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GoWithGuideFind your perfect tour guide at GoWithGuide. Relax and cherish unforgettable tours with loved ones. Create personalized tours for a truly memorable trip!

Tourism In Kyoto Statistics 2024: Your In Depth Travel Guide

Ajitsa A.

by GoWithGuide travel specialist:Ajitsa A.

Last updated : Jun 03, 202455 min read

General

 

It’s not just you. Planning a tour of Kyoto has gotten hectic over the past few years. The pandemic, tourism booms, and growing global interest keeps your screen flooded with content. Between having enough tabs open to overheat your device, and stressing out about the “perfect” Kyoto itinerary, something’s got to give. 

 

That’s why we’re here. This in-depth guide to Kyoto’s tourism statistics, history highlights, dos & don'ts, food, transport and so much more, gets straight to what you need to know. Before you land in the City of Flowers, book a tour of Kyoto’s 1600+ temples, or hire a Kyoto tour guide, let’s give Kyoto a deeper look. Ready? Let’s go!

 

A Closer Look: Key Kyoto Tourism Numbers 

Kyoto, the birthplace of the Japanese tea ceremony, Nishijin woven textiles and high-end Japanese cooking, is one of the most visited prefectures in Japan. So, how many tourists visit Kyoto each year? Over 87.9 million international and domestic tourists visited Kyoto prefecture in 2019, with over 53 million visitors touring Kyoto City. 

 

This number dipped dramatically during the nationwide lockdown from 2020-2021, but bounced back to 71.28 million in 2022 as travel restrictions were lifted. In October 2023 alone, Kyoto had a hotel occupancy rate of 82.9 %, and this is only set to increase. 

 

 

Tourism Quick Numbers

 

  • 87.9 million - The number of tourists that arrived in Kyoto in 2019. This is Kyoto’s highest annual tourist number ever. 

  • 71 million - The number of international and domestic tourists that touched down in Kyoto in 2022. 

  • 4.7 million - The highest recorded tourist number for 2022 (November). 

  • 1.47 million - Kyoto City’s current population, which is often outnumbered by its yearly tourist arrivals. 

  • 2.6 million - Kyoto prefecture’s current population. 

 

Travel Trend: Who Visits Kyoto The Most? 

In 2022, Kyoto’s highest inbound tourist visitors came from the United States, with around 105.940 thousand US visitors making up the largest percentage of hotel stays. Ready to see who came in second place? Drumroll please…

 

  1. United States - Kyoto’s biggest tourism market with 105,940 visitors

  2. South Korea - In second place, Japan’s neighbor South Korea brought in 62,010 visitors. 

  3. Taiwan - Not too far behind, Taiwan brought in 57,390 visitors in 2022. 

  4. China - As one of Japan’s biggest tourism contributors, China drew in 39,070 lodgers. 

  5. Hong Kong - Rounding out our top 5 is Hong Kong, with 38,810 visitors 

 

Travel Q&A:  Does Kyoto have a lot of tourists? 

Yes! Tourism has increased to 71 million in 2022. In the tourist peak months of Spring (March to May) and Autumn (September to Early Dec), Kyoto is known to deal with heavy tourism crowds, especially at the Fushimi Inari Shrine (over 2.7 million visitors annually), the Kinkaku-ji temple, and the Arashiyama bamboo grove. 

 

 

Okay, so clearly Kyoto is a major tourist destination, not only for international travelers, but local residents of Japan. Tourism can be a great thing, but in Kyoto, the struggle to preserve local culture and affordability while increasing the much-needed tourism industry has led to the following effects. 

 

Travel Truth: How Has Tourism Affected Kyoto? 

  • A loss of culture: In an effort to appeal to an international crowd, locals fear that Kyoto’s culture is becoming commercial and watered down. 

  • Local rent price increase – as landlords renovate traditional Japanese housing to create profitable Airbnb, high prices push out locals. Kyoto’s population has decreased over the past 3 years.

  • Crowded resources: massive amounts of tourists has led to an increase in waste and noise pollution, crowded public transport, and over-touring of traditional venues which causes wear and tear. This was the case with Nishiki Market in 2019 as over-tourism  drove away local customers. 

 

When it comes to tourism, Kyoto has a loving yet delicate relationship with its visitors, with some negative and positive outcomes. With Kyoto bouncing back in 2022, travelers have the chance to see the historic region, so let’s see what makes Kyoto so popular, and how you can responsibly tour the City of Flowers. 

 

Travel Tip: Looking to learn about tourism statistics across Japan? Check out our Tourism in Japan and Tourism In Tokyo articles. 

