15 Best Attractions to Visit Kyoto Downtown

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Source: Corpse Reviver

Kyoto is known to many as the previous capital of Japan before the “title” was give to Tokyo but there are many other things that Kyoto is known for that are worth exploring and discovering. If you’re planning on visiting Kyoto soon, check out these downtown attractions that are sure to make your trip even more enjoyable.

1. Nishiki Market

Source: Jan

Foodies traveling to Kyoto, this is the one spot you shouldn’t dare miss. Nishiki Market is also known as Kyoto’s pantry. If you love buying authentic ingredients from places you visit to get to bring a little bit of the local flavor home, this is definitely the place to hit up. Anything and everything that you need to recreate local and authentic Kyoto recipes can be found right here and they’re very reasonably priced, too.


  • Name: Nishiki Market
  • Address: Nishikikoji-dori, Nakagyo-ku, Kyoto, Japan
  • Opening hour: 09:00 AM
  • Holidays: Some shops are closed on Wednesdays
  • Smoking: No
  • Parking: No
  • Access: 3 min. walk from the Shijo Station via the Karasuma subway line or from the Kawaramachi station via the Hankyu line
  • Admission: free

2. Pontocho Alley

Source: Nullumayulife

At first glance, you’d probably think there’s really nothing much to see here but stay a while and you’ll see that this is inarguably one of the best and most atmospheric streets in Kyoto. With a plethora of traditional restaurants and shops lined up side by side and no cars or modern buildings in sight, Pontocho Alley is indeed a beautiful and refreshing sight that will take you back to old Japan. It’s also a prime spot for geisha-spotting at night.


  • Name: Pontocho Alley
  • Address: Pontocho dori, Nakagyo-ku, Kyoto, Japan
  • Access: 3 to 5 minutes walk from the Kawaramachi Station via the Hankyu line
  • Website: http://www.ponto-chou.com/

3.  Kyoto International Manga Museum

Source: Peat Bakke

Love manga? Then be sure to drop by Kyoto International Manga Museum — Japan’s best manga museum that houses over 300,000 different Japanese comics also more popularly known as “manga”. Get inside, scour the shelves for your favorites, find a spot and read to your heart’s content! When you’re done, explore the museum and check out the different displays and exhibits to learn more about the history and evolution of manga.


  • Name: Kyoto International Manga Museum
  • Address: Japan, Yubinbango604-0846 Kyoto Prefecture, Kyoto, Nakagyo Ward, Karasuma Street, Oike Agaru
  • Phone:+81 75-254-7414
  • Opening hour: 10:00 AM
  • Holidays: Wednesdays, Thursdays following national holiday Wednesdays, and New Year holiday
  • Admission fee: JPY100 – JPY800
  • Website: http://www.kyotomm.jp/english/

4. Nijo Castle

Source: Colin McMillen

Whether you’re a history buff yearning to experience more of Japan’s culture, history, and tradition or just someone who really loves looking at grandiose sights and sceneries, the Nijo Castle is sure to blow you away. Built sometime in the 1600s, this castle once served as the seat of government and is now home to numerous significant works of art that tell stories of the past.


  • Name: Nijo Castle
  • Address: 541 Nijojocho, Nakagyo Ward, Kyoto, Kyoto Prefecture 604-8301, Japan
  • Phone: +81 75-841-0096
  • Opening hour: 08:45 AM
  • Access: take Karusama subway line to Karusama-Oike Station from Kyoto Station and then transfer to the Tozal Line to Nijojo Mae Station
  • Holidays: Tuesdays during the months of January, July, August and December, New Year holiday
  • Admission fee: JPY600

5. Mibu-dera Temple

Source: Shadi Hijazi

The Mibu-dera Temple is a Buddhist temple that’s very popular in Nakagyo Ward in Kyoto. It once served as the headquarters for the Shinsengumi which are the Japanese samurai enforcers for the shoguns and it is currently one of the most interesting and educational attractions that you can find in downtown Kyoto. Depending on which time of the year you visit, you could also catch Kogen plays, a fire ritual and more here.


