Are you planning a trip to Kyoto and looking for unique experiences that go beyond the typical tourist destinations? Kyoto is a city that is steeped in history and culture, and there are plenty of hidden gems that are waiting to be explored. From lesser-known temples and shrines to off-the-beaten-path neighbourhoods, there are many non-touristy things to do in Kyoto that will give you a deeper appreciation of the city.
One of the best ways to experience the hidden side of Kyoto is to explore its unique neighbourhoods. Whether you’re wandering through the narrow streets of Pontocho or discovering the traditional machiya buildings of Nishijin, there are plenty of opportunities to immerse yourself in the local culture. You can also take a stroll through the tranquil gardens and forests that are scattered throughout the city, such as the bamboo groves of Kodai-ji or the Kyoto Botanical Gardens.
If you’re looking for a taste of traditional Kyoto, there are plenty of experiences that will give you a glimpse into the city’s rich history and culture. From watching a tea ceremony at a traditional teahouse to trying your hand at a Japanese craft such as pottery or calligraphy, there are many ways to get a deeper understanding of the city’s traditions. And of course, no trip to Kyoto would be complete without sampling some of the city’s unique dining experiences, such as setting your ramen on fire at Menbakaichidai restaurant.
- Kyoto is a unique destination with plenty of hidden gems waiting to be explored.
- Exploring Kyoto’s unique neighbourhoods and tranquil gardens is a great way to experience the city’s local culture.
- Trying traditional Kyoto experiences and sampling unique dining options are must-do activities when visiting the city.
Exploring Kyoto’s Hidden Gems
Kyoto is a city full of hidden gems waiting to be discovered. If you’re tired of the usual tourist spots, it’s time to explore some of Kyoto’s lesser-known attractions. Here are some of the top hidden gems in Kyoto that you won’t want to miss.
Arashiyama Bamboo Grove
Escape the crowds and immerse yourself in the serene beauty of the Arashiyama Bamboo Grove. This hidden gem is located in the western outskirts of Kyoto and is a must-visit for nature lovers. The towering bamboo stalks create a tranquil atmosphere that will make you forget you’re in a bustling city. Take a stroll through the grove and enjoy the peaceful ambience.
If you’re looking for a colourful and Instagram-worthy spot, head to Yasaka Koshindo. This hidden gem is a temple located in the Higashiyama district of Kyoto. The temple is adorned with hundreds of colourful “pom poms” that hang from the ceiling, creating a vibrant and cheerful atmosphere. It’s a great spot to take some fun photos and immerse yourself in the local culture.
Otogi Nenbutsu-Ji is a hidden gem located in the rural outskirts of Kyoto. This temple is known for its unique and quirky statues, which depict a variety of characters from Japanese folklore. The statues are scattered throughout the temple grounds and make for a fun and interesting sightseeing experience. If you’re looking for something off the beaten path, Otogi Nenbutsu-Ji is definitely worth a visit.
Yasui Kompira Gu Shrine
Yasui Kompira Gu Shrine is a hidden gem located in the Gion district of Kyoto. This shrine is known for its unique “wish-granting” stone, which is said to have the power to grant your wishes if you crawl through it three times. It’s a popular spot for locals, but remains relatively unknown to tourists. If you’re looking to experience a more authentic side of Kyoto, Yasui Kompira Gu Shrine is a great place to start.
Located in the Arashiyama district of Kyoto, the Kimono Forest is a hidden gem that’s sure to impress. The forest is made up of hundreds of colourful kimono fabric pillars that light up at night, creating a magical and enchanting atmosphere. It’s a great spot to take some unique photos and experience the beauty of Kyoto at night.
Kyoto’s hidden gems are waiting to be discovered. From serene bamboo groves to colourful temples, there’s something for everyone in this vibrant city. So, put on your walking shoes and get ready to explore the best of Kyoto’s hidden gems.
Kyoto’s Lesser-Known Temples and Shrines
If you’re looking for a more authentic and unique experience in Kyoto, visiting the city’s lesser-known temples and shrines is a great way to go. Here are some of the best ones to add to your itinerary:
Honen-In is a peaceful and serene Zen Buddhist temple located in the foothills of Higashiyama. The temple is surrounded by a beautiful moss garden, and its main hall is a stunning example of traditional Japanese architecture. Inside, you’ll find a statue of Honen, the founder of the Jodo sect of Buddhism, which this temple is dedicated to.
Gio Ji is a small, secluded temple located in the mountains of Kyoto. It’s said to have been founded by Gio, a famous dancer and courtesan from the Heian period, who retired to this temple after falling out of favour with the emperor. The temple is known for its beautiful rock garden and its stunning views of the surrounding mountains.
