Places to Visit in Kyoto Higashiyama Area

Geisha Maiko Kyoto Kyoto

Higashiyama District located in eastern Kyoto City, refers to a specific area that has several world-famous tourist attractions such as Kiyomizu Temple. This is where you can get the typical image of Kyoto, and immerse yourself into Japanese culture and its long history. In this article, we will introduce the best places to visit in the Higashiyama area.

You will love the Kyoto Higashima area if you want to see:

  • Historical sites
  • Japanese traditional culture
  • Popular and famous spots in Kyoto

1. Maruyama Park

Maruyama Park is the oldest park in Kyoto which opened in 1886. It is most famous as a cherry blossom viewing spot and has a huge weeping cherry tree which is loved by local people as a symbol of the park. More than 200 cherry blossom trees are beautifully illuminated at night during the spring season, and some exciting events are held with a number of food stalls. There is also a pond called Hyotan Pond, and you can spend a relaxing time watching the petals from the cherry blossom trees falling and floating on water!

2. Yasaka Pagoda

Some of you might have seen a picture of the noticeable pagoda before. Yasaka Pagoda is a five-storied pagoda located in Hokanji Temple which was established in 592. The pagoda itself was destroyed by fire several times, and the current one was restored in 1440, with the support of the Muromachi Shogunate. The feudal military government of Japan in the middle ages. It is designated as a National Important Cultural Properties and welcomes tourists as a landmark in the Higashiyama district. If you get too close, it is difficult to take good photos as the height of the pagoda (46 meters tall). Therefore, it is better to take photos from a distance. for example on Yasaka Street with Japanese traditional houses standing along the street. 

You can get there from Gion Shijo Station, and we highly recommend you visit Yasaka Shrine, another popular tourist spot, on the way from the station. It is one of the most famous shrines in Kyoto and it is also known as Gion Shrine. The shrine holds an annual summer festival, The Gion Festival which is recognized as one of the biggest festivals in Japan.

3. Gion Area

Gion area refers to a particular Geisha district located in the Higashiyama district. Geisha and Maiko are professional female entertainers whose job is to entertain guests through traditional performances such as singing, dancing, and playing Japanese musical instruments. They typically wear a kimono, a Japanese traditional garment, and cover their face with a unique make-up called “Oshiroi”. Their remarkable appearance may look strange at first, but in the old days, their unique make-up helped them look more attractive under the candlelights in the dark room in the evening.

Recommended article: What is Geisha? The History of Geisha and Where Are They Today

4. Kiyomizu-dera Temple

Kiyomizu-Dera Temple is definitely one of the most popular tourist spots in Kyoto. It is a Buddhist temple established in 778 and is on the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites along with other world-famous historical sites in Kyoto. It takes about an hour to explore the entire precincts of the temple, and much longer when it gets packed with tourists. In spring the temple is surrounded by the many blossoming sakura trees. And in autumn, the temple finds itself in a sea of red, yellow, and orange-colored leaves. The main hall was rebuilt during the Edo era, dating back about 400 years ago, and has a wooden stage standing on the steep hillside. It offers tourists a breathtaking view of Kyoto and its surroundings!

There are several ways leading to the temple, and many of them are stone-paved roads that provide an impressive atmosphere in harmony with Japanese traditional houses standing along. It is a perfect place to try some Japanese food and get some souvenir gifts for your family and friends!

Kiyomizu-dera Temple Official Website
6am – 6pm (extended opening times certain weeks in spring, summer and autumn)
Admission fee ¥400

5. Kenninji Temple

Kenninji Temple is a Zen temple located in the heart of the Gion area. It was established in 1202 and has a large collection of cultural properties including a replica of “The Wind and Thunder Gods”, a national treasure painted by Tawaraya Sotatsu. It is the oldest Zen Temple in Kyoto and a well-known (tourist) spot. It also has one of the most famous rock gardens in Kyoto, with an arrangement of rocks that is simple but well-designed. They offer some cultural experiences to visitors, including Zen meditation (Zazen) and Sutra copying (Hand-copying of Buddhist Sutras)! 

