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Kyoto is considered Japan’s culture capital. It has 14 UNESCO world heritage sites within the city limits, around 1600 temples, 400 shrines and countless gardens.

Tip: Rent a bike

The best way to see Kyoto is to rent a bike. Don’t forget to drive on the left! Officially you shouldn’t use the pedestrian path for biking but everyone does it anyway since there are no dedicated bike lanes and the cars tend to go by pretty fast.

Kyoto Station

Upon arriving in Kyoto — assuming you went by rail — the first attraction is the station itself. It’s Japan’s second largest station building (only bested by Nagoya) designed by Japanese architect Hara Hiroshi.

The same architect also designed Umeda Sky Building in Osaka.

Kyoto tower

Right next to the station is Kyoto tower. On the 6th and 7th floor is a food complex. You can go up the tower but I heard it’s not worth doing. The tower serves as a nice landmark for orienting yourself in Kyoto.

famous for culture temples shrines geisha geisha district

Kiyomizu-dera temple

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Kyoto nightlife

Kyoto nightlife

Kinkaku Temple (The Golden Pavillion)

Golden Temple


Fushimi Inari is one of the most famous sights in Japan - a small hike, red torri

Fushimi Inari


Tenryuji temple and garden

Tenryuji temple and garden

Bamboo groves

Bamboo Grove

Okochi Sanso Villa

If you come out of the bamboo groves near Tenryuji you might as well take a stroll around this beautiful Japanese landscape garden. Apparently the guy who designed it used to be a famous actor. I guess he put his money towards his other passion: garden design.

The entry price is ¥1000 but you get a nice postcard and a macha tea at a little teahouse.