1. Kyoto Samurai & Ninja Museum (190m away)
Kyoto samurai & ninja museum. Kyoto’s best rated samurai, ninja, martial arts and history museum. Samurai souvenir gift shop also has swords, katana, tabi socks, tabi shoes. A samurai village and samurai house feeling including a ninja dojo inside the museum. The ninja park for kids and a separate kimono tea ceremony room for families also available. Samurai and Kyoto have always been associated throughout history. From the early Heian period to the collapse of the Tokugawa shogunate the samurai and ninja always roamed the streets of Kyoto. Now they are back! What is more, you can have a hands on experience including wearing a samurai armor, doing a shuriken (ninja star) throw and ninja blow gun. Japan’s largest experience based museum dedicated to the glorious history of brave samurai warriors, everlasting ninja fighters and the martial arts.
Address: Teramachi Utanokoji building 2F, 292, Higashidaimonjicho, Nakagyo-ku, Kyoto, Japan 〒604-8043
2. GEAR THEATRE ART COMPLEX 1928 (500m away)
GEAR is a Japanese long-run non-verbal theatre show that originates in Kyoto and incorporates elements of technology, skilled performance arts. It is the first long-run show with original content in Japan. GEAR was first created by Art Complex in Osaka as a project of the Osaka Regional Arts and Cultural Promotion Project Plan. After several successful runs promoted by different cultural affairs agencies in the Kansai region, it opened as a long run show in a specially designated theatre in downtown Kyoto in April 2012. It is currently in its fifth year of performances.
Address: 1928build.3F, 56 Benkeiishicho ,Nakagyoku, Kyoto
3. Ponto-Cho (750m away)
Ponto-chō is a Hanamachi district in Kyoto, Japan, known for geiko and maiko and home to many geiko houses and traditional tea houses. Like Gion, Ponto-chō is famous for the preservation of forms of traditional architecture and entertainment. Ponto-chō centres around one long, narrow, cobbled alley running from Shijō-dōri to Sanjō-dōri, one block west of the Kamo River (Kamo-gawa). This is also the traditional location of the start of kabuki, and a statue of Okuni still stands on the opposite side of the river. The district crest is a stylized water plover or chidori.
Geiko and maiko have existed in Ponto-chō since at least the 16th century, as have prostitution and other forms of entertainment. Today the area, lit by traditional lanterns at night, contains a mix of very expensive restaurants — often featuring outdoor riverside dining on wooden patios — geisha houses and tea houses, brothels, bars, and cheap eateries.
The area is also home to the Ponto-chō Kaburenjō Theatre at the Sanjō-dōri end of the street. This theatre functions as a practice hall for geiko and maiko and twice a year since the 1870s Kyoto geiko and maiko perform the Kamogawa Odori — Kamogawa river dancing, a combination of traditional dance, kabuki-like theatre, singing and the playing of traditional instruments — there, offering a rare chance for ordinary people to see performances by real geiko and maiko.
An American Liza Dalby became a geiko in Ponto-chō during college studies and later wrote a popular book favorable to the community there.
Address: Pontocho, Kashiwayacho, Nakagyo-ku, Kyoto
4. Gion Shirakawa (1.1km away)
The Shirakawa is a river in the Kyoto prefecture of Japan. It flows into the Kamo River. Its name means “white river” in Japanese, due to the fine-grained white sand that it carries from the hills east of Kyoto. Directly before entering the Kamo River, it passes through the geisha district of Gion, where many traditional establishments, such as ochaya (geisha houses) and restaurants, line the river.
Address: Motoyoshi-cho, Higashiyama, Kyoto
5. Daitoku-ji Temple (5.7km away)
Daitoku-ji is a Buddhist temple, one of fourteen autonomous branches of the Rinzai school of Japanese Zen. It is located in Kita-ku. The “mountain name” (sangō) by which it is known is Ryūhōzan (龍宝山). The Daitoku-ji temple complex today covers more than 23 hectares (57 acres).