Kodai-Ji is a historic temple located in the Higashiyama district of Kyoto. It was founded in 1606 by the wife of Toyotomi Hideyoshi, one of Japan’s most famous warlords. The temple is known for its beautiful gardens, which are especially stunning during the autumn foliage season. Inside, you’ll find a number of important cultural treasures, including paintings and calligraphy by famous artists.
Tenryuji Temple is a UNESCO World Heritage site located in the Arashiyama district of Kyoto. It was founded in 1339 by the shogun Ashikaga Takauji, and it’s one of the oldest and most important Zen temples in Japan. The temple is known for its beautiful gardens, which were designed by the famous landscape architect Muso Soseki. Don’t miss the temple’s iconic dragon painting, which is said to be one of the finest examples of Japanese dragon art.
Visiting these lesser-known temples and shrines is a great way to see a different side of Kyoto. Whether you’re interested in history, culture, or just want to escape the crowds for a while, these temples and shrines are sure to impress.
Experience Traditional Kyoto
When you think of Kyoto, images of traditional Japanese culture and tradition come to mind. From the stunning temples and shrines to the beautiful gardens and parks, Kyoto is a city steeped in history and tradition. If you want to experience the traditional side of Kyoto, there are a few activities that you simply cannot miss.
One of the most iconic traditions in Japan is the tea ceremony. Known as “chanoyu” in Japanese, the tea ceremony is a ritualistic way of preparing and serving tea. The ceremony is steeped in history and tradition, and it is a great way to experience the culture of Kyoto.
There are many tea houses in Kyoto that offer tea ceremonies, and they are a great way to relax and unwind after a day of sightseeing. During the ceremony, you will be served a bowl of matcha (powdered green tea) and some traditional Japanese sweets. The ceremony itself is a beautiful and intricate process, and it is something that you will never forget.
Another way to experience traditional Japanese culture is by wearing a kimono. A kimono is a traditional Japanese garment that is worn by both men and women. It is a beautiful and elegant piece of clothing that is steeped in history and tradition.
In Kyoto, there are many shops that offer kimono rental services, and it is a great way to experience the traditional side of Kyoto. Once you have chosen your kimono, you will be dressed in it by a professional dresser. They will also help you with your hair and makeup, so you look your best.
Samurai Sword Experience
If you want to experience the samurai side of Japanese culture, then a samurai sword experience is a must. Kyoto was once the capital of Japan, and it was home to many samurai warriors. Today, you can experience what it was like to be a samurai by taking part in a sword experience.
During the experience, you will learn the basic techniques of samurai sword fighting. You will also get to wear a traditional samurai outfit and wield a real samurai sword. It is a thrilling and exciting experience that you will never forget.
In conclusion, experiencing traditional Kyoto is a must if you want to truly appreciate the culture and history of this beautiful city. Whether you choose to take part in a tea ceremony, wear a kimono, or wield a samurai sword, you are sure to have an unforgettable experience.
Kyoto’s Unique Dining Experiences
If you’re looking for unique dining experiences in Kyoto, you’ve come to the right place. From fire ramen to izakaya hopping, there’s something for everyone. Here are some of the best non-touristy dining experiences in Kyoto:
At Kyoto’s famous Menbakaichidai, you can experience fire ramen, a dish that is literally set on fire right in front of you. This is not your average bowl of ramen. The noodles are cooked to perfection and the broth is rich and flavourful. But the real showstopper is when the chef pours oil on top of the ramen and sets it on fire. The flames shoot up high and create a dramatic, unforgettable experience.
Izakayas are Japanese pubs where you can enjoy drinks and small plates of food. Kyoto has many hidden izakayas that are popular with locals but not well-known to tourists. You can hop from one izakaya to another and try different types of sake and dishes. Some izakayas even have live music or karaoke for a fun night out.
Sushi and Sake Tasting
If you’re a fan of sushi and sake, you’ll love this tasting experience. At a sushi restaurant in Kyoto, you can try different types of sushi paired with different types of sake. The chef will explain the different flavours and how they complement each other. It’s a great way to learn about Japanese cuisine and culture.
Whether you’re in the mood for ramen, izakaya hopping, or sushi and sake tasting, Kyoto has something unique to offer. Don’t be afraid to explore and try new things. You never know what delicious surprises you might find.