  • Name: Mibu-dera Temple
  • Address: 31 Mibunaginomiyacho, Nakagyo Ward, Kyoto, Kyoto Prefecture 604-8821, Japan
  • Phone: +81 75-841-3381
  • Opening hour: 08:30 AM
  • Access: Take a train from the Hankyu Line and get off at Omiya Station; from there, the temple entrance is 7 minutes away on foot
  • Admission fee: admission to the temple is free, admission to the theaters start at JPY 800
  • Website: http://www.mibudera.com/eng/

6. Toy Film Museum

If you’re into old movies and film production, you will certainly love one of downtown Kyoto’s newest attractions hat is the Toy Film Museum. This museum is currently home to a number of antique home movie projectors and cameras which guests can toy around with and they also have various exhibits and old silent movies playing on a TV screen connected to a computer. On certain days, they hold events and movie screenings here, the schedules of which can be found on their website.


  • Name: Toy Film Museum
  • Address: 29-1 Mibubanbacho, Nakagyo Ward, Kyoto, Kyoto Prefecture 604-8805, Japan
  • Phone: +81 75 803 0033
  • Opening hour: 10:30 AM
  • Admission fee: JPY 500
  • Website: http://toyfilm-museum.jp/

7. Pontocho Kaburenjo Theater

Source: Japanexperterna.se

Gion is the number one spot to visit if you want to see real, live geishas / geikos and maikos in action but if you’re stuck in downtown Kyoto, you can always go for the next best thing that is Pontocho Kaburejo Theatre. Here, they hold a bi-annual Kamogawa Odori where the best of the best geishas perform classical dances and wear complete costume and makeup and even have props to boot! These happen only during May and October so if you’re lucky to be in Kyoto during these months, be sure to check it out.


  • Name: Potoncho Kaburenjo Theatre
  • Address: Ponto-chō, Sanjō-sagaru Nakagyō-ku, Kyoto, Japan
  • Phone: +81 75 221 2025
  • Opening hour: 12:30PM
  • Admission fee: JPY 2000 – JPY 4500

8. Shinsen-en Garden

Source: Jason Reidy

Once the playground of Heian royalty, the Shinsen-en Garden is bursting with beautiful landscape, Unfortunately, only a small part of the original landscape design remains today though the whole garden has been restored to resemble the original design from the earlier days as closely as possible. There are peaceful ponds, beautiful bridges and breathtaking scenery all around making this garden a nice place to visit in case you need to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city.


  • Name: Shinsen-en Garden
  • Address: 167 Monzen-chon, Oike-dori Shinsenen-cho higashi-iru, Nakagyo-ku, Kyoto 604-8306
  • Phone: +81 75 821 1466
  • Opening hour: 09:00 AM
  • Admission: free

9. Ippodo Tea Company

There are a lot of tea houses in Kyoto and tea enthusiasts flock down here to get their supplies and equipment for their tea schools and tea parties which is why Kyoto, to some, is also known as Japan’s tea capital. Many shops are scattered all over Kyoto but the one that your shouldn’t dare miss is Ippodo — one of Kyoto’s best tea shops. Here, you can buy gift sets to take home to your friends and family, taste samples, and even learn more about tea from their friendly staff.


  • Name: Ippodo Tea Company
  • Address: 52 Tokiwagi-cho, Teramachi-dori, Nijo agaru, Nakagyo-ku, Kyoto, Japan
  • Phone: +81 75 211-3421
  • Website: http://shop.ippodo-tea.co.jp/kyoto/shopf/index.html
  • Opening hour: 09:00AM
  • Holiday: New Year holiday
  • Access: Take Tozai subway line and get off at Kyoto Shiyakusho-mae Station then 10-minute walk to the shop

10. Iori Machiya Stay

Whether you’re actually looking for a place to spend the night or two or you just want to check out the famous machiya houses that Kyoto is known for, Iori Machiya Stay is definitely the place you have to go to. With a total of 11 machiyas available for rent, this is truly one of the best ways to get an authentic Kyoto living experience.


