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Various Kyoto Tour Spots Introduction

Kashima H.

by Kashima H.

(73 reviews)
Last updated : Aug 16, 202360 min read

Travel Tips

The big difference between the tour spots in Kyoto and that of other city is that Kyoto had been the capital of Japan for around 680 years such as from 794 to 1185 as Heian era, from 1300 to 1590 as Muromchi era comparing with Nara as 84 years (710 – 794), with Kamakura as 136 years (1185 – 1321), with Osaka as 10 years (1590 – 1600) and with Edo as 264 years (1603 – 1867).
Also, the period emperors had lived in Kyoto as around 1400 years (794 – 1867), comparing with Nara as 84 years and with modernized era as around 151 years (1868 – 2019).
Therefore, there are so many important sites of Temples and Shrines that are related with lots of great emperors, top Samurai worriers , Temples monks and so-on.

On the other hand, Kyoto is the treasury of Japanese modern architecture. Kyoto had almost no damage inside Kyoto city during the World War 2 air raid unlike other major cities in Japan. It is the place where the flow of architecture can be traced. You can appreciate not only the architects designed by the major famous architects but also other popular cafes, restaurants, museum and so-on. 

 I would like to introduce the various tour spots in Kyoto for each direction area so that you can select the best for your Kyoto tour.
Kyoto tour spots area can be roughly divided by areas that are located in East, West, North, South and Center of Kyoto down-town.
In each area above, you can find lots of historical architecture , beautiful scenery of nature and time honored atmosphere of downtown with mostly consumed local foods of Kyoto, culture such as Maiko & Kimono and various type of souvenir.
Also, I introduce the examples of Modern Architecture in Kyoto.

Following are the representative of Kyoto tour spots for each direction in Kyoto.
East area:
Kiyomizudera-temple, Ginkakuji-temple, Heianjingu-shrine, Sanjyusangendo-temple,  Philosophers’ walk, Sanneizaka, Nanzenji temple
West area:
Arashiyama, Togetsukyo, Tenryuji, Bamboo forest (Chikurin), Mt.Iwata Monkey park, Kinkakuji-temple, Ryoanji-temple,
Central area:
Gion,,  Ponto-cho:, Nijyojo-castle,,  Kodaiji temple, Ishibe-Shouji street:,  Nishiki market,  Higashihonganji-temple,  Yasaka shrine,  Maruyama park,  Shinsenen:, Entokuin temple:  Kyoto Imperial Palace:
North area:
Kamigamo shrine,  Shimogamo shrine,  Sanzenin temple,  Jyokkouin temple,  Entsuji temple, Shisendo temple:
Enkoji temple:  Manshuin Monseki Temple:
South area:
Toji-temple, Fushimiinaritaisha-shrine, Byodoinhouodo-shrine,  Tofukuji-temple, Ujigami shrine:  Daigiji temple:  

Modern Architecture in Kyoto:
Toka-Saikan(Chinese testaurant), Asahi-Beer Ooyamasaki-Sanso museum, Chourakukan in Kyoto, Restaurant Kikusui,
Café Francois, Café Rokuyosha,  Kyoto station building, Kyoto city museum, Kyoto Culture Museum (Old Japan Bank Kyoto branch,  1928 building(Former Osaka Mainichi newspaper Kyoto branch,  SACRA Building (Former Fudo-Chokin bank,  
Kyoto city Archaeo logical Museum (Former Nishijin brocade hall,  Honga-Ji-Dendoin temple as Life Insurance company for followers of Shingon,  Doshisha Chapel,  Kyoto Prefectural University of Medicine Library,  

(A) East area:

(1) Kiyomizu temple:
Kiyomizudera temple is an independent Buddhist temple in eastern Kyoto, which is listed as one of the 17 World heritage sites in Kyoto. This temple was originally built in 798 and rebuilt in 1633.
Kiyomizudera or Kiyomizu Temple, literally means “Clean Water Temple”. This temple was founded in 798. (End of 8th century). Kiyomizu Temple burned down many times and most of the present temple structures were reconstructed in 1633 (Middle of 17th century).  From here we have to walk up a slope to the temple.This lane leading to Kiyomizu Temple is lined with shops selling porcelain, pickles, sweets, souvenirs and so-on.This area is famous for Kiyomizu-yaki which is glazed porcelain with a white translucent body.

In front of the Nio-Gate (Gate of the Deva Kings)
This is the Gate of the Deva Kings.  It is built in the “hip gable roof” style with a cypress bark roof. Please look at the pair of Deva Kings.  They are checking to see if you are good visitors to the temple or not.

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In front of the Hondo (Main Hall)
This is the main hall.  The main hall was rebuilt in 1633 by the third Tokugawa Shogun. The main image is the Eleven-headed, one thousand-armed Kannon Bodhisattva.  Its one thousand arms and eleven heads help mankind in many different ways. It is displayed to the public every 33 years.

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On the Kiyomizu Stage
The main hall is famous for its platform projecting over a cliff. You can enjoy the Kyoto city view.  In front of you, you can see the Koyasu-no-to which literally means “ Easy birth Pagoda”.  Otowa waterfall is at the foot of the cliff.  There is a famous expression in Japan, “You must act as if you were jumping off the stage of Kiyomizu” It mean that in a sink or swim situation, you have to run a risk. In another word, “Take action when you are taking a risk.”, “Do something with strong determination” and “You have to take a risk to make your dream come true.” In 1882, a regulation was issued which banned jumping. Actually, up to then, 234 people had jumped off and the survival rate was 85%.

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At Otowa Falls in front of Koyasu Pagoda
This waterfall is one of the ten most famous clean water streams in Japan. The water is channeled into three streams from this waterfall. There are said to be three interpretations for this.  The first is that the streams symbolize devotion to Buddha, the law and the priests. The second is good health, academic achievement and finding a good match in marriage. The third is purification of your actions, your words and your mind. If you pray before drinking this water, it is said that your wish will come true.
This water is free of any contamination. Over there, the ladles are sterilized with ultraviolet rays.