 

Why We Love Kyoto: The History, Districts, Festivals & Cuisine 

So why is Kyoto a major tourist destination? The preservation of Japanese history, passionate festivals, globally celebrated food, and beautiful districts make for an unforgettable journey. Here are our recommendations for what to add to your Kyoto itinerary. 

 

A Nation’s History: Traditional Experiences In Kyoto 

You don’t get to have 1200 years of rule without developing some iconic traditions. Kyoto is the birthplace of so many of Japan’s cultural staples, so if you’re looking to dive into the roots that make the Land Of The Rising Sun what it is today, these experiences are worth a try. 

 

  • Immersive Kimono & Geisha Culture - Geisha are synonymous with Japan, and so is the Kimono. Elaborate fabrics, precise wrapping styles, gentle living, talented performances and of course, the embrace of a culture that dates back centuries, awaits. As the national dress of Japan, Kimono culture is taken very seriously, and Kyoto is the place to go for an authentic kimono-wearing experience. To maintain the highest level of respect for this traditional wear, book a legitimate kimono-wearing experience where you will be dressed by a professional, and given proper etiquette rules. 

 

Special note: For those who meet Geisha and Maiko in Kyoto (Gion District) on the street, maintain a respectful distance, and do not harass the Geisha and Maiko (geisha apprentice) for unauthorized selfies and photos as they are people with private lives and this is considered highly rude. A simple smile is enough appreciation.

 

  • Relaxing At A Ryokan - Traveling to Kyoto to relax? You’re in the right place. Welcome to the world of ryokan (Japanese inns & spas) where steam rooms, hot soaking baths, and the most comfortable slippers you’ve ever worn are an everyday thing. The Japanese philosophy of Omotenashi (warm welcome, kindness and careful hospitality for guests) is expressed best at any of Kyoto’s ryokan. It’s also a great way to support the local hospitality industry. From the traditional architecture and comfy tatami mats, to the calming tea ceremonies and high-end food, it’s the ultimate form of relaxation. 

 

Travel treat: So many ryokans, so little time! Looking for hidden spots and local favorites? Talk to a Kyoto tour guide about securing the best Ryokan experience out there. 

 

  • Conquering Traditional Calligraphy - You don’t have to be the next Picasso, or in this case, Katsushika Hokusai (The Great Wave of Kanagawa), to enjoy Japanese calligraphy. Against the backdrop of a calm and inviting atmosphere, you can learn the basics of one of the most beautiful forms of language in the world. Also known as Shodo, practicing Japanese calligraphy is a great way to unwind after a nature tour, or the best start to a slow Saturday morning. Who knows? You might be brilliant at it. 

 

Ready to experience Kyoto’s history alongside a local expert? Check out our Art, Culture and Historical based tours and customize any of our tour packages, or create something new!

 

Kyoto’s Popular Districts - For The Adventurer 

Okay, now it’s time to get into Kyoto’s dream destinations. These districts are filled with some of Kyoto’s 17 UNESCO World Heritage Sites, and are a great way to kick off your Kyoto journey. 

 

 

  • Central Kyoto - Welcome to the world of palaces and castles, with Nijo and Kyoto Gosho castle being the peak of the city’s heart. Looking for something more peaceful? Head to the perfectly manicured Sento Gosho garden, where structured pathways and greenery fill your view. To experience the most of the central city, A Kyoto highlights tour is the perfect introduction. 

  • Downtown Kyoto - Nestled alongside the Kamo-gawa river is an action-packed district known for Kyoto staples such as Nishiki Market, and the food-haven that is Pontocho Alley. Beyond the amazing street food and restaurant scene, downtown Kyoto is home to the city’s booming Manga culture, centered around the Kyoto International Manga museum

  • Northwest Kyoto - Northwest Kyoto deserves a day tour of its own, with well known gems such as the Kinkanku-ji Temple and the 15 rock zen garden of Ryoan-ji Temple. Looking to plan your Kyoto trip around cherry blossom season? Avoid the crowded venues and head to Haradani-en Garden for a less crowded blossom experience. Northwest Kyoto is also ideal for tea ceremonies. 

  • Southeast Kyoto - Home to the world-recognized Fushimi-Inari Shrine and its Senbon torii gates, Southeast Kyoto is the reason most people travel to the city. With its easy access, Southeast Kyoto is a strong starting point for any Kyoto tour. Of course, the shrine, and the gates are some of the most crowded sites, so keep that in mind. Want an extra treat? Just 11 km from this shrine lies the Arashiyama bamboo forest. If you’ve ever seen those long, swaying bamboo shoots on Instagram, then the pictures probably came from this forest, where thousands flock yearly to stroll amongst the calm bamboo forest. 

