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Things to do in Kansai Region, Japan

Our most recommended things to do in Kansai

Kyoto: 45-Minute Tea Ceremony Experience

1. 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: Tea Ceremony Ju-An at Jotokuji Temple

2. 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 and Nara 1 Day Bus Tour from Osaka/Kyoto

3. Kyoto and Nara 1 Day Bus Tour from Osaka/Kyoto

Depart from the exclusive VIP waiting rooms of Osaka or Kyoto, heading to Fushimi Inari Taisha. Designated as an Important Cultural Property, the main shrine building contains five shrines together, these five pillars of Fushimi Inari Taisha are named for the great virtues of Inari Okami that they embody. Inari Okami is known as a deity of business prosperity, the prosperity of industries, the safety of households, safety in traffic and improvement in the performing arts. The 'Senbon Torii' or 1000 torii gates are donations by individuals and companies, and you will find the donator's name and the date of the donation inscribed on the back of each gate. Then you will head to Arashiyama, which changes with the seasons and you can enjoy the scenery any time of year, with cherry blossoms in the spring, boat festivals in the Summer, red leaves in Autumn and snow white mountains in the winter. Arashiyama is also filled with temples and shrines including the match-making Shrine you can visit, during your walk through the famed Bamboo grove. There are a variety of restaurants to choose right near the Togetsukyo bridge, including vegan and Halal. Proceed to the symbol of Kyoto, Kinkakuji, the Golden Pavilion, also named Rakuon-ji: one of the most popular buildings in Japan. Finally, move on to Japan’s old capital, Nara: you will have the time to explore its park, cuddle the worldwide famous deer and enter the biggest wooden building of the planet, Todai-ji Temple, another UNESCO world heritage site. Here you will find yourself in front of Japan’s biggest Buddha statue, 15 meters tall.

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 Tour with Local Licensed Guide

5. Kyoto: Private Tour with Local Licensed Guide

Discover Kyoto’s historical sites, favorite local spots, and hidden gems on a private walking tour with a nationally licensed guide. Choose from a 6 or 4-hour tour, whose itinerary can be customized to fit your interests. See both the modern and traditional sides of this dynamic and ancient city as well as some of the best sightseeing areas, restaurants, and shops. Visit places like the Fushimi Inari Shrine, famous for the Torii Gate Corridor. Explore the filming location for the film “Memoirs of a Geisha”, displaying a colorful crimson scenery with a mysterious atmosphere. Walk through the shrine’s corridors that were erected as a symbolic continuing gate from the current world to the world of the dead inhabited by the gods. Go to the Kinkaku-ji Temple (Temple of the Golden Pavilion), which was given its name from the golden color of its reliquary hall. Admire its simple yet bold structure that features beautiful mountain views in the background. Enter the ancient Kiyomizu-dera temple to get panoramic city views from its large veranda. Walk from the path from the temple to Gion, to find many Kyoto-esque shops filled with unique souvenirs. Grab a snack or enjoy a delicious dinner at one of the many fine restaurants in the Gion district. Your guide will give you dining recommendations that are sure to delight your palate.

Osaka: Shinsekai Food Tour

6. Osaka: Shinsekai Food Tour

Explore the hidden gem of Shinsekai with your guides and discover the real Osaka. Osaka’s Shinsekai district is a vibrant place combining modern and traditional cuisine. Fill your belly with some of the best food you will have in Japan. Discover hidden, original establishments which have been chosen by two local expert guides. Wander in and around the markets that serve traditional Osakan food for an authentic local experience.  Make your way to the first eatery, a takoyaki, or battered octopus balls, stall. Then visit an Izakaya restaurant and sample some authentic Osakan kitsune Udon along with japanese style chicken wings. Also taste the locally invented kushikatsu, which are lightly deep-fried vegetables, meats and seafood on skewers. Head off the beaten path and visit a cosy, traditional Japanese restaurant you will get dishes of mouthwatering nikudoufu or beef and tofu stew, original yakitori or skewered beef assortments, plus an alcoholic/non-alcoholic beverage. Then visit specialized delicious gyoza dumpling establishment. The last dishes of the night will be at a unique Japanese eatery. Enjoy a tonpeiyaki, or pork omelette plus an abundance of edamame and karaage, Japanese fried chicken with spices. Another drink of your choice here is included. Finish off the night at a market eating Japanese castella cake shaped as the local mascot of Shinsekai.

Night Walk in Gion: Kyoto's Geisha District

7. Night Walk in Gion: Kyoto's Geisha District

Experience one of the most popular walking tours in Kyoto, joined by nearly 5,000 guests annually. This 100-minute guided walk is led by a licensed English-speaking guide and takes you through nighttime Gion. The tour begins at Gion Omoide Museum, connected to a traditional pastry shop. Walk down the classic cobblestoned streets next to the Shirakawa River, and admire the scenery that was featured in the book and film, Memoirs of a Geisha. As you walk beside this beautiful stream, the guide will tell you about the history of geisha and give you a detailed explanation in regards to their kimono, hairstyle, traditional rules, and what their daily life is like. Although it is not guaranteed, during the walking tour guests often encounter geisha walking along the street.