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 (2) Ginkakuji temple:
Ginkakuji means “ Temple of Silver pavilion” even if actuially, this is not coated with silver due to financial difficulties in the Shogunate era.  Howver, this wooden pavilion attractive people by the expression of “Wabi Sabi” which is based on the idea that beauty lies in simplicity.   This sensitive feeling come from Zen Buddhism.

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(3) Philosophers’ walk:
Side road of Lake Biwa canal whose length is around 1.5km where a famous Japanese philosopher used to stroll.

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This Tetsugaku-no-michi ( Philosopher's Walk) is a narrow way along Lake Biwa Canal. It runs from north to south along the foot of Higashiyama mountains. The path was named " Philosophers Walk " from the fact that a famous philosopher Kitaro Nishida (1870-1945) used to enjoy strolling along the path to think his philosphy during the walking and enjoying the beautiful scenary around the area. In 1921,  about 300 cherry trees were planted along the canal and the path has been one of the greatest spots for Sakura viewing in early April ever since.

(4) Nanzenji temple:
We would like to introduce the beautiful Autumn color leaves in Kyoto Nanzenji temple.
Nanzenji temple is located in the north-east side of Kyoto which is the headquarter of Rinzai school of Zen Buddhism.
This temple used to be an Imperial villa for Monk-emperor Kameyama.  This temple is widely spread over the foot of Mt.Higashiyama which are covered with lots of green trees.  The area of precincts is almost same with three times of Tokyo dome (baseball stadium).
In the precincts, various temple halls are lined up in a straight line such as Chokushimon-gate, Sanmon-gate, Lecture hall, Abbot’s chamber and Canal branch bridge made by red bricks.
In autumn season, about 200 numbers of maple trees are colored with red and yellow on those area.

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Sanmon gate:

After entering the gate and climbing up the steep stairs to reach the upper stories, you can see the marvelous view including Kyoto city and various temple buildings in the precincts.

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In the approach path to Hatto building, you can see and enjoy the beautiful green trees and autumn color of leaves.

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You can appreciate a dry landscape garden created by Kobori Enshu who was one of the greatest garden designer in Edo- period from the broad veranda of Large- Hojo.
Huge stones laid on the garden look like tigers who cross over a river, the garden is called “ garden as managing of hard living”.
The garden which can be appreciated from the broad veranda of small-Hojyo is called “Nyoshin-tei garden”. The garden is a dry landscape garden where the garden stones are arranged with the figure of “mind” of Japanese Kanji word.

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By moving toward the edge of this building, you can find the garden named “Garden of six states of existence”. This garden is said to have people taught about the transmigration of the soul made by six states of existence. There is beautiful hair moss arranged in the garden.

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Suirokaku in the precinct of Nanzenji temple was built in 1888 to recover Kyoto after Meiji restoration accompanied with the project of Lake Biwa canal that aim to draw the water of Lake Biwa to Kyoto.
This bridge is made by red bricks with the heigh of 9 meter and penetrate the precinct with 100 meter length. The water from Lake Biwa flow through the path Suirokaku to north side of Kyoto.

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(5) Sanjusangendo temple:
This temple was originally founded in 1165 by the instruction of Goshirakawajoukou (retired emperor) by asking Kiyomori Taira ( top of worriers)to support with his funds. There were several fire and disaster occurred and a few re-constructions has been made up to now.
This temple consists of 33 numbers of column spacing in the inner temple. The figure of 33 is related with Kannon Bodhisattva. Hokekyo sect of Buddhism teach that Kannon changes his figure 33 times differently and save mankind.
The principal image of Buddha is seated figure statue of thousand armed Kannon whose height is around 7 meters that is made by joint block construction used by cypress. 1000 units statues of thousand armed Kannon stands on tiered alters 10 deep in two 50 row sections to the right and left of the principal deity with one more standing behind to make a total of 1001.

 

(B) West area:

(1) Arashiyama:
Arashiyama, also known as Sagano, is one of the time-honored travel destinations located on the western outskirs of Kyoto. Offering a breathtaking panorama of serene Mt.Arashiyama, Togetsukyo, or “Moon Crossing Bridge”, is the major landmark of this scenic spot featuring various tourist spots such as Tenryu-ji Temple and spectacular bamboo groves.

(2) Tenryu-ji temple:
Tenryu-ji temple is a top-ranked among the Five Great Zen Temples of Kyoto which is one of the 17 World Cultual Heritage-listed monuments in Kyoto and famous for strolling-style garden. This temple was originally constructed in 1339 by Ashikaga Takauji who is one of the Shogunate of Muromachi era (1336~1573).
Hatto Hall below is the hall where important ceremonies are held.

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You can see the big picture welcoming you. This is Bodhidharma. Zen Buddhism was founded by Bodhidharma. It is said that he did “Zazen” for 9 years to reach enlightenment with sitting and meditating facing a stone wall.

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You can look at Tenryuji Sogenchi Teien (Landscape garden) while sitting on the veranda. This garden shown in below photo is a borrowed landscape garden which show you the elegant natural Japanese paintings combining with both aristocratic culture and Zen culture with incorporating Mt.Arashiyama, Mt.Kameyama and Mt.Ogurasan into the scenery.
The main important view of this pond is the third-tiered dry waterfall with no water consist of large rocks. You can see a rock between the first and the second dry waterfalls rock. According to Chines verb, a carp ascends a waterfall to become a dragon. Therefore, you can imagine the rock above might be a carp.