Daitoku-ji originated as a small monastery founded in 1315 or 1319 by the monk Shūhō Myōchō (宗峰妙超, also pronounced Sōhō Myōchō; 1282–1337), who is known by the title Daitō Kokushi (“National Teacher of the Great Lamp”) given by Emperor Go-Daigo. In 1325, the monastery was converted into a supplicationhall for the imperial court at the request of the retired Emperor Hanazono. The dedication ceremony for the imperial supplication hall, with its newly added dharma hall and abbot’s living quarters, was held in 1326, and this is generally recognized as the true founding of the temple.
Like many other temples in Kyoto during that time, the temple’s buildings were destroyed by fire. In 1474, which was when Kyoto was the scene of the Ōnin War, Emperor Go-Tsuchimikado designated Ikkyū Sōjun as the head priest. With the help of merchants of the city of Sakai, Ikkyū contributed significantly to the temple’s rehabilitation.
From its earliest days, the temple experienced alternating periods of fortune and decline. This can be attributed to the rivalries and conflicts between Daitoku-ji and other well-known Zen temples, as well as between Daitoku-ji and the political authorities.
Daitoku-ji became particularly important from the sixteenth century, when it was predominantly supported by members of the military establishment, who sponsored the building of subsidiary temples as prayers for their ancestors or in preparation for their own demise. In 1582, Toyotomi Hideyoshi buried his predecessor, Oda Nobunaga, at Daitoku-ji. He also contributed land and built the Sōken-in.
Around this period in history, Daitoku-ji became closely linked to the master of the Japanese tea ceremony, Sen no Rikyū, and consequently to the realm of the Japanese tea ceremony. After the era of Sen no Rikyū, another famous figure in the history of the Japanese tea ceremony who left his mark at this temple was Kobori Enshū.
Address: 53 Murasakino Daitokujicho, Kita-ku Kyoto-shi, Kyoto
6. Hanami Koji Street (1.2km away)
Hanami Koji Street is a charming ancient street in Gion district lined up with wooden merchant houses. It is “must see” place for tourists in Kyoto ans also small street with cozy restaurants.
Address: 570-128 Minamigawa, Gionmachi, Higashiyama, Kyoto
7. Kyoto International Manga Museum (1.2km away)
The Kyoto International Manga Museum is located in Nakagyō-ku, Kyoto. The building housing the museum is the former Tatsuike Elementary School. The museum opened on November 25, 2006. Its collection of 300,000 items includes such varieties as Meiji period magazines and postwar rental books.
The museum is a public-private partnership of Kyoto Seika University and the city of Kyoto. The city provided the building and land. The university operates the facility under the oversight of a joint committee. The museum is divided into a number of public zones. One is the gallery zone; another is the research zone; the third is the collection zone. There are permanent and special exhibits, a Tatsuike history room, a museum shop, and a kissaten. The 200 m of stacks hold 50,000 volumes in the “manga wall”, which can be taken down and read freely.
There are various places for reading the manga in the collection – the halls have various seats, and there are some reading rooms, together with some outdoor benches. On the first floor, there is a room with children’s manga for young children and their parents. In front of the museum, there is also a large lawn with artificial turf; on nice days young couples often lie on the lawn, reading manga from the collection.
Address: Karasuma-Oike, Nakagyo-ku, Kyoto 604-0846 Japan
8. Gion (1.3km away)
Gion is a district of Kyoto, Japan, originally developed in the Sengoku period, in front of Yasaka Shrine (Gion Shrine). The district was built to accommodate the needs of travelers and visitors to the shrine. It eventually evolved to become one of the most exclusive and well-known geisha districts in all of Japan. The term Gion is related to Jetavana. The geisha in Kyoto do not refer to themselves as geisha; instead, they use the local term geiko. While the term geisha means “artist” or “person of the arts”, the more direct term geiko means essentially “a woman of art”.
