Golden Pavilion / Kinkaku-ji

Once a shogun’s retirement villa and now a Zen Buddhist temple. Perched on the bank of a serene pond, Kinkakuji in the garden at Ryoanji.Kyoto boasts 17 World Heritage sites (Kinkakuji and Ryoanji included), with 2,000 temples, shrines, and gardens. £40 entry

Hours: 9:00 to 17:00
Closed: No closing days
Admission: 400 yen

Travel: Kinkakuji can be accessed from Kyoto Station by direct Kyoto City Bus number 101 or 205 in about 40 minutes and for 230 yen. Alternatively, it can be faster and more reliable to take the Karasuma Subway Line to Kitaoji Station (15 minutes, 260 yen) and take a taxi (10 minutes, 1000-1200 yen) or bus (10 minutes, 230 yen, bus numbers 101, 102, 204 or 205) from there to Kinkakuji.

Ryoan-ji Temple

19mins walk from Golden Pavilion
Temple of the Dragon at Peace, has one of the best rock gardens in Japan. Plus it's a UNESCO Heritage Site, contemplated from the porch

Hours: 8:00 to 17:00 (March to November)
8:30 to 16:30 (December to February)
Closed: No closing dates
Admission: 500 yen

Travel: Ryoanji can be reached directly from Kyoto Station by JR bus. The bus ride takes about 30 minutes, costs 230 yen and is covered by the Japan Rail Pass. There are buses every 15-30 minutes. Alternatively, Ryoanji is a five minute bus ride or 20 minute walk west of Kinkakuji.
The temple can also be reached by the Keifuku Kitano Line, a small train that runs through the calm residential areas of northwestern Kyoto and offers a connection to Arashiyama. To access Ryoanji, get off at Ryoanji-michi Station from where it is a 5-10 minute walk to the temple.


1h17mins walk from Ryoan-ji
46mins from Golden Pavilion. Must visit Heian shrine, Kiyomizu-dera, Nijo castle, To-ji, and of course the less spectacular Ginkaku-ji, /Silver Temple Pavilion.

Travel: By Japan Railways (JR)
The fastest access from Kyoto Station to Arashiyama is provided by the JR Sagano Line (also known as JR Sanin Line). The one way ride to Saga-Arashiyama Station takes 15 minutes and costs 240 yen. From Saga-Arashiyama Station, central Arashiyama can be reached in a 5-10 minute walk.

Nishiki Market

1h20 walk from Ryoan-ji Temple
5 block long shopping street 100 shops and restaurants. "Kyoto's Kitchen", specializes in all things food related.

Hours: Varies by store, typically 9:00 to 18:00
Closed: Varies by store, typically Wednesday or Sunday
Admission: Free

Travel: The Nishiki Market street runs parallel to Shijo Avenue, one block north of Shijo Avenue. It can be reached on foot in less than five minutes from Shijo Station on the Karasuma Subway Line (4 minutes, 210 yen from Kyoto Station) or Karasuma or Kawaramachi Stations on the Hankyu Line.

Gion District

14mins walk from Nishiki Market
Geisha district, 'Memoirs of a Geisha' guided tours. Fascinating after dark. The old style teahouses have guests and geisha entertain.

Two shows daily at 18:00 and 19:00
Closed: Monday to Thursday from December to mid March (except national holidays),
July 16, August 16, and December 29 to January 3
Admission: 3150 yen (2800 yen with online coupon)

Travel: Gion can be reached from Kyoto Station by bus number 100 or 206 (20 minutes, 230 yen). Get off at Gion bus stop. Alternatively, the closest train stations are Gion Shijo Station on the Keihan Line and Kawaramachi Station on the Hankyu Line.

Silver Pavilion

46mins walk from Gion
Following the model of the Golden Pavilion. Also the sand garden at Ginkaku-ji and the pile of sand that symbolizes Mount Fuji are quite a sight and the moss covered wooded grounds. It was the first time we saw people carefully sweeping the moss.

Travel: Ginkakuji can be accessed by direct bus number 5, 17 or 100 from Kyoto Station in about 35-40 minutes and for 230 yen one way. Alternatively, you can reach Ginkakuji by foot along the Philosopher's Path from Nanzenji in about 30-45 minutes.

Hours: 8:30 to 17:00 (9:00 to 16:30 from December to February)
Closed: No closing days
Admission: 500 yen

Kiyomizu-Dera Temple

18mins walk from Gion
26mins from Arashiyama. One of the most famous temples in Japan. Founded in 780 offers fabulous views over the city from its wooden terrace.

Construction Notice: Several of the buildings at Kiyomizudera are being renovated step by step over the coming years. Currently, the Okunoin Hall, which is well known for the temple's secondary balcony and the neighboring Amida Hall and Shaka Hall are being renovated. Furthermore, a few structures around the entrance, including the 3-storied pagoda, have been wrapped up for renovation. The construction has a certain but not overwhelming impact on a visit. Later in the decade, the main hall will also undergo renovation which can be expected to have a bigger impact on a visit.

