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4 Seasons: The Best Place in Kyoto

If you are visiting Japan, Kyoto is the first destination you should aim to. Kyoto is a large city located on the main island Honshu, in the Kansai region southwest of Lake Biwa. Former capital of Japan named Heian-kyo during the emperors' era, it abounds in sanctuaries, historical temples and monuments classified as a World Heritage Site by Unesco. It is often considered the traditional Japanese city. Whenever you go to Kyoto there is always place to visit and to admire. This article will help you find out which place is better depending on the season.

Spring: March-May

Heian Jingu Shrine (平安神宮)

Heian-jingu Shrineis a shinto sanctuary located north-east of Kyoto. Built in 1895, the complex pays tribute to the city that was the imperial capital of Japan during the Heian period in antiquity. In spring, the walk under the weeping cherry trees to the pink sustained is worth the detour. The visit reach its full potential at the end of the season of the sakura, when the cherry trees reveal their beautiful falling branches adorned with rosy colors.
Heian Jingu Shrine Address: Tenno-cho, Okazakinishi, Sakyo-ku, Kyoto City, Kyoto Prefecture  606-8341 Access: 1min walk from Kyoto Kaikan Bijutsukan-mae Bus Stop, Kyoto City Bus 5 from Kyoto Station / 10min walk from Higashiyama Station, Tozai subway line Opening Hours: Open from 6:o0 a.m to 5:30 p.m (closing time varies seasonally by half an hour) Entrance fee: Free Home Page: http://www.heianjingu.or.jp

Arashiyama (嵐山)

Arashiyama is an area in the western suburbs of Kyoto. Initially a walk for the Imperial Court, today tourists flock there from the Togetsukyo Bridge. They admire the views between its mountains blooming in spring and colored red in autumn. The magnificent bamboo plantation brings its touch of green in all seasons. It is one of the most beautiful places in all Kansai area and people go there during sakura season to see the flowers blooming.
Arashiyama Address: Tabuchi Yama-cho, Sagaogurayama, Ukyo-ku, Kyoto City, Kyoto Prefecture  616-8394 Access: By JR Train from Kyoto Station: Take the JR Sagano/San-in Line to Saga-Arashiyama Station and walk for about 10 minutes. Opening Hours: Always Open Entrance fee: Free Home Page: http://www.insidekyoto.com/arashiyama

Nijojô (二条城)

Nijo-jo is a Japanese castle located in the city center of Kyoto. Built in 1603 for Tokugawa Ieyasu, it was the residence of the first shogun of the Edo period (1603-1867). At the end of the Ieyasu reign, the castle of Nijo was converted into an imperial palace until it was handed over to the city of Kyoto and then opened to the public as a tourist site. The entire site has been listed as a World Heritage Site by Unesco since 1994.
Nijojo Address: 541 Nijojo machi, Nakagyo-ku, Kyoto City, Kyoto Prefecture  604-8301 Access: 5min walk from Nijojo-mae Station, Tozai subway line Opening Hours: Open from 8:45 a.m to 5:00 p.m Entrance fee: Adult:600 Yen Child (Middle School age):200 Yen Home Page: http://www2.city.kyoto.lg.jp/bunshi/nijojo/english/index.html

Summer: June-August

Gion Matsuri (祇園祭)

A major tourist attraction, popular celebration and especially ancestral celebration, one of the best known festivals of Japan is held in July in kyoto, bathing the city of sun and immense colored tanks. Welcoming every year thousands of visitors who come to animate this peaceful district, the Gion Matsuri evolved while maintaining its popular customs. In 863, while Kyoto is ravaged by an epidemic, the Emperor decides to organize sacred rituals in order to appease the Kami (Japanese gods). The local festivities of the Gion Matsuri are part of the living tradition of the former imperial capital.
Gion Matsuri  Date: The end of July Route: http://www.kyokanko.or.jp/gion/junkou.html Participation fee: Free Home Page: http://www.insidekyoto.com/gion-matsuri-kyotos-biggest-festival

