williams
      March 6, 2015 / 11:14 am

      If you go to Japan you HAVE to visit Kyoto!

  29. March 3, 2015 / 6:28 pm

    Kyoto seems like an incredible to visit. This is definitely going on my “Must Travel To” bucket list.

    • Beth Williams
      March 6, 2015 / 11:15 am

      I hope you make it there one day!

  30. March 3, 2015 / 6:19 pm

    I’m longing to go there someday. I have family outside of Tokyo, I believe.

    • Beth Williams
      March 6, 2015 / 11:15 am

      That’s awesome! You should def go visit then.

  31. Pauline C.
    March 3, 2015 / 6:12 pm

    We are traveling to Japan next month, so I’m picking tips… Japan’s rich culture will be an experience!

    • Beth Williams
      March 6, 2015 / 11:16 am

      Jealous that you’re heading there!! Have an AMAZING time! Let me know if you need suggestions ;)

  32. March 3, 2015 / 4:46 pm

    I’ve never been to Japan before but it looks beautiful! Thank you for showing me how gorgeous it is there and teaching me a little more about the culture!

    • Beth Williams
      March 6, 2015 / 11:18 am

      Anytime Olivia! Thanks for stopping by :)

  33. March 3, 2015 / 2:17 pm

    Very cool history lesson! Those pictures are truly unbelievable! I would love to visit Japan some day.

    • Beth Williams
      March 6, 2015 / 11:21 am

      Japan is an incredible country.

  34. March 3, 2015 / 1:02 pm

    I had no idea it got over 100 degrees in Kyoto! I would absolutely love to leard the art of flower arranging.

    • Beth Williams
      March 6, 2015 / 11:23 am

      Ikebana is so much fun, but sooo much goes into it! I studied it for about 6 months, but would love to start up again.

  35. March 3, 2015 / 11:47 am

    These are fantastic pictures. And a ton of history I was unaware of about Kyoto.

    • Beth Williams
      March 6, 2015 / 11:34 am

      Thanks Lisa! Kyoto is steeped with history :)

  36. March 3, 2015 / 11:41 am

    I’ve never heard of this company, but I love green tea products. The handicrafts look amazing. I’d love to visit there.

    • Beth Williams
      March 6, 2015 / 11:34 am

      They make many famous Japanese snacks! If you love green tea, you’d have to try some from Kyoto.

  37. March 3, 2015 / 11:39 am

    I totally love this post, such a beautiful photos and information. I want go to that beautiful city for sure. Thanks for sharing :D

    • Beth Williams
      March 6, 2015 / 11:36 am

      Thanks Diana. Kyoto is a lovely place.

  38. March 3, 2015 / 10:53 am

    I never realized how pretty Kyoto was until I saw your pictures. I would love to travel to Japan and take part in a tea ceremony or try my hand at calligraphy! Also I want to try all of the different KitKat flavors!!!

  39. March 3, 2015 / 9:33 am

    I’ve always been fascinated with Japanese culture. I’d love to visit their country and just soak it all in.

    • Beth Williams
      March 6, 2015 / 11:41 am

      It’s one of my favorite countries in the world!

  40. March 3, 2015 / 9:07 am

    I have ALWAYS wanted to visit Japan. They have such a rich culture. It seems like an amazing place.

    • Beth Williams
      March 6, 2015 / 11:41 am

      It really is amazing Stacie!

  41. March 3, 2015 / 4:53 am

    Beautiful scenery and rich in history! I have only been in Japan airport but hopefully I could visit it someday with family. Thanks for the tips!

    • Beth Williams
      March 6, 2015 / 11:42 am

      I hope you go again– and get to leave the airport!

  42. Robin (Masshole Mommy)
    March 3, 2015 / 4:53 am

    My husband spent some time there when he was in the military. He loved all the scenery, but he doesn’t eat seafood, so he said he lost A LOT of weight when he was there because that is pretty much all they eat!

    • Beth Williams
      March 6, 2015 / 11:43 am

      I can imagine. They do eat a lot of seafood… but they also have plenty of beef, pork and chicken dishes :)
      Although maybe not so much by the base since it’s on an island!