Travel: Kiyomizudera can be reached from Kyoto Station by bus number 100 or 206 (15 minutes, 230 yen). Get off at Gojo-zaka or Kiyomizu-michi bus stop, from where it is a ten minute uphill walk to the temple. Alternatively, Kiyomizudera is about a 20 minute walk from Kiyomizu-Gojo Station along the Keihan Railway Line.

Hours: 6:00 to 18:00
Closed: No closing days
Admission: 300 yen
Spring and Fall Illumination
Hours: 18:30 to 21:30 (mid March to mid April and mid November to early December)
Admission: 400 yen

Fushimi Inari Shrine

51mins walk from Kiyomizu-Dera
Sits at the base of a mountain Inari which is 233m, trails up the mountain to many smaller shrines which span 4km and takes 2hours to walk up. Always open, Free.

TRAVEL: 2 stops from Kyoto. short walk from Fushimi Inari St along the Keihan Main Line. Miyakoji rapid trains every 30min between Kyoto & JR Nara St, 1 way, 45mins, covered by the JRP.

Himeji Castle

45mins West of Kyoto
Unesco. Japan’s most famous castle White Heron Castle. 007 filmed here. Surrounded by pine and cheery trees. 1333-1346. Open: £2-3 Entry

Construction Notice: Major renovation works are being carried out on the castle keep's roof and walls from April 2010 until March 2015 (see photos of the current state). Below is a schedule of the renovation works and the effects they have on a visit to the castle:
The scaffold structure over the castle has already been removed, and the castle's main keep is visible again. However, further clean-up works around the keep and the removal of auxiliary structures required for the renovation works will continue into early 2015, during which time the interior of the castle keep will be off limits to visitors. The interior of the castle is scheduled to reopen on March 27, 2015.

Travel:  From Himeji Station, the castle can be reached in a 15-20 minute walk or 5 minute bus or taxi ride along the broad Otemae-dori Street, which leads straight from the station to the castle. Valid on JRP Nozomi line. 15min walk from Himeji St.

Mount Shosha

You take a bus outside Himeji station to the base of the mountain where you can get a cable car to the top of the mountain. The mountain has many nice religious statues, wooden structures. It’s very peaceful up there surrounded by woodland and nature. This is where the Last Samurai, with Tom Cruise was shot, has various small temples, and it may take 2-3 hours to see them around.

Nara: Todaiji Temple

1h South of Kyoto
In Nara the world’s largest wooden building, & largest bronze Buddha statue. Surrounded by gardens holds many artifacts of Jap & Buddhist history. Deer roam the grounds. Entry: £2.67
TRAVEL: Kyoto - Kintetsu Nara St trains twice hourly, takes 30mins. 30min walk from Kintetsu Nara St, or 45min walk from JR Nara St. Open: 8-5pm


Imperial Palace

1h 13mins walk from Sensoji
Can’t go in but looks nice from outside. Within walking distance are the National Diet, the center of Japan’s government, a vast complex of buildings, which houses Japan’s Head of State, the Emperor of Japan and his administrative apparatus. Ginza is best experienced at night so you can view the electronic fireworks.

Tsukiji market

43mins walk from Imperial Palace
Hyperactive fish and produce market for 6am breakfast and freshest sashimi and suchi in the country.

Tokyo Tower

36mins walk from Tsukiji Market
We Didn't go to the Tokyo Tower, instead we went up a government building which also has lovely views of Tokyo and its free! The Tokyo Tower is the 2nd tallest in Japan. Most people use it both as an observation and as a communication tower, sky tower to walk up. If you desire to visit shops and restaurants as well as have unparalleled views of Tokyo, then you should make an effort of climbing this tower.

Odaiba Island

1h 18mins walk from Tokyo Tower
large artificial island in Tokyo Bay, Japan, across the Rainbow Bridge. Iitially built for defensive purposes 1850s, expanded as a major commercial, residential and leisure area. catch a train going and then walk back over the bridge.


1h from Tokyo Tower
fashion centre and night-life. Massive pedestrian crossing worth going to see. I think Shibuya is the busiest station in Tokyo so watch out as it'll be hectic!

Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden

32mins walk from Shibuya
major gardens: English Landscape, French Formal, Japanese Traditional (with teahouse) and the curiously named Mother and Child Forest (Haha to Ko no Mori). There's also a lovely Taiwan Pavilion; go inside and look out the second-story windows.

Golden Gai

19mins walk from Shinjuku
Shinjuku Golden Gai , An area of architectural interest and for its nightlife. It is composed of a network of six narrow alleys, connected by even narrower passageways which are just about wide enough for a single person to pass through. Over 200 tiny shanty-style bars, clubs and eateries


2h North of Tokyo
Toshogu Shrine,  Futarasan Shrine, 767 AD, at the base of Nantai-san mountain. Sacred Bridge Rinno-ji. Lake Chuzenji and Kegon Falls.
Take the Tohoku Shinkansen fromTokyo St to Utsunomiya 50/45 mins , then connect to JR Nikko line, 43mins. Total trip from Tokyo: 1h40 - 2h, depending on the connection in Utsunomiya.

Sensoji Temple

is an ancient Buddhist temple located in Asakusa, Tokyo, Japan. It is Tokyo's oldest temple, and one of its most significant. Formerly associated with the Tendai sect of Buddhism. Geisha district