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Kyoto Rainy-day activities

Our most recommended Kyoto Rainy-day activities

Kyoto: Top Highlights Full Day Trip

1. Kyoto: Top Highlights Full Day Trip

Visit some of Kyoto's most famous sites on this culture-focused day trip. Hop on board an air-conditioned coach and explore Japan's ancient capital to see the brilliant Torii Gates of the Fushimi Inari Shrine, the UNESCO-listed Kiyomizu-Dera temple, and the golden pavilion of Kinkaku-Ji. Start your tour by discovering some of Kyoto's ancient historic sites, dating back to the 6th century. Get dropped off at the Fushimi Inari Shrine, a Shinto shrine famous for its thousands of vermilion torii gates. Spend time wandering the paths before heading to a restaurant for lunch to taste a standard or deluxe traditional tofu set-course menu with Japanese tea. After lunch, head off to Kiyomizu-Dera, one of the most iconic temples in Japan. Spend ample time strolling through the temple. Walk across the impressive wooden stage, which juts out from the hillside and was constructed without the use of a single nail. Later, make a final stop at Kinkaku-Ji, also known as the Golden Pavilion because it's covered in gold leaves. Wander through the gardens surrounding the temple, admiring the original Japanese designs that have been preserved since Ashikaga's time. In the late afternoon, get dropped off at Kyoto Station where your tour ends.

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: Private Tour with Local Licensed Guide

3. 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.

Kyoto Samurai Class: Become a Samurai Warrior

4. Kyoto Samurai Class: Become a Samurai Warrior

Study the art of the samurai warrior class that ruled ancient Japan for centuries. Practice the stylized movements that make up the samurai technique as you handle a sword and uncover the discipline of Kenbu. Watch a 4-minute film about the basics of the samurai. Then, suit up and take hold of your samurai sword. Learn how to bow before your sword training begins. Discover how to draw it and replace it in its protective scabbard. Get a short photo shoot in your samurai suit, and then discover how to show respect to your opponent with the sword. And with a respectful bow to your instructor, grab your souvenir photos and certificate of achievement before leaving.

From Osaka: Day Trip by Bus to Kyoto and Nara

5. From Osaka: Day Trip by Bus to Kyoto and Nara

Leave Osaka in the morning aboard a bus, heading inland toward Kyoto. Before arriving in the city itself, stop in the beautiful district of Arashiyama, which has been a popular nature-viewing destination since the Heian Period. Take a stroll through the cool Sagano Bamboo Forest and listen to the distinct rustle of bamboo leaves as you walk. Later, drive through Kyoto proper and arrive at Kinkaku-ji, or the Golden Pavilion. Admire postcard-perfect views of the illustrious temple reflected in the mirror-like pond it overlooks, and then wander through the sprawling garden that retains its original design from the 14th century. After Kinkaku-ji, board your bus again and head south to Nara. Take a short walk through Nara Park, famous for the 1,200 or so wild deer that live freely within the park. Within Nara Park you will find the Todai-ji Temple, a UNESCO World Heritage site. Following your time in the historic temple, hop aboard your bus again and make the trip back to Osaka-Namba OCAT.

Kyoto Nishiki Market Food Tour

6. 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: Private Customized Walking Tour with a Local

7. Kyoto: Private Customized Walking Tour with a Local

Explore your way with a private and customized walking tour to discover the highlights of Kyoto with your own local guide. See Kyoto Tower, Togetsu-kyō Bridge, Ginkaku-ji Temple, Nishiki Market, and more with an itinerary crafted to your personal interests. Depending on what sparks your interest, your guide will help you create an itinerary to see Kyoto's top attractions. Get insider tips on what to see and do, learn about the culture, and discover hidden gems along the way. Visit sacred sites like the shrine of Fushimi Inari Taisha or Kinkajuki Temple, explore the cultural Geisha district of Gion, or go off the beaten path in historic neighborhoods with the help of your guide. Walk the perfectly preserved streets of Higashiyama for a bird's-eye city view from Yasaka Pagoda, or amble eight minutes north to Gion, Kyoto’s famous lantern-lit geisha district and nightlife hub. Along the way, choose to sample street food at centuries-old Nishiki Market or head one mile west for green tea and pastel-colored wagashi confections in Sanjo-dori Shopping Street, a foodie’s paradise (food costs not included). If you're an outdoor enthusiast, take in a sunset view from Kurama, a natural hot spring area nestled in pine-tree-blanketed mountains reachable by a 30-minute train ride. Whatever you choose to do, your guide will help you get the most out of your visit.