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Houjou hall below used to be the living quarters of the chief priests. You are allowed to walk around the tatami mats rooms. The rooms are separated by Japanese walls, paper screens called “Shoji” and sliding doors called “Fusuma”. As shown in below photos, Japanese style houses luck privacy with no key locked, however, this style can enlarge the room space available by opening and removing the sliding doors.
You can also see Japanese style room element such as alcove called “Tokonoma”as shown below. This alcove place is a characteristic place where hanging scrolls and flower arrangement are placed.
You can see Suiboku-ga called Indian paintings depicted on “Fusuma”as shown below. The subjects painted on these “Fusuma” are nature, animals, birds and flowers.

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Bamboo forest: This bamboo forest is one of the most impressive spots for many tourists coming to Japan.Bamboo is the symbol of vitality because it grow up very quickly. Bamboo crafts is used in the tea ceremony and flower arrangement. After leaving Tenryuji out from one of the gate, the bamboo forest called “Chikurin” come into your eyes immediately. This bamboo forest continue to the end of the road by aound 400 meters. This area used to be the villa of the aristocracy in Heian era (end of 8th centyry ~ end of 12th century) and you can feel subtle and profound world even after 1000 years passed.

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Arashiyama park road down from Bamboo forest to Togetsu-kyo bridge:

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(3) Togetdsu-kyo bridge:
This bridge is named “Togetsu-kyo Bridge”. It literally means “Crossing the moon”. This bridge was at first constructed by an ancient priest in around 840. By seeing this bridge, you can see various beautiful sceneries according to the change of each seasons. Mt.Arashiyama of west side of the bridge is registered as the place of scenic beauty and natural monument in Japan.You can enjoy cherry blossoms in April, fresh green in summer, graceful autumn leaves in fall and clean white snow landscape in winter. Current bridge was completed in 1934 with 155meter length and 11meter width. There are so many sceneries of this bridge found in the past many movies and TV dramas. By going through the side of Katsura-river to east, you will see the bridge from the distance to be closer as shown below.

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(4) Iwata Monkey park:
Mt.Iwata Monkey park is located near in the west side of Togetsu-kyo Bridge. There are around 120 number of Japanese macaques living in the wild. After you enter the entrance of the monkey park with paying admission fee, you can enjoy light trekking onto the Mt.Arashiyama mountain road for about 20 minutes with enjoying the mountain scenery and reach the top of the mountain. The Japanese macaques are characteristic of red face and behind and the height is around 50cm ~ 60cm. They are well accustomed with us and receive special foods from us with very humorous faces. From the top of the mountain, you can see overview of Kyoto city.

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(5) Ryoanji trmple:

This temple was constructed on the year of 1450 and re-constructed after burned out by Ounin-war during 1467 – 1477.
The traditional dry landscape garden inside Ryoanji-temple is the most famous stone garden in the world which are introduced to the world by Queen Elizabeth 2 who visited the garden in 1975. The number of 15 stones are arranged on the white sand of the garden.

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 (6) Kinkakuji Temple:
Kinkakuji-temple is the Golden Pavilion built on the compound of the Rokuon-ji, a Zen Buddhist temple, which is designated as one of the 17 World Cultual Heritage-listed monuments in Kyoto. It is a three-story building in the garden complex unique to the Muromachi period (1399 – 1573), with its top two stories covered with pure gold leaf.
- First story as the palace style
- Second story as the samurai house style
- Third story as sacred relic of the Buddha.
Originally the villa of an aristocrat, it was purchased and renovated in 1397 as political center by the third Shogun of the Muromachi period.

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Kinkakuji is “Golden Pavilion” in English.
The precincts of the present Kinkakuji used to be a villa belonging to Saionji Kintsune, a court noble. The Golden Pavilion was built by Ashikaga Yoshimitsu in 1397, at the height of the Ashikaga Shogun’s power. This was about 100 years before Columbus discovered America. You can see an upside-down Golden Pavilion in this pond of called the “Mirror pond”.
It looks as if there are several small islands of rocks in the pond.  The island in the center symbolizes Japan. The Golden Pavilion consists of three different types of architecture. The first floor was modeled on the house of the Heian era nobility.

This shows that the shogun Yoshimitsu wanted to imitate the gorgeous life of the Heian nobles. The second floor was modeled on the style of samurai worriers’ houses. The ceiling is beautifully painted because beauty signifies power. The third floor, where the shogun practice Zen meditation, is in the Zen style. The roof is thatched with shingles.
You can see the bronze phoenix on the top that makes the pavilion look more gorgeous. The phoenix is a symbol of rebirth. In Japan, the phoenix is the symbol of happiness. It comes down into this world to bring its blessings. You can find phoenixes on kimonos which are worn on happy occasions. The rooms which are used on these happy occasions are named “Ho-o-no-ma”. This word mean “Phoenix room”.

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(C) Central area:

(1) Kyoto Imperial palace

Kyoto Imperial palace is located with 250 meters from east to west and 450 meters from north to south.
Current palace was re-built in 1855 around the end of Edo era.
Inside the palace, there are six gates of four directions and several court palaces where previous emperors had been ascended.
Also, there is an elegant garden with large pond.

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Kyoto Imperial Palace where you can feel the architectural styles of aristocratic residence in the Heian period had been the royal residence before the Meiji Restoration. The main feature of this elegant palace is the Shishinden, where solemn enthronement ceremonies have been held for more than 1,000 years. The other important landmarks include the Seiryoden and Otsunegoten where the earlier and last emperor had lived, respectively, along with a strolling style Oikeniwa Garden.

(2) Heian Jingu shrine
This shrine was built in 1895 to commemorate 1100th anniversary of the transfer of nation capital to Heia-Kyo (Kyoto).
The deity of this shrine is 50th emperor Kanmu.and the last emperor of Heian era Koumei.

