Photo Diary: 24 Hours in Kyoto!

Tokyo may be Japan’s most well-known city, but Kyoto houses some of the country’s most iconic sights. Exploring the city makes you feel like you’ve stepped into the heart of the country’s history and culture. The Fushimi Inari Shrine, with its famous red torii gates (as seen in Memoirs of a Geisha), and the historic Kimkaku-ji (Golden Pavilion), are just two of the many draws in Kyoto –- there are dozens more, like the mesmerizing Arashiyama Bamboo Grove and the Kiyomizu-dera Temple, to name a few.

You can easily spend more than two to three days wandering the streets of Kyoto. You can even do it all while dressed in a kimono, with rentals starting for as little as 2500 yen. Located in the center of Japan, Kyoto also serves as a great base for exploring nearby cities, like Nara or Osaka (which is only 15 minutes away by bullet train!) 

Whether you only stay for a few days or you use the city as your base to explore the rest of the country, no trip to Japan is complete without a visit to Kyoto. And here you can see why... 

Walking through the Arashiyama Bamboo Grove

Walking through the Arashiyama Bamboo Grove

The Kikaku-ji (Golden Pavilion) in northern Kyoto

The Kikaku-ji (Golden Pavilion) in northern Kyoto

The two-floor Zen temple is completely covered in gold 

The two-floor Zen temple is completely covered in gold 

The busy streets of the Higashiyama District leading up to the Kiyomizu-dera Temple 

The busy streets of the Higashiyama District leading up to the Kiyomizu-dera Temple 

The streets of Higashiyama are lined with shops and cafes

The streets of Higashiyama are lined with shops and cafes

The main street of the historically preserved district is uphill leading straight to the Kiyomizu-dera Temple

The main street of the historically preserved district is uphill leading straight to the Kiyomizu-dera Temple

Entrance of the Kiyomizu-dera Temple looking back on Kyoto city

Entrance of the Kiyomizu-dera Temple looking back on Kyoto city

The most famous part of the Kiyomizu-dera is the wooden stage of the temple

The most famous part of the Kiyomizu-dera is the wooden stage of the temple

The temple has multiple areas, including a shrine and small waterfall, reachable by paths around the grounds

The temple has multiple areas, including a shrine and small waterfall, reachable by paths around the grounds

The UNESCO World Heritage site offers sweeping views of Kyoto

The UNESCO World Heritage site offers sweeping views of Kyoto

During the peak season of spring and fall, the streets of Higashiyama are packed with tourists & locals

During the peak season of spring and fall, the streets of Higashiyama are packed with tourists & locals

Large torii gate at the main entrance of Fushimi Inari Shrine

Large torii gate at the main entrance of Fushimi Inari Shrine

Steps leading to the main hall area of the shrine

Steps leading to the main hall area of the shrine

Visitors can buy small personalized torri gates and fortune papers (omikuji) to hang for luck at the shrine

Visitors can buy small personalized torri gates and fortune papers (omikuji) to hang for luck at the shrine

Each gate has the inscription with its donor's name on the back

Each gate has the inscription with its donor's name on the back