Kyoto: Nishiki Market and Gion Cultural Walking Food Tour

8. Kyoto: Nishiki Market and Gion Cultural Walking Food Tour

Start at the vast 400-year-old Nishiki Market, nicknamed 'Kyoto's Kitchen,' where over 130 food shops and stalls will beckon your taste buds. Stroll through the Market and learn about its history and taste the various dishes unique to Kyoto including: Tofu Skin, Sesame Cracker, Japanese Pike Conger Eel, Sake, and etc. Then, rest your appetite by visiting a nearby shrine dedicated to the God of Education. Head for Pontocho Street by crossing through Teramachi Street, Shijo Street, and Kiyamachi Street- all of which will enable you to immerse yourself in modern Japanese culture. Pontocho street is very special, even for locals, because it is one out of the five Geisha districts in Kyoto. From here, you will walk across the majestic Kamo river and taste local sweets. The final section of the tour will lead you to Gion district (which is also another Geisha district). The guide will take you out of mainstream hustle and bustle of the crowded streets and into the more photogenic and hidden spots. Not only will you be educated about the Geisha tradition, you may even meet one. The tour finishes in Gion District on Shijo Street. From the finishing point, you can easily access Kiyomizudera which is most famous temple in Kyoto known for its stage with a great view.

From Osaka: Kyoto Top Highlights Day Trip

9. From Osaka: Kyoto Top Highlights Day Trip

Visit some of Kyoto's most famous cultural sites on this day-long bus tour from Osaka. Hop aboard a comfortable coach and drive to Japan's ancient capital to see the brilliant torii gates of the Fushimi Inari Shrine, the UNESCO-listed Kiyomizu-dera temple, and the golden pavilion of Kinkaku-ji. Kyoto is filled with ancient historic sites dating back to the 6th century. Get dropped off first at the Fushimi Inari Shrine, a Shinto shrine famous for its thousands of vermilion torii gates. Spend time wandering the brilliant paths before heading to your next destination. Arrive at Kiyomizu-dera, one of the most iconic temples in Japan. Take ample time to wander through the temple. Walk across the impressive wooden stage, which juts out from the hillside and was constructed without the use of a single nail. Next, stop at Kinkaku-ji, also known as the Golden Pavilion due to the fact that it's covered in gold leaf. Wander through the immaculate gardens surrounding the temple, admiring the original Japanese designs that have been preserved since Ashikaga's time. Finish the day in Arashiyama, which has been a popular nature-viewing destination since the Heian Period. Take a stroll through the cool Sagano Bamboo Forest and listen to the distinct rustle of bamboo leaves as you walk. In the late afternoon, hop on the bus back to Osaka.

Kyoto Cultural Walking Tour: Temples, Shrines & Gardens

10. Kyoto Cultural Walking Tour: Temples, Shrines & Gardens

See the temples, shrines and gardens that make Kyoto Japan’s capital of culture on this unique tour of the city. Founded as the national capital more than 1,200 years ago, Kyoto originally developed as a center of aristocratic culture and is most famous for its Zen gardens and Geisha traditions. On this Kyoto tour, you'll discover some of the magic of the city through cultural explorations and local experiences. First head to one of the city’s must-see sights, the Tofukuji Temple. Originally built in the 13th century, and famous for its traditional, yet modern, Zen garden, this is a great place to escape to a relaxed atmosphere in the city. Learn about the origin and inspiration for the garden, and what it means to the Monks who continue to live and study here. Next walk through a nice local residential neighborhood to the Fushimi Inari Shrine. Home to a seemingly endless stretch of iconic red torii gates spread across a thickly wooded mountain, this shrine is a world unto itself. Walk through snaking corridors of red gates, made famous in the film "Memoirs of Geisha", stopping to admire the shrines and many fox statues. Major photo opportunity alert! As the sun begins to set on the Toriis, leave behind the foxes and head to Gion, famously known as Kyoto’s Geisha district. This area was the model for Memoirs of Geisha, and it comes alive with people and lights in the evening. Stroll past the 17th-century traditional restaurants and teahouses, many of which are still exclusive establishments for Geisha entertainment, see the theaters and traditional shops, and soak up the atmosphere of this historic quarter. This iconic neighborhood makes for the ideal end to this Kyoto city tour, and is sure to leave you completely enthralled with this dynamic city.

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Frequently asked questions about Kyoto

What top attractions are a must-see in Kyoto?

The must-see attractions in Kyoto are:

What are the best day trips and excursions from Kyoto?

The best day trips and excursions from Kyoto are:

Arashiyama

Other Sightseeing Options in Kyoto

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What people are saying about Kyoto

Keiko was an excellent tour guide who was very kind and so accommodating and flexible based on our changing needs and preferences. She had good historical knowledge and knew her way around kyoto like the back of her hand. We are so thankful to have had her take us around and see the beautiful sights of Kyoto!

Alot to take in in one day but all sites were fantastic. plenty of free time to look around & some beautiful spots for pics. Our guide Taka was lovely with great English too

Para alem dos ritos da cerimonia, foi uma experiência sobre a história e os valores da cultura japonesa. A instrutora é extremamente elegante e gentil. Vale à pena!!!

Two tour guides, Melody and Hiro were just great. Knowledge, helpful and as like all Japanese courteous and respectful.

Roteiro bem feito, equipe muito profissional. Excelente almoço.