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Top Ten Things to Do When You’re in Kyoto

| Travel Guide, Travel Tips

Kyoto is a beautiful city that has found the perfect equation to merge the old with the new – a perfect blend of the bygone age with modern times. On the streets you’ll see groups of people who still wear their traditional kimono and yukata, as well as the infamous beauties called the geishas roaming in the streets.

At Elysian, we aspire to provide you with the best of the best no matter where you visit. With its rich culture and colourful buildings, Kyoto is definitely a place where you’ll be happy getting lost in and soaking in its rich histories at every turn. 

 

Top 10 Popular Activities in Kyoto:

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  1. Maruyama Park. Thanks to anime and Japanese dramas, there’s a certain allure with blooming cherry blossoms. At Maruyama Park, catch these mesmerising trees that stand strong and high by the clear lake. During a clear spring day, locals would gather with friends, enjoying the breathtaking views of these trees in full bloom over homemade bento. At night, these beauties are lit up with specialised lights to create a scenic view of the cherry blossoms even after dark. It’s definitely a sight to behold!

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2. Monkey Park Iwatayama (Arashiyama Monkey Park). Trekkers, this one’s for you! Grab a day pack and head uphill to enjoy stunning views overlooking the city alongside Japanese Macaques (or “Snow Monkeys”). It’s definitely an experience unlike any other, especially if you’re looking for a good way to exercise during travelling. Just remember: keep a safe distance from the monkeys and avoid feeding them.

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3. Kiyomizu-dera Temple. Nothing spells beauty like a temple frozen in time, shrouded in pink cherry blossoms. This UNESCO World Heritage site will astound you, where you’ll see its crimson posts and majestic stone walls rising from afar. It’s said to have been blessed by Japanese deities as well, which is why it’s popular among singles: it’s said that if you walk between two stones with your eyes closed in front of the Jishu Shrine, you’ll find true love! It’s also connected to the scenic Otowa Waterfall where three separate streams from the falls symbolize Success, Longevity, and Love.

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4. Fushimi Inari-taisha Shrine. Helmed as one of the most iconic shrines in Japan (as well as the most Instagrammable), this popular tourist spot is where you can find thousands of crimson torii gates standing almost next to each other, leading to various ornate and historical shrines. Taking on this uphill climb is no easy feat, so make sure to wear comfy shoes and clothes when you visit!

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5. Arashiyama’s Philosopher’s Path. When the cherry blossoms are in full bloom, this stone path will take your breath away. It’s also one of the most recognizable scenes in Japan, used in travel posters as well as a common sight in Japanese anime. This tranquil place is perfect for some peace and quiet before you end the day. It also leads to a lush bamboo forest where the tranquility continues – as well as dozens of selfies, if you fancy.

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6. Kyoto International Manga Museum. This museum delves into everything relating to manga and anime, where guests can immerse themselves in rich history such as the first manga series ever created and their influence post-World War II as well as Japanese pop culture. Manga enthusiasts are in for a treat as the library of antiquities here is impressive, including an artwork that dates back to the 19th century! If you want to have your portrait drawn in anime style, you can have it drawn here too.

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7. Tea Ceremony. Enjoy a cup of beautifully prepared tea in an assiduous and orthodox ritual passed down for centuries. It has been performed since the 9th century CE, especially among lords and royalties. It’s even considered sacred since it originated from Zen Buddhist practices. While it all seems extremely arduous for a cup of tea, the ceremony is highly valued for its formality that shows respect to both the culture and the guests.

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8. Kinkakuji Temple. As if built on top of a large mirror, this beautiful temple that stands erect amidst the calm is actually a retirement home for a famed shogun in the 12th century. It has then became a temple after his death, and this beautiful architecture has since then stood against the test of time. With the lush foliage surrounding the temple steeped in serenity, this is the perfect place to relax and catch a sunset or two.

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9. Mt. Kurama. You can’t leave Kyoto without trying out this relaxing spring in a quaint town filled with historical hotels and baths. Atop of Mt. Kurama, there’s a historical Buddhist temple called Kurama-dera, a safe haven for various wildlife such as deer, monkeys, and various species of birds. During winter, it transforms into a breathtaking landscape that’s blanketed in white – definitely something you wouldn’t want to miss for the ‘gram!

 

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10. Gion District. What to try your luck at catching sight of a geisha in person? This is the place to be. Known as the entertainment district of Kyoto, Gion is home to different kinds of shows and places where you can either wish for your future, indulge in traditional food and drinks, catch cherry blossoms while walking along Hanami-koji, or check out the colourful kabuki shows in the neighbourhood. What a way to round up your trip in Kyoto! Now think about all the stories you get to tell.