Answers from Our Experts (1)
Kyoto is Japan’s seventh largest city — and there’s a lot to see and do. You can’t cover all 2,000 temples and shrines in one day.
But if you want to see all the important sites just a day, Forbes Travel Guide editors suggest starting in northern Higashiyama, a fairly large area that can be explored on foot. From Kyoto Station, take the Tozai subway line to Higashiyama Station and hit the pavement.
Your first stop should be Nanzen-ji famous for its Zen gardens and several sub-temples that surround the complex. Walk through the imposing sanmon gate, a massive structure of dark wood, then through Hojo Hall. Beyond this you’ll find the perfectly composed Zen gardens landscaped with shaped trees, rocks and raked sand.
From Nanzen-ji, take the pleasant .75 mile stroll along the Path of Philosophy toward Ginkaku-ji or “Temple of the Silver Pavilion.” Though the 15th century temple isn’t actually silver, the luxurious grounds are what lure visitors with its tall pines, bamboo groves and ponds filled with koi.
Grab a bite to eat at Omen, which is a five-minute walk from Ginkaku-ji. This noodle shop serves sumptuous ramen, tempura, deep-fried tofu and fresh vegetables, too.
After your meal — and maybe a quick nap at the hotel — explore downtown Kyoto, which comes alive at night. Take a stroll down the five blocks that make up Nishiki Market and peruse the interesting and sometimes strange items for sale at this open market. Then walk down the cobblestone path of Pontocho to spot geishas hurrying off to work. Stop by at Atlantis and have a drink outside on a platform overlooking the Kamo River, while you plot a way to spend more time in Kyoto.