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Guide to Kyoto Outdoors

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Kyoto is a city as renown for its natural beauty as for its architecture and traditions. From the stone-paved Mt. Hiei in the east and the soaring treetops of Mt. Atago in the west, to the Kamo and Katsura rivers snaking their way southward, and every bamboo-laden path, sprawling Zen garden, and cherry blossom tree in between, Kyoto provides a bountiful playground in any season. Whether you're in the mood for a hike, looking for a peaceful moment away from the bustle of the city center, or just want to explore the great outdoors, this guide is here to help!

Good for
  • History Buff
  • Thrill Seeker
  • Nature Lover
  • Peace and Quiet Seeker
  • Thrifty Traveler
  • Like a Local

10 Places

4 City Tips

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Map

10 Places

Fushimi Inari-taisha Shrine

Sacred & Religious Sites, Historic Sites

Maruyama Park

Parks

Arashiyama

Scenic Walking Areas, Points of Interest & Landmarks

Okochi Sanso Garden

Gardens

Tenjuan Garden

Gardens

Kurama Onsen

Spas, Onsen Resorts

Mt. Kurama

Historic Sites, Mountains, Points of Interest & Landmarks, Lookouts

Mt. Daimonji

Mountains

Shosei-en Garden

Gardens

Kamogawa River

Bodies of Water

Madison S's City Tips

  • Savor Kyoto's foodie specialties to keep your energy up! Yatsuhashi (a cinnamon treat), obanzai ryori (small, varied dishes), and Matcha-flavored everything. Itadakimasu!
  • Consider traveling by bus to major attractions, especially those outdoors. Most bus lines conveniently leave from Kyoto Station, and have drop-off points at many top sights.
  • If you decide to use the onsen at one of these scenic locations, remember: tattoos must be covered, and towels cannot be brought into the water with you.
  • Kyoto Station's tourist office provides information on buses and bus transfers in English. Most buses will also display stop names in English — so don't panic, you'll get there!
  • Fushimi Inari-taisha Shrine
    Sacred & Religious Sites, Historic Sites
    See more photos
    Madison S Says:

    The Fushimi Inari shrine sits at the base of Mt. Inari, where its hundreds of vermillion torii gates welcome visitors to begin their climb. The hike, which leads to the apex of the mountain at 233 meters, follows a winding pathway of hiking trails and stone steps, through dense forest scattered with Shinto shrines. It's worth making it to the top: the view is breathtaking!

    Good for
    • Peace and Quiet Seeker
    • Must See
    • History Buff
    • Art and Architecture Lover
    • Nature Lover
    Tips
    • To follow the trail that leads to the mountaintop, look to the left of the main building of Inari Shrine: stone stairs mark the start of the hiking path.
    • To reach Mt. Inari, take the JR Nara line out of Kyoto Station and exit after two stops, at Inari Station. It takes less than ten minutes: you'll see the torii gates from the exit!
    • Annually on June 10th, there is a rice-planting festival at Grand Shrine Inari, close to the base of the mountain. If you're visiting, don't miss historic attire and rituals!
    Plan to stay:
    2-3 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #1 of 21 things to do in Fushimi
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • Iconic Japan !! 11/19/2018
    • Cool place to visit but go early 11/19/2018
    • Fushimi Inari-taisha Shrine
    Address:
    68 Fukakusa Yabunouchicho
    Fushimi, Kyoto 612-0882
    Kyoto Prefecture
    Phone:
    +81 75-641-7331
    Hours:
    Sun - Sat
    12:00 AM - 11:59 PM
    Other:
  • Maruyama Park
    Parks
    See more photos
    Madison S Says:

    Maruyama Park, with its verdant landscape and sunbathing turtles, is perhaps at its most impressive in the springtime. The explosion of April cherry blossoms is crowned by the shidarezaruka, a 'weeping cherry tree,' which is lit to a brilliant glow in the evenings. But during other seasons, Maruyama is a more peaceful, lakeside setting dappled with greeneries, statuary, and scenic pathways. Beautiful to visit at any time of year, a lovely spot for a picnic, a stroll, or a tranquil break from the inner city.

