see + do
Kyoto see + do
Sightseeing in Kyoto can be overwhelming, simply because there's so much to see and do. It's best to organize your itinerary around specific neighborhoods, such as Higashiyama and Arashiyama, so you can explore on foot. Check out the Kyoto Fact Sheet to see how the city is laid out.
Though Kyoto has its share of museums, you might pass them up in favor of the city's real artistic treasures: its temples, shrines, and gardens. Most open daily at around 8:30 or 9 am and close at 4 or 5 pm, but check at your hotel before you head out. You'll be required to remove your footwear at most temples, so wear slip-on shoes and sturdy socks. (Slippers are usually provided, but in smaller sizes suited to the Japanese.) Everyone wants to see Ryoan-ji, the Zen temple with Japan's most famous sand-and-rock garden (which also makes it Japan's most crowded sand-and-rock garden). The stunning Kinkaku-ji, or Golden Temple, also attracts the hordes, as does Kiyomizu-dera, perched on a hillside with stunning views of the city. If you do visit, avoid the tour buses by going early in the morning or just before closing time. And don't miss some of the lesser-known but equally impressive alternatives, such as the Silver and Moss temples.
If you want to see history in motion, book a hands-on class taught by masters of Japanese traditional arts, such as calligraphy and tea ceremony, through the Iori Origin Arts Program[link]. And those interested in more contemporary Japanese culture will dig the Kyoto International Manga Museum.