This neighborhood in Kyoto has two hanamachi (geiko communities. There are five hanamachi in Kyoto): Gion Kobu and Gion Higashi, which split many years ago; Kobu is larger, occupying most of the district, while Higashi is smaller and occupies the northeast corner, centered on its rehearsal hall. Despite the considerable decline in the number of geisha in Gion in the last one hundred years, it is still famous for the preservation of forms of traditional architecture and entertainment. Part of this district has been declared a national historical preservation district. Recently, the City of Kyoto completed a project to restore the streets of Gion, which included such plans as moving all overhead utilities underground as part of the ongoing effort to preserve the original beauty of Gion.
The geiko and maiko of Gion perform annual public dances, as do those of all five geisha districts in Kyoto. The oldest of these date to the Kyoto exhibition of 1872. The more popular of these is the Miyako Odori, literally “Dances of the Old Capital” (sometimes instead referred to as “Cherry Blossom Dances”), staged by the geisha of Gion Kobu, which dates to 1872. The dances run from April 1 through April 30 each year during the height of the cherry blossom (sakura) season. Spectators from Japan and worldwide attend the events, which range from “cheap” seats on tatami mats on the floor, to reserved seats with a small tea ceremony beforehand. Gion Higashi holds a similar dance in early November, around autumn leaves, known as Gion Odori; this is more recent and has fewer performances.
Address: Gionmachi Minamigawa, Higashiyama-ku Kyoto-shi, Kyoto
9. Yasaka Shrine (1.5km away)
Yasaka Shrine, once called Gion Shrine (Gion-jinja), is a Shinto shrine in the Gion District of Kyoto, Japan. Situated at the east end of Shijō-dōri (Fourth Avenue), the shrine includes several buildings, including gates, a main hall and a stage.
Initial construction on the Shrine began in 656. The Shrine became the object of Imperial patronage during the early Heian period. In 965, Emperor Murakami ordered that Imperial messengers be sent to report important events to the guardian kami of Japan. These heihaku were initially presented to 16 shrines; and in 991, Emperor Ichijō added three more shrines to Murakami’s list. Three years later in 994, Ichijō refined the scope of that composite list by adding Umenomiya Shrineand Gion Shrine.
From 1871 through 1946, Yasaka Shrine was officially designated one of the Kanpei-taisha, meaning that it stood in the first rank of government supported shrines. In 869 the mikoshi (divine palanquin) of Gion Shrine were paraded through the streets of Kyoto to ward off an epidemic that had hit the city. This was the beginning of the Gion Matsuri, an annual festival which has become world famous.
Today, in addition to hosting the Gion Matsuri, Yasaka Shrine welcomes thousands of people every New Year, for traditional Japanese New Year rituals and celebrations. In April, the crowds pass through the temple on their way to Maruyama Park, a popular hanami (cherry blossom viewing) site. Lanterns decorate the stage with the names of festival sponsors.
Address: 625 Giommachi Kitagawa Higashiyama-ku Kyoto-shi, Kyoto
10. Sanjusangen-do (2.6km away)
Sanjūsangen-dō is a Buddhist temple in Higashiyama District of Kyoto, Japan. Officially known as “Rengeō-in”, or Hall of the Lotus King, Sanjūsangen-dō belongs to and is run by the Myōhō-in temple, a part of the Tendai school of Buddhism. The temple name literally means Hall with thirty three spaces between columns, describing the architecture of the long main hall of the temple.
Taira no Kiyomori completed the temple under order of Emperor Go-Shirakawa in 1164. The temple complex suffered a fire in 1249 and only the main hall was rebuilt in 1266. In January, the temple has an event known as the Rite of the Willow, where worshippers are touched on the head with a sacred willow branch to cure and prevent headaches. A popular archery tournament known as the Tōshiya has also been held here, beside the West veranda, since the Edo period. The duel between the famous warrior Miyamoto Musashi and Yoshioka Denshichirō, leader of the Yoshioka-ryū, is popularly believed to have been fought just outside Sanjūsangen-dō in 1604.
