Along with Tokyo, Kyoto is one of the most popular destinations in Japan amongst foreign tourists. The beautiful traditional city provides amazing sights you can’t experience in other cities. Its elegant atmosphere and many historic places tell us what the former capital city of Japan has been through. Because of its great variety of old buildings mixed with modern influences, the city is a true heaven for photographers. In this article, we will introduce you some of the best places for capturing your memories where you can take amazing – instagram worthy – pictures!
When you are interested in architectural highlights in Kyoto, visit our blog dedicated to some of these amazing structures.
Kiyomizu-Dera Temple is one of the most popular tourists’ sites in Kyoto, included in many travel guidebooks and travel blogs. And for good reasons! The beautiful structure, with a history that dates back to Nara era (roughly about 1,200 years ago), is located in a stunning setting of greenery. It gets very crowded with tourists throughout year, especially in spring and fall, when the temple is surrounded by cherry blossom or autumn leaves. For the best pictures, you should visit the temple early in the morning!
Tower of Yasaka
You might see these pictures once somewhere, Tower of Yasaka is a famous pagoda located in Hokanji Temple. The best shot can be taken at Yasaka Street. It can be crowded in the afternoon so visit there in the early morning or you can take a great picture of the pagoda at night with the pagoda lit up.
Fushimi Inari Shrine
Fushimi Inari Shrine is a famous shrine which has been chosen as the best tourist spot on TripAdvisor for the four years in a row. You might have seen the pictures of iconic countless vermillion gates that are known as a notable characteristic of the shrine. They are located along the approach to the main shrine, and make for amazing pictures without a doubt.
In addition, there are cute (or sometimes angry looking) fox statues around the shrine, as foxes are considered as messengers of the gods. Don’t forget to snap some pictures of them.
Not only the shrine itself and the gates are worth a visit, you can also enjoy a great hike up to the top of the mountain. It takes about an hour or so to reach the summit, depending on your walking pace – and how many pictures you take! If you have some time in Kyoto, we recommend trying the hike. (Don’t forget to bring water with you as there are few vending machines along the hiking trail!)
Being located along the river called “Shirakawa river”, Gion area is a must visit. Here well preserved traditional Japanese houses are still on display. Once you get there, you will be surprised and feel like you travelled back to the old days due to the historic atmosphere and strong ties to the world of traditional Japanese arts. If you are lucky, you will spot some Maiko and Geisha, Japanese traditional performing women with a unique makeup in beautiful kimono.
During the sakura season, the illuminated cherry trees make the area even more magical, definitely a fantastic photographic spot!
The three places above are well known and popular with both Japanese and foreign tourists, so they can get very crowded, especially during long holidays. You might prefer somewhere more relaxing, less crowded compared to what we just suggested. If so, you should consider the options below! They are more likely to satisfy your desire to enjoy a peaceful time and take memorable pictures. They are relatively less known among tourists, so they might offer you new discoveries!
Jikishian Temple is a small, peaceful temple in Arashiyama area. You can get there by bus from Kyoto station without transferring, or just take JR train and get off at Saga-Arashiyama station followed by a 30 min walk. The complex has a Japanese-style garden, and you can take breathtaking pictures of the fallen red leaves on the ground during fall. The ground gets covered with red leaves making it look like it is a red carpet created by nature!
Jizoin (Bamboo Temple)
Of course, the sakura and autumn leaves add the the aesthetics of the places. Though, there are many beautiful photo spots that are enjoyable and worth visiting all year round. Jizoin Temple is a beautiful temple which was originally built in Kamakura era, about 800 years ago. It is also called “Bamboo Temple”, as it is surrounded by countless bamboo sticks. The surroundings match the temple, and create a stunning view. In early summer, you can take a relaxing walk around the temple while taking great pictures!
Nanzenji Temple is a beautiful and quiet place surrounded by nature. Go to the top of the Sanmon Gate and take some pictures over the gorgeous view. And don’t forget to check out the Suirokaku Water Bridge which was completed in 1888.
From Eikando Zenrinji to Ginkakuji temple, there is a stone path called Philosopher’s Path(Tetsugaku no michi) . It is said a famous philosopher named Nishida Kitaro used to walk in this path with being lost in his thought. You can find many interesting looking architecture on the way and you can spot a rare shrine called Otoyo Shrine. What makes this shrine unique is that there are two mouse statues protecting the shrine instead of Komainu (lion dog) or fox. Also, you can find many friendly cats on the path!
Its heart shaped window has been gotten many attentions as a photogenic place in Shojuin. This window is said to invite the happiness and get rid of the evil spirits. When you look up at the ceiling, there are 160 paintings which draws flowers and Japanese scenery painted by 100 Japanese painters. You can find a famous Japanese motif such as Maiko or Fujin and Raijin etc as well!
Make the most out of your experience with our private tour!
If you need some help organising your trip to Kyoto, you should check out our private tour including friendly local guide. We’re happy to help you make your trip to Kyoto a safe, comfortable, and unforgettable memory.
- Small Group Kyoto Highlight Walking Tour
Visit the first three places suggested above (and let the guide take your pictures).
- Total Kyoto Experience – 10 Hours Private Walking Tour
During this day trip you will visit some memorable places with a friendly local guide. In addition, the schedule is really flexible, so we can make some changes on the itinerary where to visit depending on your request!
- Kyoto 2-Day Highlights Private Walking Tour Combo Package
If you prefer a long stay in Kyoto and a guided visit to the best places of the historical city, consider our 2-day private walking tour including many popular tourist sites!
- Kyoto Virtual Highlight Tour
You can also join our tour at home and learn about Kyoto before you come to Japan! Explore 5 spots including Kinkakuji, Arashiyama, Fushimi Inari etc. while the local guide telling you the small story abut the area.
Where to stay in Kyoto?
In a city like Kyoto, where the accommodation options are endless, it can be difficult to decide on the best place to stay during your visit. If you are interested in the smaller size, cute boutique hotels, we recommend you check out our blog on boutique hotels in Kyoto. They are also great for taking pictures! Other hotels in Kyoto that we can recommend:
For many tourists, taking great pictures during their trip is as important as just enjoying the trip itself. In addition, impressive pictures help you keeping the memories of the trip alive, even after a long time. Kyoto is a special city with a long history, add the over 2,000 temples and numerous UNESCO World Heritage Sites and you understand why you cannot omit this place from your itinerary. We hope you have got some ideas from this article and visit the places when you plan to visit Kyoto in the near future. Even when you are not looking for great photo opportunities. Kyoto, an old city full of beautiful sites, is always there to welcome all the tourists around the world!
Do you have any places you think should be included on the list? Let us know in the comments below or tag us on Instagram @japan_wonder_travel
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