Kyoto
Meet the Locals

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Our most recommended Kyoto Meet the Locals

From Osaka : Private Full-day Tour to Kyoto

1. From Osaka : Private Full-day Tour to Kyoto

Start the tour with pick up from central Osaka and travel to historic Kyoto. Over the course of the day, you'll be presented with a balanced view of this historic city and its surroundings. The Arashiyama district is the first stop, and it is here where you'll be introduced to Japanese garden and temple design. Tenryu-ji Temple has one of the most outstanding, timeless examples of Japanese gardens surrounding it's simple-but-majestic temple buildings. Then it's time for a walk up through the famous bamboo grove - a photo opportunity not to be missed - before arriving at the entrance to luxurious Okochi Sanso. Here you will try some matcha (Japanese green tea), before exploring the winding paths that connect the buildings, views, and garden areas. Afterwards, you'll enjoy a stroll alongside the river, then have free time for lunch and even a bit of shopping, if you wish. Next, enjoy the atmospheric streets of the Goin district, complete with a gurgling stream and rows of traditional tea house and restaurant buildings.  Not far from the Gion is Fushimi Inari-taisha, arguably the most famous Shinto shrine complex in the entire region. After having a look around you'll end your tour with a visit to the famous Torii gate.

Kyoto: 45-Minute Tea Ceremony Experience

2. Kyoto: 45-Minute Tea Ceremony Experience

You will take you place on the tatami, the traditional Japanese floor mat and be met by your English-speaking host, who is a licensed tea master from Urasenke, the biggest school of tea ceremony in Japan. Watch as the host carries out the ceremonial preparation of matcha, powdered green tea. Then, you will have the chance to make tea yourself, while the host informs you about the history and spiritual role of the tea ceremony and the effects each tea-making method has on its flavor. Afterwards, savor some traditional Japanese sweets Once the ceremony has come to a close, you will have the chance to take photos and see examples of kimonos and beautiful woven textiles made in the Nishijin district of Kyoto. If you'd like to wear a kimono during the experience, you can select it as an add-on during booking and take photos to remember the experience.

Kyoto Nishiki Market Food Tour

3. Kyoto Nishiki Market Food Tour

Your experience will include stops at family owned stalls and shops which have stood the test of time. At a few of the stops sample specialty products like tsukemono (vegetables from the surrounding mountains preserved in vinegar), yuuba (the world’s smoothest sashimi tofu made from the world famous Kyoto mountain water), Kamaboko (seafood preserved in fish paste), Tako (Octopus with quail egg) and Macha Warabi Mochi (a special traditional sweet covered in ground tea leaves). During the tour learn detailed information about the ingredients of different Japanese dishes, how their food is prepared and what is used to eat it. Your experience will do more than just give you a chance to taste Kyoto’s delicious food but will also give you a sense the history and atmosphere of the Nishiki Market experienced by the Japanese for generations. You will be consumed with physical and visual stimuli every step of the way and enjoy stories from the past told directly from shopkeepers and families you will spend time with. After your market exploration walk to a nearby restaurant and have a course lunch featuring beautiful and delicious local dishes.

Kyoto: All-Inclusive 3-Hour Food and Culture Tour in Gion

4. Kyoto: All-Inclusive 3-Hour Food and Culture Tour in Gion

Explore the Gion district by night with an experienced English, German, French, or Spanish-speaking tour guide who knows everything there is to know about the area. The tour starts near Kamo river, where you’ll learn about how the tradition of Geishas came to be. After a short stroll along a busy commercial street, you’ll slip into a calm, quiet area to visit the Yasaka Jinja shrine. After that touch of education, it’s off to the Gion.   The Gion has secrets and history scattered across its narrow streets, but this is also a modern entertainment district—so it’s time for a deep dive into what goes on here. Your guide will keep it light and fun, and explain some of the more interesting cultural mores of these parts. Step into a restaurant and graze from a multitude of small plates at a sort of Japanese-style tapas experience. Enjoy a drink as well before continuing on.   Between restaurant stops, there will be an exploration of Kiyamachi, Ponto-cho, and some other commercial and nightlife streets. Your guide will show you both modern and historical Kyoto, painting a well-rounded picture that gives you a real sense of the place. This tour keeps the groups small and includes your food and drinks, so that you can have a carefree night like you’re simply hanging out with someone who knows the neighborhood. A delicious Kobe (or nearby sourced) Beef option is available on top of the usual food and drink. This option is for bookings at least 10 hours in advance.