 

Calm Exploration - For The Relaxer 

Okay, once you’ve checked out the “must-see” sites, it’s time to unwind with these slow yet stunning districts.  

 

  • Ohara - Tucked away in Northern Kyoto’s calming mountains is this quiet yet fascinating village district. Though it’s a bit far from the city, it’s a great place to escape from the central city’s noise and crowds. 

  • Kurama & Kibune - Much like Ohara, Kurama & Kibune asks you to travel outside the main Kyoto metropolis, but once you arrive at this quiet village district, you’ll be glad you did. Pockets of natural beauty make for an amazing day trip. 

  • Takao - need to immerse yourself in some of the most stunning nature-escapes in Japan? Head to Takao, and be sure to pass through the Takao mountains on a nature hike. 

  • Nishijin - Looking to dive into Kyoto’s weaving culture? There’s no better place to start than the district that’s perfected the art of Japanese weavers. 

 

Travel Q&A: Is Kyoto or Osaka better for tourists? 

Kyoto is great for traditional architecture, historic experiences, and themed museums, while Osaka is perfect for quirky specialty shopping, amazing street food, and a vibrant nightlife. Depending on what you want, each city offers a different flavor. 

 

Fantastic Festivals: Yearly Celebrations in the City Of Flowers 

Beyond any other city in Japan, Kyoto has the crown when it comes to festivities. Timing your trip along any of these celebrations means you’ll get to see the most vibrant sides of the city. 

 

  • Miyako Odori Geisha Dance - Timed perfectly with the busy spring season, this month-long event showcases geisha dances from the Gion district’s most notable performers. No two performances are the same, as several geisha showcase the talents they’ve trained for their whole lives (from instruments, to singing, and choreographed routines). Looking for tickets? Talk to a local Kyoto tour guide about booking in advance. 

  • Aoi Festival - One of Kyoto’s 3 staple celebrations, the Aoi festival (held every 15th of May) features an extravagant procession that takes up much of the day. You can watch this colorful display from the Kyoto Goen Imperial palace. 

  • Gion Festival - The largest celebration of the year held every summer (July 14-24th)features elaborate floats, bright yukata robes, street parades and lots of beer. 

  • Jidai Festival - Traveling to Kyoto in November? You’re in luck because one of the city’s largest festivals, Jidai, will take place during Kyoto’s fall/winter season. 

 

Kyoto’s Food Fundamentals

 

 

  • Obanzai - Taking local produce to the next level is the name of the game for this dish. Savory and soulful, Obanzai is a Kyoto delight featuring a variety of small, home-cooked dishes bursting with seasonal flavors. From pickled vegetables to simmered meats, each bite is a celebration of Kyoto's culinary heritage.

  • Shojin-Ryori - perfect for those looking to try meat-free food, Shojin-Ryori, a Zen Buddhist-inspired cuisine that turns simple vegetarian ingredients into exquisite masterpieces. Delicate flavors, artful presentations, and a mindful dining experience await in each dish.

  • Kyo-kaiseki-ryori - Pump up your culinary journey with Kyo-kaiseki-ryori, Kyoto's haute cuisine. Indulge in meticulously crafted multi-course meals, each course a symphony of flavors and textures showcasing the finest local and seasonal ingredients.

  • Yudofu - Warm simplicity defines Yudofu, a Kyoto specialty featuring tofu simmered to perfection in a comforting hot pot. Delight in the subtle elegance of this dish, savoring the delicate interplay of flavors and the soothing broth.

  • Sukiyaki - Dive into the rich and indulgent world of Sukiyaki, Kyoto-style. Thinly sliced beef, vegetables, and tofu come together in a sweet and savory soy-based broth. Tableside cooking adds an interactive and flavorful touch to this Japanese hot pot experience.

 

In The Market: Food Havens Off The Beaten Path 

We know that the first market you’ve probably come across while researching Kyoto is Nishiki, which means it’s constantly filled with tourists, and some locals have felt that strain. To enjoy Kyoto’s food scene beyond Nishiki, why not try these specialty markets instead? 

 

  • Tenjin San Flea Market: The 25th of each month at Kitano Tenmangu Shrine 

  • Toji Market - The 21st of every month

 

Now that you know where to go, and what to eat, take your itinerary to the next level with a Kyoto food tour

 

Planning The Perfect Kyoto Tour:  When To Go & How To Get Around

Now that we know where we’re going, it’s time to figure out how & when. Kyoto is beautiful all year round, but these weather and transportation breakdowns will make sure you maximize your travel time. 