Exploring Kyoto’s Gardens and Forests
Kyoto is known for its beautiful gardens and forests that offer a peaceful escape from the hustle and bustle of the city. Here are some must-visit spots for nature lovers:
Kyoto Botanical Gardens
The Kyoto Botanical Gardens are a great place to explore if you are interested in plants and flowers. With over 12,000 species of plants, the gardens are a treasure trove of biodiversity. You can take a leisurely stroll through the gardens and admire the cherry blossoms in the spring or the colourful autumn leaves in the fall. There are also various events and exhibitions held throughout the year, so make sure to check the schedule before you go.
The Nonomiya Shrine, also known as the Moss Temple, is a hidden gem located in the Arashiyama district. The shrine is known for its beautiful moss garden, which is said to have inspired the famous Japanese novel “The Tale of Genji”. The garden is meticulously maintained and offers a serene atmosphere that is perfect for meditation or reflection. Take your time to explore the different paths and admire the various shades of green.
Arashiyama Bamboo Grove
No trip to Kyoto is complete without a visit to the Arashiyama Bamboo Grove. The towering bamboo stalks create a natural tunnel that is both breathtaking and otherworldly. You can take a leisurely walk through the grove and enjoy the rustling sound of the bamboo leaves. The best time to visit is early in the morning or late in the afternoon when the crowds are thinner and the light is softer.
Kyoto’s gardens and forests are a testament to the city’s commitment to preserving nature and its beauty. Whether you are a nature lover or just looking for a peaceful escape, these spots are sure to leave you feeling refreshed and rejuvenated.
Kyoto’s Cultural and Historical Landmarks
Kyoto is a city steeped in history and culture, with a wealth of landmarks that showcase the city’s rich past. Here are three must-visit cultural and historical landmarks that you should add to your itinerary:
Kyoto International Manga Museum
If you’re a fan of Japanese manga, then you won’t want to miss the Kyoto International Manga Museum. This museum is dedicated to the art and history of manga, with over 300,000 volumes of manga available for visitors to read. The museum is located in a former elementary school building, which has been renovated to house the extensive manga collection.
You can spend hours browsing the shelves and reading your favourite manga titles, or attend one of the museum’s many events and workshops. The museum also has a gift shop where you can buy manga-related souvenirs.
Nijo Castle is a UNESCO World Heritage site that was built in 1603 as the residence of Tokugawa Ieyasu’s son, Tokugawa Hidetada. The castle was later used as an imperial palace before being opened to the public in 1939.
The castle’s main attraction is the Ninomaru Palace, which is known for its beautiful architecture and intricate decorations. The palace features “nightingale floors” that squeak when walked on, which were designed to alert the castle’s occupants to the presence of intruders.
Visitors can also explore the castle’s gardens, which feature a large pond and several teahouses. The castle is located close to Kyoto Station and is easily accessible by public transport.
The Imperial Palace is another must-visit cultural landmark in Kyoto. The palace is the former residence of Japan’s emperors and is located in the heart of Kyoto. The palace’s gardens are open to the public and offer a peaceful oasis in the middle of the city.
Visitors can take a guided tour of the palace’s interior, which includes the Shishinden Hall, where important ceremonies were held during the reign of Emperor Hideyoshi. The palace’s architecture and decorations are a testament to the wealth and power of Japan’s imperial family.
These three landmarks are just a small sample of the cultural and historical treasures that Kyoto has to offer. Whether you’re interested in history, magic, or just want to soak up the city’s unique atmosphere, Kyoto is a city that is sure to delight and inspire you.
Kyoto’s Unique Neighbourhoods
Kyoto is a city that is famous for its traditional culture and architecture, and its unique neighbourhoods are a reflection of this. Here are three neighbourhoods that are worth exploring during your visit to Kyoto:
The Gion district is a famous geisha district that is known for its traditional architecture and narrow streets. This neighbourhood is a great place to explore if you want to experience traditional Japanese culture. You can see geisha and maiko (apprentice geisha) walking through the streets on their way to appointments, and you can also visit traditional tea houses and restaurants.
Southern Higashiyama is an area that is known for its temples and shrines. This neighbourhood is home to some of Kyoto’s most famous landmarks, including Kiyomizu-dera Temple and Yasaka Shrine. It is also a great place to explore if you want to experience traditional Japanese crafts, such as pottery and paper-making.
Arashiyama Station is located in the western part of Kyoto and is known for its bamboo groves and scenic views. This neighbourhood is a great place to explore if you want to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city and enjoy some peace and quiet. You can take a scenic walk through the bamboo groves, visit the famous Togetsukyo Bridge, and enjoy a traditional Japanese meal at one of the local restaurants.
Overall, Kyoto’s unique neighbourhoods offer a glimpse into traditional Japanese culture and architecture. Whether you want to explore a geisha district, visit famous temples and shrines, or enjoy some peace and quiet in a scenic neighbourhood, Kyoto has something to offer everyone.