Kyoto: Private Customized Walking Tour with a Local

5. Kyoto: Private Customized Walking Tour with a Local

Discover Kyoto like a local and see the top attractions on a 2, 4, 6, or 8-hour private walking tour. Meet your host and get insider tips on what to see and do, learn about the culture and discover hidden gems along the way. You'll be paired with guides that are passionate about the place they call home and who choose to spend their free time sharing it with like-minded travelers matched to them. Book your preferred tour duration at least 72 hours in advance so that the best experience can be created in advance. You will be contacted shortly after booking to chat about your needs and interests. A like-minded host will then be provided, along with a bespoke, but flexible, itinerary exclusive to you. Visit sacred sites like the shrine of Fushimi Inari Taisha or Kinkajuki Temple, explore the cultural district of Gion or get off the beaten path in historic neighborhoods with the help of your guide. Stop for lunch at an authentic spot, recommended by your host to suit your taste and budget, or snack on street food as you walk. Get advice on how to spend the rest of your time in the city and more.

Kyoto: Tea Ceremony Ju-An at Jotokuji Temple

6. Kyoto: Tea Ceremony Ju-An at Jotokuji Temple

Start your tea ceremony experience by entering through the main gates of the Jotoku-ji Temple. You will pass the entrance to the Grand Tearoom on your left and a shop next to it and meet at the nearby red benches where your guide awaits. Whilst walking through the temple you are free to admire the architecture and stand by the purification fountain. Weather permitting, you are free to sit at the red benches and for a break. In the event of rain you can stand outside under the gable of the shop or wait in the Grand Tearoom. Once you have finished perusing the temple or sitting on the red benches taking in the atmosphere you are able to enter the Grand Tearoom where your instructor waits for you.  Start your tour of the Temple with a traditional purification ritual, a completely unique and insightful experience for Western visitors. Afterwards you will remove your shoes at the entrance of the Grand Tearoom and in your group, proceed inside to take your seat. Get the chance to sample matcha tea at its best. The Tea Master will guide you throughout, showing and explaining every step of the way. Throughout the ceremony you will be taught the fine art of drinking matcha tea and learn about the importance of the ceremony.

Kyoto: Morning Japanese Bento Cooking Class

7. Kyoto: Morning Japanese Bento Cooking Class

Experience an authentic Japanese food tradition and prepare your own bento box at a morning bento cooking class in Kyoto. Learn about typical Japanese dishes, such as sushi, tempura and miso soup, and hear about the cultural background of the well-known Japanese "bento" takeaway meal. Traced back to the late Kamakura Period (1185 to 1333), the bento box has now become a staple of Japanese cuisine. Arrive for your 2.5 to 3-hour class and collect your ingredients, apron and utensils. Then, watch and follow your chef as they demonstrate the art of bento and explain the tricks to making beautiful Japanese dishes often found in a bento box. Once you have finished cooking your dishes, enjoy the fruits of your labor and tuck into your bento lunch.