 

Kyoto’s Weather & Seasons: When To Travel 

Spring (March to May): In Japan, springtime means sakura (cherry blossom) season, and in Kyoto it’s no different. Packed with lovers of the pink flower, Spring is one of the most popular times to visit Kyoto, and the mild weather makes it even better. 

 

 

  • Average Temperatures: Highs range from 15°C to 25°C (59°F to 77°F), and lows range from 5°C to 15°C (41°F to 59°F).

 

  • What To Do: Hanami (cherry blossom viewing) is a must. You can visit iconic spots like Maruyama Park, Kiyomizu-dera, and the Path of Philosophy, or as a local Kyoto guide about lesser known sakura spots.

 

Summer (June to August): Carry some sunscreen, and a hat because summers in Kyoto are hot and humid with occasional rainfall, especially in June, the wettest month with 240mm of rainfall, followed by July.

 

  • Average Temperatures: Highs range from 25°C to 29°C (77°F to 84.2°F), and lows range from 18°C to 26°C (64°F to 79°F) with August being the hottest month at an average of 29°C (83°F). 

 

  • What to Do: Take advantage of the  traditional summer festival (matsuri) season, and time your trip around Gion Matsuri. To beat the heat, explore cooler areas like the bamboo groves in Arashiyama or enjoy a boat ride along the Hozugawa River.

 

Autumn (September to November): Another season made popular by the nature surrounding it, Autumn is beloved because of  cooler temperatures and the vibrant, sunset colored foliage (koyo). The crowds are heavy, but the views make up for it. 

 

  • Average Temperatures: Highs range from 20°C to 30°C (68°F to 86°F), and lows range from 10°C to 20°C (50°F to 68°F).

 

  • What To Do: Take advantage of the cool breezy atmosphere with a stroll through Kyoto's numerous gardens and parks, including Tofuku-ji and Eikando, where you can enjoy the colorful fall leaves. It’s also a great time to see the sun set at temples like Kinkaku-ji and Ryoan-ji.

 

Winter (December to February): You’re not going to freeze over, but winters in Kyoto can be chilly, though they are mild most of the time. Snow is rare, but temperatures can drop, especially in January, which is the coldest month at 5°C (40°F. 

 

  • Average Temperatures: Highs range from 8°C to 13°C (46°F to 55°F), and lows range from 0°C to 5°C (32°F to 41°F).

 

  • What To Do: Explore indoor attractions such as museums, tea houses, and traditional crafts workshops. Attend traditional winter events like Toji Temple's New Year's market and ceremonies.

 

 

 

Tackling Transportation In Kyoto: How To Get Around

Kyoto has the perfect mix of highly modern, and laid back transport style that works for those on the go, and those who want to take the scenic route. Here’s how to get around. 

 

  • The Kyoto Subway System: Much like Tokyo, Kyoto is well-connected when it comes to its subway. You can travel using the Karasuma Line and the Tozai Line. The subway system is efficient for traveling between different parts of the city. It's especially useful for reaching destinations not easily accessible by bus.

  • The Kyoto Train Connection: As part of the greater national JR Line, Kyoto is very well-connected with the rest of Japan and can be a great base city for anyone looking to tour Tokyo, Osaka and beyond. For local travel, try private lines that connect you to Uji, Arashiyama and Tofuku-ji. Note that the subway and bus might be faster/better when traveling within the city and its outskirts. 

  • The Kyoto Bus System: Built to work hand in hand with the train and subway systems, Kyoto buses are timely and reliable, connecting smaller commutes to large ones under the bus network operated by Kyoto City Bus. These buses cover most parts of the city, including popular tourist destinations and cultural sites. Note, though extensive, these buses can be harder to navigate for tourists, so a guide’s knowledge comes in handy. 

  • Kyoto’s Biking Culture: If you’ve got the time, taking on Kyoto by bike is rather simple. It’s a bicycle-friendly city with numerous bike rental services available. Exploring Kyoto by bicycle allows you to navigate through narrow streets and visit attractions at your own pace. Many rental shops provide options for hourly or daily rentals. Note, walking, much like cycling, is encouraged in Kyoto. 

  • Private Cars & Taxis: If you’re looking to ease the burden of Kyoto’s well used public transport, or you simply want to travel with your loved ones from one site to another without the hassle of navigating one station after another, a private car rental is ideal. Whether you’re traveling to and from the airport, or ready to take the scenic route through Kinkaku-ji and Arashiyama, GoWithGuide car services make the journey an effortless one. 