(3) Nijyojo-castle
During this Edo era (1600 – 1867), another center of culture in Edo had started in parallel with that of Kyoto as capital of culture.
Nijyujo-castle was built in Kyoto in 1603 for the use of Edo government interim staying place in Kyoto where the capital had lasted more than 1000 years history.
In the ground chamber of this historical castle, the last shogun Yoshinobu announced the return of government power to the emperor just before the Meiji restoration in 1868.
The Ninomaru palace in the castle is famous for its floor that give a squeaky sound just like a nightingale’s song while people walking through the floor. This palace is also well known for a strolling-style garden with pond containing three small island.

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(4) Higashi Honganji
This temple is head temple of the Jodo shin sect of Otani sect of Shinshu.  In Goei-do Hall, the portrait of the holly priest Shinran is installed and in temple Hall containing an enshrined image of Amitabha, the principal image of Amithaba is installed.  Goei-do Hall was built by many people who adore the priest in the area of his tomb land after his death.  This is the beginning of Higashi Honganji.

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(5) Koudaiji- temple:

Kodai-ji Temple is located north east of Yasaka Hokanji Temple at the foot of Higashiyama Ryozen Mountains in Kyoto.
This temple was built by the wife of Hideyoshi Toyotomi who was the top worrier in Japan and unified Japan at the first time.
The temple was established in 1606 by Kita-no-Mandokoro (1548-1624) in memory of her husband Toyotomi Hideyoshi (1536-1598) who established to unify Japan for the first time in Japanese history. Tokugawa Ieyasu (1542-1616) (the first Tokugawa shogun in Edo period) supported Kita-no-Mandpkoro to finance the construction of the temple.
As the result, we can see magnificent appearance of temple buildings and gardens as follows.
Currently Kaisando (Founder's Hall), Otama-ya (Sanctuary), Kasatei (Teahouse), Shiguretei (Teahouse), Omotetmon (Gate to Sanctuary) and Kangetsudai (Moon Viewing Pavilion) are designated as important cultural properties of Japan.

Toyotomi Hideyoshi and Kita-no-Mandokoro are enshrined in "Otama-ya" and their graves lie under the state of Kita-no-Mandokoro. 

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Shumidan (dais for a Buddhist image) and Zushi (small shrine) are decorated with splendid makie (Japanese lacquer with gilded patterns) which is known as "Kodai-ji Makie", typical of the Azuchi Momoyama period (1573 - 1600).

 Temple garden:
This garden is said to have been designed by the landscape garden designer Kobori Enshu (1579-1647).
The garden is designated by the Japanese Government as a historical site and a place of scenic beauty.

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Houjyo (Main Building):
This building's interior was originally painted with lacquer and was coverd with exquisite gold decorations. The current building was rebuilt 1912 after several fires. During the spring and autumn Kodai-ji is host to modern art exhibits. These are placed in the stone garden in front of Houjyo and at night are creatively lit.

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The garden located in Kaizando hall is named “Garyouchi” which was created by Kobori Enshu who was a feudal load and a famous garden designer in Azuchi-Momoyama period(End of 16th - End of 17th). The autumn color leaves with green trees are reflected on the pond surface by lighted up on the night which is mysterious and beautiful as breath taking feeling:

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Bamboo tree:

You can find Bamboo tree inside this temple.

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(6) Kyoto Gion Town
Gion is the area of entertainment, where there are many restaurants, bars and taverns. Some important business and political talks have been conducted. You may see Maiko and Geiko running across who are traditional female Japanese entertainers in kimono.

(Hanami-koji street)   
Hanami-koji street is the main street in Gion where you may encounter Maiko and Geiko. 
You can explore the street to see the buildings including prestigious restaurants and to take a rest in Japanese style cafes.

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(Gion Shirakawa-river street)
Gion Shirakawa-river street has let you felt special Japanese atmosphere where row of cherry trees in spring, combination with Sirakawa-river and Japanese style buildings and Tatsumi-bashi bridge which is used as stages of movies and TV dramas.

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 (7) Nishiki market:
This market arcade length is around 400 meters and 130 stores are lined on the arcade. Various stores are selling foods and serving restaurants.

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This market specializes in all things food related, like fresh seafood, produce, knives and cookware, and is a great place to find seasonal foods and specialties, such as Japanese sweets, pickles, dried seafood and Sushi.
Some of the shops freely give out samples or sell sample dishes and skewers meant to be eaten there. There are also a few small restaurants and food stands selling ready-made food. They usually specialize in one type of food, and are often attached to a store of the same specialty.  It is better to refrain from eating while walking as it is considered bad manners.

(8) Yasaka shrine:
This shrine is the symbol of Gion festival which is one of the biggest festival of Kyoto. It is said that this shrine had started in 656. This shrine had been worshipped by many people in ancient period including Samurai top worriers and common people.
People had prayed to ward off evil spirits in this shrine.

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(9) Maruyama park:
Maruyama park is the oldest park in Kyoto city opened in 1886 which is located just east side of Yasaka shrine. It is a stroll garden with a central pond and the best Cherry blossoms sightseeing spots in Kyoto.

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 (10) Pontocho:

Pontocho is one of the famous Hanamachi in Kyoto which is long and narrow road along with Kamogawa-river by 500meter from north to south. Lots of houses with red color lattices are lined up on both side of the road and fifty numbers of large and small alleys are arranged from east to south. Various types of restaurants, bars and cafes are gathered where many people are passing each other by watching the old-fashioned atmosphere.

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The Pontocho Kaburen-jo theater is located at the north end of the road where Kamogawa Odori
(Kamogawa river dance) is performed on spring every year by Geisha and Maiko.  The fantastic stage including dance dramas and dance picture scrolls are famous not only in Japan but also in the world.

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(11) Ishibei-koji alley (Stone wall alley):
Ishibei-koji alley (Stone wall alley) is a beautiful narrow stone wall alley which is located in the south of Yasaka shrine. This alley was a space of Kyoto atmosphere which was made in around beginning of 20th century and has been registered as National important preservation district for traditional buildings.