    Good for
    • Foodie
    • Thrifty Traveler
    • Nature Lover
    Tips
    • Also during "hanami" season, Maruyama fills with food stalls, selling traditional Japanese snacks, both warm and cold — so don't panic if you forgot your picnic basket!
    • If you're visiting in April, Maruyama is Kyoto's go-to spot for "hanami" picnics under the blossoming cherry trees. Join the crowd for a bite, but be aware it gets busy!
    Plan to stay:
    1-2 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #6 of 48 things to do in Higashiyama
    • Peaceful 11/10/2018
    • Nice peaceful park 10/28/2018
    • Maruyama Park
    Address:
    473 Maruyamacho, Higashiyama-ku
    Higashiyama, Kyoto
    Kyoto Prefecture
    Phone:
    +81 75-561-1350
    Hours:
    Sun - Sat
    12:00 AM - 11:59 PM
    Other:
  • Arashiyama
    Scenic Walking Areas, Points of Interest & Landmarks
    See more photos
    Madison S Says:

    Arashiyama, the 'storm mountain,' is one of the most scenic locations in all of Kyoto. Towering across the mild waters of the Ōi River, the mountain's famous bamboo grove has a fairytale-like quality to its sky-high stalks. The surrounding area is home to a number of attractions, from the main temple of the Rinzai Zen Buddhists, to direct paths to quaint shops and restaurants by the mountain base, where visitors can rest and refuel. Arashiyama is a designated Historic Site and Place of Scenic Beauty.

    Good for
    • Peace and Quiet Seeker
    • Thrifty Traveler
    • Nature Lover
    Tips
    • The Iwatayama Monkey Park on the slopes of Arashiyama houses more than 170 monkeys. While the monkeys are wild, they have become accustomed to humans.
    • The romantic "Moon Crossing Bridge" (渡月橋,Togetsukyō) is notable for its views of cherry blossoms and autumn colors on the slopes of Arashiyama.
    • Take the R train from Kyoto station directly to Sagaarashiyama and just walk!
    • Look out for the tombstone of the Heike courtesan, Kogo of Sagano.
    Plan to stay:
    1-2 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #32 of 1,383 things to do in Kyoto
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • Nice walk in park but crowded 11/18/2018
    • Good place to visit 11/15/2018
    • Arashiyama
    Address:
    Togetsukyo, Saga, Ukyo-ku
    Kyoto 616-8383
    Kyoto Prefecture
  • Okochi Sanso Garden
    Gardens
    See more photos
    Madison S Says:

    Ōkōchisanso Garden, at the base of picturesque Mt. Ogura, is surrounded by parkland and bamboo-lined paths which lead to the Ōkōchi Mountain Villa at its heart. Home of once-famed actor Denjirō Ōkōchi, the villa-curated grounds offer a sprawling vista of Japanese redwood trees, manicured trails, and tasteful stone architecture. The views of Kyoto from the villa are also breathtaking, and the shrines and tea house in the immediate area provide visitors with a sense of peace and tranquility.

    Good for
    • Peace and Quiet Seeker
    • Thrifty Traveler
    • Art and Architecture Lover
    • Nature Lover
    Tips
    • The entry fee to the private park includes traditional matcha tea and a Japanese sweet at the tea house on the grounds, Tekisuian.
    • Consider going when you have downtime: the gardens are best enjoyed at a leisurely, explorative stroll of a few hours. There's a lot to see.
    • Approaching the gardens from the JR Saga Arashiyama station stop will lead you through the Sagano bamboo grove: this is possibly its most beautiful entry point.
    Plan to stay:
    2-3 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #25 of 1,383 things to do in Kyoto
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • Lovely view and autumn colours 11/18/2018
    • Beautiful garden near bamboo forest. 11/17/2018
    • Okochi Sanso Garden
    Address:
    8-3 Sagaogurayama Tabuchiyamacho, Ukyo-ku
    Kyoto 616-8394
    Kyoto Prefecture
    Phone:
    +81 75-872-2233
    Hours:
    Sun - Sat
    9:00 AM - 5:00 PM
    Other:
  • Tenjuan Garden
    Gardens
    See more photos
    Madison S Says:

    In contrast to Ōkōchisanso, Tenjuan Garden is a tucked-away hidden gem that draws less of a crowd into its nestled space among the tree tops and tranquil waters in the Nanzenji area, nearby the popular Nanzenji temple. If you aren't in the area for the Nanzenji temple, consider making the trek to the base of the Higashiyama mountains nonetheless — you won't be disappointed. Waterfalls, Zen architecture, and koi-dotted waters create an ambiance of complete serenity, and visitors can lose themselves in the pure art of the well-kept grounds.

