Kyoto’s Unesco World Heritage Sites

There are an incredible 17 World Heritage Sites in and around Kyoto!

Historic Monuments of Ancient Kyoto (Kyoto, Uji and Otsu Cities)

Built in A.D. 794 on the model of the capitals of ancient China, Kyoto was the imperial capital of Japan from its foundation until the middle of the 19th century. As the centre of Japanese culture for more than 1,000 years, Kyoto illustrates the development of Japanese wooden architecture, particularly religious architecture, and the art of Japanese gardens, which has influenced landscape gardening the world over.


Gion Matsuri, User Manual

The Gion Matsuri, the most important festival of the year in Kyoto takes place in July. This is not just Kyoto’s biggest festival, it’s one of Japan’s biggest annual events. It’s a month-long series of events, culminating with the spectacular Yamaboko Junko Parade on July 17.

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Magical evening at the Byodoin Temple

The Byodoin Temple in Uji is only illuminated and open to the public a few evenings a year. We were quite lucky to find out about it and see the amazing Phoenix Hall under such conditions.   
Byodoin Temple is a striking example of Buddhist Pure Land (Jodo) architecture.

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Last flower viewing of 2016

As this year’s Hanami season comes to an end, the last place to visit around Kyoto is often the Ninna-Ji Temple (仁和寺). Located in the North West part of town, this temple is quite famous for its Omuro cherry trees, ancient, dwarf, late-flowering trees.

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Daigo-Ji Temple

Daigo-Ji (醍醐寺) is an important temple of the Shingon sect of Japanese Buddhism and a designated Unesco world heritage site. The large temple complex stands southeast of central Kyoto and includes an entire mountainside.

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Toji Temple

Toji Temple is not just this beautiful five stories Pagoda, the largest in Japan, that has become a symbol of Kyoto. There is much more to this temple than that. It houses a beautiful collection of statues and paintings, gorgeous garden, one of the oldest and largest market in Kyoto…

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Nishi Hongan-Ji Temple

Located just North of the Kyoto Station, Nishi-Hongan-ji Temple is a Pure Land Buddhist Temple. This temple serves as the headquarters of the Hongan-ji Branch of the Jodo (Pure Land) School of Buddhism. Unesco World Heritage Site.

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Gion Matsuri Festival

Gion Matsuri (祇園祭), the festival of the Yasaka Shrine, is one of the three largest festivals in Japan, and probably the most famous one. It takes place in Kyoto over the entire month of July. There are many different events,

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Shimogamo Jinja Shrine

The Shimogamo Jinja Shrine, also known as Kamomioya-jinja Shrine, is together with its sister shrine Kamigamo Jinja, the family shrine of the Kamo clan, who inhabited this area before the transfer of the capital to Kyoto.

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Kamigamo Jinja Shrine

The Kamigamo Jinja shrine, also known as “Kamo Wake-ikazuchi-jinja”, is said to be the oldest shrine in Kyoto, dating back to the 7th century and predating the establishment of Heian-kyo (Kyoto).

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Tenryu-Ji Zen Temple

Tenryu-ji (天龍寺) is located in Arashiyama, a scenic area at the foot of the mountains on the western outskirts of Kyoto. It is the main Temple of the area and features one of the finest garden and pond in Kyoto.

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Ninna-ji Temple

Ninna-ji (仁和寺) is the head temple of the Omuro school of the Shingon Sect of Buddhism. It is located in western Kyoto, near Ryoanji and Kinkakuji. We usually visit all three temples on the same day.

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Kyoto World Heritage Tour Bus

While we have not actually use this bus ourselves, we thought this information could be of interest to a number of our guests. This may be a good option to easily get to see a number of these Unesco sites. Read on!

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Ryōan-ji, the Zen Rock Garden

The Ryōan-ji (龍安寺) garden is considered one of the (if not the) finest surviving examples of kare-sansui (“dry landscape”), a refined type of Japanese Zen temple garden design generally featuring distinctive larger rock formations . . .

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Ginkakuji, the Silver Pavilion

Ginkakuji (銀閣寺) aka the Silver Pavilion, is a Zen temple located at the Northern part of Kyoto’s eastern mountains (Higashiyama). I found the place is particularly beautiful in Autumn, but it is also a delight at other seasons.

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Nijo Castle, Shogun Residence

Nijo Castle was built in 1603 as the Kyoto residence of Tokugawa Ieyasu, the first shogun of theEdo Period (1603-1867). After the Tokugawa Shogunate fell in 1867, Nijo Castle was used as an imperial palace for a while

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Byōdō-in, the Phoenix Hall, Uji

Uji (宇治) is a small city situated between Kyoto and Nara, two of Japan’s most famous historical and cultural centers. Its proximity to these two former capitals resulted in Uji’s early development as a cultural center in its own right.

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Kiyomizu-Dera under snow

At the end of the year 2010, we had the chance to wake up in the morning and discover the city under snow. We rushed to various temples as it was a unique opportunity to see them covered with a fresh white carpet of snow.

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Kokedera – The Moss Temple

The Saihoji Temple belongs to the Rinzai school of Japanese Buddhism.
The temple is more commonly known as Kokedera, the Moss Temple, referring to the temple garden’s estimated

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Kinkaku-Ji, the Golden Pavilion

Kinkaku-ji (金閣寺, lit. “Temple of the Golden Pavilion”), is a Zen Buddhist temple in Kyoto. The garden complex is an excellent example of Muromachi period garden which is considered to be the classical age of Japanese garden design.

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Kiyomizu Dera in Autumn

Kiyomizu-dera (清水寺), officially Otowa-san Kiyomizu-dera (音羽山清水寺) is an independent Buddhist temple in eastern Kyoto. The temple is a Must-See UNESCO World Heritage site.

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