This tour will visit the following attractions:
Kiyomizu-dera Temple : Our first stop of the tour is the celebrated Kiyomizu-dera Temple. Built atop a cliff, Kiyomizu-dera is best known for its stage, which juts out as a large terrace off the mountainside. From this stage, you can see vast panoramic views of Kyoto and breathtaking sights of the many cherry and maple trees changing colors on the mountains. The temple, which means “Temple of Pure Water” in Japanese, sits beside a waterfall from which divine water is said to gush. This water, it is said, is believed to have sacred properties that will help you succeed in life.
Kiyomizu-dera is so iconic in Japan that it has inspired a phrase: "To jump off the Kiyomizu-dera stage," which means to take on a challenge at great risk. The temple has a history going back to the 8th century, and it is Kyoto’s most visited UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Higashiyama District : Following the temple, you will explore the traditional streets and alleys that make up the Higashiyama District. Located on the lower slopes of the Higashiyama mountains, it is this area where most of Kyoto’s traditional machiya buildings can be found. Lining the area’s streets are cafes, restaurants, stores, galleries and teahouses, some of which can trace their histories back hundreds of years. As part of the tour, your guide will introduce you to some of this area’s store owners and merchants, who will teach you some of the secrets of their specific trades.
Due to its location, a great many of the stores in Higashiyama specialize in traditional crafts, particularly pottery and textile products. Kiyomizu-yaki, a unique style of Japanese ceramics, is the most famous of these products, and there are many stores and galleries showcasing the intricate procedures followed to make these beautiful pieces. Many porcelain, Japanese hand towel and incense stores can also be found in the area. Option: It is popular to walk around this area wearing a kimono or yukata (cotton kimono). If you would like to take part in a kimono experience, please let our guide know and they will be happy to assist you.
Kennin-ji Temple : Nestled within the streets of Higashiyama are the temple grounds of Kennin-ji Temple, the oldest Zen temple in Kyoto, and the next stop on the tour. It is deemed one of the city’s five great Zen temples. Over 800 years old, Kennin-ji was founded by Essai, the founder of Japanese Zen Buddhism. The temple is a serene alternative to bustling Kiyomizu-dera and guests can relax in its traditional tatami rooms and look out to its peaceful dry landscape gardens.
As part of the tour, you will also see much of the art of Kennin-ji Temple, which is associated with one of Japan’s great masterpieces: the Fujin & Raijin screens. Although the screens have since been removed from the temple, a shining replica that stands at the temple halls still inspires awe. Another great art piece in the complex is the twin dragons painted on the ceiling of the Dharma Hall. Taking up almost the entirety of the ceiling, the depiction is at once mysterious, haunting and captivating.
Gion : Stepping out of Kennin-ji Temple, you will enter the Gion district. Like Higashiyama, Gion is a beautiful traditional area, best known for being the largest geisha district in Japan. Its simple wooden buildings with intricate lattice structures have been the inspiration of art for centuries, yet the most striking part of the area may just be the geisha who walk its streets. These women, dressed in bright traditional colors, contrast against the calm browns of the buildings to make the streets even more colorful.
As you walk Gion’s streets, your guide will tell you about the long history connected to this area, as well as the role of geisha in Japanese culture.
Yasaka Shrine : The final stop of the tour is Yasaka Shrine. A brilliant vermillion complex on the edge of Maruyama Park, Yasaka Shrine is over 1,350 years old and is the subject of many Japanese legends. It is best known for being the location of Gion Festival, one of Japan’s three major festivals, every July. Due to the festival’s popularity, the approach to Yasaka Shrine became immensely crowded during the Edo period (1603-1867) and the Gion entertainment district developed as a result. You can visit some of these areas as you make your way to the shrine.
There is much to explore around the complex also, including a famous stage from which hundreds of white lanterns hang. The shrine’s compelling red buildings are exceptionally picturesque and the shrine’s street-facing gate is a great place to grab a final photograph.
The meeting place is "Ozora Square" on the roof of JR Kyoto Station.
We use a taxi for a transportation, and the routes are as follows.
JR Kyoto Station Ozora Square →（Taxi） Kiyomizu-dera Temple → Yasaka Pagoda → Kennin-ji Temple → Gion → Yasaka Shrine → Keihan line Gion-Shijo station
The tour end place is Keihan line Gion-Shijo station
After this tour is over, we recommend the following tours.
-W001 Kyoto Walking Tour: Buddhism, Art and Gardens
-W003 Gion/Miyagawa-cho, Hanamachi Night Tour
-W004 Toji, Fushimi Inari, Tofukuji Tour
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