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This space is filled with stone pavements, stone walls and old-fashioned wooden buildings such as restaurants, inns & bars lined up that have people feel at ease.
Ishibei-koji alley is located about 10 minutes walking from Gion downtown with showing clear image difference, Gion as crowded and Ishibei-koji alley as night of silence.  This is why Ishibei-koji alley is called as a back room of Gion.

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(12) Entokuin temple:
Entokuin temple is the sub-temple of Kodaiji temple and located in the east of Kyoto named Higashiyama near Kodaiin temple. After the death of Nene who was the wife of Toyotomi Hideyoshi who had unified Japan for the first time in Japan in late half of 18th century, her nephew set this temple as her family temple.
Karamon (Chinese style gate) :
Karamon (Chinese style gate) on the entrance of Entokuin temple and the surrounding landscape:

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South side garden named “Nantei”:
After walking through Karamon gate, you can find Hojyo hall from where you can appreciate the south side garden named “Nantei”.
This garden was arranged recently in the end of 20th century and white sands combined with various flowers for each season are beautiful under lighted up in the night.

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Room inside Hojyo:
In this room, you can appreciate paintings written on sliding doors such as pines, bamboos, plums, snow, moon and flowers.
The background color of the paintings are gold and have us felt the gorgeous atmosphere.

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Hokutei (north side garden):
Hokutei (north side garden) is located on surroundings of the study room was built in Azuchi-Momoyama period (1573-1600).
The building has been kept as it was when created and registered as National scenic spot.
There are lots of rocks arranged in this garden with combined by white sands, moss and maple trees with autumn color leaves in the backside.

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(D) North are:

 (1) Entsuji temple:
Entsuji temple is located in the north side of Kyoto named Iwakura and Zen Buddhism temple of Rinzai sect. This temple used to be a detached palace of a retired emperor Gomizuo. This garden is a dry landscape garden with Mt. Hiei as background picture which was built in Edo period.  This flame garden fascinates you as a beautiful flame picture by using vertical cedar trees like a poll and polls inside the room.

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Mt.Hiei is the sacred mountain whose height is 850 meter called Miyako-Mt.Fuji. In early Heian period, Saicho who is the founder of Tendai sect established Enryakuji temple on Mt.Hiei.
Retired emperor Gomizuo found this area where Mt.Hiei can be seen by spending 12 years.  After he stayed for a while, he moved from there to Shugakuin-rikyu as detached palace because little water was gained from the land that led difficulty to create ponds.
This palace building was built in about 400 years ago with using noble type architecture method.

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The rocks arranged in the garden as Zen Buddhism style had been gained and transferred from the sea in Edo period.
The rocks are buried under the garden and only top surface of them appear on the garden.

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(2) Sanzen-in temple:
Sanzen-in temple is located in the north side of Kyoto named Oohara and Monzeki temple which is a high ranking temple served by a head priest from the Imperial or noble family.
Oohara is the area where Buddhism music named “Seimei” was originated. Sanzen-was built on the hill from where village of Oohara can be seen.  In the precinct, various temple buildings are standing with surrounded by calm mountain village and green forest.

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Through this Godenmon-gate, you walk to Kyakuden house (Reception hall) which was built by Toyotomi Hideyoshi. From the building, you can see the garden named “Shuhekien”. You can appreciate this garden from the veranda by various angles. This garden was re-designed by Kanamori Munekazu who was a famous garden designer in Edo period (1602 – 1867). You can appreciate the garden landscape with tasting Japanese tea and Japanese cake where clear stream flowing creates a sound of the murmuring and moss be found anywhere.
Shuhekien:

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You walk through Shuhekien, corridor and after climbing up the stairs, you can find the building named “Shinden” where Buddhism ceremony is held. The garden seen from the building is named “Yuseien” is a type of Japanese garden with a pond in the center. In the garden, you can appreciate the moss spread under cedar trees and guardian deities of children are existing there.  On the upper backside of the garden, there are three steps of waterfall is arranged by drawing the water from the mountain as valley style.
Yuseien:

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You walk through from Shinden to Yuseien, you can see the main hall named “Oujyo-Gokurakuin”.
The path through there is surrounded by autumn color leaves and scattered color leaves.
Oujyo-Gokurakuin:

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(3) Jyakkouin temple:

Jyakkouin temple is located in the north of Kyoto named Oohara and the ancient temple which is deeply related with the tail of the Heike. Heike was the top Samurai family who had controlled the politics of Japan in the late of Heian period (794 – 1192) and it had been ruined by the new Samurai family named Genji in 1182. The origin of this temple was built in 594 by Prince Shotoku to hold a memorial service for his father, Emperor Youmei.
The hill of Oohara area located the north-west of Mt.Hiei used to be the hill where horses which had been raised for Imperial Court.

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In 1182, during the final battle between Heike family and Genji family on the sea of Dannoura located the west edge of Japan main land, as the result of Heike extinction almost all the Heike family were dead into the sea. However, Kenreimonin Tokuko who was the daughter of Taira Kiyomori, top Samurai in Heian period and mother of Emperor Antoku was rescued from the sea by their enemy Genji. She had been a nun after she became 29 years old and moved to this temple, Jyakkouin.  She had continued to live here by holding a memorial service for Heike family and she died when she was 36 years old. This is the reason why this temple has been famous in all over Japan. In autumn, you can appreciate autumn color leaves on each spot in the precinct with mountain villages surrounded by forests and mountains.

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Landscape on both side of stone steps of the path to temple:

Main hall and the surroundings:
Main hall was burned out in 2000 by the fire of arson and rebuilt in 2005 by spending 5 years to recover the building completely same with previous one using same materials and wooden framework.

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This pond is located on the east side of the building. There is a small waterfall which is divided by three steps which are created from the water is drawn from the mountain located on the north side of this temple. Small paths around the pond are prepared for people to stroll around the pond.

