Explore Kyoto: Tours and Itineraries
Phoenix Hall (Hou-ou-do) at Byodo-in Temple
The original structure was a country villa for the Fujiwara clan and was converted to a temple in 1052. It is one of the many UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Kyoto. The Phoenix Hall, also known by its proper name Amida-do, is the most famous building at the temple and was built in 1053. It is one of the few original wooden structures still remaining in Japan from the Heian Period (710–1185).
Experience Japanese Tea Ceremony
Sanmon Gate at Tofuku-ji Temple
Standing about 22 meters high, the Sanmon Gate remains just as it was when the temple was rebuilt by Ashikaga Yoshimochi in the Muromachi Period (1392¬–1573). Fittingly, this is both the largest and oldest Zen Sect Sanmon Gate still standing, and is a designated National Treasure.
Lunch at Machiya (traditional townhouse) restaurant
Daihoon-ji Temple (Senbon Shakado)
The Main Hall (honden) at Senbon Shakado is one of the oldest buildings in Kyoto and has survived intact since 1227 despite wars and fires over the centuries that have destroyed other buildings in the area.
Iwashimizu Hachimangu Shrine / Hachiman-zukuri
Iwashimizu Hachimangu is a large shrine complex on top of Mt. Otokoyama, where visitors can experience nature and the Shinto religion removed from the crowds that are often found in Kyoto proper. With a history of more than a thousand years, Iwashimizu Hachimangu is one of only four remaining examples of the hachiman-zukuri architectural style, which involves the skillful combination of different structures and their roofs that look from the outside to be wholly separate but are actually a single interior.
Kamigamo Shrine / Nagare-zukuri (streamlined roof style)
Kamigamo Shrine, the oldest shrine in Kyoto, is known for its Aoi Matsuri (Hollyhock Festival), one of the three biggest festivals in Kyoto. Its sanctuaries are said to have been built at the end of the 7th century. These sanctuaries stand on a large site with an area of approximately 660,000 m². The main shrine (where the deity is enshrined) and the gonden (the temporary main shrine where the deity was enshrined while the main shrine was being built) are designated National Treasures, while 34 other buildings of this shrine complex are designated Important Cultural Properties. Each of these structures is also recognized by UNESCO as a World Cultural Heritage site.
Kitano Tenmangu Shrine / Gongen-zukuri
The Kitano Tenmangu Shrine was built in northwest Kyoto over 1,000 years ago. The shrine was built in 947 by the emperor at the time and dedicated to Sugawara no Michizane, a scholar and politician who rose to prominence in the middle of the Heian period (794–1185), but became the victim of slander and was exiled. A number of calamities that struck Japan after his death were attributed to his vengeful spirit, and Kitano Tenmangu Shrine was one of many shrines built in hopes of appeasing him.
Yasaka Shrine / Gion-zukuri
The original shrine was constructed in 656 before the capital was moved from Nara to Kyoto.
The shrine’s height is about 15 m, and it extends over about 1,320 m². The roof is made of Japanese cypress bark and covers two edifices, the honden (main shrine) and the front shrine, which had been separate structures before. This type of structure is rare in Japan and is named Gion-zukuri after this shrine.
Garden of Fine Arts, Kyoto
Constructed in 1994
Architect: Tadao Ando Architect & Associates
The Garden of Fine Arts is seen as an oasis of European taste amid the chaotic hustle of Japan’s ancient capital city. The garden uses light, water and the contemporary materials of glass and concrete to evoke the serenity of traditional Japanese architecture.
The Museum Annex / The Museum of Kyoto
Constructed in 1969
Architect: Kingo Tatsuno
This building was designed by Kingo Tatsuno and his apprentice Uheiji Nagano as the new location of the Kyoto Branch of the Bank of Japan. It was designated a National Important Cultural Property in 1969 as a great example of Western-style architecture during the Meiji Period (1868–1912).
The Holy Annunciation Orthodox Church, an orthodox church in Kyoto
Constructed in 1901
Architect: Shigemitsu Matsumuro
Designed by the architect Shigemitsu Matsumuro, the church was completed in December 1901. Bishop Nicholas of Tokyo consecrated the new house of prayer in May 1903. Commemorating the consecration of the church, the parish received a Gospel Book bearing the signature of St. John of Kronstadt. Additionally, the Kyoto Orthodox Women’s School was founded as an annex with the completion of the church. The school was supervised by Nadezhda Takahashi (Ine).