The main deity of the temple is Sahasrabhuja-arya-avalokiteśvara or the Thousand Armed Kannon. The statue of the main deity was created by the Kamakura sculptorTankei and is a National Treasure of Japan. The temple also contains one thousand life-size statues of the Thousand Armed Kannon which stand on both the right and left sides of the main statue in 10 rows and 50 columns. Of these, 124 statues are from the original temple, rescued from the fire of 1249, while the remaining 876 statues were constructed in the 13th century. The statues are made of Japanese cypress clad in gold leaf. The temple is 120 – meter long. Around the 1000 Kannon statues stand 28 statues of guardian deities. There are also two famous statues of Fūjin and Raijin.
Address: Rengeoin Sanjusangendo, 657 Sanjusangendomawari, Higashiyama Ward, Kyoto, Kyoto Prefecture
11. Higashiyama (1.9km away)
The Higashiyama culture is a segment of Japanese culture originated and promoted in the 15th century by the shōgun Ashikaga Yoshimasa, after he retired to his villa in the eastern hills of the capital city Kyoto.
Based largely on the ideals and aesthetics of Zen Buddhism and the concept of wabi-sabi (beauty in simplicity), Higashiyama culture centered on the development of chadō (Japanese tea ceremony), ikebana (flower arranging), Noh drama, and sumi-e ink painting. Much of what is commonly seen today as traditional Japanese culture originated or developed in this period. Higashiyama culture is often contrasted with Kitayama bunka, the “Kitayama Culture” from earlier in the Muromachi period. In this comparison Kinkaku-ji, representative of Kitayama culture is compared with Ginkaku-ji, representative of Higashiyama culture.
Yoshimasa’s retirement villa was turned into the temple Ginkaku-ji (the Temple of the Silver Pavilion) after his death. It is situated in Kyoto’s Sakyō-ku, and was the center of the Higashiyama cultural outgrowth in a number of ways. The Pavilion is revered for its simple beauty, the silver having never been added. The rock garden next to it is likewise one of the most famous in Japan, and praised for its Zen and wabi-sabi aesthetics. It is a quintessential example of the idea that only the trained expert should be able to recognize the subtle beauty within art and architecture; the beauty of the object should not be underscored and emphasized, but gently hidden. The retired shogun also invited many artists, poets, and court nobles to his villa, encouraging the development of their arts. A vast and priceless collection of artifacts came together, which was known as the Higashiyama Treasure.
The Tōgudō building includes a shoin-style room called the Dōjinsai. It originally had a fireplace built into the floor, and due to this, the Dōjinsai is considered the earliest extant example of a room designed for use as a tea room.
There were many architectural innovations in this period, exhibited in the Ginkaku-ji in particular, which would later become core elements in the shoin style of 17th century architecture. One of these elements was the tokonoma, a small alcove in which scrolls are hung, and flowers or other small articles are placed to enhance the aesthetic feel of the room. The great ink-painter Sesshū Tōyō spent much time at the Ginkaku-ji, and this period also saw the birth of the Kanō school of Japanese painting as well as an early version of chanoyu tea ceremony. Tea ceremony would be further formalized by Sen no Rikyū in the 16th century.
Address: Higashiyama-ku Kyoto-shi, Kyoto
12. Chion-in Temple (1.9km away)
Chion-in in Higashiyama-ku, Kyoto is the headquarters of the Jōdo-shū (Pure Land Sect) founded by Hōnen (1133–1212), who proclaimed that sentient beings are reborn in Amida Buddha’s Western Paradise (Pure Land) by reciting the nembutsu, Amida Buddha’s name.
The vast compounds of Chion-in include the site where Hōnen settled to disseminate his teachings and the site where he died.
The colossal main gate, the Sanmon, was built in 1619 and is the largest surviving structure of its kind in Japan. Chion-in has a large and a small guest house in the irimoya roof style called Ohojo and Kohojo that are designated Important Cultural Heritages. Both guest houses were built in 1641. Chion-in is home to Japan’s largest temple bell, which was commissioned in 1633 and weighs 74 tons. It used to require a 25 man team to sound it. But now the temple website says 17 are needed.