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 In front of the main hall, there are cherry blossoms and pine trees planted.  The cherry blossoms named “Hime-matsu” used to be several hundred year-old tree with 15 meter height, however, due to the fire occurred in 2000, the tree was burned out and only the root of the tree is deified as a sacred tree.

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 There is the remain of hermitage on the north side of the main hall where Kenreimonin Tokuko had lived in seclusion. At present, only tombstone is standing with a well on the right side of the stone which Empress Dowagers had used.

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 (4) Shisendo temple:
Shisendo temple is located in the north side of Kyoto named Ichijyoji and branch temple of Eiheiji as Soto sect head quarter.

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This house is the remain of mountain villa where Ishiyama Jyozan had used to build and live for his retired life. He was famous for writing who had served to Ieyasu Tokugawa, Shogunate of Edo period (1602-1867).

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This Chinese style garden which was designed by Jyozan consists of white sand, green trees planted and about 500 numbers of maple trees of autumn color leaves with waterfall sound spread.

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This garden is designed to be seen as flame garden from the temple room. The room poll and lintel are used for the flame.

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You can appreciate the Autumn color leaves while strolling the garden.

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(5) Enkoji temple:
Enkoji temple is located in the north side of Kyoto named Ichijyodani and Rinzai school of Zen Buddhism related with Ieyasu Tokugawa who was the Shogunate of Edo period.
Ieyasu established the school for any kinds of people who wanted to learn culture, paintings and so-on and the school was transferred to current area in 1667. The open mind school policy had led the expansion of Japanese culture.
You can appreciate beautiful autumn color leaves on the path to the gate.

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After entering the gate, you can find the dry landscape garden named “Honryutei”.
This garden was built in 2013 and consist of white sands which represent cloud sea with whirling current or flow and rock arrangement which represent dragon climbing up to heaven.

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The stone pillar by cut roughly on the west side of this garden represent lightning.

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After walking through a center gate, you can see the garden named “Jyugyuno-niwa” which consists of beautiful moss, autumn color leaves and fallen leaves. The garden was created in Edo period as a type of Japanese garden with a pond in the center by borrowing mountains as background.  Jyugyunoniwa garden seen from the room in the temple is called flame garden.

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The pond in the garden named Sairyuuike is said to be the oldest pond in the north of Kyoto area.

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The combination between autumn color leaves and moss represents the deep landscape of Zen Buddhism.

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In the end of autumn leaves season, you can appreciate beautiful scattered autumn leaves combined with moss in the garden. Also, you can find bamboo forests there.

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There are lots of precious art objects stocked such as Chikurinzubyobu written by Oukyo-Maruyama in this temple.

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(6) Manshu-in Monzeki temple:
The origin of Manshu-in Monzeki temple is the establishment of training hall for the spiritual protection of the state on the Mt.Hiei by Saicho, the founder of Tendai sect.
Ryosho Imperial prince who was the cousin of Gomizuo emperor had move to current area and built the temple in 1656.

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The dry landscape garden in front of a large study hall is designed by the combination of white sand and stone arrangement which is said to represent sea and deep mountain.

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Chokushimon-gate is located on the upper side of the stone steps and large grown branches of maple trees and deep green moss cover the area of the gate.

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(E): South area

 (1) Fushimi inari shrine:
This shrine was founded in early 8th century. Originally, the deity of Inari shrine was reverted as the deity of agriculture.
With industrialization, the deity of Fushimi inari gradually came to be worshipped as the deity of business.
There are up to 5,000 Torii gates in this precincts which were donated mostly by merchants and companies to pray for the prosperity of their businesses. The donors’ name are painted in black on the back of each Torii gate. They range in price from 200,000yen to 700,000yen.  They are offered They are offered when we want to pray for something, or after our prayers are answered.
(2) Toji temple:
Empelor Kanmu established the capital in Kyoto in 794 and built Toji temple in 796 as a temple to guard ist eastern side.
After 30 years later, Emperor Saga granted this temple to Kukai who was the founder of the Shingon Sect of esoteric Buddhism.
He established Toji temple as a institute for the teaching of Shingon Sect doctrines.
Toji temple consists of the Main hall, Lecture hall, Founder’s hall and the five -story pagoda.
The five-story pagoda is 55 meters high and this historical structure is the landmark of Kyoto.

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 (3) Byodoin Hooudo temple:

In Heian era (from 794 to 1192), the top of regents and advisers for emperor named Fugiwara Yorimichi established this temple asking for the help to the Amida Budda so that he can live in the land of perfect Bliss while he is alive. print
This temple figure is printed on both Japanese bill of 10k yen and coin of 10 yen.
The figure of this temple is very much elegant as the shape resemble of the wings of Chinese Phoenix be spread.

(4) Tofukuji temple:
Tofukuji temple is located in the south side of Kyoto and the headquarter of Rinzai sect whose 25 temple buildings are the largest in Kyoto. The origin of this temple was the family temple built in 1236 by regent, Kujo Michie.

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Tsutenbashi bridge was built so that people can reach from Hojo to Kaizando without walking down the valley. Therefore, the landscape of autumn color leaves is overwhelming. 
This temple used to be famous for cherry blossoms, however all the trees were cut away and instead, maple trees were planted.
At present, total about 2000 trees with five kinds of maple trees are planted in the precinct.

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The gardens seen from Hojo building were created by Shigemori Mirei who was the famous garden designer in Showa period (1926 – 1989). There are four gardens found on the surroundings of this building. The south garden represents the world of nine mountains and eight seas by replacing giant rocks and pattern of white sand. 