Kyoto: 3-Hour Guided Food Tour in Gion at Night

8. Kyoto: 3-Hour Guided Food Tour in Gion at Night

Meet your guide at the Izumo no Okuni statue at Gion Shijo Station, then set off for a tasty 3-hour tour of local restaurants and street food vendors. The tour has been specially designed for you to experience the most authentic side of Kyoto and takes you to places that are normally hard to find for tourists. Throughout the night your guide is on hand to advise what you should order and how to order. Head to the first location of the night and admire Gion's picturesque streets and alleyways full of traditional Kyoto-style buildings with Machiya architecture along the way. Arrive at the restaurant and dine on a selection of meat or vegetables that have been simply but perfectly seasoned to create a pure and flavorsome eating experience. At the next stop, enjoy mouth-watering tempura skewers or traditional sushi, paired with authentic and unique matcha beverages. The final stop is a quirky standing sake bar, where you can taste a selection of sake drinks. This tour is an unforgettable opportunity to see and experience Kyoto nightlife like a real local, and visit bars and restaurants that most tourists miss.

Kyoto Culture and Food Tour by Day and Night

9. Kyoto Culture and Food Tour by Day and Night

See the temples, shrines and gardens of Kyoto and learn about the city's 1,200-year history and geisha traditions. Start at the 13th-century Tofukuji Temple and learn about the inspiration for its garden. Walk to the Fushimi Inari Shrine to see the red torii gates spread across the mountain.  Head to the geisha district of Gion as the sun sets and stroll past traditional teahouses from the 17th century. Soak up the atmosphere of the historic quarter and get some free time to explore on your own. Then, experience Kyoto at night in a group. Wander the lantern-lit wooden streets to the Yasaka Shrine, brought to life with its bright lights. Sample typical dishes at the street food stalls selling everything from frozen bananas to skewered squid. Cross the Kamo River to get a view of the restaurant district before entering the historic entertainment district of Pontocho. Continue to the arcade strip of Teramachi and see merchants selling Manga comics, high-quality sushi knives and more. End at a typical tachinomiya (stand-up) bar in the Nishiki food market. 

Welcome to Kyoto: Private Walking Tour with a Local

10. Welcome to Kyoto: Private Walking Tour with a Local

Transform the way you travel and make it as much about the people you meet as the places you see. Get a welcome to Kyoto from a local host eager to share all the tips and tricks to help you make the most of your stay. Meet at your hotel or accommodation and get familiar with your local neighborhood. Learn about the best places to eat, buy groceries and the easiest ways to get around. Alternatively, arrange to meet at a central landmark or intersection to start your walking tour. Hear about the top things to do, customized to your interests. By the end of the tour, you will feel more comfortable navigating the city on your own with all the information you need.

Frequently asked questions about Kyoto Meet the Locals

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Other Sightseeing Options in Kyoto

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What people are saying about Kyoto

Overall rating

4.5 / 5

based on 362 reviews

Mardi was right on time on a crisp Christmas evening with a cheery demeanor and a pleasant smile, even though we both wore COVID masks. She had an exhaustive knowledge of Japanese history and culture, including local landmarks from temples to tea houses to brothels. My favorite tale was the creation of a local shrine to the tenuki spirit that dragged people into the nearby river. She also picked excellent places to grab some refreshments. The cheese and tofu soup was the highlight of the trip. I totally recommend Mardi's tour of the Gion and surrounding area if you find yourself in Kyoto.

My partner and I really enjoyed this experience, the guide was personal and provided an experience we were interested in. If he didn't know the answer to a question he would research it and get back to us. Overall we found it lovely to learn about Kyoto and have someone take control for 8 hours (no more maps or wondering where to go next). For these reasons I would recommend the tour even if you've been to Kyoto before.

very nice cooking class with a perfect english speaking teacher. all meals were very very delicious, the best food we ate in japan yet. if you don't like any of the ingredients, you can choose an alternative. also got insider tips from our teacher, thanks for that! :) we highly recommend this class if you are staying in kyoto or the area around.

The local Tour was amazing! Really made me feel like a local. An impossible task but one he really tried to accomplish. Helped me understand how Kyoto works from the ground up. Great experience and a great visit!!

The guide was extremely well versed in Japanese culture as well as sights and attractions. Japanese and English was fluent. 10 out of 10 would recommend this tour guide specifically Taibi.