There are two interesting features to note about Chion-in. First, all roof beams are carved with the family crest of the Tokugawa family: three hollyhock leaves. Another feature is the umbrella found stashed in the rafters outside the main temple. One of the architects who helped rebuild the temple placed the umbrella in the rafters to help bring rain (and thereby ward off fire).
Lastly, an interesting feature inside the temple is the very squeaky boards, an example of a nightingale floor. The wooden boards were built with metal ends that would rub against the metal joints they were attached to, created a piercing noise as people step on them. This was intentionally done so that when the Tokugawa family stayed at the temple, they could detect unwanted intruders at night.
Address: 400 Rinka-cho, Higashiyama-ku, Kyoto, 605-8686
13. Kodai-ji (2km away)
Kōdai-ji, formally identified as Jubuzan Kōdai-ji, is a temple of the Rinzai school of Zen Buddhism in Higashiyama-ku, Kyoto, Japan—the largest subtemple of the Kennin-ji branch. It was established in 1606 by the nun Kōdai-in (often known by the title Kita no Mandokoro), who was the widow of Toyotomi Hideyoshi, to pray for her late husband. The principal image is a statue of Shaka. The gardens of Kōdai-ji are a nationally designated Historic Site and Place of Scenic Beauty. The temple possesses a number of objects designated as Important Cultural Assets. Among these are the Main Gate and the Spirit Hall, noted for its use of maki-e. The temple is nicknamed the maki-e temple.” It also holds paintings, including one of Hideyoshi, as well as textiles, and a bronze bell with an inscription dating it to 1606.
Address: 526 Shimokawaracho, Higashiyama-ku Kyoto-shi, Kyoto
14. Ishibei Koji (1.8km away)
If you go south from the southern tower gate of Yasaka Shrine and then take the 3rd left to enter a small narrow lane you’ll get to Ishibei Koji. Along the sides, there are ryotei restaurants and ryokan that retain the old atmosphere of the early 20th century when these establishments were first constructed.
Address: 463-29 Shimokawaracho, Higashiyama, Kyoto
15. Sento Imperial Palace (2.1km away)
The Sentō Imperial Palace 22 acres (89,000 m2) is a large garden in Kyoto, formerly the grounds of a palace for retired emperors. It is administered by the Imperial Household Agency and may be visited by appointment. As with Kyoto Imperial Palace, prior reservations are necessary to enter Sento Imperial Palace.
Sento Imperial Palace was completed in 1630 for Emperor Go-Mizunoo’s retirement, along with the corresponding Ōmiya Palace for the Empress Dowager Nyoin. Both palaces were repeatedly destroyed by fire and reconstructed until a blaze in 1854, after which the Sento palace was never rebuilt. (Ōmiya Palace was, however, reconstructed in 1867 and is still used by the emperor whenever he visits Kyoto). Today only two Sento structures, the Seika-tei and Yushin-tei teahouses, remain. The excellent gardens, laid out in 1630 by renowned artist Kobori Masakazu (Kobori Enshu), are now its main attractions.
The palace grounds are located within the southeast corner of the Kyoto Imperial Palace, and entered via a stately wooden gate within its surrounding earthen wall. A carriage house with graceful triple gables sits just within, but still outside the garden’s unadorned inner wall, whose gate leads directly to a fine view opening westward across the garden pond.
The garden’s primary feature is a large pond with islands and walkways, whose north and south segments were linked by a short canal in 1747. The north pond was extended and reworked from 1684-1688; the south pond is notable for its expansive “ocean shore” of rounded stones and cherry trees, an edging of mixed natural and hewn stones, and a separate, understated embankment of squared stones. The ponds contain a variety of highly picturesque islands and six bridges in a varied styles, including one with an impressive wisteria trellis (built 1895).
Two teahouses complete the garden: Seika-tei, single-roofed and spare, at the southern end of the south pond; and Yushin-tei, thatched and rustic with a notable round window, at the western side of the north pond.