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The west garden shows the checkered pattern by Azalea cut with square and sand pattern:

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The north garden is designed as checkered patterns by cedar moss and stones:

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The east garden was built as the shape of the Great Bear:

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 (5) Daigoji temple: 
Daigoji temple is located in the south side of Kyoto named Fushimi and the headquarter of Shingon sect. This temple was built in the middle of Heian period (794 – 1182) and the area of the temple is the largest in Kyoto city which is equivalent with the 142 number of Tokyo dome (baseball stadium).
There are lots of temple buildings such as five stories pagoda and Kondo (the main hall of Buddhism temple) which represent the architecture method in Heian period (794 – 1182).  Daigoji temple is famous for Cherry blossoms whose number exceed 1000, specially weeping cherry tree.

It is said that Toyotomi Hideyoshi who was the top Samurai unified Japan at the first time in late 16th century planted about 700 numbers of Cherry blossoms gathering from west center of Japan to hold the Cherry blossom party for her wife named Nene with inviting about 1300 people in this temple.
His purpose is express thanks to his wife because he had put her a lot of trouble by his bad acts when he got older. He passed away in the fall of the year the party was held, however, he also had planted lots of maple trees for him to enjoy autumn color leaves in this temple.  That is why we can appreciate those leaves at present thanks to his effort. 
We introduce the precincts by focusing Shimo-Garan temple buildings and Sanpouinn with appreciating autumn color leaves.
After walking through main gate and Niou-mon gate, you can find a vast precinct named Shimo-Garan.

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 On both sides of the path to the main hall, there are lots of green trees and autumn color leaves inviting us.

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 The main hall named Kondo located on the center of the precinct is registered as National treasure.

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 Five stories pagoda registered as National treasure was built by Emperor Suzaku in 951 to express his deepest sympathy to Emperor Daigo.  This building is the oldest wooden one in Kyoto.

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In the precinct, a pond, green forest and moss are combined with autumn color leaves near temple buildings and those landscape have you felt overwhelmed.

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Moss and Green forest, autumn color leaves and a pond:

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Benten-do and autumn color leaves:

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Kannon-do and autumn color leaves:

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The garden of Sanpo-in registered as a special historical site which was built in 1598 by Toyotomi Hideyoshi.

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 (F) Modern Architecture in Kyoto:

Toka-Saikan(Chinese testaurant), Asahi-Beer Ooyamasaki-Sanso museum, Chourakukan in Kyoto, Restaurant Kikusui,
Café Francois, Café Rokuyosha,  Kyoto station building, Kyoto city museum, Kyoto Culture Museum (Old Japan Bank Kyoto branch,  1928 building(Former Osaka Mainichi newspaper Kyoto branch,  SACRA Building (Former Fudo-Chokin bank,  
Kyoto city Archaeo logical Museum (Former Nishijin brocade hall,  Honga-Ji-Dendoin temple as Life Insurance company for followers of Shingon,  Doshisha Chapel,  Kyoto Prefectural University of Medicine Library,  

(1) Toka-Saikan(Chinese testaurant) : 
A western style building of Chinese restaurant is built at the foot of Shijo Ohashi bridge over Kamogawa river which has been fit and familiar among Kyoto atmosphere. Vories Architects designed and built in 1926.
(a) Architecture form:
Reinforced concrete 5 stories with ocher color,  The building style is based on Sapanish Mission one as Cargolic mission base.

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(b) Entrance:
Baroque de la cotta decoration as a motif using ingredients such as fish,shelfish, octpus and so-on, which is a rich decoration from Baroque architecture,  Twin Pilasters on both side of the entrance on which patterns are given.

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(c) Interior:
Eclectic design with Renaissance style and Chines one combined, Traditional elevator by Otis Elevator company is still active, 

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 (2) Asahi-Beer Ooyamasaki-Sanso museum:

This museum is located in southern foot of Mt.Tenno and surrounded by the forest rich in nature.
Kaga Shotarou designed and built in first half of the 20th centry and at present, this building which has become a museum in 1996 is owned by Asahi beer company.

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(a) Architecture form:
This building is made by reinforced concrete and the upper layer portion was designed by half timebering method.

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(b) Interior:
High ceiling with thick beams and amber-polished wooden railing are set inside the building and soft orange light come into there.

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(3) Chourakukan in Kyoto: 

This building used to be a villa of Murai Kichibei who was the Tabacco King.
J.M Gardiner designed and built in 1909. This building is said as if Kyoto State Guest House.

(a) Architecture:
The building is built of brick with 3 stories and slate roofing. The outline is designed as Reneissance style:

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 (b) Entrance & Walls:
The entrance door is Ionic entrance porch.
The wall is put granite on the first floor and put yellow-brown tiles on the second floor and above with corner stones applied.

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(c) Interiors:
In around the central hall, guest rooms are arranged. There are several State Guest House as guest spaces.  Reneissance style in first hall, Rococo style in guest room, Neo-classicism in dining room, Islamic style( later reinforced as Chinese style) in smoking room of second floor, Shoin-zukuri style in Japanese style-room around a central stairs of third floor.

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 (4) Restaurant Kikusui: 
This restaurant is located in the north-side of Shijo Ohashi bridge over Kamogawa river which is the symbol of Shijyo Oohasi bridge area combined with Minamiza-Kabuki theater.  Ueda Construction shop designed and built in 1926.
(a) Architecture:
This building is reinforced concrete construction 5 stories with a tower that draws a radial arch attached.  The tower is a Spanish style which is thatched with Spanish roof tiles.

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(b) Wall:

Tiling with unevenness is set on the wall first floor. Mortar finish is set on over second floor. 

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(5) Café Francois / Special long-established coffee shop: 

This café was opened in 1934 as a place to discuss anti-war and avant-garde art.  
This café was designed by young artist companion such as Tatsuno Shoichi and Takagi Shiro.
This is Italian baroque architecture style. The luxury salon style as Italian baroque interior such as stained glass windows, elegant white ceiling,red velvet chairs, reproduction of Mona Lisa hung on the wall and so-on have this cafe be registered as National registered tangible cultural property at the first time in Japan.