  • Name: Iori Machiya Stay
  • Address: 144-6 Sujiya-cho, Tominokoji-dori-Takatsuji-agaru, Shimogyo-ku, Kyoto, Japan
  • Phone: +81 75 352-0211
  • Website: http://www.kyoto-machiya.com/eng/

11. Wagaminomise Morita Washi

Judging by the facade, you’d think there’s nothing interesting going on in here but step inside and you’ll be lost in a wonderland of all things arts and crafts related, especially Washi paper — one of Japan’s products that is very popular all over the world right now. If you love doing cutesy little DIY projects, check out the offering here and be amazed and overwhelmed. With so many things to choose from, you’ll need at least half a day deciding which ones to take home with you.


  • Name: Wagaminomise Morita Washi
  • Address: 1F Kajinoha Building, 298 Ogisakaya-cho, Higashinotoin-dori, Bukkoji agaru, Shimogyo-ku, Kyoto, Japan
  • Phone: +81 75 341-1419
  • Opening hour: 09:30AM
  • Holidays: Sundays and national holidays
  • Website: http://www.wagami.jp/

12. Aritsugu

If you’re passionate about cooking good food all the time, you know how important it is to have good tools and equipment in the kitchen and what’s more important to anyone who loves to have fun in the kitchen, home cook or professional chef, than a good quality, sharp knife? If you’re ever in downtown Kyoto looking for things that you can take home, buy a knife from Aritsugu. This company is known all over Japan for the quality that they bring to the table.


  • Name: Aritsugu
  • Address: 219 Kajiya-chō, Nishikikōji-dōri, Gokomachi nishi-iruNakagyō-ku, Kyoto, Japan
  • Phone: +81 75 221 1091
  • Opening hour: 09:00AM

13. Yume Kyoto Kimono Rental

Kyoto, while highly urbanized and modern, still remains to be one of the most traditionally and culturally rich areas in Japan and people wearing everyday kimonos and yukatas are not an uncommon sight here. If you, too, would like to try out being garbed up in Japan’s National Costume, you can hire the services of kimono rental shops. There is one shop located in downtown Kyoto that offers kimono rentals as well as a bunch of other add-ons that make it really convenient for you without losing the authentic touch and that is Yume Kyoto. With over 400 kimonos to choose from, it sure can be an overwhelming experience so come prepared.


  • Name: Yume Kyoto
  • Address: 300Gion-cho Higashiyama-ku Kyoto-shi ACROSS Yasaka building 4F
  • Phone: + 81 75-561-9410
  • Opening hour: 09:00AM
  • Starting price: JPY 3500
  • Website: http://yumekyoto-kimono.com/english

14. Hagoromoya

Now, if you’re not a fan of the geisha look, you can opt for another one instead and that is the oiran or traditional Japanese beauty look. A shop in downtown Kyoto called Hagoromoya is offering services like kimono rental, oiran hair and makeup, photo shoots and even video coverages of clients in kimonos strolling around the grounds of Kiyomizu Temple.


  • Name: Hagoromoya
  • Address: Yubinbango605-0846 Higashiyama-ku, Kyoto Gojohashihigashi 6-chome 583-72 Mamezen 2F
  • Phone: +81 75 744 1985
  • Opening hour: 10:00AM
  • Holidays: Wednesdays
  • Website: http://hagoromoya.kyoto.jp/

15. Nishiki Tenmangu

Source: Toshiyuki Imai

Somewhere in the middle of a busy street lined up with shops and restaurant is a little shrine where you can regain your sense of zen and tranquility, in case you’ve had too much of downtown Kyoto’s everyday hustle and bustle. That little shrine is called the Nishiki Tenmangu and it is located just a few steps away from the famed Nishiki Market.


  • Name: Nishiki Tenmangu
  • Address: 537, Nakanocho, Nakagyo-ku Kyoto-shi, Kyoto, 604-8042
  • Phone: +81 75-231-5732
  • Opening hour: 08:00AM
  • Website: http://nishikitenmangu.or.jp/

Kyoto is such an interesting place. It is rich with culture and tradition yet also beautifully developed with modern, sophisticated style. Visiting Kyoto is indeed experiencing the best of both worlds.

Have a good trip and travel!

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Asia, Japan, Kansai Region, Kyoto Prefecture