Byōdō-in Temple (平等院鳳凰堂)

The Byodo-in Temple is a Buddhist temple located in Uji, a small town in Kansai, about fifteen kilometers south-east of Kyoto. The majestic main hall, recently refurbished and classified as Unesco and the National Treasure of Japan, opens its wings like a phoenix, housing a representation of Amida Buddha. The outside visit is organized around the pond, in a sublime setting that is accompanied even by a few cherry blossoms in the spring.
Byodo-in Temple Address: 116 Ujirenge Uji-shi, Kyoto Prefecture  611-0021 Access: 10min walk from Uji Station, JR Nara line or Uji Station, Keihan line Opening Hours: Open from 8:30 a.m to 5:30 p.m Entrance fee: Adult:600 Yen Child (Middle School age):300 Yen Home Page: http://www.byodoin.or.jp/ja/en.html

Tôji Temple(東寺)

Tôji Temple is a Japanese Buddhist temple located near Kyoto station. The temple is famous for its five-level pagoda built in 796 by Imperial decree of Emperor Saga to protect the city. With its 55 m height, it is the highest of its kind in all of Japan. The walk in the beautiful garden is a delight. Take tea under the trees and watch a pyramid of water turtles on rocks in the sun. Since December 1994, the temple has been declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.
Tôji Temple Address: Kujo-cho 1, Minami-ku, Kyoto Prefecture  601-8473 Access: 10min walk from Tojiin Station, Keifuku Kitano line Opening Hours: March 20-April 17: Open from 8:30am to 4:30pm  /  April 18-September 19: Open from 8:30am to 5:00pm  /  September 20-March 19: Open from 8:30am to 4pm Entrance fee: Adult:500 Yen Child (Middle School age):300 Yen Home Page: http://www.toji.or.jp/en/

Autumn: September-November

Kiyiomizu-dera Temple (清水寺)

Kiyomizu-dera is a syncretic complex comprising a Buddhist temple and a shinto sanctuary, located in the Higashiyama district, east of Kyoto. It is popular in spring and autumn and is one of the city's most popular tours, including the view of the main building built on a mountain slope and classified as a UNESCO World Heritage site since 1994. This majestic temple complex, including the magnificent main pavilion, as well as the walk all around offer a very pleasant and relaxing panorama.
Kiyiomizu-dera Temple Address: 1-294, Kiyomizu, Higashyama-ku, Kyoto City, Kyoto Prefecture  605-0862 Access: 10min walk from Gojo-zaka or Kiyomizu-michi Bus Stop, Kyoto City Bus 100 or 206 from Kyoto Station Opening Hours: Open from 6:00am to 6:00pm Entrance fee: Adult:400 Yen Child (Middle School age):200 Yen Home Page: http://www.kiyomizudera.or.jp/en/

Jisho-ji Temple: Ginkaku-ji Temple (銀閣寺)

The Ginkaku-ji is a Buddhist temple in Kyoto. Dating from the 15th century, it is a Buddhist temple whose name is translated as "silver pavilion". Unlike the golden pavilion, the Ginkakuji was never covered with silver leaves. The Silver Pavilion, although made of lacquered wood, is surrounded by a beautiful dry garden with refined aesthetics, a bamboo path and a Japanese garden of moss.
Ginkaku-ji Temple Address: 2 Ginkaku-ji-cho, Sakyo-ku, Kyoto City, Kyoto Prefecture  606-8402 Access: 10min walk from Ginkaku-ji-michi Bus Stop, Kyoto City Bus 5 or 17 from Kyoto Station Opening Hours: March 1-November 30: Open from 8:30am to 5:00pm  /  December 1-Feburary 28: Open from 9:00am to 4:30pm Entrance fee: Adult:500 Yen Child (Middle School age):300 Yen Home Page: http://www.insidekyoto.com/ginkaku-ji-temple-northern-higashiyama

The Path of Philosophy: Tetsugaku no michi (哲学の道)