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(6) Café Rokuyosha:
This café was opened in 1950 and has kept café culture as city salon up to now.
The shade of Kiyomizu ware attract you.   
The original blend coffee mainly is brewed with flannel drip with home roasted.

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 (7) Kyoto station building:
Hara Koji designed and built in 1997.  
The international nomination competition was applied to decide the architect of this building. 
The world most famous architects were listed up with 4 Japanese and 3 foreigners. 
Those names are Ando Tadao, Ikehara Yoshirou, Kurokawa Kisho, Hara Koji, Beta Busman (Germany), Bernard Tschumi (USA) and James Stirling (England).  Finally, Hara Koji won the competition.

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 (a) Architecture form:
This building is 16 stories above ground, 3 stories below ground, 59.8meters height, East-West470 meters, South-North 80 meters, The building is composed with straight lines according to Heiankyo's Jobou sysstem (grid city plan used for the imperial capital), The structure of central concourse is designed as if it is a valley and the space extends to the left and right on the terrace. The colonnade space structure which is covered with glasses and metals reminds us as if we are in Kyoto basin.  This building design is mixed with the elements of ancient capital Kyoto and modern architecture.

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(b) Walls/Windows:
The surface of glasses look like a mirror and crystal-shaped design are arranged in some places on the surface.

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(c) Roofs:
The building inside is a colonnade by 29meter width and 147meter length which is covered with 4000 pieces of glass, Steel frame parts are divided by three blocks,

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(d) Interior:
East square is located on 7th floor and it has a role of courtyard gardens of Kyoto's merchant houses. Aerial route is located above the  colonnade by 45 meters height , 185meters length glass-walled promenade.  A grand staircase set inside the building is 35 meters difference in height, 70 meters length with 171 steps of staircase set in parallel with an escalator. 

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(8) Kyoto city museum:
Maeda Kenjirou designed and built in 1933.  This is the oldest public museum in Japan.
His idea was selected within 188 competition entries.  This building was re-designed with renewal work starting in 2017 and finished in 2020 by Aoki Jun and Nishizawa Tetsuo.

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(a) Architectural style:
Reinforced concrete with adding Japanese ancient taste.

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(b) Entrance:
A small Chidori hafu with tiles and warp shape in front of the building, The design of traditional metal fittings such as hanging fish are decorated there. This building is all-in-one configuration with the approach to Heian shrine and the outer-space of the front building combined. The entrance was re-built by digging out the front plaza using gentle slope which are covered with glass.

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(c) Walls/Windows:
Scratch tiles of about 25,000 pieces are pasted on all the walls.

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 (d) Interior:
The exhibit room get light from the window of upper side.

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(9) Kyoto Culture Museum (Old Japan Bank Kyoto branch):
Tatsuno Kingo designed and built in 1906.
(a) Architecture form:
This two stories building is built of bricks with slate roofing and belt-shaped walls by red bricks and white granites.  This building is designed based on classicism as gothic architecture.

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 (b) Entrance:
Steeple towers on double wing roof and symmetrical building facing with Sanjyo street.

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(10) 1928 building(Former Osaka Mainichi newspaper Kyoto branch:

Takeda Goichi designed and built in 1928.
(a) Architecture form:
This building is reinforced concrete construction 3 stories with horizontal louver used,  Art Deco design is applied on 3rd floor balcony with star shape and the lightning on both side of entrance.

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(b) Interior:
In 3rd floor as art complex 1928, Dramatic art, music live , dance performance and so-on are held at present, Cash on style cafes in the underground.

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(11) SACRA Building (Former Fudo-Chokin bank):

Nihon Architect Ltd. Designed and built in 1916.
(a) Architecture form:
1st floor built of brick, timber-frame and brick construction on 2nd & 3rd floor,  The appearance is based on Renaissance style.

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(b) Walls:
Stone pitching on 1st floor, tiling on 2nd floor and above:

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 (12) Kyoto city Archaeo logical Museum (Former Nishijin brocade hall):

(Kyoto modern architecture in Kyoto Nishijin & Hichijyo street)
Kyoto city Archaeo logical Museum (Former Nishijin brocade hall:

Honno Seigo designed and built in 1914,
(a) Architecture form:
Reinforced concrete column beam structure with brick walls,
Simple shape of a white tile box with roof.

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(13) Honga-Ji-Dendoin temple as Life Insurance company for followers of Shingon:

Itho Chuta designed and built in 1912.
(a) Architecture form:
Two stories building built of bricks and copper sheets roofing, A big Octagon tower in northwest corner, A small exagon tower in eastsouth corner.

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(b) Walls:
Red brick colored tiling on the brick wall with white line set by granite, The tower style is Indian saracenic architecture and Giboshi balustrade set surrounding of the tower is Chinese style, Spiritual beasts in exterior column.

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 (14) Kyoto modern architecture in Kyoto Doshisha University area:

(Doshisha Chapel):
D.C.Green designed and built in 1886,
(a) Architecture form:
This building is designed by gothic architecture style which was popular in the late 19th century in USA, The wall body of red bricks are reinforced with buttress and the pointed arches of the aperture portion are outlined in white.
(b) Interior:
The roof truss is made by hammer beam and scissor truss.

 

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(Clark Memorial hall):

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(Shoueikan hall):

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(15) Kyoto Prefectural University of Medicine Library:

Kyoto prefecture, Public Works Section/Tokawa Yasuo desiged and built in 1929.
(a) Architectual form:
Three-story reinforced concrete building where Kendo hall in the basement, teaching room in 1st floor, library on 2nd floor and lecture room on 3rd floor are arranged,

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(b) Wall:
Facade with vertical windows on 3rd floor and the entrance of 1st floor whose style is pointed arch as Neo-Gothic design,:

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If you would like to visit theses spots, please contact me through below URL which show my tour proposal registered in GoWithGuide.
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