    Good for
    • Peace and Quiet Seeker
    • Like a Local
    • Thrifty Traveler
    • Nature Lover
    Tips
    • To visit from Nanzenji, leave via the western entrance and make your first right. Eventually, you will come upon a sign marking the way to Tenjyuan, in both Japanese and English.
    • The garden is especially wonderful to visit during the summer months, when the Kyoto sun is blazing.
    Plan to stay:
    1-2 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #100 of 1,383 things to do in Kyoto
    • Hidden Gem 11/15/2018
    • Most beautiful garden in Kyoto 04/20/2018
    • Tenjuan Garden
    Address:
    86-8 Nanzenji Fukuchicho, Sakyo-ku
    Kyoto 606-8435
    Kyoto Prefecture
    Phone:
    +81 75-771-0744
  • Kurama Onsen
    Spas, Onsen Resorts
    See more photos
    Madison S Says:

    Not every outdoor adventure has to involve scaling a mountain or strolling through a garden. After so many days or hours on your feet (it's Kyoto, after all — how many temples have you visited by now?), why not treat your aching bones to a soothing afternoon off, in the open air hot springs of Kurama Onsen. Located between Hanase and Kyoto, on the charming outskirts of the city, the hot springs straddle the waters of the Kurama River at the base of a craggy mountain, resplendent with the scent of cedar trees and indoor and outdoor bathing options.

    Good for
    • Foodie
    • Peace and Quiet Seeker
    • Trendsetter
    • Nature Lover
    Tips
    • While the Kurama Onsen is not located on a natural spring, the purified waters are taken from the surrounding river area, and are both refreshing and relaxing.
    • If you plan to drive, it is about an hour from Kyoto city center — not a bad day trip, for taking a vacation from all this vacation! Kurama village itself is a rustic locale.
    • If you are going by train, note that there are free (and well marked) shuttles from Kurama station to the Onsen.
    • If you are traveling as a mixed pair, be aware that men and women bathe separately at onsen, since no clothing is allowed. You can reconvene in the relaxation areas.
    • If you are traveling during warmer months, wait until evening to visit the Onsen. The cooler nighttime air is a pleasant contrast to the hot water.
    • The Onsen serves traditional Japanese meal sets for lunch and dinner. So soak, then eat, and take a relaxing nap on the tatami!
    Plan to stay:
    1-2 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #3 of 168 Spas & Wellness in Kyoto
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • Soak in the Mountains 10/11/2018
    • Wonderful relaxation! 09/16/2018
    • Kurama Onsen
    Address:
    520 Kuramahonmachi, Sakyo-ku
    Kyoto 601-1111
    Kyoto Prefecture
    Phone:
    +81 75-741-2131
    Hours:
    Sun - Sat
    10:00 AM - 8:00 PM
    Other:
  • Mt. Kurama
    Historic Sites, Mountains, Points of Interest & Landmarks, Lookouts
    See more photos
    Madison S Says:

    The site where Reiki alternative medicine is said to have been born, Mount Kurama can be perfectly combined with a day trip to Kurama village, a visit to Kurama Onsen, or just on its own. Prominent in Japanese myth and history, the hauntingly beautiful landscape is home to a temple that is a designated national treasure, and the meditative peace of its wooded slopes call visitors to try their luck at a lengthy climb.

