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Kyoto Tours, Vacation Packages & Travel Experiences

  • Japanese pruned pine trees at Rokuon-ji Temple
  • A beautiful sunset
  • Kinkakuji Temple - The Golden Pavilion is a popular photo opportunity while on your Japanese vacation.
  • Bamboo path
  • A beautiful Japanese garden in the Kyoto Imperial Palace

Kyoto was the capital of Japan for over 1000 years before Tokyo became its capital in 1868 and is Japan’s most beautiful city with a rich cultural heritage possessing 14 UNESCO World Heritage Sites. It is known as the “City of 10,000 shrines” because there are 2000 religious sites (mainly Buddhist). Other major attractions on a Japanese vacation are Kyoto’s palaces and gardens plus its old and colourful neighbourhoods. 

Arriving initially in Kyoto, one’s first impression is that of a modern metropolis which it is in parts. However, it doesn’t take long on a Japan vacation to unearth the infinite number of cultural treasures which are spread out all over the city. 

To name all of the sites and venues that can be seen on Kyoto tours would take up a book. However, the following are some of the most significant and important. 

Nijo Castle was built in 1603 as the residence of the first shogun of the Edo Period (1603-1867). Its palace buildings are arguably the best surviving examples of castle palace architecture of Japan's feudal era and the castle has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The entire castle grounds are surrounded by stone walls and moats.

The Kyoto Imperial Palace used to be the residence of Japan's Imperial Family until 1868. It is located in the spacious Kyoto Imperial Park, an attractive park in the centre of the city that also encompasses the Sento Imperial Palace and a few other attractions. The complex is enclosed by long walls and consists of several gates, halls and gardens. 

Kiyomizudera, literally meaning "Pure Water Temple", is one of the most celebrated temples in Japan. It was founded in 780 and is best known for the wooden stage that juts out from its main hall. The stage affords visitors on Japan tours a nice view of the numerous cherry and maple trees below that erupt in a sea of colour in spring and fall. There are also panoramic views of the city from here. 

Ginkakuji, the Silver Pavilion, is a Zen temple along Kyoto's eastern mountains. In 1482, shogun Ashikaga Yoshimasa built his retirement villa on the grounds of today's temple. The villa was converted into a Zen temple after his death. It consists of the Silver Pavilion, half a dozen other temple buildings, a beautiful moss garden and a unique dry sand garden. All of this can be enjoyed on a Japan vacation by walking along a circular route around its grounds from which the gardens and buildings can be viewed.

Kinkakuji, the Golden Pavilion, is a Zen temple in northern Kyoto whose top two floors are completely covered in gold leaf. It is an impressive structure built overlooking a large pond which reflects a mirror image of the temple. The gardens offer a few places of interest including a pond that is said to never dry up and statues that people throw coins at for luck.

Sanjusangendo is a temple in eastern Kyoto which is famous for its 1001 statues of Kannon, the goddess of mercy. The temple was founded in 1164 and rebuilt a century later after the original structure had been destroyed in a fire. The statues are equipped with 11 heads to better witness the suffering of humans and with 1000 arms to better help them fight the suffering. Altogether this is an awesome sight on Japan tours. 

The Heian Shrine dates back just over a hundred years and was built on the occasion of the 1100th anniversary of the capital's foundation in Kyoto dedicated to the spirits of the first and last emperors who reigned in the city. The shrine grounds are very spacious and the main buildings are a partial replica of the original Imperial Palace from the Heian Period. The garden's most striking feature is its many weeping cherry trees making the garden one of the best cherry blossom spots in Kyoto. 

The Ryoanji Temple is the site of Japan's most famous rock garden which attracts hundreds of visitors on a Japanese vacation every day. Originally an aristocrat's villa during the Heian Period, the site was converted into a Zen temple in 1450. The garden consists of a rectangular plot of pebbles surrounded by low earthen walls. 

The Shugakuin Imperial Villa was built in the 17th century and consists of the Upper, Middle and Lower Villa areas, each featuring gardens and buildings of the traditional imperial style.

When strolling around Kyoto, make sure to take in Gion, Kyoto's most famous geisha district. It is filled with shops, restaurants and ochaya (teahouses), where geiko (Kyoto dialect for geisha) and maiko (geiko apprentices) entertain their assignations.
It is also an area with a high concentration of traditional wooden merchant houses. 

Pontocho is one of Kyoto's most atmospheric dining areas. It is a narrow alleyway packed with restaurants on both sides offering a wide range of dining options from inexpensive to traditional and modern Kyoto cuisine and foreign cuisine. Most of the restaurants along the eastern side of the alleyway overlook the Kamogawa River.

The Philosopher's Path is a pleasant stone path passing through the northern part of Kyoto's Higashiyama district. It follows a canal which is lined with hundreds of cherry trees which, in early April, explode with colour, making this one of the city's most popular cherry blossom viewing spots on Japan tours.

The Kyoto National Museum is one of Japan's oldest and most distinguished museums. It is one of only four top-level national museums in Japan. The museum's permanent collection is presented to the public in rotating exhibitions and consists of archaeological relics, sculptures, ceramics, calligraphy, costumes and paintings. 

A total contrast is the Kyoto Stationbuilding which was opened in 1997. The building's futuristic design and atmosphere was conceived to convey historical Kyoto through a modern design. The station's large main hall with its exposed steel beamed roof is meant to reflect both the structure of the station and the grid like layout of Kyoto's street network. 

Another modern contrast is the Kyoto Tower, Kyoto’s tallest building and a rare modern iconic landmark in a city famous for its ancient temples and shrines. The tower was completed in 1964, the same year as the opening of the Tokyo Olympics. There is a viewing platform with a 360 degree view of Kyoto and views as far as Osaka on clear days. 

There is no doubt that Kyoto is a special city offering countless hours of enjoyment for the visitor.on a Japan vacation



Japan Travel Information

At Goway we believe that a well-informed traveller is a safer traveller. With this in mind, we have compiled an easy to navigate travel information section dedicated to Japan tours.

Learn about the history and culture of Japan, the must-try food and drink, and what to pack in your suitcase. Read about Japan's nature and wildlife, weather and geography, along with 'Country Quickfacts' compiled by our travel experts. Our globetrotting tips, as well as our visa and health information will help ensure you're properly prepared for a safe and enjoyable trip. The only way you could possibly learn more is by embarking on your journey and discovering Japan for yourself. Start exploring… book one of our Japan tours today!


Extend Your Trip

After your Japan tour, consider taking the time to visit other destinations. Goway offers exciting China vacation packages, India tours and Thailand vacation packages plus a comprehensive selection of vacation packages in many other Asian countries.


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