The path of philosophy is a trail located northeast of Kyoto near the Ginkaku-ji. Descending along a canal, it allows to reach on foot the temples Ginkaku-ji and Eikan-do Zenrin-ji. This tour, very touristic especially in spring with the flowering of cherry trees, takes its name from the Japanese zen philosopher Kitaro Nishida who liked to meditate there.
The Path of Philosophy: Tetsugaku no michi Address: Shishigatani Honenin Nishimachi, Sakyo-ku, Kyoto City, Kyoto Prefecture 606-8427 Access: 10min walk from Ginkaku-ji-michi Bus Stop, Kyoto City Bus 5 or 17 from Kyoto Station Opening Hours: Always Open Entrance fee: Adult:Free Home Page: http://www.insidekyoto.com/ginkaku-ji-temple-northern-higashiyama

Winter: December-February

Rokuon-ji Temple: Kinkaku-ji Temple(金閣寺)

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The Kinkaku-ji is the usual name given to the Rokuon-ji Buddhist temple located north of Kyoto. It is famous for its magnificent façades covered with gold leaf and is known as the "Golden Pavillon". The temple and the surrounding garden welcome a lot of tourists traveling to Japan because it is one of the most beautiful sites of Kyoto. Whether under snow in winter or delicately adorned with spring and summer vegetation, the Kinkaku-ji will amaze you.
Kinkaku-ji Temple Address: 1 Kinkaku-ji-cho, Kita-ku, Kyoto City, Kyoto Prefecture  603-8361 Access: In front of Kinkaku-ji-mae Bus Stop, Kyoto City Bus 205 from Kyoto Station Opening Hours: Open from 9:00am to 5:00pm Entrance fee: Adult:Adult:400 Yen Child (Middle School age):300 Yen Home Page: http://www.insidekyoto.com/kinkaku-ji-temple-the-golden-pavilion

Fushimi Inari Taisha Shrine(伏見稲荷大社)

Fushimi Inari Taisha is Japan's largest Shinto Shrine located south of Kyoto. Erected in 711, it is dedicated to the rice goddess Inari and more widely to wealth. The beauty of this complex is revealed at the option of a hike along a valley, marked by thousands of vermillion porticos called torii.
Fushimi Inari Taisha Shrine  Address: 68 Fukakusa Yabunouchi-cho, Fushimi-ku, Kyoto City, Kyoto Prefecture  612-0882 Access: 5min walk from Inari Station, JR Nara line / 10min walk from Fushimi Inari Station, Keihan line Opening Hours: Always Open Entrance fee: Adult:Free Home Page: http://inari.jp/en/

Kifune Jinja Shrine(貴船神社)

Kibune is a Japanese village located in a wooded valley of Kansai, in the mountains of northern Kyoto, consist of a single main street that runs along a river. Tourists come here every season to feel the serenity of the Kifune sanctuary, enjoy a traditional meal by the water and go to the hot spring baths. Historic cradles of the city, the pavilions of the Kibune-jinja stand proudly vis-a-vis the visitors managed to climb the many stone steps. The temple is dedicated to the divinity of water and rain that protects the crops.
Kifune Jinja Shrine  Address: 180 Kurama-Kibune-cho, Sakyo-ku, Kyoto City, Kyoto Prefecture  601-1112 Access: 5min walk from Kibune Bus Stop, Kyoto Bus 33 from Kibune-guchi Station, Eizan line Opening Hours: May-November: Open from 6:00am to 8:00pm  /  December-April: Open from 6:00am to 6:00pm Entrance fee: Adult:Free Home Page: http://www.insidekyoto.com/kifune-jinja-shrine

Let's go to Kyoto!

Kyoto is Japan's oldest imperial capital (until the Meiji Restoration of 1868) and is one of the most popular cities in Japan. Kyoto is a city that is very well served by metro as well as by bus. Taxis are also an option as they are pretty cheap. All the signs are transcribed in English so you will not have to worry about when you are looking for a particular place. More informations about Temples and shrines on our article here!
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Fabien Mizart

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