Address: Sento Imperial Palace, 3 Kyotogyoen, Kamigyo-ku Kyoto-shi, Kyoto
16. Maruyama Park (1.6km away)
Maruyama Park is a park in Kyoto, Japan. It is noted as the main center for cherry blossom viewing in Kyoto, and can get extremely crowded at that time of year (April). The park’s star attraction is a weeping cherry tree (shidarezakura) which becomes lit up at night. It also becomes busy in the New Year’s Eve Festivals.
The main entrance to the park is through Yasaka Shrine, which sits at the eastern end of Shijō Street in the Gion District. Directly to the north (and abutting the park) is the vast temple of Chion-in, followed by the smaller temple of Shōren-in. The park is a nationally designated Place of Scenic Beauty.
Address: Maruyama Park, 473 Maruyamacho Higashiyama-ku Kyoto-shi, Kyoto
17. Shoren-in (2.2km away)
Shōren-in is a Buddhist temple in Kyoto, Japan. Also known as the Awata Palace, it was built in the late 13th century. Shinran Shonin, the founder of the Jodo Shinshu pure land sect, was ordained a monk at Shōren-in at the age of nine.
Shōren-in was formerly the temple of the imperial abbot of the Tendai headquarters on Mount Hiei; the abbot was required to be chosen from the imperial family or high court aristocracy. After the Great Kyoto Fire of 1788, it was used as a temporary imperial palace. The main hall was rebuilt in 1895.
The temple complex contains a garden with massive eight-hundred-year-old camphor trees (kusunoki), and a pond filled with large stones and fed by a small waterfall.
Address: Shōren-in Awataguchi Higashiyama-ku Kyoto
Traditional house of samurai period with four hundred years history that converted into inn for residins and viewing y visitors. Best combined with a tour to Nijo Castle.
Address: Nijo Jinya, Nakagyo-ku Kyoto-shi, Kyoto
19. Sanneizaka (Sannenzaka) (2.2km away)
Sanneizaka (Sannenzaka) this is a lane on a hill that goes down to Kiyomizu Temple in the south. The area is alive with tourists visiting the souvenir shops and restaurants. The old-fashioned street is a precious sight that has been selected as a National Important Preservation District of Historic Buildings.
Address: 2-221 Higashiyama, Kyoto
20. Kyoto National Museum (2.4km away)
The Kyoto National Museum is one of the major art museums in Japan. Located in Kyoto’s Higashiyama ward, the museum focuses on pre-modern Japanese and Asian art. The Kyoto National Museum, then the Imperial Museum of Kyoto, was proposed, along with the Imperial Museum of Tokyo (Tokyo National Museum) and the Imperial Museum of Nara (Nara National Museum), in 1889, and construction on the museum finished in October, 1895. The museum was opened in 1897. The museum went through a series of name changes, in 1900 changing its name to the Imperial Household Museum of Kyoto, and once more in 1924 to the Imperial Gift Museum of Kyoto. The current name, the Kyoto National Museum, was decided upon in 1952.
The museum was originally built to house and display art treasures privately owned by temples and shrines, as well as items donated by the Imperial Household Ministry. Currently, most all of the items in the museum are more or less on permanent loan from one of those places.
The museum focuses on mainly pre-modern Japanese works (it is said to have the largest collection of Heian period artifacts) and Asian art. The museum is also well known for its collections of rare and ancient Chinese and Japanese sutras. Other famous works include senzui byōbu (landscape screen) from the 11th century, and the gakizōshi (Scroll of Hungry Ghosts) from the 12th century. Altogether, the museum houses over 12,000 works, of which around 6,000 are on display at the museum. The museum also boasts photographic archives containing over 200,000 photographic negatives and color transparencies. In the Fine Arts collections alone, there are more than 230 pieces that have been designated as either National Treasures or Important Cultural Properties.
Address: 527 Chaya-cho, Higashiyama-ku,Kyoto