Lunch at Fortune Garden Kyoto
Constructed in 1927
Architect: Goichi Takeda
On a corner next to Kyoto City Hall facing Kawaramachi Street, the Shimazu Seisakusho Kyu-Honsha Building was built in 1927 by master craftsman Goichi Takeda, known as the father of architecture of Western Japan.
Former Main Building of Kyoto Prefectural Head Office
Constructed in 1904
Architect: Shigemitsu Matsumuro
This building is the oldest existing example of a Kyoto government office. It is valued both as an important piece of architectural history and as a superb model of design. The surrounding garden was designed by the famous landscape gardener Ogawa Jihei. The furniture was designed by Sugita Kogoro, a Tokyo native who is known today as the father of Western furniture in Japan.
St. Agnes Church
Constructed in 1898
Architect: James McDonald Gardiner
St. Agnes Church is one of the oldest churches in Kyoto. During World War II, it was requisitioned by the Imperial Japanese Army and was used as a storage site for supplies. After WWII, St. Agnes Church became the cathedral for the Diocese of Kyoto and the chapel for St. Agnes’ Girls’ School.
Constructed in 1933
Architect: Takamasa Niinomi
Murin-an is a villa originally owned by Aritomo Yamagata, a famous politician in the Meiji and Taisho periods. It was designed by Takamasa Niinomi and features a splendid shakkei (“borrowed scenery”) garden, executed by Jihei Ogawa.
Heisei Chishinkan Wing of Kyoto National Museum
Constructed in 2013
Architect: Yoshio Taniguchi
The new wing comprising almost 18,000 m² now houses some of Japan’s most important artworks. As such, the building, including its storage and exhibition facilities, has been designed to the highest technological standards for withstanding earthquakes.
Lunch at Kyoto Modern Terrace
Designed by Kunio Maekawa, the Kyoto Modern Terrace is housed in a renovated building representing modern Japanese architecture. Guests can relax in the retro interior and pass the time enjoying food and drinks on the spacious outdoor terrace.
Kyoto Prefectural Library
Constructed in 1909
Architect: Goichi Takeda
The Kyoto Prefectural Library was moved to Okazaki in 1909. The former building was designed by the architect Goichi Takeda (1872–1938). The facade of the former building was preserved and is reused as the exterior of the current building, which opened in 2001.
Kyoto Municipal Museum of Art
Constructed in 1933
Architect: Kenjiro Maeda
The building has a bronze roof and unique, Western-style imperial architecture. The former museum opened in 1933 as one of the projects celebrating the Emperor Showa’s ascendance to the Chrysanthemum Throne. This was the second municipal museum of art to open in Japan.
Constructed in 1928
Architect: Koji Fujii
This house is an experiment in how to make a modern house specifically to accommodate Japan’s climate. It features passive heating and cooling technologies in the form of earth tubes and passive roof ventilation.
Asahi Beer Oyamazaki Villa Museum of Art
Main Building: Design supervised by Shotaro Kaga
Shotaro Kaga started construction on the building in 1912, and the first phase was completed around 1917. He undertook renovation work in 1922, and the current main building is thought to have been completed in 1932.
Underground Jewelry Box Annex (South Wing): Designed by Tadao Ando
The architect Tadao Ando designed the building, which is semi-buried underground with greenery planted on top of a cylindrical gallery exhibition space. The design maintains harmony with the surrounding natural landscape.
Dream Box Annex (North Wing): Designed by Tadao Ando
In 2012, 100 years after the initial construction for Oyamazaki Villa began, a new gallery annex was completed. Called Dream Box, it was also designed by Tadao Ando.
Myoki-an is a Zen temple situated slightly southwest of Kyoto. Its Tai-an teahouse measures two tatami mats in size and dates back to 1582. It is one of the only teahouses that is said to be a creation of tea master Sen no Rikyu (1522–91), and is a designated National Treasure.
Suntory Yamazaki Distillery
Suntory Yamazaki Distillery Tour
Distillery staff guide visitors around the whisky production area and offer tastings of select Yamazaki whiskies.
Yamazaki Whisky Museum
Visitors can enjoy the Yamazaki Whisky Museum exhibits and museum shop.