 

Travel Tip: Looking to learn more about Kyoto’s transportation systems? Check out the Official JR Pass Kyoto Train and Subway Route Map 

 

Living The Kyoto Life: Dos & Don'ts, Language & Staying Safe

Kyoto moves to the beat of its own drum. To get the most relaxing experience out of your tour, follow these daily tips. 

 

Dos & Don’ts: The Kyoto Edition 

We would all love to tour Kyoto, and to keep your journey respectful and comfortable, these dos & don'ts are a must-know. 

 

 

Travel Tip: Read To Learn More About Kyoto’s Mind Your Manners Initiative

 

For The Love Of Language: Communication In Kyoto 

Keeping in line with its traditional aesthetic, Kyoto is not the strongest when it comes to English proficiency. Given Japan’s overall low English rating of 487, and Kyoto’s 484 out of 700,  English isn’t very common. Most people who work in tourist-heavy areas speak it, but interacting with market vendors, restaurant staff and everyday residents can be difficult without knowledge of basic Japanese, or a local Kyoto guide nearby. 

 

If the language barrier, dos & don’ts and transportation is freaking you out, you might want to try taking on Kyoto with the guided expertise of a local to help you out. But is a private guide for everyone? Well, that depends. We explore the pros and cons in our Hiring A Guide In Kyoto article that goes beyond fascinating facts and statistics, to what it really means to hire a private guide, and whether you’ll need one, or not. It’s time to save time, enhance your experience, and gain a deeper appreciation for this enchanting city with personalized expertise at your fingertips. 

 

Staying Safe: The Kyoto Edition 

When it comes to safety, Japan is at the top of the list. In 2023, Japan was named the 9th most peaceful country in the world, an improvement from the previous year! When it comes to Kyoto, the story doesn’t change. Numbeo puts Kyoto with a low crime index of 14.33 out of 100, and a safety index of 85.67. So is it safe to walk around Kyoto at night? Yes! The night safety index is extremely high, at 82.4, perfect for a night tour!

 

Of course, common safety precautions apply, such as taking care of personal belongings and being mindful of your surroundings, but violent crimes are rare, as are pickpocketing incidents. 

 

Conclusion 

Capturing Kyoto’s essence is an everlasting adventure that goes beyond the surface. To get the best out of this ancient yet modern city, get in touch with a Kyoto tour guide today and start crafting your dream trip!

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Hi! I'm Koichi. I was born in Osaka, I studied in Kyoto when I was a university student. Now I live in Shiga next to Kyoto. I am a national government licensed tour guide. I have been guiding about 160 groups over the past twelve months. I usually guide my customers mainly in Kansai region including Kyoto, Nara, Osaka, Kobe and Shiga by public transportation systems. Well, I am curious about Japanese history, especially the history of Japan's ancient times since I was raised next to the world biggest mausoleum of the ancient Emperor called "Nintoku" in Sakai city Osaka which has just become one of the world cultural heritage sites. I dug out some ancient earthen ware vessels around there when I was a primary school student like the adventure archaeologist “Indiana Jones" (It’s our secret!!). That was my hobby. Now, one of my hobbies is outdoor activities such as mountaineering, kayaking, skiing and others. So I would like to take you to some good places where you can enjoy Japanese unique nature. I love to guide foreign visitors from all over the world. I think it is my calling or heavenly given job. Let's go and enjoy together! I hope to see you soon.                                                                                                                                 

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5.00 / 5
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Hi, my name is Takashi!! When I go abroad, I think that how nice it would be to have a friend there and hang out together. I want you to feel like you have a friend in Osaka and we can go around and explore the city. I was born and grew up in Japan. And I speak English, Spanish and Japanese. I can be the perfect guide for you!! I can also guide you any other cities in Japan, just let me know where you wanna go :)                                                                                                                                 

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This tour mainly tours Osaka and Kyoto. I have lived in Osaka for 10 years and have been to Kyoto 300 times through tourism. I can also offer hands-on guided tours. I can offer maiko and geiko viewing, furoshiki (wrapping cloth) making, matcha (powdered green tea), professional acupuncture in ninja costume, and introduction-type experiences. My Instagram account has been viewed by 55,000 people in one month. Not to mention famous places. I can also guide visitors to places where foreign tourists do not usually go. I can be flexible. Best regards.                                                                                                                                 

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I'm Yuri, a national lisenced English tour guide. I was born and raised in Osaka. Now I live in the countryside of Nara. Also, I do love eating, traveling, meeting local people, and exchanging our value and cultures. I'm flexible. Please tell and ask me if there are any places which you want to visit and anything which you want to do in Japan. I'll plan the trip only for you. I am looking forward to seeing you in my tour, let's make your trip unforgettable!                                                                                                                                 

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