One of the best ways to experience Kyoto is by walking. Kyoto’s eastern side, connected by the Keihan train line, is a particularly interesting place to walk. If you are lucky enough to find availability at accommodations like the Kyoto Granbell Hotel, it can also be quite a nice location to stay during your time in Kyoto. However, if you don’t mind staying nearby, my favorite place to stay has easy access to make this Kyoto walking tour good for any day of your visit.
This walking tour starts at the Kiyomizu-Gojo station, exit 4 to be specific (to make your life easier). From there you will make an almost 1 mile walk to Kiyomizudera temple. Honestly this first part isn’t the most exciting, but around every corner in Japan there is always something interesting to see. Take this time to discover a coffee shop or get breakfast! Make sure you eat well, this tour has a lot of walking and standing.
This temple was founded in 778 and most of the modern buildings were constructed in 1633. The bright colors of the buildings saturate the entire complex. As you make your way through you’ll reach the stage area. This area requires a fee to access, but it’s worth it. The stage stretches out over the trees. You are treated to the bright reds, yellows, and oranges decorating the landscape during autumn. While you are there don’t forget to stop and drink from the Otowa Waterfall and make a wish!
Sannenzaka & Ninenzaka
After the temple you will walk down through the streets of Higashiyama, following the path marked on the map. The ancient streets are well-persevered, full of shops and homes. The gentle slope gives a great view of the Yasaka-no-to Pagoda. They are also generally busy with tourists both foreign and domestic. Take your time as you walk, stop at the shops and enjoy a snack or sip on some green tea. Both streets have a very traditional feel that is unmistakable.
After enjoying the old world of Kyoto, continue down the path to Maruyama Park. The park is especially inviting in the spring when the cherry blossoms are blooming. A great weeping cherry is featured in the center of the park and a great photo opportunity. While there you can also visit Yasaka Shrine. With a history of over 1300 years, it is one of the most respected temples in Kyoto and all of Japan.
By this time it will be lunch time or past. You can eat locally and if you are up for a decent walk, Nishiki Market is only 3/4 of a mile away. It’s marked on the map and typically a crowded and popular place. You can find all sorts of snacks and delicacies there to try.
As the evening draws near, head to your final destination: Gion, another well-preserved area of Kyoto. Can you spot a geisha or maiko hurrying to their next client?
If you skipped Nishiki Market, or it is still early there are fun activities available in the area. Enjoy a tea ceremony and performance by a maiko for example! There are a few places that offer guides for an evening walking tour of Gion. Check them out but you probably need to reserve them ahead of time!