    Good for
    • History Buff
    • Thrill Seeker
    • Thrifty Traveler
    • Art and Architecture Lover
    • Nature Lover
    Tips
    • Every October, Mount Kurama plays host to a fire festival, complete with games, food stalls, and sights. Best after dark, for the full effect.
    • It is said that Mikao Usui meditated for twenty-one days at a "god tree" called osugi gongen, and was then granted the power of reiki. So be kind to trees on your way up!
    • For those who would like the view, but don't have time or inclination for the hike, there is a train going both ways. You can choose to train it just one way, or both to save time.
    Plan to stay:
    2-3 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #2 of 67 things to do in Sakyo
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • All paths leading to the mountain are closed due to recent typhoon 10/31/2018
    • an easy hike 10/08/2018
    • Mt. Kurama
    Address:
    Sakyo-ku
    Sakyo, Kyoto 601-1111
    Kyoto Prefecture
    Other:
  • Mt. Daimonji
    Mountains
    See more photos
    Madison S Says:

    Daimonjiyama is one of Kyoto's most famous hiking territories. Shake off your Onsen legs and head into the heart of the Higashiyama Mountain range to scale to the top of Daimonjiyama and be rewarded with one of the greatest views of Kyoto's sprawling cityscape from above. (Victorious hikers of this relatively easy-going trail may even spot the distant skyscrapers of Osaka in fair weather.) A trek to the top should take roughly an hour, so grab a water bottle and slap on your comfiest shoes, it's time to take in the fresh air and keen vistas!

    Good for
    • Peace and Quiet Seeker
    • Like a Local
    • Thrifty Traveler
    • Art and Architecture Lover
    • Nature Lover
    Tips
    • In the summer a giant bonfire in the shape of the Japanese character "dai" (for greatness) burns on the side of this mountain at night. Visitors will find it along the hiking path.
    • This is a good hike to pair with a visit to the nearby Ginaku-ji, the popular "silver shrine." Visitors to the temple will find the trail to the right of it and up a hill.
    • Signs leading up the mountain are all in Japanese, so if you are unsure of a side-path you encounter, it may be best to just stick to the main upwards trail.
    Plan to stay:
    1-2 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #70 of 1,383 things to do in Kyoto
    • Wonderful hike 10/10/2018
    • Great hike, amazing view! 09/14/2018
    • Mt. Daimonji
    Address:
    Sakyo-ku
    Kyoto 606-0001
    Kyoto Prefecture
  • Shosei-en Garden
    Gardens
    See more photos
    Madison S Says:

    Shosei-en Garden is designated a National Historical Site, and its manicured grounds are tended to by the curators of its affiliate, the Higashi Honganji Temple. Shosei-en brings together all of Kyoto's best traditional elements: the elegance of its Zen aesthetic, the introspective tranquility of its waterfall pond, and the high artistry of its tea houses. A short walk from the travel hub of Kyoto Station, it is easy to add this stop to a busy itinerary.

    Good for
    • Peace and Quiet Seeker
    • Like a Local
    • Art and Architecture Lover
    • Nature Lover
    Tips
    • The entry fee is a suggested donation. However, as it goes to the upkeep of Shosei-en (and visitors get a lovely brochure out of it), please do pay! It's well worth it.
    • Shosei-en was designed to include flowers that bloom in any season, so no matter when you visit, beauty is sure to await you.
    Plan to stay:
    1-2 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #62 of 1,383 things to do in Kyoto
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • Beautiful 08/11/2018
    • Nothing special 05/21/2018
    • Shosei-en Garden
    Address:
    Higashitamamizucho Shimojuzuyamachidori Ainomachi Higashi Iru, Shimogyo-ku
    Kyoto 600-8190
    Kyoto Prefecture
    Phone:
    +81 75-371-9210
    Price range:
    US$0 - US$0
    Hours:
    Sun - Sat
    9:00 AM - 4:30 PM
    Other:
  • Kamogawa River
    Bodies of Water
    See more photos
    Madison S Says:

    The riverbanks of the Kamogawa are popular with locals and visitors alike, with a wonderful foodie culture and a bustling nightlife. Open-air restaurants and outer terrace are features of the summer months, while all seasons boast intervals of street performance and sightings of geisha and maiko on their way to entertain at tea houses. Walk the banks and enjoy the scenery, especially at night, when the area is lively and lit up.

    Good for
    • Foodie
    • Nightlife Seeker
    • Nature Lover
    Tips
    • Stone pathways cross the river, so if you're feeling daring, leap from one to the other to get to the opposite bank: the water is typically shallow, so don't worry too much.
    Plan to stay:
    Less than 1 hour
    From the community
    Ranked #60 of 1,383 things to do in Kyoto
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • For strolling and relaxation 11/17/2018
    • Nice peaceful river 10/28/2018
    • Kamogawa River
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