Higashiyama Place guide

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Kyoto

Higashiyama

At the base of the city’s eastern mountains is the Higashiyama district, one of the best places to visit in Kyoto with its beautifully preserved historic districts.

About

 Old Town Kyoto

At the base of the city’s eastern mountains is the Higashiyama district, one of the best places to visit in Kyoto with its beautifully preserved historic districts. Teeming with places of attraction, especially Kyoto temples, shrines, and museums, it is home to the UNESCO sites of Kiyomizu-dera and Ginkakuji

Higashiyama is a great place to experience Edo-era Kyoto, where the wooden buildings and traditional shop fronts have retained their traditional design. The streets are also lined with shops, cafes and restaurants, which have been catering to tourists for centuries. 

A tour of this district can be split into two sections: North Higashiyama and South Higashiyama. 

Southern Higashiyama is Kyoto’s most popular sightseeing district as it is a long strip of must-see temples.

  • Kiyomizu-dera Temple: One of the best temples in Kyoto, it was built around the Otowa Waterfall and derives its name from its pure waters. Pilgrims have flocked to Kiyomizu-dera since the 8th century to drink from the three springs, which are said to have different benefits to health, romance and success. It stands in the hills of Kyoto and is renowned for panoramic views of the city from its lofty terrace of massive wooden beams. 1-294, Kiyomizu, Higashiyama-ku, Kyoto-shi, Kyoto, 605-0862, Japan; Opening hours 6:00am-6:00pm daily

  • Shoren-in: With giant camphor trees growing outside its walls, this Buddhist temple is hard to miss. It was originally the residence of the chief abbot of the Tendai school of Buddhism, featuring a main hall with sliding screens painted in the 16th and 17th centuries. The gardens are beautiful, inspiring thought and meditation. 

  • Chi-on: A 5-minute walk south of Shoren-in, this Buddhist temple is called the “Vatican of Pure Land Buddhism”. Chion-on is the head temple of the Jodo sect, a popular Buddhist sect in Japan. When you enter the temple, you will quickly notice that everything about Chion-in is built on a grand scale: the Sanmon Gate (massive main entrance), the vast grounds and the large buildings. 400 Rinka-cho, Higashiyama-ku, Kyoto, 605-8686; Opening hours 9:00am-4:30pm daily

While not as popular, Northern Higashiyama offers greener attractions and less crowds, making it a perfect place for relaxation.

  • Tetsugaku-no-Michi: “The Path of Philosophy” can be found at the opposite end of the neighborhood of Nanzenji all the way to the Ginkaku-ji. The stroll is pleasant – visitors follow a canal and green lane filled with plants, bushes and trees. Sakyo-ku, Kyoto; Open daily

  • Ginkaku-ji: At the northern end of the Path of Philosophy is the Silver Pavilion. Shogun Ashikaga Yoshimasa constructed this villa in 1482, which he used as a retreat from the turmoil of civil war. Visitors are surrounded by gardens filled with ponds, classical Japanese architecture and bamboo groves. 2 Ginkaku-ji-chō, Sakyō-ku; 8:30am-5:00pm Mar-Nov, 9:00 AM-4:30 PM Dec-Feb

  • Honen-in: A 10-minute walk from Ginkaku-ji, this fine temple is a hotspot for maple leaves in November. It’s set apart from other Kyoto attractions for its secluded gardens set back in the woods. 30 Goshonodan-cho, Shishiga-tani, Sakyo-kyu; 6:00am-4:00pm, free admission 

  • Nanzen-ji: One of the finest temples of Kyoto, with expansive grounds and numerous sub-temples. Don’t miss the views from the 2nd storey, which overlooks the city. Fukuchi-cho, Nanzen-ji, Sakyo-ku; 8:40am-5pm Mar-Nov, to 4:30pm Dec-Feb

Get around

Exploring on foot or by bicycle is recommended, but because there's a lot of ground to cover, you have the option to take a rickshaw through a chain of temples and shrines.

Get there

  • Train: The Keihan line provides access to Southern Higashiyama. Get off at Gion-shijō or Shichijō stations.

  • Bus: The Higashiyama district can be accessed from multiple bus stops between the Gojozaka (JPY 230) and Gion (JPY 230) bus stops.

  • Subway: The Tōzai subway line’s Higashiyama Station offers easy access to the northern end of the district.

Tours near Higashiyama

Kyoto Gion Night Walk Small Group Guided Walking Tour - 3 Hour

3hs4.6

Kyoto Gion Night Walk Small Group Guided Walking Tour - 3 Hour

Kyoto, Japan

from

$48/person

Kyoto Imperial Palace & Nijo Castle Small Group Guided Walking Tour - 3 Hour

3hs4.4

Kyoto Imperial Palace & Nijo Castle Small Group Guided Walking Tour - 3 Hour

Kyoto, Japan

from

$50/person

Kyoto Nishiki Market & Depachika: 2-hours Food Tour with a Local

2hs4.6

Kyoto Nishiki Market & Depachika: 2-hours Food Tour with a Local

Kyoto, Japan

from

$45/person

Kyoto Fushimi Inari Taisha Small Group Guided Walking Tour - 3 Hour

3hs4.7

Kyoto Fushimi Inari Taisha Small Group Guided Walking Tour - 3 Hour

Kyoto, Japan

from

$27/person

Kyoto's Arashiyama Bamboo Grove: 3-Hour Guided Tour

3hs4.7

Kyoto's Arashiyama Bamboo Grove: 3-Hour Guided Tour

Kyoto, Japan

from

$49/person

Kyoto Golden Temple & Zen Garden: 2.5-Hour Guided Tour

3hs5.0

Kyoto Golden Temple & Zen Garden: 2.5-Hour Guided Tour

Kyoto, Japan

from

$49/person

Nara Adventure from Kyoto: Todaiji, Kasuga Taisha Shrine, Nara Park & More – Full Day

8hs4.5

Nara Adventure from Kyoto: Todaiji, Kasuga Taisha Shrine, Nara Park & More – Full Day

Kyoto, Japan

from

$60/person

Kyoto Bicycle Adventure Tour – 4 Hrs

4hs5.0

Kyoto Bicycle Adventure Tour – 4 Hrs

Kyoto, Japan

from

$50/person

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