Nara: Private Tour with Private Guide

8. Nara: Private Tour with Private Guide

Discover Nara on a fully customizable tour. Nara is in close proximity to Kyoto and Osaka, and its rich collection of traditional sites make it an ideal destination for a day trip from either of its larger neighbours. Start your day by meeting your guide at your hotel or chosen location, then choose sites you wish to visit depending on your interests. Example 6-hour Itinerary: Meet your guide at the designated meeting point you chose and let the tour begin. First visit Kofuku-Ji temple, a historic site that has been registered as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Discover several designated National Treasures here including the Buddhist sculpture masterpiece, the Statue of Ashura. Next, head for Todai-Ji temple, a World Heritage Site that is Nara’s most famous landmark. Admire the statue of Kongo Rikishi at Nandaimon Gate and Japan’s largest Great Buddha statue. Stroll through Nara Park which is famous for its wild deer species. Enjoy the verdant natural setting of Nara while taking part in the popular activity of feeding the deer inside the park. Then discover Kasuga Taisha temple, another World Heritage Site with an impressive red main shrine. Explore the Kasuga-Taisha National Treasure Hall which contains valuable works of Buddhist art.

Osaka: Universal Studios Japan Entry Ticket & Transportation

9. Osaka: Universal Studios Japan Entry Ticket & Transportation

Relax as you travel door-to-door by van or coach from your Osaka hotel to Universal Studios Japan, and enter the theme park without delay with your pre-purchased day ticket. Enjoy the wide variety of attractions on offer including The Wizarding World of Harry Potter and Universal Wonderland. The whole family will have fun on the rides and taking in movies and shows. Explore the many shops and stop for refreshments or a meal. Photo opportunities abound! At the end of the day you’ll return to your hotel in Osaka with the same easy door-to-door transportation service. A number of departure and return times are available to choose from.

Himeji: Private Customized Tour with Licensed Guide

10. Himeji: Private Customized Tour with Licensed Guide

Explore Himeji in your own way with a private licensed guide. Choose the 6 or 4-hour option depending on what fits with your schedule. Let the guide know what special requests you have for the day and they will tailor your itinerary accordingly. All guides hold the nationally-licensed Tour Guide-Interpreter certification. It is issued by the Japanese government and requires a good understanding of Japanese culture and history. This tour features a morning pickup at your hotel in Himeji, then a visit to any number of possible sites. You can customize your itinerary according to the places you want to visit. See a suggested itinerary below: The first stop is Himeji Castle, registered as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Himeji Castle dates back to 1333, and has survived natural disasters, WWII bombing, and the wear of the weather. In 2015, it underwent restoration works, which helped return its facade to a brilliant white. Visit the castle with a local knowledgeable guide and learn about the castle's architecture. Next is Mt. Shosha, a picturesque temple area located in the mountains behind Himeji Castle. Take the ropeway cable car up to Mt. Shosha. Alternatively, if you’re feeling extremely energetic, you could hike up the mountain in an hour or less. Then stop by the Engyo-ji Temple. With so much to explore on the temple grounds, plan to spend around an hour here to see the main structures. The trails that lead through the grounds reveal Mt. Shosha's gorgeous flora, and little details that create a magical atmosphere. For lunch, you enjoy delicious local food around Himeji Station, such as amen, gyoza, tonkatsu, and sushi. The local shopping street arcade is another charm of Himeji, and your guide will pick out the best shops for you to visit.  Other popular places to visit on this tour could be the Himeji City Museum of Literature, the Nadagiku Shuzo Sake Brewery, or the Hiromine Shrine.

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What people are saying about Kansai

Overall rating

4.6 / 5

based on 279 reviews

Loved our tour around Gion with Diana! She took us around many different places and told us some interesting tidbits of information about many streets and areas we passed by. My husband and I felt that it truly enriched our stay in Kyoto since you learn things you normally wouldn't without a tour. We were able to see some geishas and maikos which was super cool! An added bonus, we had a great tour group whom we made friends with and had dinner with after the tour. Overall, an awesome experience!

Highly recommended. We landed at Kansai airport and pick up location is right at the entrance with large English signage. Picked up pocket wifi and it was ready to use. The battery lasted almost 12 hours and comes with a charger cable in case. The coverage and speed are excellent. Quite cheap compared to other providers and sim. I was given two days extension free of charge out of courtesy. Very polite helpful personnel at the store

Philippe was an amazing guide! He was extremely knowledgeable about the area and history. We enjoyed hearing about the Geiko and even got to see one out and about! I would highly recommend this tour.

Works perfectly in Tokyo with a good speed Be careful, you still have to scan the QR code so either have it printed beforehand, or have a second phone to be able to send it on it and then scan it

Easy to pick up at HND. Compact router easy to use and carry. Contactless drop off — highly recommended!