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Places You Must Visit Near Kyoto

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When visiting Japan, don’t forget to allocate some time to visit these places near Kyoto. These attractions are the perfect places to take a day trip and enjoy some of the history and architecture outside the big cities of Japan.

Bottom of Kiyomizudera temple in Kyoto Japan

Kyoto is a special place and you could easily spend at least a week wandering its neighborhoods, visiting market, temples and taking cultural classes.

Day Trips to Take from Kyoto Japan

As great as Kyoto is, there are many attractions that surround the city that should also be on your list to see.

Each location can be visited on half-day trips and can be accessed through train or bus. If you have a JR rail pass all of these side trips are included in the price of the pass.

Arashiyama Bamboo Forest

A vast expanse of taller than buildings bamboo that has been featured on the cover of Lonely Planet guides, this forest and several surrounding traditional Japanese gardens, are perfect places to visit near Kyoto.

I spent a few hours walking the bamboo lined path, but if you are traveling with children or want to see it faster, you can also rent a bike for the day at a very reasonable price.

Arashiyama bamboo forest near Kyoto Japan
These bamboos are so tall. It’s a peaceful walk.

Kinkaku-ji Temple

The gold pavilion is a popular tourist attraction near Kyoto so you should prepare to deal with crowds, specially mid-day.

There are so many people visiting this place, it is common to have to wait in line at multiple points and walk single file around the trails.

Even so, it’s a place that you should visit near Kyoto for its sheer uniqueness.

This temple was special to me, because one of the few memories I have of my paternal grandfather was of him painting this temple. I have that painting now displayed in my office. Since my trip to Japan was about reconnecting with my roots, I needed to see it and I recommend that you make the time to take a day trip to Kinkaku-Ji.

Gold Pavillion in Kinkaku-ji temple near Kyoto Japan
The golden pavillion.

Fushimi Inari-Taisha Temple

Tori gates at Fushimi- Inari Temple, a perfect place for a day trip from Kyoto Japan
The red gates at Fushimi-Inari are donated by businesses in hopes for prosperity in business.

One of the most colorful temples I visited in Japan, Fushimi Inari-Taisha is famous for the thousands of vermillion colored benefactor gates (“Toris”) which are donations by business owners hoping for good luck.

Tori gate at Fushimi- Inari Temple

The gates are widely photographed as Fushimi- Inari is one of the most visited temples in Japan.

Fushimi- Inari temple near Kyoto Japan

To avoid crowds on this day-trip from Kyoto, show up early or later in the day, there are pretty good odds that you will be there by yourself, as I did.

The higher you climb, the emptier it gets as well, but take water and a snack because the hike takes about 2 hrs.

The temple was built to honor the shinto entity of Inari (fox). As such, you can see fox statues at the bottom of the gates. Inari is the deity of fertility, agriculture and industry as well as sake. Basically, everything people want in abundance, so it’s popular!

Fushimi- Inari fox God statue

Himeji Castle

Himeji Castle Near Kyoto Japan
Its hilltop location offered great defense from attacks.

Himeji Castle is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the most visited castle in Japan and one of the places you should visit near Kyoto. With its mostly white facade, Himeji Castle is the stark opposite of Matsumoto Castle which is mostly black.

The history of Himeji castle is fascinating and if you would like to learn about Samurai culture, you need to visit at least one castle in Japan.

In the old days, the bigger the castle, the richer the samurai lord and city attached to it. Himeji has existed since 1333 (with renovations of course), surviving through wars and natural disasters, which speaks highly of its construction and defense system.

You can visit these places in 4 half-days, but I would recommend that you allot one full day for each if you like to take it easy or are traveling with children.

For more tips on travel in Japan, click here.

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If you found this travel guide on places to visit near Kyoto helpful, you might also want to check out these other things to do in Japan:

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Red gates of Japan and the Golden Pavillion Temple
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Updated on June 2020.

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