Kyoto Off the Beaten Path
Kyoto is a city of over 1600 temples, and it’s easy to get lost in the sea of tourists that flock to the most popular ones. However, if you’re looking for a more unique experience, there are plenty of non-touristy things to do in Kyoto that will give you a taste of the city’s rich culture and history without the crowds.
One of the best ways to explore Kyoto off the beaten path is to take a guided tour. GetYourGuide offers a variety of tours that take you to lesser-known spots, such as the Gear Art Complex, a museum dedicated to mechanical art, and Yokai Street, a street filled with traditional Japanese monsters. These tours are a great way to see a different side of Kyoto and learn about its history and culture from a local guide.
If you prefer to explore on your own, there are plenty of hidden gems to discover. For example, Uji, a small town just outside of Kyoto, is home to some of the best green tea in Japan and a beautiful canal lined with cherry blossom trees. It’s a great place to escape the crowds and enjoy a peaceful afternoon.
Another great spot to visit is the Wind and Thunder Gods shrine, a small Shinto shrine tucked away in a residential neighbourhood. It’s a bit of a hike to get there, but the shrine’s unique architecture and tranquil atmosphere make it well worth the effort.
If you’re looking for a retro atmosphere, head to Pontocho Alley, a narrow alleyway filled with traditional Japanese restaurants and bars. It’s a great place to grab a bite to eat or a drink and soak up the local culture.
Overall, Kyoto off the beaten path is full of hidden treasures waiting to be discovered. Whether you’re looking to escape the crowds or just want to experience a different side of the city, there are plenty of non-touristy things to do in Kyoto that will leave you feeling inspired and excited.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are some hidden gems to explore in Kyoto?
Kyoto is full of hidden gems waiting to be explored. Some of the lesser-known spots include Tenryuji Temple, Kyoto Botanical Gardens, and Kameoka. You can also visit the colourful “pom poms” of Yasaka Koshindo, hidden pubs along Ponchoto’s alleyways, and the quiet laneways of Gion.
Where can I find unique and offbeat experiences in Kyoto?
If you’re looking for unique and offbeat experiences in Kyoto, there are plenty of options available. You can take a sake brewery tour, visit a traditional Japanese tea house, or explore the city’s underground shopping arcades. You can also try your hand at making pottery or take a cooking class to learn how to make traditional Japanese dishes.
What are some alternative activities to do in Kyoto?
If you want to do something different in Kyoto, there are plenty of alternative activities to choose from. You can go on a cycling tour of the city, take a hot air balloon ride over the surrounding countryside, or go on a hiking trip in the nearby mountains. You can also visit the city’s many museums and art galleries, or take a day trip to nearby Nara to see the famous deer park.
What are the best non-touristy food spots in Kyoto?
Kyoto is known for its delicious food, and there are plenty of non-touristy spots to try. Some of the best include the seafood market at Nishiki Market, the traditional izakayas in Pontocho Alley, and the street food stalls in the Gion district. You can also try some of the city’s lesser-known dishes, such as yudofu (tofu hot pot) or kaiseki (multi-course Japanese meal).
What are some local secrets for avoiding crowds in Kyoto?
If you want to avoid the crowds in Kyoto, there are a few local secrets to keep in mind. First, try to visit popular attractions early in the morning or late in the afternoon, when there are fewer people around. You can also explore lesser-known spots, such as the bamboo groves of Kodai-ji or the tranquil scenery at Daigo-ji. Finally, consider visiting during the off-season, when there are fewer tourists around.
What are some underrated neighbourhoods to visit in Kyoto?
Kyoto is full of interesting neighbourhoods to explore, and some of the most underrated include Fushimi Inari, Arashiyama, and Kibune. Fushimi Inari is known for its famous red torii gates, while Arashiyama is home to a beautiful bamboo grove and several temples and shrines. Kibune is a small town in the mountains north of Kyoto, known for its natural hot springs and traditional ryokans.
The Benefits of a Singapore Personal Loan for Your Kyoto Japan Trip
When you choose a personal loan, you unlock more from your Kyoto Japan adventure, all without straining your savings.
No need for financial stress or major lifestyle changes just to afford your travels. Show your steady monthly income, and you qualify for a Singapore personal loan. With a yearly income of at least $20,000, Accredit Moneylender can fund your trip up to six times your monthly earnings.
Personal loans, unlike secured ones, don’t ask for collateral. No risk of losing assets if you can’t pay. Think about opting for a Singapore personal loan from licensed moneylenders. They usually give faster approvals compared to banks.
Plan your travel and budget for it. Savor local cuisine, not just instant noodles, with peace of mind.