Kenninji Temple Official Website
10am – 5pm
Admission fee ¥500

6. Sanju-Sangendo Temple

Sanju-Sangendo is a Buddhist temple built in 1165. It is famous for its main hall which exhibits 1,001 life-sized wooden statues of Kannon, the Buddhist God of mercy. The main hall itself is also extraordinary, known as the longest wooden building in Japan and designated as a national treasure. From Kyoto Station, taking a bus is the easiest and fastest way as the bus stop is located right in front of the temple.

Sanjusangendo (Japanese only)
9am – 5pm
Admission fee ¥600

7. Rental Kimono Experience

If you are interested in a Japanese traditional garment, why don’t you stop by a kimono rental shop to change into kimono and explore the Higashiyama district? Most places have a large variety of kimono with different designs and colors to choose from. In summer, yukata is also available, a thinner version of the kimono that is more comfortable since the air passes through it easily! There are several options available, ranging from simply renting a kimono or yukata or complete photoshoots.

8. Rickshaw Ride in Higashiyama

Rickshaw is a small, human-powered vehicle that was once widely used as a way of transportation in Japan. It is still seen and used in many tourist destinations in Japan, and it is a popular activity. You can enjoy a personal guided trip by an energetic puller while feeling the fresh air and listening to the facts puller telling you about the local area. It is the best option if you prefer not to walk around on your own or use public transportation packed with passengers! Please remember that they can usually carry up to two passengers at a time and there are some areas where they can’t enter with a rickshaw.

Kyoto Rickshaw Tour
Step into an authentic Japanese rickshaw for the ride of a lifetime, through some of the most scenic and historic districts in Kyoto, Japan. You have the option...
Kyoto Rickshaw ride

Japan Wonder Travel Tours in Kyoto

When you are visiting Kyoto and you need some help organizing your trip, you came to the right place. We’re happy to help you make your trip to Kyoto the best trip ever. We can advise you on where to go or even better, show you around with a local, English speaking guide. Let us help you create safe, comfortable, and unforgettable memories in Kyoto!

Kyoto Private Full-Day Walking Tour
On this full-day private tour of Kyoto, you will be able to see the highlights of Kyoto in just one day and at the same time develop a deeper understanding of both the culture of the area and Japan as a whole.

Total Kyoto Experience
If you only have a day or two in Kyoto, we offer a full-day tour of the city, enabling you to immerse yourself in and fully enjoy the entire city of Kyoto in just 10 hours!

Kyoto Food and Drink Tour @Nishiki Street & Gion
If you’re looking to learn more about the culture and the local cuisine of Kyoto, this is the perfect tour for you! Take part in this Kyoto food and drink tour and explore the 400-year-old market and the famous Gion district.

Find the Other Tours

Tour Packages
If you want to make travel easier, we suggest you look into tour packages.There are a wide range of tour packages out there to suit the accomodate for each traveler needs. Click the button below to find the best tour package from various Tour Operators!

Where to stay in Higashiyama?

  • Kyoto Granbell Hotel
    2minutes walk from Gion Shijo Subway Station, this hotel is a beautiful mix of new and old, western and traditional Japanese style
  • Four Seasons Hotel Kyoto
    Great location, they have a beautiful garden and pond, allows you to relax at the spa and pool with sophisticated atmosphere
  • Luxury Hotel SOWAKA
    Beautiful designed hotel which renovated traditional Japanese old house into comfortable modern style Ryokan located in Higashiyama

Conclusion

East Kyoto is somewhere tourists can directly feel and experience Japanese culture and history. Each tourist spot there has respective characteristics, and is worth visiting several times. Find your favorite ones and make the most of your time staying in Japan!

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Happy traveling!

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